The Nativity in music and art

Choral Singing in Southport

Some time between 1450 and 1455 the Flemish painter, Rogier van der Weyden, painted a triptych to be used as an altarpiece in one of the chapels of St Columba’s church in Cologne. The left-hand wing is of the Annunciation, the central panel shows the Adoration of the Magi, and the right hand panel depicts the Presentation in the Temple. It hangs now in the secular environment of the Alte Pinakothek in Munich.

It is a glorious piece of work, one of my favourites, and comes to mind every year when we start work on the music for the Renaissance Music Group’s December recital in the Lady Chapel of Liverpool Cathedral. Morris Davies, our director, usually chooses pieces to follow the narrative of Christ’s birth, starting with the Annunciation and ending with the Presentation. This year there was a closer than usual association between the music and this particular…

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