The 12 members of the ensemble, celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, perform without a conductor. They have built up an international reputation for the freshness and accomplishment of their thrilling singing, and it delighted a packed Abbey audience.
They don’t make much of it in their biographical notes, but Stile Antico has the probably unique distinction of including identical twin sopranos, Kate and Helen Ashby, and sister Emma, who’s an alto.
Long gone are the days of total silence between the works, and the members of Stile Antio use the breaks to explain the music and set it into context, enriching the experience for the audience.
The glorious programme began with Orlando Gibbons’ Hosanna to the Son of David, encompassing works by John Sheppard, William Byrd, Robert White, Thomas Weelkes, Thomas Tallis and Thomas Tomkins.
Byrd’s Ne irascaris, with its lines “behold, see we are all thy people. The city of the sanctuary is become a desert, Sion is made a desert, Jerusalem is made desolate” seemed chillingly appropriate for a week in which the treasures of Syria were falling to the explosives and bulldozers of an invading army.
The ensemble will perform a similar programme at Salisbury Cathedral on 6th June, as part of the city’s arts festival. If you missed the chance to hear Stile Antico in Bath,
head for Salisbury.