Lent and Easter

As Easter approaches, this is what I will be up to during April:

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5 April 2014; Bob Chilcott St John Passion, York Minster

Chilcott’s 21st Century setting of the Passion story is both dramatic and beautiful. The Chapter House Choir is delighted to be joined by guest soloists Christopher O’Gorman (Evangelist) and Chris Thornton-Holmes (Jesus) along with an instrumental ensemble and singers from Cantores and St Olave’s Choir. The St John Passion was premiered at Wells Cathedral in 2013 and this will be its Northern Premiere.

The concert will also include the sublime Tenebrae Responses by Victoria.

http://www.boxoffice.yorkminster.org

11 April 2014; The Ebor Singers Into Darkness, Chapter House of York Minster

Have you ever listened to music live in darkness? Total darkness? Starting in candlelight and progressing to 100 percent pitch black, the concert will explore the transition from light to darkness, not just in its liturgical context, such as Holy Week Tenebrae, but as an auditory experience for choir and audience alike. The choir presents some of the most powerful and poignant choral music to come from the western world, with works including James MacMillan’s stunning Miserere and Whitacre’s beautiful Sleep juxtaposed — yet inextricably linked — with choral music by Brahms, Victoria and Lotti.

http://www.boxoffice.yorkminster.org

14,15,16 April 2014; The Ebor Singers sing Compline at York Minster

It has become tradition for The Ebor Singers to sing Compline at York Minster during Lent and Holy Week. This period of contemplation culminates in a performance of Stainer’s Crucifixion on 16 April at 7:30pm. This year the soloists will be Jason Darnell and Andrew Thompson.

Holy Week to Easter at York Minster

During this period, the Minster Choir explores some of the most sublime music ever written including; Tallis Lamentations of Jeremiah I & II (14th), Frank Martin Mass for double choir (17th), Bairstow’s Lamentation and The Reproaches of Sanders (18th). You can see full details on the Minster’s Music Scheme.

Winter’s passing

IMG_2544With Christmas well forgotten and the revels of a significant birthday now just a hazy memory, it seems strange to look back over the festive music making of last year. Suffice it to say, there was rather a lot of singing – and not too much of the usual ‘stuff’. The highlights for me were definitely singing with Ex Cathedra again in two programmes; An Elizabethan Christmas with the viol consort Fretwork, as well as their annual Candlelight programme. This included a piece by my Minster Choir colleague Ian Colson – A Cause for Wonder, which was received enthusiastically by singers and audiences alike. I would definitely recommend checking out his music which is published by Boreas Music.

IMG_1694In January, I was asked by The Opera Group (now The Mahogany Opera Group) to take part in a workshop with the composer Emily Hall. I first came across Emily’s music when I heard her piece Rest – A Secular Requiem performed by the folk group Lady Maisery. It is evident that Emily approaches much of her work as song writing in the way a pop songwriter might, and the results are absolutely beautiful. She has been commissioned to write a concept album opera for TOG (currently being called Folie a Deux) which will be released and toured in 2015. During the workshop, I worked with Emily and the Group’s Director Frederic Wake-Walker exploring ideas of psychosis through movement and the voice. Emily is also keen that there is an electronic element to the piece, so we had fun experimenting with various electronic voice modifications. It was a fantastic day, and I learnt so much. Unfortunately my involvement in the project ended with the workshop, but I look forward to seeing the results when they appear.

IMG_2001Since January, I have been working regularly with Robert Hollingworth and his MA Vocal Ensemble (Voices of York) at The University of York. The group’s tenor was unable to complete the course, so I have been drafted in as a singer and assistant coach. It has been fascinating working with some very accomplished singers with a cathedral singing background getting to grips with some very unfamiliar repertoire. This term’s focus has been the madrigals of Monteverdi. It is absolutely sublime music, and Robert’s insights are very illuminating. However, singing in Italian has proved a challenge. We are starting to overcome this though and really beginning to make a pleasing noise as group! The fruits of these labours can be seen in VoY’s second assessed recital in April.

As well as this, the coming months’ activities include singing a predominantly improvised piece by Craig Vear in The Late Music Festival, a concert and workshops in Birmingham with the Binchois Consort and a concert in London with The Brabant Ensemble. I will also be joining the Chapter House Choir as the Evangelist for their performance of Bob Chilcott‘s St John Passion and John Potter, Rogers Covey-Crump and I will be meeting to record the final instalment of the Conductus project.

glassesOn an unrelated note, I bought a beautiful pair of Andy Wolfe glasses while in Amsterdam for my birthday in January. As beautiful as they are, the best part of getting them was the experience of actually buying them from Eye Respect on Herenstraat. Wilfried could not have been more helpful, and his after-sales care has been second to none. We are in email contact regularly now! If you are in Amsterdam, please go and visit this store. It is an experience just to browse, and the customer service is top class.