Cause Area

  • Arts & Culture


282 First st #2Jersey City, NJ 07302 United States

Organization Information

Mission Statement

Polyhymnia is a small vocal ensemble specializing in historically informed performances of sacred music composed between 1450 and 1650.


Polyhymnia is a small ensemble of singers and instrumentalists focusing on historically informed performance of sacred music from the courts and cathedrals of the Renaissance world. The professional singers and players that comprise the ensemble are drawn from New York's rich pool of early music specialists, including some of the finest church choirs in New York. Past and present members have sung with Saint Thomas Fifth Avenue, Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Saint Luke in the Fields and Holy Apostles. Originally artists-in-residence at Saint John's in the Village, the ensemble moved to its current home at Saint Ignatius of Antioch in 2003, when the ensemble and its audience outgrew its original home. Currently producing three concerts a year in New York, Polyhymnia has also made a name for itself at performances in Boston as a popular entry in the Boston Early Music Festival fringe events, and has been the guest choir at a number of special events, most notably the centenary celebrations of Holy Cross Monastery, in Westpark NY. Polyhymnia was granted 501 (c) 3 status in 2004, and is recognized as a tax-exempt organization.

Since 2000, director John Bradley has been creating original editions of music for the ensemble, some of it lying forgotten in manuscript collections since the 16th-century. Working in concert with libraries, liturgical historians and institutions, Polyhymnia hopes to preserve and reintroduce choral masterworks of the Renaissance and early Baroque in ways that entertain and elucidate. In addition to the concert series, the ensemble's unique relationship with Saint Ignatius of Antioch, a forerunner in the preservation of historical liturgy, provides opportunities to perform Renaissance and Baroque music in a liturgical context while fostering musical artistry and scholarship in these interdependent disciplines.

Since its formation in 1994, Polyhymnia has amassed a vast repertoire and performed in traditional concerts as well as historical liturgical reconstructions. Mr. Bradley has reconstructed several liturgies, from Seville, Imperial Germany and Tudor England, including works by well known composers like Lassus and Palestrina, and by a wide array of unjustly neglected composers including Aston, Clemens non Papa, Crecquillon, de Rore, Fayrfax, Gombert, Porta, Vaet and Willaert.

Polyhymnia's 2005-2006 season featured a mass reconstruction for the Feast of St. Alban with music by Robert Fayrfax (1464-1521), member of the Chapel Royal and informator chori at Saint Alban's Abbey, with Sarum Chant sung from a 16 th-century printed edition. Our March concert, performed with an eight-piece band of period instruments, offered Mass and Office music by Juan GutiƩrrez de Padilla (c.1590-1664) maestro di capilla at the cathedral in Puebla, Mexico. Our May concert presented the music of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c.1526-1594), composer to the Cappella Sistina and Cappella Giulia, and the greatest and last of the Italian Renaissance composers, with the Missa Viri Galilaei, motets, and a setting of the Magnificat.

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