THE Ebor Singers celebrate the patron saint of music in tomorrow's St Cecilia Gala Concert at the National Centre for Early Music, York. Their focus will be on the music of Giovanni Pieruluigi da Palestrina as they recreate a mass in honour of St Cecilia at the Church of St Cecilia in Trastevere.

"Following on from programmes of Purcell, Monteverdi and Charpentier in previous years, it’s fitting that we turn to composers from Rome," says musical director Paul Gameson.

"St Cecilia lived and died in Rome, and you can imagine the excitement when her uncorrupted body was ‘found’ under the church of Trasteveree in 1599! It gave the priest in charge a great marketing opportunity, and he hired singers from the Vatican chapel to perform in his church on St Cecilia’s Day."

Perhaps it was for such an event that Palestrina collaborated with his contemporaries on a mass in honour St Cecilia. Using a motet by Palestrina as a model, seven different composers contributed movements to a remarkable triple-choir mass. "There’s a sense of competition between the composers, each trying to outdo the others," says Gameson. "The result is a fantastic example of Roman polychoral writing at its best."

This is the first of three concerts over the next month by the Ebor Singers at the NCEM. On December 12, they will perform Christmas music from the Civil War court of Charles I, with the Chelys Consort of Viols as part of the Christmas Early Music Festival, followed by their Ceremony of Carols by candlelight on December 17.

"This has been a particularly busy and successful year for the choir, with the release of two recordings focusing on music from the English Civil War," says Gameson. "The first has enjoyed reviews in the national and international press, and the second will be launched at the concert on December 12. We have also performed live on BBC Radio 3 and will be singing on BBC Radio 4 on New Year’s Eve."

Tickets for November 18's 7.30pm concert cost £15, concessions £12, students £5, at, on 01904 658338 or on the door.