On Ash Wednesday, 25 February, the Abbey Choir sang the Allegri Miserere for the first time. This justly famous motet, dating from about 1638, alternates verses for plainsong, full choir and a quartet of soloists, including a treble who soars repeatedly up to an ethereal top C.
For many years, the motet was sung only during Holy Week in the Sistine Chapel Choir. It began to reach a wider audience in 1771 after Charles Burney, a music historian, published a copy of the score that Mozart, at the age of just 14, had made from memory a year earlier after hearing a couple of performances.
The Allegri Miserere was sung during at the Abbey’s Solemn Sung Eucharist for Ash Wednesday, which marked the beginning of Lent. The choir also sang William Byrd’s Mass for Four Voices, composed circa 1595, during the service.