Monday, 28 November 2011

A Brighter Future for Uganda - amazing chidren's choir from Kampala, 'The Pearl of Africa', sing and dance - to raise awareness and increase UK support for the Ugandan Charity 'Molly & Paul Child Care Foundation' Exeter Cathedral Saturday 26 November

The picture of new hope
The sensational Pearl of Africa Children's Choir from Kampala
perform in front of the alter at Exeter Cathedral

Per-capita gross domestic product in the UK is making a slow recovery, after falling from $45,000 to $35,000 between 2004 and 2009. Protesters have gathered on Cathedral Green to raise awareness about financial and political inequalities. Straitened times indeed.

Compare these figures. Per-capita GDP in Uganda, having reached $300 in 2004, for the first time in 15 years, has now reached it's highest ever level - a mere $500!

Ever since the disastrous dictatorship of Idi Amin during the 1970s, Uganda has struggled to achieve political and economic stability. Within a year of Amin being ousted, the ineffectual Ugandan National Liberation Front, set up in Tanzania before liberation, had lost support - and the national elections. The Democratic Party won by a landslide.

However, Paulo Muwanga (chairman of the Ugandan People's Congress) usurped the authority of the Electoral Commission and declared the UPC elected, reinstating Amin's predecessor, Milton Obote, as president (and himself as vice-president and minister of defence).

Yoweri Museveni, the former military commissioner to Obote in exile in Tanzania, raised a National Resistance Army amongst the disaffected rural populations and waged guerilla war against Obote's regime. The civil war continued as Museveni took on the subsequent military rule of General Tito Okello and his Uganda National Liberation Army.

Eventually, exhausted by war, the Ugandan people accepted Museveni as president. Museveni drove out Okello's army and established a new government in Kampala in 1986 - dominated by his own party -  the National Resistance Movement.

It took a further twenty years for Museveni to permit multi-party elections. In 2006 Musoveni's main opponent, Kizza Besigye, chairman of the newly formed 'Forum for Democratic Change' party lost to Museveni by 37% to 59% in the presidential elections and the FDC won only 37 of the 289 seats in parliament in the general election. NRM won 205 seats.

Museveni, was formally elected for a five year term ending in February this year. At this year's polls Museveni beat Besigye to be re-elected as president and the National Resistance Movement beat the Forum for Democratic Change to be re-elected as governing party in the general election. In both cases the majority was greater than in 2006.

Despite Besigye's determination that the Ugandan people should rise up in protest against Museveni's extended rule, as protesters had in North Africa, no protests have taken place and Museveni is still accepted as president.

The early 1980s in Uganda, after Milton Obote's return as president, were dark days indeed. The population suffered crushing poverty and the uncertainty caused by a destructive civil war. In addition to Uganda's number on cause of death, malaria, a new and untreatable disease was spreading fast - HIV.

In 1983, as Obote's army started to split into tribal factions, 750,000 people from the Luwero District north of Kampala were forced into internment camps to deprive Museveni's NRA of rural support. Adding to the misery, the NRA had resorted to using land-mines against civilians, and children were being used as guerrilla fighters.

In those dark times there seemed little hope for Ugandan children, many of whom had lost their parents through war or disease. However, it was in 1983 that a husband and wife in Kampala began their struggle to give hope back to the children of Uganda.

Molly and Paul M Wasswa
Two teachers, Molly and Paul Wasswa, used their land at Kamuzinda in Masaka west of Kampala to create a children's village where children could receive medical care and affordable, or even free, education. They established the 'Molly and Paul Child Care Foundation'. Later they extended their work to Kampala, setting up the New Kaballe Busega Primary School.

Students at Kamuzinda
'Molly and Paul Child Care Foundation' is a christian organisation which aims "to improve the health, education and welfare of people suffering through disease, poverty and war". The objectives of the foundation include the provision of education for families, resources for schools, support for children in education, health education and resources, and the promotion of sustainable agriculture and health-care.

Also in 1983 Molly and Paul started the 'Pearl of Africa Children's Choir' to raise awareness, and money, for their various projects. In 2006, just as Yoweri Museveni began his first term as elected president of Uganda, 'Pearl of Africa Child Care Limited' was set up in the UK to promote the choir, and maximise charitable donations to the foundation from the UK. The company is based in Callington in Cornwall and currently has a value of £85,000.

Here in the UK our first contact with the foundation is likely to be through one of the yearly tours by the choir. (In fact there are two choirs. One tours in the north of England and Wales, one in the south.) The sourthern tour starts in London, but is mainly in Cornwall - the home of PACC Ltd. Before the children go back to Uganda, however, they have one more place to visit - Exeter.

At 12.30pm this Saturday (26th November) about twenty Ugandan school children, in brightly coloured costumes,arrived at Exeter Cathedral with their head teachers and representatives of PACC Ltd. Outside the west front of the cathedral they gave a little performance to get everyone's attention before going inside to give a full concert of songs and dance to an audience seated in the quire.

The performance was stunning. From their first song at the west front, they took their audience by storm. Some of their songs were in English, but most were in Oluganda, or perhaps local Ugandan dialects. The meaning of the words was unknown - possibly religious. However, the thrill and excitement they conveyed was overwhelming. The children's voices were incredibly powerful, perfectly trained, and joined in harmony to amazing effect.

Even more amazing than the singing was the dancing. No song could continue for more than a few bars before the children would start to dance with incredible energy. The choreography was astounding, and every child moved in perfect synchrony with the group - in widely differing directions and styles. The teachers, and some of the older children, added drumming to the wonderful music. Four 'tympani' with what appeared to be natural hide skins, were played with enormous force and precision.

The rhythm was infectious. Adult audience members just about resisted the impulse to join in the dance - but not the children. Picking up the moves with childish freedom, they joined in with a will - and were welcomed by the children from Uganda. The dances, and the songs, seemed unlimited in their inventiveness and exuberance but, even more extraordinary, after each song the children showed absolutely no sign of exertion. All were as calm and relaxed at the end as they were when they started. Their fitness and stamina were quite uncanny - especially considering that they had performed at over forty venues in the previous two months!

Saturday's performance certainly demonstrated the benefits of education for children in Uganda. Seeing the children so healthy, happy - and full of enthusiasm and a sense of fun - was the best endorsement Molly and Paul Wasswa could hope for. The head teachers, although not quite as energetic as the children,  were clearly enjoying themselves very much as well. When the singing and dancing ended, the heads also took the opportunity to explain the work of the foundation, and the wonderful facilities provided in their schools.

PACC Ltd trustee Chris Paxman (affectionately referred to as 'Uncle' Chris) added details of how the UK charity can direct donations to schools and clinics - or even sponsor the education of a specific child - for as little as £15 per month. Based in Launceston, the company handling donations to the foundation in the UK, is easily accessible. Full contact details at the end of this post.

But first - take a look at the wonderful children's choir from Uganda - The Pearl of Africa!

Before the concert
the choir attract an audience outside Exeter Cathedral

with amazing singing

and incredible dancing

The audience are welcomed into the Cathedral
by Canon Ian Morter of the Pastoral Care Department
who explains the mission of the
Molly and Paul Child Care Foundation
and Pearl of Africa Child Care Limited

and the singing and dancing begins again

such passion

such glorious harmonies

resonant male-voice counterpoint (oldest bass - 15)

beautiful soprano solo

The energy of the dancing can be perplexing

so much movement

and rhythm! One bass singer doubles as percussionist

with the support of head teacher Peter Nakabaale

As the dancers get closer to the audience . . .

. . . the locals join in!

impressive acrobatics . . .

. . . are harder to copy

The girls show off their moves

The boys do too

Anything you can do . . .

Finally -  and not even out of breath -
the children wait respectfully as the head teachers speak

about the 'Molly and Paul Child Care Foundation'

ending with Peter Nakabaale, head teacher of Kamuzinda School

Then, to explain the UK end - and encourage us all to give generously -
'Uncle' Chris Paxman from Launceston
trustee of 'Pearl of Africa Child Care Limited'

Many thanks to the Pearl of Africa Children's Choir
for coming to the UK and giving such exciting and entertaining concerts

. . . and thank you to the
'Molly and Paul Child Care Foundation'
for bringing new hope to Uganda

Pearl of Africa Child Care Limited
12 Roydon Road
PL15 8JT

telephone:  01444  226  355

Or donate £5 by text:
send "Care38 £5" to 70070

Friday, 25 November 2011

Antiphon at Buckfast Abbey on Saturday 3 December - a new and exciting choir in Devon

New South West-based choir announces concert date and venue

First concert to be ‘A Concert for Advent’ on the 3rd December
at beautiful Buckfast Abbey

Brand new choir, Antiphon, has announced its first concert date and venue. ‘A Concert for Advent’ will be held at Buckfast Abbey on Saturday December the 3rd at 7.30pm and will feature works from Lauridsen, Tallis, Whitacre, Warlock and Gabriel Jackson among others.

Conductor, Matthew Cann, said: “I am really excited about this new venture! Antiphon was set up by myself, David Acres and Michael Vian Clark, because we felt that there was an opening for a smaller, professional ensemble drawn from across the whole of the UK. We wanted to perform some music which you don’t often hear, and give a fresh interpretation to some that you do.”

He continued: “We are thrilled to be able to call the beautiful surroundings of Buckfast Abbey our home, and feel that this inspirational place is perfect to perform these wonderful pieces.”

Tickets are available for ‘A Concert for Advent’ at £14 in advance or £16 on the door. For further information, please email

telephone: 07961 320663

Full details of the concert at Buckfast Abbey on Saturday 3 December:


Plainsong: 'Rorate Coeli'
William Byrd: 'Rorate Coeli'
1. Advent antiphon - 'O Sapienti'
Gabriel Jackson: 'I look from afar'
Neil Cox: 'O Maria Vernans Rosa'
(Neil Cox is Musical Director at Lancing College in Sussex)
2. Advent antiphon - 'O Adoni'
Francis Poulenc: 'Salve Regine'
Thomas Tallis: 'Videte Miraculum'
3. Advent antiphon - 'O Radix Jesse'
Morten Lauridsen: O Magnum Mysterium
4. Advent antiphon - 'O Clavis David'


5. Advent antiphon - 'O Oriens'
Henrik Gorecki: 'Totas Tuas'
6. Advent antiphon - 'O Rex Gentium'
Robert Parsons: 'Ave Maria'
Eric Whitacre: 'Lux Aurumque'
7. Advent antiphon - 'O Emmanuel'
Kenneth Leighton: 'Lully, lulla, thou little tiny child'
8. Advent antiphon - 'O Virgo Virginem'
Gabriel Jackson: 'Tomorrow go ye forth'
Peter Warlock: 'Benedicamus Domino' (1918)
("Glory, praise, God is made both man and immortal")
Thomas Tallis: 'Te Lucis Ante Terminum'

What a fabulous programme of choral music - an exciting and memorable evening!!

Monday, 21 November 2011

Classical Journey Tuesday 22 November

The third week of November has seen an explosion of musical talent in Exeter and Devon. The English Touring Opera have been at the Northcott Theatre to perform three very accessible operas in English translation - in addition to three choral concerts at other venues. The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra made their second visit to the new-look University Great Hall for an evening of 'Greatest Hits' - Rossini, Grieg, Tchaikovsky and Bizet. Ballet Theatre UK performed Hans Christian Anderson's 'The Snow Queen' at the Barnfield Theatre - only to be replaced by Clare Martin and Richard Rodney Bennett for Irving Berlin Jazz at the same venue the following night. Exeter Festival Chorus performed John Rutter's 'Gloria' at Exeter Cathedral. The Voces Renaissance Choir sang the last of their four glorious recitals in memory of Thomas Luis de Victoria (died 1611) at Buckfast Abbey. On a smaller scale, but equally talented were organ recitals by Alex West and John Scarfe, and a magnificent double performance of Marc-Antoine Charpentier's 'Te Deum' (and more) by the Clyst Valley Choral Society.

Before the next 'Classical Journey', on Tuesday 6th December, there is even more wonderful music coming our way. On Wednesday this week mezzo-soprano Dorothy Ferrier will give a lunchtime song recital at Glenorchy Church in Exmouth - and Baritone Alex Poulton will perform Franz Schubert's 'Winterreise' at St Mary Arches Church in Exeter in the evening. On the same evening there will be a world première of New York composer Annie Gosfield's 'Floating Messages and Fading Frequencies' at Dartington Great Hall. Annie herself will be performing with her trio. (She plays 'sampler keyboard' while Roger Kleier plays electric guitar and Chris Cutler plays percussion.) They will be joined by the Danish 'Athelas Sinfonietta' for this extraordinary piece inspired by wartime communications between British Intelligence and the French Resistance Movement. There will also be a performance of Karsten Fundal's 'resistance' theme 'Flame & Citron' and Annie's signature tune 'EWA7' in which she uses her sampler to recreate 'the music of industry'.

Thursday night is very special. Exeter University Director of Music, Marion Wood, who presented the 'Classical Journey' with such unparalleled erudition and style in July this year, returns to Exeter Cathedral to conduct the Exeter Music Group Symphony Orchestra. Also returning to Exeter by popular demand is the wonderful Roumanian pianist Alexandria Dariescu. Alexandria will join the orchestra to play Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto - a stunning piece, and the perfect choice of soloist. The orchestra will also play Igor Stravinsky's shocking and technically brilliant 'Rite of Spring'. Certainly an evening to remember - and not to be missed!

Staying on a Russian theme, on Friday evening Exeter Cathedral will be the venue for a piano duet recital by two Cathedral organists Andrew Millington and David Davies. They will perform Sergei Rachmaninov's 'Second Suite' for two pianos. On Saturday the 'Pearl of Africa Children's Choir' from Kampala in Uganda will end their very special tour of the UK in Exeter with a free lunchtime performance in the Quire of Exeter Cathedral (where the Cathedral Choir usually sing) on Saturday. The concert would appear to be repeated next Monday evening at St Peter's School in Exeter, but details are sketchy. On Saturday, however, Exeter Cathedral's Director of Music, Laurence Blyth, will be in Wellington in Somerset. He is Musical Director of Wellington Choral Society (as well as Exeter and Exmouth), and on Saturday night they will be performing Henry Purcell's 'Dido and Aeneas', with more marvellous choral music - including music by Eric Whitacre and Morten Lauridsen.

On Sunday evening in South Molton, a vast choir drawn from the whole of the South West will convene at the Pannier Market to give a singularly spectacular performance of Handel's 'Messiah'. This monumental event will really put South Molton on the map - and raise money for the Radio Devon Air Ambulance Fund. On the same evening, at Kennaway House in Sidmouth, jazz ensemble 'Chris Gradwell and Friends' will conclude the six concert series with a second 'Music Deco' evening with soprano Kate Walker. The previous 'Music Deco' was a sell-out (see details) and this one promises to be as well!

There is no 'Classical Journey' on Phonic FM next Tuesday. (Gill, Tina and Abi take over with their 'Mighty Book' literature review programme.) Between the 'Mighty Book' and the next 'Classical Journey' there will be another week of  music, starting with a chance to hear the incredible 'Duo Teresa Carreñoplay beautiful piano and 'cello duets from Venezuela - Wednesday lunchtime at Glenorchy in Exmouth of course.

Next Saturday (3rd December) is very busy. The Exeter Bach Society are at St David's Church in Exeter to perform Bach's 'Christmas Oratorio'. (Andrew Daldorph's Exeter Chamber Choir performed the Oratorio with Devon Baroque at exactly the same time last year, with Amy Daldorph as soprano soloist and William Townend as bass. - details) This year the Exeter Bach Society will invite only one Guildhall School of Music student - Raphaela Papadakis - to return as a soprano soloist. They will have a new bass voice - local man, Julian Rippon. Julian will join us in the studio to discuss the concert and the wonderful musicians involved.
(Compare the line-up pictured at the end of this post with the Bach Society line-up for 'Autumn Baroque' last year - CJ 11/11/10)

On the same night, 3rd December, at Buckfast Abbey, there will be a 'Concert for Advent' by a new choral ensemble - inspired by David Acres' 'Counterpoint Choir' and brought together by Matthew Cann. 'Antiphon' brings together talented Exeter and Devon Singers, with professional international performers. We can hear Morten Lauridsen's magnificent 'O Magnum Mysterium', Henryk Goreccki's 'Totas Tuas', Eric Whitacre's 'Lux Arumque - heavenly! David Acres is coming to talk about the concert at the beginning of Tuesday's show.

And Andrew Daldorph? Having completed his jazz series with Chris Gradwell, Andrew will be putting on two  Christmas performances with the Exeter Chamber Choir in one week. On the same Saturday evening as the Bach Society and Antiphone (3rd December) they will be in the Teign Valley at Higher Ashton for 'A Concert of Seasonal Music', and then they will be at Buckfast Abbey on the following Tuesday evening (6th December) for 'A Service of Christmas Music and Readings'. Both events cost nothing to attend.

On the intervening Sunday (4th December), at 4pm, Andrew Daldorph and Chris Gradwell's colleague Hilary Boxer (together they make up the 'Beare Trio') will be performing at the Corn Barn in Cullumpton in a brand new pairing - with Ruth Molins (formerly Ruth Avis - now married!) playing 'cello and flute respectively - 'Festive Flute'. That concert will be repeated - with lunch and wine - at Bicton College, in their sumptuous music room, on Wednesday 7th December. A fitting end to an aptly named and superb concert series - 'Tasty Music'!

And, while the Exeter Chamber Choir perform at Buckfast on Tuesday 6th December, the 'Choristers and Gentlemen of Exeter Cathedral will be singing 'Music for Advent and Christmas' in the James Wyatt Music Room at Powderham Castle (courtesy of Powderham Kapellmeister George Pratt) - directed by Andrew Millington!

Full details, as always, in the concert run-down (post below). It looks as though there's something to suit everyone over the next two weeks. Meanwhile, how about some pictures to remind us of all the wonderful music we can enjoy in Devon . . .


Buckfast Abbey
English Touring Opera Musical Director
Michael Rosewell leads performers from
The Royal College of Music
in Buxtehude's 'Membra Jesu Nostri'
violins: Anne Marie Christensen
and Sophia Anagnostou
'cello: Willemijn Knodler

Willamijn Knodler relaxes as
Jadran Duncumb and Pia Pircher
tune the theorbo and viola da gamba

Buxtehude's third cantata - 'Ad Manus'
The performers get 'blood' on their hands
Counter-Tenor: Rupert Enticknap
Soprano: Anna  Anandarajah
Dancer: Paul Chantry
Tenor: Simon Chalford Gilkes
Soprano: Hannah Sandison
Bass: Pnini Gruber

Simon Chalford Gilkes, Pnini Gruber and Rupert Enticknap
sing lustily - Buxtehude's sixth cantata - 'Ad Cor'
Jadran Duncumb and Pia Pircher
play theorbo and viola da gamba

Jadran Duncumb finally emerges from behind the theorbo
flanked by violinists Anna Maria Christensen and Sophia Anagnostou
Viola da Gamba: Pia Pircher & Musical Director: Michael Rosewell

Glenorchy Church Exmouth
Alex West gives a lunchtime organ recital
including his own composition
Toccata and Chorale on 'Jesu Dulcis Memoria'
(Flashy socks give an extra sensitive touch
on the pedals of the Bevington Organ)

. . . and a little Schubert impromptu
on the Venables grand piano

Exeter Northcott Theatre
Conductor Jonathan Peter Kenny acknowledges
the Old Street Band baroque ensemble
with the English Touring Opera cast of Handel's 'Flavio'
Baritone Andrew Slater is Lotario
Counter-Tenor Jake Arditti is Guido
Soprano Paula Sides is Emilia
Counter-Tenor Clint van der Linde is Flavio
Conductor: Jonathan Peter Kenny
Mezzo-Soprano Lina Markeby is Vitige
Mezzo-Soprano Kitty Whately is Teodata
Tenor Mark Wilde is Ugone

Exeter Northcott Theatre
In the gloom of the orchestra pit
Joseph McHardy directs the Old Street Band
from the harpsichord
just visible: baroque oboes, bassoon, theorbo
and viola da gamba

Joseph McHardy acknowledges the orchestra
with the English Touring Opera cast of Henry Purcell's 'Fairy Queen'

Dancers: Paul Chantry, Emma Cole
Aerialists: Lisa Whitmore, James Frith
Patients: Tenor Anthony Gregory
Baritone Aiden Smith, Tenor Mark Wilde
Nurses: Soprano Louise Alder
Soprano Nina Lejderman, Soprano Lina Markeby
Doctors: Bass-Baritone Nicholas Merryweather
Counter-tenor Michal Czerniawski

The cast aknowledge the two aerialists
and the superb set designed by
the late Roger Butlin
(The puppets held by the aerialists
feature prominently in the production
and were designed by Roger's daughter Mandarava)

Exeter Northcott Theatre
A very spooky modern settting for the

English Touring Opera production of Handel's 'Xerxes'
Baritone Nicholas Merryweather is Elviro
Soprano Paula Sides is Atalanta
Bass Andrew Slater is Ariodates
Counter-Tenor Clint van der Linde is Arsamenes
Soprano Eleanor Dennis is Romilda
Mezzo-Soprano Julia Riley is 'King' Xerxes
Mezzo-Soprano Rachael Lloyd is Princess Amastris

Under normal lighting the cast are joined by
Conductor Jonathan Peter Kenny

Parish Church of John the Baptist, Broadclyst
John Scarfe gives his first 'coffee and music'
recital on the newly refurbished organ 

Southernhay United Reformed Church
Jonathan Peter Kenny conducts

English Touring Opera members
in an a capela performance of
Don Carlo de Gesualdo's 'Tenebrae' cantatas

The full team
Staff Director Anna Tolputt
Counter-Tenor Jake Arditti
Bass Aiden Smith
Tenor Johnny Langridge
Tenor Nicholas Merryweather
Counter-Tenor Michal Czerniawski
Tenor Anthony Gregory
Conductor (& Counter-Tenor) Jonathan Peter Kenny

St Margaret's Church Topsham
The Clyst Valley Choral Society
perform Charpentier's 'Te Deum'
under the harsh 'sodium' light
Bass Julian Rippon
Tenor Chris Hunt
Soprano Janet Mcdonald
Second Soprano Miriam Prual
Viola Nicola Smith
Violin Derek Roberts
Trumpet Chris Gould

A stunning solo by bass Julian Rippon
as Somnus in Handel's opera 'Semele'
"Leave me loathsome light"

The Church of the Holy Cross
(and the Mother of Him Who Hung Thereon)
Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantatas 154, 156, 161 & 159
Jonathan Peter Kenny conducts the Old Street Band
while baritone Nicholas Merryweather
prepares to sing Bach's Cantata 161
('Cello: Kinga Gaborjani  Oboe: Mark Radcliffe)

The Old Street Band
Violins: Jean Paterson & Theresa Caudle
(Viola: John Rogers  Harpsichord: Joseph McHardy)
'Cello: Kinga Gaborjani
Recorders: Mark Radcliffe & Kate Latham

The English Touring Opera
take a final bow at the end of their outstanding Devon residency
(courtesy of the Exeter Northcott Theatre)
Violins: Jean Paterson, Theresa Caudle  Viola: John Rogers
Harpsichord: Joseph McHardy  Cello: Kinga Gaborjani
Oboe: Mark Radcliffe (& Kate Latham)
Baritone: Nicholas Merryweather  Tenor: Mark Wilde
Counter-Tenors: Jonathan Peter Kenny & Clint van der Linde
Choir of the Church of the Holy Cross, Crediton

Coming up in the next two weeks!

Exeter Cathedral
The return of Roumanian Pianist Alexandra Dariescu
as soloist in Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto
with the Exeter Music Group Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Marion Wood

St David's Church Exeter
The Exeter Bach Society welcome back post-graduate Guildhall School of Music opera student, soprano Raphaela Papadakis, to join local singing stars mezzo-soprano Juliet Curnow and bass Julian Rippon - together with illustrious former Exeter resident (and now English National Opera tenor), Thomas Hobbs, for a performance of J. S. Bach's 'Christmas Oratorio'. Nicholas Marshall will conduct the Society's singers and an orchestra led by Anna Cockroft. We can also expect to see some other familiar instrumentalists - 'cellist Hilary Boxer, double bass player Imogen Fernando, flautist Melanie Orriss, a stellar line-up as always.

Raphaela Papadakis
Juliet Curnow

Exeter Bach Society
Director of Music
Nicholas Marshall

Thomas Hobbs

Julian Rippon

See the two week run-down for full details - post below.