Sunday, 25 January 2015

Exeter University Chapel Choir: Director & Singers join Classical Journey on Phonic FM Tuesday 20 January 2015

Exeter University Chapel Choir
Director: Michael Graham
Sopranos: Jess Brown & Kitty Bishop
Bass: Simon Clark

This Tuesday Phonic FM welcomed Exeter Cathedral choral scholar, Michael Graham, and three university students to the studio to discuss their work with the University of Exeter Chapel Choir during the "Classical Journey". (A recording of the programme is available via "MixCloud".)

Since coming to Exeter as a scholar, Michael has sung in the Cathedral choir, the Buckfast Abbey Choir, Matt Cann's "Antiphon" choir and directed his own choir "Exodus".

In 2012, Jess Brown was just starting her studies for a masters degree in astrophysics. She also had a music scholarship, and re-animated the Chapel Choir at the University to bring together other students to sing in services and concerts. Michael was the natural choice to direct the choir.

Many students with music scholarships have since joined the choir. Last year PhD student Simon Clark (atmospheric physics) joined as a bass. One of the more recent additions is Kitty Bishop, who began her undergraduate studies in German and Spanish last September. The choir now has twenty members - five sopranos, five altos, five tenors and five basses.

The choir sing evensong, accompanied by Buckfast Abbey Organ Scholar Phillip Broadhouse, at 5pm every Wednesday in the Mary Harris Memorial Chapel on the Streatham Campus (next to Roborough Studios). For Ash Wednesday (18 February) Michael and the Choir are preparing Gregorio Allegri's 1630 setting of "Miserere Mei, Deus" (Have mercy on me, o God) and the "Missa Papae Marcelli" by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, composed for Pope Marcellus II in 1562.

(Last year's performance of the Allegri at Exeter Cathedral was particularly memorable, with Andrew Millington playing the organ, and Jess and Simon singing in those exquisite solo sections.)

The Chapel Choir also sing for a Sunday morning service at the Chapel every alternate week. The next Sunday service at Mary Harris Chapel will be on Sunday 1 February. (On the intervening Sundays, Michael can be heard singing in the Exeter Cathedral Choir.) The Choir will also sing evensong in the Chapel at 6pm on Sunday 1 February in a special service for Candlemass.

Last year for Candlemass, the Chapel Choir performed Gustav Holst's "Nunc Dimittis" (Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine: Now you dismiss your servant, o Lord), composed for Compline at Westminster Abbey in 1915, and the "Missa in Tempore Pascali" (Easter Mass) composed for the Choir of Guildford Cathedral by their Director of Music, Philip Moore, in 1979. (The current Director of Music at Exeter Cathedral, Andrew Millington, took over from Philip Moore at Guildford in 1983.)

This year Candlemass will be celebrated in the Mary Harris Chapel with the Choir singing very modern sacred music. Jonathan Dove's "Missa Brevis" (Short Mass) was commissioned for the Cathedral Organists' Association in 2009, while Paweł Łukaszewski's version of "Nunc Dimittis" was composed in 2007 - for the conductor of the Holst Singers, Stephen Layton.

On the second Sunday of each month the Chapel Choir sing in a Holy Ground Service at the Cathedral, led by the Canon Chancellor, Anna Norman-Walker. The next Holy Ground Service will be on Sunday 8 February. The service (Holy Communion) is at 7pm, followed by a talk by a guest speaker in the Chapter House at 8pm.

On the "Classical Journey"  we listened to some recordings of the Choir at past events.

Simon Clark introduced the Choir's performance of Anton Bruchner's 1861 setting of the offertorium prayer "Ave Maria",  performed during their last year's tour - of Topsham (St Margaret's Church), Bristol (The Lord Mayor's Chapel, College Green) and Bath (YMCA & Bath Abbey).

Jess Brown introduced an English translation of "Magnificat" (Magnificat anima mea Dominum: My Soul doth magnify the Lord) from Philip Stopford's 'Evening Canticles' written for the Choir of St Anne's Cathedral Belfast, when he was their Musical Director (2003-2010).

Michael Graham introduced a 30 second extract from another version of the "Magnificat" - which can be heard on the University Chapel Choir Website - or by searching 'YouTube'. It forms part of Charles Villiers Stanford's 'Evening Service in A' which was commissioned in 1880 by John Stainer, organist at St Paul's Cathedral, for the annual Festival of  the Sons of the Clergy.

The Chapel Choir will perform the Stanford Magnificat at Exeter Cathedral as part of a special evensong for the Exeter & District Organists' Association at 5pm on Tuesday 17 February - to demonstrate the newly refurbished 1665 John Loosemoore organ (brought up to specification, once again, by Harrison & Harrison in Durham) - and the great choirs of Exeter.

At the Organists' Association evensong, the Chapel Choir will also sing another choral work by Charles Villiers Stanford - "For lo, I raise up" [ . . . that bitter and hasty nation ] composed in 1914 and based on the words of the Book of Habakkuk in Hebrew Scripture - as a response to the impending horror of war.

Simon Clark reminded us of the stunning performance of George Friderick Handel's 1741 oratorio "Messiah" by the Chapel Choir at the Mary Harris Chapel on St Cecilia's Day (Saturday 22 November) accompanied by Fiona McLean-Buechel's 'South West Camera' string orchestra, Laurence Blyth playing harpsichord, Abi Ellison playing tympani and Claude Lamon playing piccolo trumpet.

The concert was repeated on Monday 8 December at St James's Church in Exeter with Matt Cann playing harpsichord. Fiona McLean Buechel was joined by Joel Munday and Flora Farquharson from Camerata (first & second violin & viola) and Edward Woodhouse and Melanie Lester played 'cello and double bass respectively - not forgetting Claude Lamon, who returned with his trumpet.

Simon, Kitty and Jess all had solo parts to sing in the oratorio, Simon sang "For behold, darkness shall cover the Earth", Kitty sang "But who may abide the day of his coming?" and Jess was joined by Chloe Price and Emily Cobb for the recitatives from the Luke Gospel regarding the shepherds in the fields - ending with Jess singing, " . . . And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host . . . " - a spectacular twenty seconds' worth.

Kitty Bishop introduced a recording of the Chapel Choir at Mary Harris Chapel on 22 November singing a chorus from the "Messiah" - the words of the Book of Malachi, describing the Hebrew God as refining humanity like precious metals, "And He shall purify the sons of Levi".

Kitty also introduced a very different recording, made during  their visit to the Lord Mayor's Chapel in Bristol last year. Pretty, gentle, quiet and therapeutic -  "O nata lux de lumine" (O light born of light) from Morten Lauridsen's "Lux Aeterna" (Eternal Light).

After a brief reminder from Michael about all the musical events involving the Chapel Choir which are coming up in February and March (see below), there was a unanimous vote for a further recording from the St Cecilia's Day concert at Mary Harris: Handel's setting of the words of St John the Divine, in the Book of Revelation - "Hallelujah! For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth."
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Exeter University Chapel Choir
Exeter University Chapel Choir
Mary Harris Memorial Chapel
Sunday 1 February 6pm
CANDLEMASS SERVICE
Jonathan Dove: Missa Brevis
Paweł Łukaszewski: Nunc Dimittis
Director: Michael Graham
Organist: David Davies
An Anglican church service
- no charge to attend

Exeter University Chapel Choir
Exeter University Chapel Choir
Exeter Cathedral
Tuesday 17 February 5pm
CHORAL EVENSONG FOR THE
EXETER & DISTRICT ORGANISTS' ASSOCIATION
Charles Villiers Stanford: "Magnificat"
(from Opus 12 - 'Evening Service in A')
Charles Villiers Stanford: "For lo, I raise up"
Director: Michael Graham
Organist: David Davies
An Anglican church service - no charge to attend

Exeter University Chapel Choir
Exeter University Chapel Choir
Mary Harris Memorial Chapel
Wednesday 18 February 5pm
EVENSONG FOR ASH WEDNESDAY
Gregorio Allegri: "Miserere Mei, Deus"
Giovanni da Palestrina: "Missa Papae Marcelli"
Director: Michael Graham
Organist: David Davies
An Anglican church service
- no charge to attend
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Exeter University Chapel Choir
Hope Hall, Hope Road, Heavitree
(behind the Wonford Inn)

Friday 27 February 8pm
LIGHT CHORAL TREATS
Director: Michael Graham
Piano: David Davies
Tickets: £5
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Exeter University Chapel Choir
Michael Graham
Exeter University Chapel Choir
1. Mary Harris Memorial Chapel
(Exeter University Streatham Campus)
Sunday 15 March 11am
EUCHARIST SERVICE
Director: Michael Graham
Organist: David Davies
(An Anglican Church Service - no charge to attend)
2. St Paul's Church Honiton
(Parish Church, Honiton High Street)
Sunday 15 March 3.30pm
A CHORAL SELECTION BOX
(Birthday celebration for the Administrator
 of the Exeter University Chaplaincy, Wendy Randall)
Director: Michael Graham
Organist: David Davies
Including:
Hubert Parry: "I was Glad"
Charles Wood: "O Thou the Central Orb"
(Ticket details TBC)


CLICK TO SEE HOW THESE EVENTS FIT INTO

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