Spem in alium is the world's top-selling classical download
23 July 2012
With the world's attention focused on London, music written over 400 years ago for Queen Elizabeth I is the world's top-selling Classical Download.
The Tallis Scholars' recording of Thomas Tallis's masterpiece Spem in alium, written for 40 unaccompanied voices is, for a second week, at Number 1 on the UK's Official Classical Singles Chart.
The recording, released on The Tallis Scholars' own label, Gimell Records, was also the highest-selling classical download last week in the USA and Australia.
Steve Smith, managing director of Gimell Records, said:
"They don't do a world-wide classical chart but if they did Tallis's Spem in alium would definitely be in gold medal position. It's just brilliant that a British cultural classic is achieving worldwide success in the opening week of the London Olympics. British music, performed by Britain's finest choral ensemble and released on a unique British record label"
Tallis's Spem in alium is featured in the controversial literary sensation Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James.
Peter Phillips, who founded The Tallis Scholars as an undergraduate at Oxford University in 1973, said:
"Next year will be our 40th Anniversary. I had hoped that Tallis's 40-part tour de force would feature in our celebrations. I am thrilled that Spem in alium has found such a large new audience. It is one of the most remarkable achievements of the human brain, an extra-ordinary and moving piece written for 40 individual singers. After performing Spem in alium for nearly 40 years I still cannot conceive how Thomas Tallis set about writing it. For me it ranks alongside the best works of Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci and confirms Tallis as England's greatest composer."
Spem in alium is taken from the album The Tallis Scholars sing Thomas Tallis which is the second highest new entry this week in the UK Classical Artists Chart.
When Peter Phillips founded The Tallis Scholars in 1973 music written in the Renaissance period was largely unknown; our European Musical Heritage was thought to have started in the eighteenth century with J S Bach. Now the music of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries is firmly established - a development for which Peter Phillips and The Tallis Scholars can claim much credit.
The Tallis Scholars have given over 1,800 concerts around the World and are one of the UK's most active cultural ambassadors. They achieved their first number one back in 1980 with their famous recording of Allegri's Miserere - recently hailed by BBC Music Magazine as one of the 50 greatest recordings of all time. In 1987 a CD of music by Josquin was the first early music recording to win the Gramophone Record of the Year Award. In 1994 they had the privilege to perform in the Sistine Chapel. In 1999 they toured China including 2 concerts in Beijing. Both of their last two albums were nominated for a Grammy Award. In 2013 they will tour the world to celebrate their 40th Anniversary with concerts planned for the Sydney Opera House, St Paul's Cathedral in London and St Mark's Basilica in Venice.