Henk Schut – T h e S i n g i n g P a r l i a m e n t
Central to the installation is a 5 channel sound installation with five speakers set in a circle through which you can hear the song Deus venerunt gentes by William Byrd (c. 1543-1623). Each speaker is allocated to one voice.
‘I got a chance to explore the life and work of William Byrd more profoundly in 2008 during a residency at Aldeburgh in the house of Benjamin Britten. It was here where I came across his piece Deus venerunt gentes. The real message – support for the persecuted Catholics – was hidden in the text in Latin which only few could understand. The works made for this installation are the outcome of an ongoing investigation into creating platforms to give voice to people thinking differently and the power of art to make this happen and also the power of art to transcend social and political differences. I want to show that even a whisper can eventually have a powerful effect.’
Byrd, a devout Catholic, wrote the work for the Church of England during the Elizabethan persecution of Catholics in the 1580s. He composed Latin motets in a spirit of religious loyalty. Deus venerunt gentes is one of the more direct, with a text from Psalms that is widely believed to be talking of the suffering of the servants of the Lord. It was written as a direct protest to the martyrdom of Father Henry Campion and other Catholics burned with him in 1581. Byrd used the power of music to give expression to his inner voice even though this was in risk of being persecuted himself. His house was searched twice and he and his family were fined hugely. But probably at the behest of Elizabeth I who was a great admirer of his work, he got away with worse.
T h e S i n g i n g P a r l i a m e n t
Art Chapel Amsterdam
Prinses Irenestraat 19-1
Opening hours: 12.00-17.00