Tomorrow afternoon around 100 musicians will gather in Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian church – my resident parish here in Washington, D.C. – to rehearse and perform Thomas Tallis’s epic forty part motet, Spem in alium. The performance is at 3.30 p.m., and is free and open to the general public. You are very warmly invited and welcome! More details are available here.
Composed around 1570, the text of the work is a Sarum Rite responsory for Mattins adapted from the deuterocanonical book of Judith. It was Judith whose great beauty enabled her to ingratiate herself with the enemy leader, Holophernes, get him inebriated, and then behead him and return to the Israelite camp with her trophy. She was praised by the Jewish princes as a courageous and somewhat tenacious woman. A striking depiction of the decollation of Holophernes was painted by Carravagio between 1598-99, and now hangs in the Palazzo Barberini, Rome (the painting, that is, not the head).