Siglo de Oro is one of the leading vocal ensembles of its generation, praised for its golden tone, fresh interpretations, and innovative programming. The group made its professional debut in 2014 at the Spitalfields Festival, of which the Financial Times said: ‘Siglo de Oro, under the assured direction of Patrick Allies, performed with vivacity and poise’. Since then, the group has given concerts across the UK, appeared live on BBC Radio 3’s In Tune, and taken up invitations to sing at festivals in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Finland and Malta.
The ensemble is best known for its work in early music, with a repertoire stretching from Hildegard of Bingen to Dieterich Buxtehude. In particular, Siglo de Oro specialises in bringing to life repertoire that has been neglected for centuries. This has led to projects based around music by composers such as Matthias Werrecore, Sulpitia Cesis, and Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla, bringing their long-forgotten music to new audiences in concerts, videos and recordings.
Siglo de Oro is also dedicated to performing contemporary music. Past projects have included the premiere of Emily Hall’s hotel-based opera, Found and Lost, a performance of Stockhausen’s Stimmung at Birmingham University, and a collaboration with the charity Multitude of Voyces, whose mission is to promote the work of underrepresented composers. So far, the group has recorded eight works from Multitude of Voyces’ volumes of sacred music by women, including new works by Emily Hazrati, Yshani Perinpanayagam and Alison Willis.
Siglo de Oro has made four critically acclaimed recordings with Delphian Records, ranging from music written for Milan Cathedral in around 1500, to new commissions written for the group.
Amongst these was the world premiere recording of a mass by Hieronymus Praetorius, released in 2018, was BBC Music Magazine’s Choral and Song Album of the Month. The disc was placed on the longlist for the 2019 BBC Music Magazine Awards. Siglo de Oro’s most recent recording, The Mysterious Motet Book of 1539, reached number 9 in the UK specialist classical chart, and was one of Music Web International’s Recordings of the Year for 2022.
Compline Recording for BBC Radio 3
Friday December 22nd
January 23rd, 24th, 25th
Recording Sessions, London, UK
Concerts in Canada
THE MYSTERIOUS MOTET BOOK OF 1539 (Delphian DCD34284)
For our fifth album with Delphian Records (released October 2022), we collaborated with the musicologist Dr Daniel Trocmé-Latter to bring to life a forgotten collection of Renaissance motets. Assembled in Catholic Milan, these Latin motets took a mysterious journey across the Alps and were published in Protestant Strasbourg. The collection features a range of composers from the well-known (Jacques Arcadelt and Nicolas Gombert) to the extremely obscure (Simon Ferrariensis and Johannes Lupi). The intended performers and audience for these exquisite motets remains an enigma.
"A revelatory disc of long-neglected music and with a fascinating back story. As I said in my original review, this is an outstanding release which seamlessly combines top-class musicianship with the results of dedicated scholarship. Allies and his first-class choir make the music leap off the page."
Music Web International -Recordings of the Year-
"Siglo de Oro singt die Werke mit einer Hingabe, Professionalität und Intensität, die Staunen macht. Dieses Album ist wirklich in jeder Hinsicht exzeptionell!"
(Siglo de Oro sings these works with a dedication, professionalism and intensity that amazes. This album is truly exceptional in every sense!)
Fono Forum (Germany) -Stern des Monats-*****
"The historical enigma surrounding the 1539 publication in Strasbourg of Cantiones quinque vocem selectissimae – Choice Songs for Five Voices – is as fascinating as the music is mesmerising... Allies’s mixed voice singers – a maximum of 13 voices in all but a handful of the motets – blend superbly and bring an emotional commitment and tonal splendour to this unfamiliar music in a wide variety of styles during the most conflicted era of religious and political upheaval in Europe."
Hugh Canning Operalogue -Discs of the Week-
"Das britische Gesangsensemble Siglo de Oro und sein Dirigent Patrick Allies präsentieren auf ihrer CD "The Mysterious Motet Book“ knapp die Hälfte davon in Weltersteinspielungen. Das Ergebnis ist nicht weniger als eine musikhistorische Sensation." Südwest-Presse
"Nicely blended, balance tending just a little top-heavy, Siglo de Oro bring a youthful freshness to this music – much of it unfamiliar. If they haven’t solved the musical mystery, they’ve certainly posed some curious questions." Gramophone
"This is the rare example of a specialist Renaissance album of great general
appeal." All Music 9/10
"This is precisely the kind of innovative project Patrick Allies and the Siglo de Oro like to get their teeth into... The big surprise here was the impressive quality of the Christmas piece Haec Dies by the otherwise unknown Johannes Sarton and which attracted a commendably persuasive and alert interpretation – just one of many rare insights on this disc." BBC Music Magazine ****
CHRISTMAS IN PUEBLA (Delphian DCD34238)
In December 2020 we released our fourth album, with Delphian Records. The programme invokes the spirit of a Christmas Eve mass in Puebla Cathedral in colonial Spain (modern-day Mexico). The music is a blend of lively dance-infused villancicos and high Renaissance polyphony. We were also joined for this disc by a fantastic team of period instrumentalists!
"Padilla’s heartfelt Missa Joseph fili David has never been recorded, and it boasts some shimmering polyphony, luminously sung, but the real heat comes from the villancicos and xacaras, earthier music intended for the masses...Here the Christmas story gets a majestically madcap twist, and the instrumentalists add a final dash of pepper." The Times*****
"‘Christmas in Puebla’ is to your traditional festive classical album as a spicy, aromatic glass of mulled wine is to a tepid house red... Banish thoughts of cherub-faced choristers in musical soft-focus: this is high-energy, high-definition Christmas, prayer meets party." Gramophone
"Siglo de Oro conjure the lively, dance-infused spirit of a 17th-century Christmas in Mexico ... all unfamiliar, brilliantly done." The Guardian
"Historically, Christmas in the Mexican city of Puebla has been quite the foot-tapping affair… the evidence is vividly illustrated in this upbeat compilation by Patrick Allies and his Siglo de Oro ensemble… it’s a head-spinning clash of cultures." The Scotsman *****
"A foot-tapping festive treat… if you’re in search of something a bit different, you might like to try this delightful album of Baroque Christmas music with a twist." The Telegraph****
"11 singers of clarity and colour glitter and glow... a sonic festive feast ... The addition of local dance rhythms brings a rustic earthiness to Renaissance Mass from Mexico."
Choir and Organ *****
MUSIC FOR MILAN CATHEDRAL (Delphian DCD34224)
In November 2019 our third recording was released on Delphian Records. The aim of the project was to bring attention to the music of Matthias Werrecore, maestro at Milan Cathedral in the first half of the 16th century. Alongside Werrecore's motets - recorded here for the first time, are pieces by his Milanese predecessors and contemporaries Franchinus Gaffurius, Josquin des Prez and Gaspar van Weerbeke.
"Werrecore is a significant rediscovery who richly deserves the attention of these youthful voices and our ears. Siglo de Oro display emotion, dynamic sensitivity, sustained lines and a balance revealing the interplay of internal voices... plumbing deep wells of spiritual devotion, this music meets its match in committed performances of simultaneous unanimity of character."
Choir and Organ *****
"The smooth, honeyed sound of Siglo de Oro is largely due to the soft and clear sheen of their radiant sopranos. As an ensemble they resemble The Cardinall’s Musick both in tone and in their approach to the architecture of larger-scale motets... Most fascinating on this album are the contrasting settings of Inviolata, integra et casta by Werrecore and Josquin, which show a huge attention to detail in performance... To portray effectively such ranges of polyphonic textures is really exciting: this is a hugely impressive disc in both programming and performance."
"With their latest recording, Patrick Allies and his vocal ensemble Siglo de Oro lift the veil that has shrouded the Flemish composer Matthias Werrecore... Werrecore has been overshadowed by his predecessor in Milan, Josquin des Prez – but unjustly so, judging by the quality of the music on this disc... The youthful voices of Siglo de Oro produce a fresh, ingenuous sound. Their timbre is open and expressive - the use of vibrato adding a tremulous urgency to some of the more emotive passages... Director Patrick Allies shapes the architecture of the large-scale musical edifices with admirable control."
BBC Music Magazine ****
"The sacred music of Hermann Matthias Werrecore, a name previously unfamiliar to this reviewer, is featured on over half of the tracks of this fine recording and it is a revelation... The performances by Siglo de Oro under Patrick Allies are radiant: ideally balanced and paced to perfection, they shed Mediterranean light upon this already outstanding repertory."
Early Music Review
"I last encountered Siglo de Oro and Patrick Allies on a recording of Hieronymus Prætorius’ music for Easter on another ground-breaking Delphian recording... The new recording continues the good news... May we have more, please?"
Music Web International
"Siglo de Oro use a group of 13 singers (reducing numbers for some) with female sopranos and a mixed line up of altos. They make a lovely even blended sound, very clear and beautifully smooth. It is a very English sound, think Tallis Scholars, though Patrick Allies has created a distinctive sound for the group and is anything but bland. The disc is imaginatively put together, and certainly deserves to give Werrecore the exposure he deserves."
Robert Hugill ****
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MISSA TULERUNT DOMINUM MEUM (Delphian DCD34208)
In March 2018 our second disc was released with Delphian Records. This project is the world premiere recording of an eight-part mass - Missa Tulerunt Dominum meum by late Renaissance German composer Hieronymus Praetorius. Alongside the mass are motets for Holy Week by Andrea Gabrieli, Hans Leo Hassler, Jacob Handl and Orlande de Lassus.
‘Here is a choir in which all the elements are held in perfect equilibrium. Patrick Allies ponders every note before moulding lines whose suppleness in turn coalesce into a breathing, organic whole. He ferments vigour, urgency and narrative sweep… Praetorius’s Surrexit pastor bonus rounds off a beautifully recorded, aristocratically executed disc. Siglo de Oro has struck gold!’
Choral Disc of the Month
BBC Music Magazine, May 2018
'These are accomplished performances, confident, sonorous and full of character... Patrick Allies' firm grasp of pacing and architecture serves both choir and music well.’
‘One wonders whether the subtle genius of Praetorius’s music would be so pronounced were it not for the diligence of Siglo de Oro. Their pitch is spot on, harmonies balanced, phrasing well refined, regardless of its contrapuntal intricacies. The group made its professional debut in 2014 and they’re already accomplished. I’m ready for more.’
American Record Review, July/August 2018
'The centrepiece is Praetorius’s brilliantly scored Mass... Siglo de Oro’s members sing with passion and refinement.'
DROP DOWN YE HEAVENS (Delphian DCD34184)
In 2016 our debut CD, Drop Down Ye Heavens, was released on Delphian Records. The disc sees the choir collaborate with saxophonist Sam Corkin in a groundbreaking set of newly-commissioned works from eight composers. The recording also features previously unrecorded antiphons by renaissance composers Pierre Certon and Antoine Mornable, and contemporary pieces by Judith Weir and Bonnie Miksch.
‘That’s the very reason I find Siglo de Oro so invigorating. Professional London start-ups can sound frustratingly generic but this one hits you with its character and depth, and with an approach to blend that doesn’t want to paper over the music’s joins but instead uses voices of similar weight and vibrato to ensure we hear the grind of the parts while never being in any doubt that the ensemble is a single unit.’
‘Siglo de Oro is a choir founded by London-based students, and this is its first recording. It’s a debut with a difference… a novel, ungimmicky project, vividly executed.’
BBC Music Magazine
**** (Christmas Choice)
‘[the disc] takes its title from Judith Weir’s Drop Down Ye Heavens, an immediately captivating opening number… The different ways in which the contemporary composers integrate the vocal sound of the saxophone is intriguing; the singing’s first class. An impressive and adventurous debut from the ensemble.’
BBC Radio 3 Record Review