Sydney’s early music choir the Parsons Affayre sheds light on a Baroque masterpiece.

On Good Friday ABC Classic FM’s In Performanceprogramme showcases choral music for Lent and Holy Week by Domenico Scarlatti, Lotti and Anerio, performed by Sydney-based early music chamber choir Parsons Affayre. Established in 2009, the ensemble has made great strides in their first recording and performance projects, primarily exploring Renaissance polyphony and the early Baroque.

Founding member and alto Francesca Urek credits English early music pioneers the Tallis Scholars for bringing the Parsons Affayre into being. “I attended their summer school in Sydney in 2009 and a group of us were encouraged by their director Peter Phillips to keep singing together, so that’s how our first recording project came about”.

Their debut album Magnificatexplores the music of Tudor composer Robert Parsons, the choir’s namesake. “He is a neglected contemporary of Byrd and Tallis, who drowned in his prime under very suspicious circumstances. At the Tallis Scholars Summer School we sang his Ave Mariawhich is very well-known and performed in church choirs all over the world. I kept thinking, ‘where’s the rest of his music? This is such a beautiful piece and we need to...