Dante and the Music of Ante-Purgatory

On Friday the 21st of February this year, Somerville College Choir, conducted by Will Dawes, with Katie Bastiman as the speaker and Joseph Lord on the organ, presented a guided tour through the rich variety of music represented in The Divine Comedy. The concert featured music by Z. Randall Stroope, James MacMillan, Herbert Howells, and Thomas Tallis.

Dante’s masterpiece, “The Divine Comedy” is divided into three parts: Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. During this interdisciplinary event, the audience learned about the music of Dante’s Purgatory, looking at the psalms and hymns that Dante cites and why they are significant within the context of the poem. Somerville choir sang settings of these texts to music by composers including MacMillan, Howells, and Tallis.