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June 15, 2004


Washington Post

The first order of business when reviewing a concert by the Suspicious Cheese Lords is to explain their curious name. They are an a cappella male chorus specializing in medieval and renaissance music, and their name is based on a witty mistranslation of the name of a motet by Thomas Tallis, "Suscipe quaeso, Domine" ("Accept, Lord, I ask"). "Suscipe" morphs into "Suspicious," "quaeso" is close to the Spanish word for "cheese" and "Domine" is Latin for "Lord." The 14 members of the Suspicious Cheese Lords are resident artists at the Franciscan monastery in Northeast Washington, where they gave a concert of English sacred music titled "From Bede to Byrd" on Sunday afternoon. The repertoire included several top-40 items in this specialized category, notably Tallis's magnificent, superbly polyphonic "Lamentations of Jeremiah" and William Byrd's simpler, elegant little "Mass for Three Voices."

The medieval segment of the program included a plainsong, "Te Deum," that was exactly suited to the monastery's resonant acoustics in the group's beautifully styled performance, and a fascinating Middle English adaptation of the "Stabat Mater." Singing with precise ensemble in Latin and in English, the Lords showed exemplary understanding of the words and a fine awareness of their proper pronunciation. The acoustics enlivened further the sprightly dance rhythms of "Angelus ad virginem" and were ideal for John Dunstable's "Ave Maris Stella" and Robert Parsons's "Ave Maria." -- Joseph McLellan

Posted by acapnews at June 15, 2004 9:15 PM


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