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.

Advertisements

Conductus on iTunes in November

Conductus 2It is with much excitement that I can tell you that Conductus Vol. 2 is now available in iTunes! You can purchase your copy from here. And, if you’ve still not purchased Vol. 1 yet, then that is now available on iTunes too and can be purchased here. If you would prefer to marvel at the physical product, then you can order the cd directly from Hyperion here. Hurry though if you want to receive it in time for Christmas. It could provide the perfect antidote…

The Conductus project continues to gather momentum with John Potter, Rogers Covey-Crump and I due to record Vol. 3 early in 2014. While this is likely to be the final album, the live strand of the project is set to continue well into 2015 and beyond. With the continued support of the musicologists at Southampton University, we hope to keep developing the Three Medieval Tenor repertoire and are currently discussing touring schedules for 2014 and 2015. If you are interested in hosting either the two-voice or three-voice programme (with or without the fantastic film by Mick Lynch), then please contact Robert White Artist Management.

IMG_2365The rest of November has been quite quiet for me, but has been punctuated with two fantastic performances. Last Thursday I travelled to Malvern to sing a programme of Bach Motets with the Ex Cathedra Consort. While I have sung the Motets before, it has never been in a one-to-a-part situation. Performing in this way allowed all of the performers a certain degree of flexibility which is not always possible when singing with others, and this flexibility allowed the music to breath in a way that I have never experience before. It was an extremely exhilarating performance of what can only be described as life affirming music. The four Motets were interspersed with performances of two of Bach’s Cello Suites played by Andrew Skidmore. What a privilege to sit and listen to some of my favourite music in a concert that I was taking part in. Fantastic!

Earlier in the month I was able to relearn the role of Damon in Handel’s Acis and Galatea for a concert performance with Halesowen Choral Society. It was great to turn up and find that two of the other three soloists were also University of York and Choir of York Minster Alumni. William Knight and Nick Ashby were both on fine form (vocally and socially), and it was also lovely to meet Gemma King. The concert was a great success with the choir sounding extremely enthusiastic, and band playing very sensitively!

MinsterTime at home this month has been brilliant in allowing me to prepare for the onslaught of the festive season. It has also allowed me to catch up on a certain amount of correspondence and admin, and has prompted me to start thinking about projects for 2014 and beyond. So far, these include planning performances of the Three Medieval Tenors (as described above), workshops for a brand new opera project, a second incarnation of the male quartet which met earlier this year, a brand new a cappella group with a difference, and a solo voice programme. Unfortunately I can’t give away any more than that at the moment, but stay tuned and I will reveal all when I am able!