As part of the British Council’s UK-Russia Year of Culture 2014 The Tallis Scholars performed as part of the international festival, “From Tavener to Tavener: Five Centuries of English Sacred Music”; a series of concerts and a conference dedicated to the prominent British composer Sir John Tavener, held at the Moscow Conservatory.
The festival programme included a selection of works the late Sir John Tavener personally put together specifically for Russian audiences. The concerts featured music by Tudor composers John Tavener, a direct ancestor of his contemporary namesake, and Robert Fayrfax, presenting English Renaissance pieces previously unknown in Russia. Contemporary sacred music with selected works by Igor Stravinsky and Arvo Pärt, were also performed.
Sir John Tavener’s body of work shows multiple ties with Russian sacred music and Russian culture overall. Influenced by Russian literature, the composer set to music works by both Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Anna Akhmatova. Acappella music is one of the core elements of Sir John Tavener’s work, and it is no wonder the composer often found inspiration in Russian sacred music, as he converted to the Russian Orthodox Church in 1977.