The May Day morning began with a misty start and a promise of blue skies. To celebrate the day, Schola Cantorum climbed the steep ladder of the cloisters tower to sing a suite of nine madrigals to an audience assembled below. Amid birdsong and the bells of St Peter’s Church marking the hour, the choir began with a well-known favourite from the 13th century, “Summer is i-cumin in”. George (B) sang a solo in the Scottish song, “O My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose” by Robert Burns based on traditional sources.

Other traditional madrigals included the sprightly “Now is the Month of Maying” and “My Bonny Lass She Smileth”, both 16th century songs by Thomas Morley. Also featured in the programme was a 21st century addition to the repertoire, “Madrigal”, an original composition by another Thomas (B), a Sixth Form music scholar.

The tradition of May Morning Madrigals sung from the Oundle Cloisters tower began in 2002.

A madrigal is a type of secular vocal music composition, written during the Renaissance and early Baroque eras. Throughout most of its history it has been polyphonic and unaccompanied by instruments.

Watch Schola Cantorum perform “Fair Phyllis I saw sitting all alone” by John Farmer (17th century).