• Founded 2005
Often appears with
Alamire (not to be confused with the American ensemble Capella Alamire) is a vocal consort whose focus has been medieval and Renaissance-era music, with a greater emphasis on the sacred than the secular. The ensemble's number can range depending on repertory but usually features nine to 12 singers, led by director David Skinner. Alamire often uses instrumentalists in concerts and recordings, in particular members of the early music group Fretwork. Alamire regularly appears in concert throughout the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., and has made several recordings, available exclusively from its label, Obsidian. In 2011, Alamire began a project to release 30 albums of English church music over the following ten years.
Alamire (pronounced ala-meer-ay) was founded in London in 2005 by Skinner, a co-founder of the popular early music group The Cardinall's Musick, for whom he served as co-artistic director from 1989-2004. Alamire's name has rather cryptic roots: it's derived from Flemish composer and music copyist Pierre Alamire (born Peter van den Hove), who, in turn, had adopted his surname from symbols used by the 11th century Italian monk and music theorist Guido d'Arezzo. In 2005, Skinner established the Obsidian label in conjunction with Martin Souter, musical director of The Gift of Music label. 2007 was the year of Alamire's first recordings; among them was a disc entitled Philippe Verdelot: Madrigals for a Tudor King. It featured just six singers (one mezzo, three tenors, and two basses) and one instrumentalist, on lute and gothic harp.
Alamire made its American debut in 2008 at Case Western Reserve University. The following year, it was selected to open festivities held at the British Library on June 11 to mark the 500th anniversary of the coronation of Henry VIII. The concert, which also featured the early music instrumental group QuintEssential and gothic harpist Andrew Lawrence-King, offered works by Verdelot, Robert Fayrfax, and John Taverner.
That same year, Alamire, in the spirit of the ongoing Henry VIII celebrations, made a popular recording, Henry's Music, that featured works both by Henry VIII and several written for him by Taverner, Sampson, Fayrfax, and others. In 2011, Obsidian released the album Cantiones Sacrae 1575, which contained motets by Tallis and Byrd. This was the first of the 30-disc anthology of English church music in Alamire's ambitious series. In 2015, the orchestra earned the Grammophone Award for Early Music for The Spy's Choirbook. The group moved to the Inventa label in 2019 and issued an album of motets by Hieronymus Praetorius. Alamire followed that up in 2020 with a recording of John Sheppard's Media Vita in morte sumus.