An exhibition marking the five hundredth anniversary of the death of Bishop Elphinstone, founder of the University of Aberdeen, is accompanied by music of the period performed by Aberdeen staff and students.
An exhibition in the Sir Duncan Rice Library commemorating the life and times of Bishop Elphinstone has music performed by Dr Amanda Babington (recorder), one of our Visiting Fellows in Performance, Dr Frauke Jürgensen (voice), a specialist in fifteenth-century music and Prof. David J. Smith (recorder and organ), who also directs King’s College Chapel Choir.
The music that would have been known by Bishop Elphinstone predates that of the most famous Scottish composer of the sixteenth century, Robert Carver, and it is impossible to know for certain exactly what would have reached Aberdeen. The Carver Choirbook contains music by English and continental composers alongside that of Carver himself, so it is likely that this reflects the situation in relation to earlier repertoire too.
Liturgical music for the Chapel would have included alternatim practice, with chant alternating with verses on the organ, so the Chapel Choir sings part of a Magnificat in the Eighth Tone interspersed with anonymous English organ versets.
No doubt secular music had its place in Aberdeen society in Elphinstone’s day, so the exhibition music includes two songs. My heart is in great mourning (from the late fifteenth-century Ritson Manuscript) and Who shall have my fair lady? (from the Fayrfax Manuscript, c.1500) are performed by Frauke Jürgensen accompanied by two wide-bore renaissance recorders.