Philomel presents music from the early baroque alongside newly written and commissioned works. We prioritise works by female composers.

Contemporary song

In their first two years, Philomel commissioned 8 new works, each for between three and six sopranos:

  • Light at the end of the tunnel by Emily Peasgood
  • Night Song by Dominic McGonigal
  • Sappho Fragments by Miriam Mackie
  • Sirens by Janet Oates
  • O Lilie Fair and In Sweet Dream by Sheena Phillips
  • Most Quiet Need by Joel Järventausta
  • Rhythm Herd by Dominic McGonigal
  • Birdcries, a cantata for soloists, sopranos, theorbo and bells by Janet Oates

The ‘In Short’ project will present short songs (each under 2 minutes), some written or arranged for Philomel, others which are world premieres. This list is a work in progress; some have been recorded by us in preparation for the live concert.

By Sheena Phillips:

  • Frog (soprano and piano)
  • Leaves on the line (soprano and piano)
  • Please hold (soprano and piano)
By Paul Ayres:
  • Outwithin (soprano and piano)
  • Sing softly (soprano and piano)
  • Take o take (unaccompanied soprano)
By Janet Oates:
  • Was there something?
  • Blossom (soprano and piano)
  • Limb-loosening love (soprano and piano)
  • Paperwork (soprano and piano)
  • Laustic (soprano and recorder)
  • After heavy rain (soprano, recorder and piano)
By Emily Doolittle:
  • Blackberry wassail (unaccompanied trio)
  • Break of day (unaccompanied soprano)
  • Stay o sweet (soprano duet with piano)

If you have any soprano repertoire you think might be suitable for Philomel – either for the In Short project or beyond – please get in touch. Please note we do not sing mixed female choir rep: we are an ensemble of sopranos.

Historical repertoire

Accompanied by theorbo and harpsichord, the late Renaissance/early baroque repertoire includes virtuosic songs originally written for the Concerto delle Donne, a trio of professional sopranos in the Court of Ferrara. So successful was the trio that to have a similar group became a status symbol among the courts of North Italy - and the gorgeous, emotional repertoire that composers clamoured to write for them helped to forge not only a new style of dramatic music that influenced the new genre of opera, but also gave women musicians the high status that they had not had before. Though the primary composers for the original group were men - Luzzaschi and Mazzocchi - there were also women who wrote for (and performed in) the genre, primarily Barbara Strozzi and, later, Francesca Caccini.

Examples of this repertoire in our current programming:

  • O dolcezze amarissime d'Amore: Luzzascho Luzzaschi (c.1545 - 1607)
  • Maria, dolce Maria: Francesca Caccini (1587 - 1640)
  • L'Eraclite Amoroso: Barbara Strozzi (1619 - 1677)
  • Lasciateme qui solo: Francesca Caccini (1587 - 1640)
  • Piangete, occhi: Domenico Mazzocchi (1597 - 1665)
  • Troppo ben puo: Luzzasco Luzzaschi (1545 - 1607)
  • Begli occhi: Barbara Strozzi (1619 - 1677)
  • Colombella, che di latte: Mazzocchi
  • Signor, non sotto l'ombra: Virgiolio Mazzocchi (1597 - 1646)
  • Giusta Negativa: B. Strozzi

Other historical repertoire:

  • Ego flos campi: Caterina Assandra (1590 - 1618)
  • Domine dominus noster: Lucrezia Vizzana (1590 - 1662)
  • Cinta di fior: Maddalena Casulana (1544 - 1590)
  • Ahi possanza d'Amor: Maddalena Casulana


  • O Ignee Spiritus: Hildegarde of Bingen (1098 - 1179) (arr. Oates)
  • Le Rossignol: Camille Saint-Saëns (1835 - 1921) (arr. Oates)

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