Classical Musician

Tallis: Spem in alium – NEW edition

I am delighted to announce the release of my new edition of Thomas Tallis’s Spem in alium. It is timed with a concert in Ely Cathedral given by Nigel Short and his fabulous choir Tenebrae in June 2024 – a performance in which the edition was used in a professional context for the very first time. However, in April 2023 Ben Parry oversaw a performance using this edition given by 40 talented young singers selected from the membership of the National Youth Choir of Great Britain and its alumni which helped the choir celebrate its 40th anniversary. Held in the Royal Albert Hall, the performance was made all the more remarkable by being coupled to a son-et-lumière display, in which the light traced the passage of the counterpoint tracing Tallis’s textural shapes and revealing a few of his structural secrets. I am truly grateful to Ben for road-testing the edition in such a beautiful way and to Nigel for believing enough in my editorial methods to run with what I have gone on to refine further.

What makes this new edition unique? While there are several excellent editions of Tallis’s epic 40-part motet in circulation, the eight 5-voice vocal scores in this new edition latch on to Tallis’s perfect proportions so that all new sections start at the tops of pages, and page-turns across all eight scores are synchronised. Likewise, the conductor’s score ties in with these proportions, thus strengthening a collective sense of musical purpose and uniting all performers’ sense of structural and dramatic awareness. Cues are given in all vocal scores in such a way that each singer should be able to feel the shape and direction of the texture.

Conductor’s score – this comes in two sizes – B3 for performing or B4 for study (or those with impeccable eyesight) – and contains some useful performance notes. It is available for order as a hard copy and can be sent by post direct to the purchaser. You can peruse the score here, noting in particular the structural milestones – 1/6, 1/4, 1/3, 1/2, 5/8 and 7/8 – written boldly at the top of the score and which tie in with changes of mood or texture. This is presently a bespoke self-published edition, so plenty of notice is needed to process a hard copy of the conductor’s score.

Vocal scores – the 20-page A4 vocal scores can be hired as downloadable PDFs either as a complete 40-part set or as a selection of 5-part choirs, thereby enabling smaller choirs wishing to collaborate with others to hire only the scores that they will be using. A choir would have full permission to retain the hired PDFs until such time that it wishes to perform from the scores again. In this way, the hire agreement is by a performance-by-performance basis. Peruse a couple of the scores as a taster – Parts 1-5 and Parts 36-40. As in the conductor’s score, the proportional markers are also marked in bold above the systems.

If you are interested in any aspect of my new edition of Tallis’s Spem in alium, do get in touch – on

Before setting up downloads of the vocal score(s), it would be necessary for you to be in touch to share details of your upcoming performance – venue, date and choir. However, conductor’s scores can be purchased by private arrangement. Over the next few years, the editorial notes in this new edition will continue to be expanded to incorporate further extensive analysis and research that I am doing on Tallis and his oeuvre. There has already been some remarkable scholarship by Tallis experts in recent years and I intend to combine my musico-analytical approach using my composer’s eye to extol the proportional beauty of Spem in alium in all its splendour and reveal some more of the motet’s hidden secrets!