What is Cardoso450?

During 2016 & 2017, the Choir of the Carmelite Priory is marking the 450th anniversary of of the birth of Frei Manuel Cardoso (1566-1650), one of the most important Portuguese composers of the Renaissance and early Baroque, and arguably the most important Carmelite composer.

Cardoso’s works are presented alongside compositions by his contemporaries – composers of the ‘golden age’ of Portuguese polyphony, including Estêvão de Brito, Manuel Rodriques Coelho, Pedro de Cristo, Francisco Garro, Duarte Lobo, Filipe de Magalhães, Diogo Dias Melgás, Estêvão Lopes Morago, and João Lourenço Rebelo, extending the project to be a wide-ranging exploration and celebration of Portuguese polyphony. This incredibly ambitious project encompasses nearly 200 works, each of which is being newly edited. To our knowledge, this is the most extensive exploration of Cardoso and his contemporaries in the world.

A CD recording has been completed, presenting world premiere recordings of Cardoso’s Missa Hic est discipulus ille and Missa Tradent enim vos alongside the Palestrina motets on which they are modelled. This is the first time any of Cardoso’s parody Masses have been recorded, offering a unique insight into Cardoso’s creative process.

Cardoso’s Music

The works of the ordained Carmelite composer are still infrequently performed and the majority have yet to be recorded. Working at the transition from the Renaissance to the Baroque, Cardoso’s works combine the academic purity exemplified by Palestrina with developing, chromatically expressive styles, and the tension between modality and tonality is used emotively throughout his music which is often penitential in character.

Many of his works bear comparison to those of Victoria, especially his 6-part Requiem. At his most chromatic, one cannot help but tease out comparisons with the infamous Carlo Gesualdo. Here, though, there is no sense of a tortured soul at work; rather a contemplative simplicity and an expressive sincerity naturally born from living the monastic life as Cardoso did for 62 years.

It seems most appropriate that the championing of, arguably, the most important Carmelite composer should be undertaken by The Choir of the Carmelite Priory, London; we look forward to adding to our existing repertoire of Cardoso’s compositions and, by presenting his works liturgically at the Carmelite Priory, to exploring his compositions in the context for which they were written.

Cardoso450 links

Cardoso450 Calendar

Cardoso450 Calendar - smartphone-friendly version

Cardoso & The Golden Age - read the programme for our 8th December 2016 concert

You can follow updates on Twitter using #Cardoso450

View articles featuring Cardoso450 on our Latest News page


Creating the editions for Cardoso450 was a time-consuming undertaking. In the light of our performing experience, we hope to revisit and revise some editions in order to make them available. In reality, given the work involved, this is a long-term plan. Feel free to get in touch if you have any queries in the meantime.