Let’s look back shall we?

DSC_01942015 has been an extraordinary year. It was the year in which John Potter, Rogers Covey-Crump and I took the Conductus project on the road. We sang concerts and led workshops in Bratislava, Beverley, Durham, Brussels, Radovlijca (Slovenia), and Brighton.

It is also the year in which I joined Cantabile – The London Quartet. This is a group with whom I sang back in 2012 and thought it unlikely that I would get the opportunity again. Since September, I have done 13 shows with them in Belgium, Germany and the UK including a charity concert for Bloodwise in the Royal Albert Hall in front of c. 6,000 supporters. And there was that trip to California in May…

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Photo by Jonathan Knowles during a Cantabile – The London Quartet photo shoot.

I have also had the privilege of singing with Gothic Voices this year! This is a group whose recordings were always a first port of call for me while studying medieval music at university. And in 2015 I was offered the opportunity to sing with them. Extraordinary!

I also had the pleasure of performing and recording with The Brabant Ensemble and Ex Cathedra singing diverse music by the likes of Pierre de la Rue, Carl Orff (Carmina Buranna), James MacMillan and Alec Roth. And I made my first visit to Dartington with Ex Cathedra in the summer – what an amazing place.

I won’t bore you any further, but you can see that it has been a very exciting year and 2016 promises to be similarly so. We expect the final instalment of the Conductus series to be released by Hyperion on 26th February, and are looking forward to more concerts and workshops in Cambridge and Besalú (Spain). We also have plans to explore new repertoire so watch this space for more news on that. Cantabile’s diary continues to fill up with engagements in Europe, the first of these on New Year’s Day in Bad Kreuznach in Germany. I have also been invited back to sing with Gothic Voices again and will be travelling with the Brabant Ensemble too. There are also tentative dates for Ex Cathedra so a busy year ahead.

Which just leaves me to say that I am constantly overwhelmed by the unerring support that I receive from my family, friends and colleagues while undertaking these singing activities. I know every day that I am very lucky to be pursuing this career and am extremely grateful for the constant love and support!

Wishing you a very Happy New Year!

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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!

Conductus Vol II and Britten

DSC_0095The New Year has been filled with recordings so far. In early January, in this year of Benjamin Britten’s centenary, I was in London recording Britten’s War Requiem with the Gabrieli Consort. This disk will be the third in their Wratislavia Cantans Oratorio Series in collaboration with the festival of that name as well as the Wroclaw Philharmonic Choir & Orchestra and young singers who have been involved in the Gabrieli Young Singers’ Scheme. With such vast forces involved, one can image that the loud bits were pretty loud! However, Paul McCreesh also coaxed some exquisite quiet singing from the assembled masses. Although I have sung the piece before, I had forgotten how exciting Britten’s orchestration is. The brass fanfares in particular during the Dies Irae are mind-blowing – such evocative writing. The only downside to the sessions was that we didn’t get to hear much of the stella array of soloists; Susan Gritton, John Mark Ainsley and Christopher Maltman. I can’t wait to hear the final outcome!

NCEM3Then last week, John Potter, Rogers Covey-Crump and I returned to the National Centre for Early Music to record the second disk of the Conductus project for Hyperion Records. It was an intensive few days, but I think the results will be wonderful. Having made one recording already and performed the music live, we have definitely developed a collective sense of style. We have also got to grips with the editions which provide the performer with a mix of standard notation and clips of the manuscript. While I was sceptical about the time involved in preparing these scores for performance over the convenience of standard chant notation, I am now convinced that the results during performance are significantly different and worth the time spent with the manuscript. We could not have got the results we have without the amazing production and engineering skills of Jeremy Summerly and Julian Millard, and of course Mark Everist who was on hand to clear up any musicological questions. Thanks also to Mark’s team of musicologists in Southampton who prepared the editions.

conductus recording photoJohn and I will be performing the two voice version of the programme with Mick Lynch‘s film at Trinity College, Cambridge on the 13 April during their Festival of the Voice. The first outing of the three voice version with Rogers Covey-Crump will be in Southampton in September with the video. Both programmes are also available as full length concerts with an interval but without the film and the repertoire will continue to develop for both as we prepare for the final recording. Further details are available on my Conductus page, or from Robert White (RWhiteAM@aol.com).

Finally, thanks to Stephanie Puzey Broomhead for braving the cold and snow with me this weekend to take some new promo pics which you will see popping up on the website soon.

Conductus at YEMF

20120718-001440.jpgThis week has seen a return to music rehearsals for Stockhausen’s Mittwoch aus Licht with Ex Cathedra for Birmingham Opera Company, after an exciting appearance at the York Early Music Festival.

The York Early Music Festival hosted John Potter and I in the first live research output of Southampton University and Mark Everest’s AHRC funded Conductus Project – Cantum pulcriorem invenire. The performance took place in the beautiful All Saints’ Church on the Harewood House Estate late in the evening. The space was illuminated by candle light and the premier showing of Michael Lynch‘s beautifully evocative video. Thankfully there was enough light so as not to cause too many logistical problems when moving around the space during the performance, though John did have to use the torch app in this iPhone at one point.

Singing the Conducti in this space as a whole concert performance for the first time was a phenomenal experience. It was exciting to see how elastic we could be with the free texted sections, and exploring the juxtaposition of these against the rhythmic caude. I think the space encouraged us to explore the sound we were making too, with the resonance providing a sort of polyphony, especially in the solo numbers. The audience feedback was extremely positive with many fantastic comments about Michael Lynch’s film (during which, one of the horses tried to eat my head…). People also liked the fact that we didn’t take new notes between certain numbers, and that we were not static throughout, but moved around the space.

20120718-002457.jpgThe first recording, Conductus Vol I – Music & Poetry from Medieval France is being released by Hyperion Records in September and we are scheduled to record Vol II in January next year. With both CDs worth of repertoire under our belts, we hope to be able to perform more gigs during 2013.

Next week sees Stockhausen move into production rehearsals at the Argyle Works in Birmingham. The extensive music rehearsal time that we have already had for this piece has meant that we have been able to really get under its skin. Stockhausen (or his assistants) was so meticulous about his markings and it is impossible to overlook them. It will be very exciting to see Graham Vick’s vision for the piece on the stage. Unfortunately the shows are sold out, but hopefully there will be some media to show once the performances are complete.