The Magdalena Consort and its namesakes
The name 'Magdalena Consort' has a variety of associations.
Firstly, it pays tribute to Anna Magdalena Bach, J.S. Bach's second wife, a gifted musician and a pivotal member of the wider Bach family. Anna Magdalena's music notebooks contain transcriptions of many of her husband's sacred works, reminding us that this music played a part in domestic as well as public devotion. The link with her is an important one for the Magdalena Consort, as the music of the Bach family forms the cornerstone of the group's repertoire.
There is also an allusion to the saint after whom Anna Magdalena was named, St Mary Magdalen, 'the typical representative of sinners called to the contemplative life'* The tradition that she was the woman who anointed Christ's feet shortly before his crucifixion connects with the idea at the heart of the Magdalena Consort's 'Musical Offerings' programme of charitable performances in hospices: to offer a precious gift to people nearing the end of their lives.
Finally, the name recalls Magdalen College, Oxford, where Peter Harvey was an undergraduate and choral scholar.
* The Cloud of Unknowing, anon C14th, section 16