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Summer Fest of Sacred Music at St. Bartholomew Continues With Renaissance Music

The Summer Festival of Sacred Music at St. Bartholomew's continues on Sunday, August 15 at 11 am with a service featuring works of Palestrina and Parsons which honor the Virgin Mary. St. Bartholomew's Choir will be conducted by Paolo Bordignon.

Named for his birthplace 25 miles South-East of Rome, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c.1525-1594) spent much of his career in the churches of Rome, including the papal chapel. His music, almost all of which is sacred and choral, is universally accepted as a model of Counter-Reformation style, balancing clarity with florid, imitative counterpoint. The text is always heard clearly, with word stress and length perfectly matched to the shape of the musical line. Palestrina composed over 100 Masses, and the Missa Assumpta est Maria for six voices has justly remained one of the most celebrated. It is a transporting work that enjoys a rich sound emphasizing major-key music, and is one of the most important works of the time.

Of all the musical works composed during the Tudor period, the five-part Ave Maria of Robert Parsons (c. 1530-1570) is surely one of the most impressive. It has been described as the perfect Marian motet. The four lower voices sing in imitation of one another as the ethereal soprano line soars above, unfolding at its own slower pace. Sadly, it was not long after joining the Chapel Royal that Parsons met a tragic end, drowning in the river Trent. A work of such rare beauty leaves us to wonder what other riches he might have left had he lived beyond his fortieth year.

The Summer Festival of Sacred Music takes place each Sunday morning at 11 am at St. Bartholomew's Church during the summer months. At a time when most churches reduce their musical offerings, St. Bartholomew's Church provides outstanding sacred music sung by St. Bartholomew's Choir and Boy and Girl Choristers, two of New York City's most renowned choirs. Works include an array of mass settings from the 15th century to the present embracing a diversity of cultures from around the world. The music is sung as part of the 11 am service, the liturgical context for which it was composed. All Summer Festival events are free and open to the public.

The Summer Festival of Sacred Music takes place at St. Bartholomew's Church at the corner of Park Avenue and 51st Street. Subway: 6 to 51st Street. For more information, call (212) 378-0222 or visit

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