Monday, 22 June 2015

Jonathan Schranz and the Selwyn Consort on tour St Michael's Mount Dinham Monday 29 June Buckfast Abbey Tuesday 30 June 2015

Jonathan Schranz

The Selwyn Consort - on tour

St Michael's Church Mount Dinham
Monday 29 June 7.30pm

Buckfast Abbey

Tuesday 30 June 7.30pm


Conductors: Jonathan Schranz / John Bachelor

18 Selwyn College Choral Scholars
from Selwyn, Homerton, Trinity & Churchill
& The Selwyn College Chapel Choir
(Musical Director Sarah MacDonald)

    William Byrd: "Ne irascaris Domine
                                       - Civitas sancti tui"
Nicolas Walker: "Tantum Ergo"     
(Nicolas is a first year music student         
          and a member of the Selwyn Consort)
Graham Keitch: "Ave Maria"            
           Graham Keitch: "Audivi Vocem" (premiere)
                 Hubert Parry: "My Soul, there is a country" 
   William Harris: "Faire is the Heaven" 
   Benjamin Britten: "A Hymn to the Virgin"

Admission: FREE (retiring collection)

(Hear Jon Schranz' recording of 
Britten's "Hymn to the Virgin"
with members of the Selwyn Consort
 on 'Soundcloud')

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Voces8 St Michael and all Angels Mount Dinham Friday 19 June 2015

Soprano: Andrea Haines, Emily Dickens
Countertenor: Christopher Wardle, Barnaby Smith
Tenor: Sam Dressel, Oliver Vincent
Baritone: Paul Smith & Bass: Dingle Yandell

Alex West
Organ scholar and trustee of the Exeter Festival Chorus, Alex West, marked the end of his tenure as Musical Director at The Church of St Michael and All Angels, Mount Dinham, with an inspiring workshop and spectacular concert by international choral stars, Voces8.

Both events were sold out. Music lovers and music makers from across Devon rushed to the church for the afternoon's two hour workshop. Voces8 Musical Director, Barnaby Smith, demonstrated professional warm-up and rehearsal techniques, and let the students in on some of the secrets of creating the perfect balance of sound from a polyphonic choir. The other choir members demonstrated enthusiastically, and answered many interesting questions about choral music. They also directed the students, in four sections, to produce beautiful music of their own.

In the evening the church was equally packed, with many of the students from the workshop joining the capacity audience. The extra seats at the front of the nave were at a premium for a close-up experience of the choir, and the perfect acoustic rendering of their music.

Impressive accoustics
and sensational harmonies
Needless to say, the lofty barrel roof of the Sanctuary provided the perfect resonance for their opening sacred motets. William Byrd's antiphon "Haec dies quam fecit Dominus" (Psalm 118, O give thanks to the Lord) was a beautiful canon for six voices, skilfully shared between eight. Immediately, the underscoring of Dingle Yandell's bathyscaphic basso profundo voice added its mellifluous and sensual foundation to the 'pyramid of sound'.

"Die Himmel erzählen die Ehre Gottes" (Psalm 19, The heavens are telling the glory of the Lord) by Heinrich Schütz predated Bach's version by nearly a century. This very early experiment in Italian opera-style a cappella singing corresponded to the orchestral version, with the different voices taking the parts of the instruments. After a brief introduction, the choir burst forth with full force in a spectacular and impressive symphony with every voice shining out both individually and in concert - just as advertised.

Baritone Paul Smith then took things in a different and unexpected direction with a wartime jazz number by Nat King Cole. Paul playfully introduced all the choir members in turn (starting with Dingle), in the style of the wonderful Viv Stanshall. Each singer was welcomed by the audience with whoops and wild applause. They each responded with a skilful exposition of scat singing building a wall of sound.

Sam Dressel sings "I've got the world on a string"
accompanied on 'double bass' by Dingle Yardell
Once the full chorus was in action, tenor Oliver Vincent sang the solo. He opened with an even more unexpected lyric from the turn of the twenty first century, by Axl Rose, "Take me down to Paradise City", echoed by Andrea Haines, and playfully redirected into Cole's "Straighten up and fly right". This delicate confection was a far cry from "Guns N' Roses"!

Tenor, Sam Dressel, who had delighted the workshop students with his version of "Twist and Shout" in the afternoon, now sang a very special solo for the evening audience. Harold Arlen's Cotton Club Parade number, "I've got the world on a string". The choir members broke with choral tradition by walking and singing, mingling like friends at a cocktail party - and mingling their voices perfectly. Dingle took the voice/instrument cross-over to a new level, playing an invisible double bass while providing a scat soundtrack. His antics were endlessly fascinating, and the sound delightful.

Solo Tenor: Oliver Vincent
"The Luckiest"
Soprano Emily Dickens opened the choir's most popular number, Ben Folds' "The Luckiest". After a sensual introduction of melting chords, tenor Oliver Vincent sang a commanding solo, with the icing on the cake provided by the spectacular countertenor voice of Christopher Wardle.

Barnaby Smith took us back to a more sombre and sacred mood with choruses from two transcendent twentieth century "All Night Vigils". The first was Sir John Tavener's anthem "Mother of God here I stand" (setting the words of Mikhail Lermontov) from his oecumenical masterpiece, "The Veil of the Temple". During the seven hour performance this anthem is repeated many times, with ever-rising pitch. The choir chose a 'sensible' key, and repaired to the alter for a more distant and mysterious sound.

"богородице дево"
a moment for reflection
Without a break the choir moved into "богородице дево" (Ave Maria) from Sergei Rachmaninov's "1915 Vespers" for the victims of war. The deft expansion from soft grief to explosive rage was perfectly executed, dying away to leave once more the soulful and comforting tones of Dingle Yandell's bass voice.

The first half closed with another visit to the exciting world of Italian renaissance polyphony. From Russian, the choir switched adroitly to Latin for Giovanni Gabrielli's grand motet, "Jubilate Deo". Andrea Haines and Emily Dickens opened with a celestial soprano duet, for the extreme left and right of the stage. The men ranged between them with the tenors in the centre, a perfect set-up for the waves of corruscating sound rising and falling gently between the different voices - which sometimes sounded impossibly as if they came from more than eight people. Alternately celebratory and mournful, the music was perfect to send the audience away wanting more.

While the choir rested, Alex invited the audience to help themselves to free wine and soft drinks. The audience was so large that two bars were needed, one at each end of the church. Even then the queues took quite a time to get to the goodies, while everyone marvelled at the music they had just enjoyed.

Soprano Duet: "Fire! Fire!"
Emily Dickens & Andrea Haines
with Sam Dressel,
Barnaby Smith & Dingle Yardell
The choir returned for the second half without ceremony, and gently re-established the contemplative mood of the first half with the opening track from their latest Decca recording, "Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est" (Where grace and love are, there God is) by contemporary Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo.

Emily Dickens and Andrea Haines provided another sweet soprano duet, and it did not go unnoticed that during the interval they had changed into the two new outfits. The men still sported the same stylish royal blue whistles and winkle-pickers - a very impressive look.

Oliver Vincent gave a little background on Ola Gjeilo, and the exciting news that Ola has agreed to become the 'composer in residence' for Voces8.

Lightening the mood slightly the choir sang Bob Chilcott's arrangement of the traditional spiritual "Were you there?" back-to-back with the modern spiritual "Underneath the stars" by Kate Rusby. The combination was perfect, and the delivery simple and gently religious.

The soft opening canon by the sopranos led into a caressing quartet in collaboration with the countertenors. Without increasing the volume or force, the full choir joined in with their ululating echo. The move from "Were you there?" to "Underneath the stars" was almost imperceptible, starting with Emily Dickens' opening solo "O go gently" against the melting harmonies of the men. A very special surprise was the complementary bass solo by Dingle Yandell. The evocation of a starlit night, and the promise and disappointment of love, were expounded with crystal clarity by the clearly distinguished and diametrically opposed voices of soprano and bass.

Solo Soprano: Andrea Haines
with Christopher Wardle,
Sam Dressel & Dingle Yardell
'the gossiping women'
Baritone, Paul Smith, re-introduced a classical flavour with an English madrigal and a French secular 'chanson', by Thomas Morley and Pierre Passereau.

Paul explained that Morley's "Fire! Fire!" was somewhat risqué (being about the 'fire' of love). At some time in the past, the more inflammatory words have been replaced by the mediaeval equivalent of 'expletive deleted' - the nonsense sounds "Fa-la-la".

Armed with this knowledge, the audience were highly amused to discover that nearly all of the song had been converted to "Fa-la-la", including the drawn out final words - whatever they had been!

"Fire! Fire!" was a song for two sopranos with just one each of tenor, countertenor and bass - Sam, Barnaby and Dingle.

Solo Soprano: Andrea Haines
with Christopher Wardle,
Sam Dressel & Dingle Yardell
'the clucking chickens'
For Passereau's "Il est Bel et Bon", Andrea Haines sang solo with tenor, countertenor & bass. This time, the countertenor was Christopher Wardle, who explained the onomatopoeic tricks of the song (which might be inferred from the title), where the high register is used to represent gossiping women in the marketplace, or alternatively clucking chickens! Against Dingle's gently reproving tones, the 'ladies' chattered enchantingly.

As the concert progressed, the programme slipped gently off-piste. Oliver Vincent started a systematic deviation from the script, which continued for the remainder of the concert. He returned to the programme of the first half, and the promised Jimmy Van Heusen number (arranged by regular Voces8 contributor Jim Clements), "Ain't that a kick in the head". In this tenor showcase, Oliver was Dean Martin opposite Sam Dressel's Frank Sinatra. In a fitting tribute to 'Old Blue Eyes' and 'The Rat Pack', the choir provided a six-piece orchestra to embellish Oliver and Sam's syncopated crooning.

Oliver Vincent: "Mrs Robinson"
Barnaby Smith took us further afield with something by Simon and Garfunkel. After a brief mention of their work with the Voces Cantabile Music teaching programme at the Gresham Centre in London, and the Voces8 'Friends' scheme ( - please do sign up!), Barnaby introduced the song requested for their Christmas tour in Japan: "Mrs Robinson". Emily Dickens, Andrea Haines and Dingle Yandell provided the backing for another solo performance by Oliver Vincent, with a cameo appearance by Emily Dickens - "Look around you all you see are sympathetic eyes, Stroll around the grounds until you feel at home." A sentimental trip down memory lane.

"I won't dance!"
Emily Dickens & Sam Dressel
are Ginger Rogers & Fred Astaire
Emily got another chance to shine, this time as Ginger Rogers opposite Sam Dressel's Fred Astaire in "I won't dance" by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II. Contrary to the sentiment of the words, the singers do dance - very elegantly, with no loss of projection or balance in their voices. As they neared the end of a long and demanding programme, this was no mean feat.

Dingle gave the last introduction - with a brief plug for the choir website and facebook page. Their last song was a peach, an arrangement for the Swingle Singers, by Ben Parry, of Duke Ellington's "Don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that swing." This fabulous collection of variations, delivered with huge energy and inventiveness, took the concert across the finishing line in top gear.

Called back to the stage by a delighted audience, Barnaby reassured us all that Voces8 will be back in the West Country again soon. Look out for them in the Milton Abbey Festival (Blandford Forum in Dorset, Monday 27 July - Sunday 2 August).

Do what?
Emily Dickens is 'The Queen of the Night'
Voces8 will be open the festival on Monday night - and close it in a concert of Purcell and Handel with the Gabrieli Consort on Sunday afternoon. (See festival website for details.)

Just to polish off the evening, Voces8 took to the stage one last time for a medley of opera arias and choruses, an opportunity for each singer to show off their exceptional skills one last time. Skipping between operas with ease, the choir kept the pace going, and impressed us with each 'turn'. However, one extract threatened to stop the show, "Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen" (The fury of hell boils in my heart) from Mozart's "Magic Flute". This comic pastiche for coloratura went once again to soprano, Emily Dickens.

Alex West was warm in his praise of the visiting musicians, described by St Michael's incumbent, Father Tom Honey, as the climax of the concert series (with no disrespect to the other artists). The entire audience agreed, and showed their sincere gratitude to the church committee for arranging such an auspicious event and ensuring such a good audience - and to Voces8 for a first class evening of music.

Many thanks to all involved.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Final programme for David Acres' Counterpoint Concert Buckfast Abbey Saturday 20 June 2015

James Bowman

Counterpoint's FREE June 20th concert is just around the corner.
The final programme has just been decided - after a little 'too-ing and fro-ing' -
David Acres tying himself up in knots with what they're singing and what they're not singing!
All of James Bowman's pieces will be sung with the baroque organ accompaniment
and the programme is as follows:

Edward Woodall Naylor:
"Vox dicentis, 'Clama' "

Psalm 130:
"Out of the depths I cried unto thee, O Lord"

Thomas Tallis:
"O nata lux, de lumine"
(James Bowman)

William Byrd:
"Ave Verum Corpus"
(James Bowman)

Sergei Rachmaninov:
"Всенощное бдение" (All Night Vigil 1915)
- "Богородице Дево" (Rejoice, O Virgin)  

Morten Lauridsen: "O magnum mysterium"

Eric Whitacre: "Lux Aurumque"

John Sanders: "The Reproaches"


Orlando Gibbons:
"Drop, drop slow tears"
(James Bowman & Counterpoint)

William Byrd:
"Elegy on the death of Thomas Tallis"
(James Bowman)

Sir John Tavener: "Funeral Ikos"

Alonso Lobo: "Versa est in luctum" 

Sir Edward Elgar: "Lux aeterna"

Richard Farrant:
"Hide not thou thy face from us, O Lord"
(James Bowman)

Henry Purcell: Evening Hymn
(James Bowman)

Juan Gutierrez de Padilla:
"Circumdederunt me dolores mortis"
(The sorrows of death have encompassed me)

Eric Whitacre/Charles Anthony Sylvestri:

Pierre Attaingnant: "Tourdion"

FREE Concert

no need to purchase a ticket

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Exeter University Choral Society & Roberto Gallo Summer Opera Concert - Kay House, Duryard 3.00pm Sunday 7 June 2015

Roberto Gallo

Exeter University Choral Society

Kay House Duryard

Sunday 7 June 3pm


Musical Director: Roberto Gallo    

Piano Accompanist: Piers Spencer        

Chairman & Soprano Soloist: Maria Yiting Liu                 

Judyth Aarons, Michael Jones, Monica Ronchi

Guest Baritone: Roderick Hunt

               Henry Purcell: "Dido & Aeneas" (1688)
George Friderick Handel: "Alcina" (1735)                
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: "The Magic Flute" (1791)    
                       Gaetano Donizetti: "Lucia di Lammermoor" (1835)   
                        Guiseppi Verdi: "Simon Boccanegra" (1857)     
     Georges Bizet: "Carmen" (1875)
          ("Habanera": Maria Yiting Liu)
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: "Eugene Onegin" (1879)  

Tickets: £8/£5

Free tea and cakes!

EUCS Committee 2015

Exeter University Symphony Orchestra Concert Music from the Silver Screen Mint Methodist Church Friday 5 June 2015

Richard Harvey

Exeter University Symphony Orchestra

Mint Methodist Church - Fore Street

Friday 5 June 6.30-8:30pm


EUSO is the largest orchestra on campus (around 60 members)

Musical Director: Richard Harvey

Richard Strauss: "Also Sprach Zarathustra"
Eric Coates: "The Dam Busters March" 
John Williams: "E.T. Theme (String Quartet)"
Ennio Morricone: "Gabriel’s Oboe"
Barry Gray: "Thunderbirds March" 
Jerome Moss: "The Big Country"
Howard Shore: "Lord of the Rings" - "The Fellowship of the Ring"
Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 7 - Movement 2 - “Allegretto” 
Sergei Prokofiev: "Romeo and Juliet" - "Dance of the Knights"
Edward Elgar: "Pomp and Circumstance" 
John Williams: Schindler’s List Theme (String Quartet)
Klaus Badelt/Hans Zimmer "Pirates of the Caribbean" - "The Curse of the Black Pearl"

Tickets: £9 (concession £7 student £5 U8 FREE)

Advance booking: