Founded by Dublin Choral Foundation as a fully professional chamber choir and directed by Dr Ite O' Donovan, Lassus was officially launched at a concert in the National Concert Hall in January 2016. On this occasion the choir performed music by Orlande de Lassus, Gné na Gaeltachta by Bill Whelan and Mozart’s Requiem. Lassus specialises in bringing to life rarely performed masterworks from the Renaissance and early Baroque periods. The choir’s repertoire of sacred polyphony extends to modern choral classics and more recent and newly composed pieces have featured in the choir’s unique and memorable concerts.
Concert venues are chosen for their historical significance, architectural beauty and stunning acoustics. Over the past few years these have included St Mary’s Church, Haddington Road, Dublin; the Cathedral of St Patrick and St Felim, Cavan; St Michael's Church, Enniskillen, the beautifully restored St Mel's Cathedral in Longford and the Cathedral of the Assumption in Sligo. Movement by the choir members throughout the architectural space adds interest, facilitates the performance of polychoral works and leads the audience into an atmospheric experience of the choral art at its finest.
Lassus is directed by Dr Ite O’Donovan, founder of Dublin Choral Foundation whose existing choirs Piccolo Lasso and The Lassus Scholars have made an enormous contribution to music education in Dublin since 1996. Ite made history in 1982 by being appointed the first woman conductor of the Palestrina Choir. She subsequently graduated from QUB in 1986 with an MA in Renaissance Music and for many years combined a career as lecturer at the DIT Conservatory of Music & Drama with intensive choral activities. For over three decades her choirs have travelled to many European cities and to Canada, New York, Boston and Moscow, forging a reputation for excellence in performance. Having taken early retirement from her whole-time post in 2008 Ite graduated from UCD with a PhD in Musicology in 2014 having undertaken major research work into ‘Music in Irish Periodical Literature 1770-1970’.
In 2015 Lassus recorded its first album, RESURREXI, which features a programme of Easter music not previously recorded by Orlande de Lassus, the Missa Paschalis (Pub. 1579), Officium Paschale (Pub. 1574) and a selection of motets appropriate to the Easter Season. A second album featuring Missa Domine Dominus noster and Christmas motets by Orlande de Lassus was recorded in August 2019.
Choir & Organ: Ferdinando Bertoni (1725-1813) Te Deum (1764)
Choir: Orlande de Lassus (1532-1594) Tui sunt caeli
Reading: Psalm 8 - Domine Dominus noster
Orlande de Lassus (1532-1594)
Motet – Domine Dominus noster
Kyrie from Missa Domine Dominus noster
Gloria from Missa Domine Dominus noster
Organ solo: Alexander Guilmant (1837-1911) March on a Theme of Handel (Lift up your heads) Op. 15
Adriano Banchieri (1568-1634) Laudate Domino
Confitemini Domino in echo
Reading: C. S. Lewis
Choir: Gregorio Allegri (1582-1652) Miserere mei
Choir: Colin Mawby (1936-2019) Locus iste
Choir & Organ: Jesus Christ the Apple Tree
Choir: James MacMillan (B.1959) Christus Vincit
Organ solo: Percy Whitlock (1903-1946) Folk Tune (from Five Short Pieces)
Choir: Ēriks Ešenvalds (b.1977) O salutaris hostia
Reading: The Peninsula – Seamus Heaney
Choir & Organ: Jonathan Dove (b.1959) Seek Him that Maketh the Seven Stars.
FINALE – HYMN with audience – Tune: Kingsfold: I heard the Voice of Jesus
Organist Michael McCracken is the Director of Music at Down Cathedral.
Michael started his musical training at the age of eight as a chorister in the Choir of St Mark’s, Dundela, Belfast. At the age of sixteen he took up his first orga/choir appointment at St Martin’s Church in east Belfast. He studied piano, singing and flute at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music in Glasgow. Teacher training followed at Moray House in Edinburgh alongside singing as a Lay Clerk in the Choir of St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral and the study of organ with the late Dr Dennis Townhill OBE.
After serving as head of music in Wallace Hight School, Lisburn for eight years and other church appointments, Michael decided to go freelance in 1986. His private teaching work now consists of piano, organ and singing. Other facets of his musical life include adjudicating, composing, arranging, accompanying and running choral workshops. He broadcasts frequently on BBC television and radio both locally and nationally. One of the largest concert events he has ever organised was the bringing of celebrated composer John Rutter to Belfast’s Waterfront Hall in September 2010.
Sam McClure is a secondary school teacher of English language and literature. He has recently graduated from Queen’s University with a master’s degree in English literary studies. During his year at Queen’s Sam studied local poetry and was honoured to be invited to perform at Michael Longley’s 80th birthday.