Exhibition – Musical Treasures from Christ Church Library

Venue: Christ Church Upper Library, St Aldate's, Oxford, OX4 1DP

Date: Monday - Friday 10am - 1pm, 2 - 4.30pm until early August

Tickets: free

Ch Ch libraryDuring the 2016 Festival and into August a selection of Oxford’s early music treasures will be displayed in the spectacular Upper Library at Christ Church. This special exhibition showcases the music-books used by singers in the age of Queen Elizabeth I, with special emphasis placed on partbooks – matching sets of volumes in which each singer views only her or his own voice-part, not the whole composition in score. Pride of place goes to John Baldwin’s manuscript partbooks, copied largely in the 1580s, which are the sole source of many of John Sheppard’s works, as well as of pieces by Thomas Tallis, Robert White, William Byrd and their contemporaries. Also on display are Robert Dow’s partbooks, dating from the same decade, and prized as much for their superb calligraphy as for their musical contents. Complementing the partbooks is a display of musical tablebooks, which require the singers to cluster round all four sides of the opened volume, reading in each direction; Thomas Morley and John Dowland are the composers featured here. There will be a chance to see a massive printed choirbook, Tomás Luis de Victoria’s Motecta of 1585, which is legible to a whole choir when placed on a lectern – and, in total contrast, a pioneering example of a printed study score, in the form of Claudio Monteverdi’s earliest opera, Orfeo.