Ensemble Pro Victoria were founded in early 2015 at the Unversity of Cambridge by Humphrey Thompson and Toby Ward for the performance of early music. A flexible ensemble of singers and players largely performing one-to-a-part, the group focusses on Iberian polyphony, pre-reformation Tudor music and the early Baroque, with particular focus on maintaining and researching the practice of choirbook performance and the use of instruments in polyphony music.
Joint-winners of the 2020 London International Early Music Festival Young Ensemble Competition, EPV have built a reputation for energetic performances of thoroughly researched programmes using some of the finest young singers and period players in Britain under 30.
The group is in partnership with the ARHC-funded Tudor Partbooks research project, led by Professor Magnus Williamson. Work for the project includes researching the effects of singing in choirbook formation as opposed to modern practice, road-testing and premiering reconstructions of incomplete works from the pre-reformation period, and applying the latest research to present
As part of this partnership, the group has enjoyed being ensemble-in-residence at the Newcastle Early Music Festival for two years, involving collaborations with Newcastle University’s chamber choir, New Vocal Ensemble and the Choir of Hexham Abbey in 'Early Music, reimagined', 'Continental polychoral music', and 'Music of the Abbey Church', the latter exploring space in liturgical pre-reformation musical practice with the choirbook lectern.
Since receiving Arts Council funding in July 2020 to reemerge out of the first lockdown, EPV started the 'Live from St Mary's, London' series, at the glorious church of St Mary's, Bourne St., Belgravia. The series goes into its 9th concert in May 2021, with a performance of Arvo Pärt's Passio, a concert which was sadly cancelled during Passiontide 2020. You can read about the series here, which has included programmes of great Elizabethan and Jacobean verse anthems, the Victoria Requiem, Hugo Distler's cantata-partita Es ist ein Ros, Christmas in the English Choral Tradition, the launch concert of the Robert Fayrfax Quincentenary, and Bach's St John Passion.
Ensemble Pro Victoria are proud to record with Delphian Records; their first CD on Scotland's Gramophone award-winning label 'The Fayrfax Quincentenary' is released on 22nd October 2021.
Previous recording projects including a short, live CD of Victoria's motets from the private chapel of Castle Howard, recorded one chilly day in early January 2019, which represented our first professional exploration into one-to-a-part singing in a building of similar size to the royal and private chapels in which the repertoire was conceived and performed. Some of these tracks can be listened to and downloaded from our Listen | Watch page.
Since the group’s debut in 2015, they have expanded their forces twice for large-scale performances, including Monteverdi Vespers and Bach Christmas Oratorio 1-3, with guest conductors Adam Hickox and Richard Gowers, and period instrumentalists from the Royal Academy of Music and the RWCMD, led by Professor Margaret Faultless (Cambridge University, RAM, OAE) and Jeremy West (HMSC, RWCMD). Upcoming concerts in 2021 include three such expansions; secular Monteverdi with instruments in Frantry Hall, Carlisle, Bach St John Passion with our ensemble and players in March, and Pärt Passio, welcoming Richard Gowers back as our guest conductor, at his church, St Saviour’s, Pimlico.
The ensemble benefits from a close relationship with artist Gabriella Morris, who has created stunning pieces of art and design since 2015. Each project sees a new commission inspired by the programme and repertoire. Her commissions can be viewed on our previous events page.