Q&A with The Marian Consort

Rory McCleery

The Marian Consort’s founder and director, Rory McCleery, tells us what to expect from their concert: ‘Delighting the People: A Jacobean Christmas’ on 6 December.

Tell us about how the Consort was formed

The Marian Consort was formed back in 2008 at university, so actually we’re celebrating our 15th anniversary this year! We began as a group looking to perform early music as it was originally intended – so as a small, chamber ensemble, really. Over the years the range of our projects has spread, so whilst retaining a core of early music, we also do lots of commissioning of new work, education projects, and some more adventurous works that take choral music out of its comfort zone, collaborating with sound or visual artists and creators from other artistic disciplines.

What can the audience expect from Delighting the People: A Jacobean Christmas?

This project is lots of things: beautiful, intimate, and peaceful, but also fun, silly and a bit raucous at times! It really captures life at the Stuart Court, which was famous for its big, bawdy celebrations (especially around Christmas), but of course it also was home to many composers writing really sublime music. We’re joined for this programme with a chamber organ that provides a bit of that Festive sparkle too!

Marian Consort

What’s been your personal favourite concert the Consort has given?

Touring the music of William Byrd to Japan earlier this year was certainly memorable. It was our first visit to the country, and one I’ll never forget. They have some incredible concert halls over there, and extraordinary audiences that insist of many encores! It was a real joy to be able to share this music that means so much to me as a musician with these audiences over there, while also soaking in the amazing culture, landscape and of course food!

Do you have links to Cambridge?

We’ve got lots of personal links to Cambridge within the group – some of our artists studied here – and of course we’ve loved performing in the city many times. But this is particularly close to home for our organist for this concert, Nicholas Morris, whose day job is Director of Music at Queens’ College.

It’s our 30th anniversary this year. If money and time were no object, how would you choose to celebrate with us?

It would only be suitable to recreate a Christmas Feast at the Stuart Court! Plenty of food, wine, and music in front of a roaring fire. A popular feature of these festivities was the Feast of Fools from St. Stephen’s Day until December 28th. Society turned briefly on its head, so that kings could become fools and fools could become kings. Now that would be fun to programme!