‘To Play Kinge:’ Baroque Music of Court and Cloister

We are thrilled to announce our U.K. premiere!

An armed abbess; a beastly Bishop of Bologna
A cherubic king; a dedicated diva

What do all these things have in common? Across 17th-century Europe, nuns were using their talents to influence nobility and politicians. They formed relationships with some of the highest ecclesiastical powers of the day, hosted some of the richest and most powerful women of Europe, and lent support to political ventures (such as the Jacobite campaigns of the 1690s) through their performances. Yet rarely do we stop to think about their personal lives and the way they expressed their understanding of the world.

“‘To Play Kinge: Baroque Music of Court and Cloister'” features a programme of Baroque convent music alongside selections of poetry, personal writings, letters, and diaries from Italian and English nuns.

August 7, 8 pm
Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford
Tickets available both on the door and at Tickets Oxford.

This concert will also be live-streamed on Christ Church Cathedral’s YouTube channel at 8 pm GMT.
We are grateful to Angel Early Music for their support in this project.

Doors, Dwellings, and Devotions: Performing the Medieval Anchoress

We are pleased to announce that Sub Rosa has been awarded a grant from the John Fell fund to to shoot a short documentary about anchoress enclosure at St Mary’s, Iffley this August, followed by a community event in 2022.

In thirteenth-century England, some 198 people lived as anchorites. Almost all of them were women who, devoting their lives to solitary prayer, lived alone in small, sometimes doorless structures that were usually attached to parish churches. The remains of one such anchorhold can still be seen at The Church of St Mary the Virgin, Iffley, where Annora de Briouze lived, died, and was buried.

Anchorites, who were almost all women, usually lived in small, often doorless structures attached to churches, and their withdrawal from their previous life into solitude was marked by elaborate gestures, some of which mirrored the church’s rites for the dying. Sub Rosa, Matthew Cheung Salisbury (University & Worcester colleges, Oxford) and George Haggett (Magdalen college. Oxford) will bring to life the medieval chants and prayers which were used at the ‘enclosure’ of an anchorite, a person who withdrew from society to devote their life to prayer and ascetic practices, in medieval England. Working from a mid-twelfth century source, the team will produce the first modern performance edition of the rite of enclosure and produce, through enactment, a documentary film. This work will be followed by a public workshop in collaboration with ‘Living Stones’, the education programme at St Mary’s Iffley.

Dr Salisbury, who has spent nearly two decades editing religious rites of the medieval church, and enacting them in the historic built environment, said, ‘At a time when many people have had recent experience of withdrawal from ordinary life as a consequence of the pandemic, a sort of enforced solitude, it is more important than ever to reflect on the ways in which some people have valued the spiritual experience of solitariness, and how the Church marked their setting-apart in this way.’