Sine Nomine Singers

Singing beautiful and challenging music from the twelfth century to the present

Without a name – The Sine Nomine Singers at 30

On Saturday, 10th February 2024 we presented Without a Name: the Sine Nomine Singers at 30.

In the year of the Sine Nomine Singers’ 30th anniversary, this programme took the idea of Sine Nomine and explored what it means for music to have no name. Threaded through the programme are three settings of a Missa Sine Nomine – the opening two movements, the Kyrie and Gloria, by Italian composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c. 1525 – ’94); a jubilant setting of the Credo, by Spanish/Mexican composer Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla (c. 1590 – 1664); and a sumptuous triple-choir setting of the Sanctus and Benedictus, by German composer Hans Leo Hassler (c. 1564 – 1612).

Interspersed with these movements are different groups of works “without a name”. The programme begins with texts that have no name attributed, five traditional folk songs collected and given lovely arrangements – three jolly romances associated with perky sailors, a rousing wassail and a spooky encounter with an amorous ghost – by English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872 –1958). The next set of miniatures are those that have been misattributed or are entirely anonymous, works whose origins have been lost in the mists of time, such as Crux Fidelis – an exquisite, brief address to the Cross, once supposed – almost certainly incorrectly – to have been composed by the 17th century King Juan IV of Portugal.

A final set shines the spotlight on female composers whose names have been largely forgotten by the canon, one of whom, Raffaella Aleotti (c. 1570 – c. 1646) spent her life in an Italian convent in the 17th century, while the other two are from the 20th century. Undine Smith Moore (1904 – ’89) was an American composer and professor of music; much of her work was inspired by black spirituals and folk music, and she was known during her lifetime as the Dean of Black Women Composers. The British/American composer and violist Rebecca Clarke (1886 – 1979) was internationally renowned as a viola virtuoso, and became one of the first female professional orchestral players in London. Although her compositional output was not large, her work was recognised for its compositional skill and artistic power, and interest in her has revived, belatedly, in recent decades.

The concert closes with a celebratory hymn for the audience to join with the choir in singing For All the Saints, set by Vaughan Williams under the enigmatic title, Sine Nomine. A rousing introduction and descants have been specially written for the choir by our founding director, Stephen Davies, whom we will be welcoming back to accompany the piece on the organ.

The concert featured as instrumental soloist the young trumpeter Katie Lodge. Katie is a rising star as a soloist, regularly recording with the BBC Concert Orchestra, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and other leading orchestras.

The concert was conducted by our new Musical Director, Daniel Gethin.


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