The Binchois Consort’s programme marks the 600th anniversary (on 25th October, 1415) of the the Battle of Agincourt, one of England’s greatest military victories. It also brings the focus onto its victor, Henry V, immortalized by Shakespeare and brought to the big screen by Branagh and Olivier. Great warrior though he was, Henry – typically for his time – was also a major patron of the arts, and a contemplative and devout figure seeking the support and patronage of favoured saints. He was even a skilled composer, two of whose works have survived.
The programme presents both sides of Henry: the redoubtable military and political figure celebrated in the famous Agincourt carol, in great state motets, and in chants and acclamations composed directly for Lancastrian coronations; and the man of piety revealed in his own music for the Mass, and in the polyphonic Mass and rhymed office chants for St John of Bridlington. This St John, a Yorkshire divine canonised in 1401, was a favoured Lancastrian saint who was invoked and honoured by Henry, as also by his father and son. Like early fifteenth-century life itself, the music of Henry’s time is colourful and surprisingly varied: a world of energy, rhythm, drive and brilliance whose grand contours the programme will showcase for the Cloisters audience.