|David Acres (fifth from left) and choir|
(Judith Acres far left)
On the evening of Saturday 20 June 2015 David Acres and his wife Judith, having travelled to the UK from their home in Charleston South Carolina, reconvened the renowned 'Counterpoint' choir at Buckfast Abbey for one final farewell concert. In the line-up, and singing several solo pieces, was David's early inspiration and model - operatic star and fellow counter-tenor James Bowman.
|David and Judith Acres|
with Countertenor James Bowman
Buckfast Abbey 20 June 2015
Now, seven years later, David and Judith return to Buckfast Abbey en route to Kent for a week of liturgical music at the Seat of the Archbishop, Canterbury Cathedral. They will be at the Abbey on Saturday 9 July for an evening of choral music entitled 'Celestial Counterpoint'.
Nine of the original Counterpoint members will be there, along with singers from 'Contrapunctus Early Music' (a high voices ensemble) founded by David in Cleveland Ohio when he joined Todd Wilson's choir at Trinity Cathedral, and directed another choir created by David and Judith in South Carolina - 'The King's Counterpoint'.
|The King's Counterpoint|
David has also been the Director of the Parish Choir at Old St Andrew's Episcopal Church in West Ashley district of Charleston since 2016. Founded in 1706 it is the oldest Church building in South Carolina and a suitably historic setting for David's timeless musical creativity.
|Old St Andrew's Episcopal Church|
Charleston South Carolina
David and Judith also make music with two further choirs in South Carolina: 'Cantores Charleston' are a high voice choir of 14-16 sopranos, altos and counter-tenors who have performed three concerts so far, and 'Vox Regis' are a company of 12-14 professional singers who, having given two successful recitals, are now scheduled for a tour of Connecticut.
David Acres has been a chorister since 1960 when he joined Exeter Cathedral Choir as a probationer, and studied music with Lionel Dakers. Graduating to the Royal School of Church Music, David became Head Chorister before moving to Bethany School in Kent. There he was to inaugurate the Kent Consort while also singing with many London church choirs.
In the 1970s David continued his musical education with Robin Gritton, and became a Lay Clerk at Exeter Cathedral. He also joined the Loosemore Singers at Buckfast Abbey and directed the Torbay Singers. He joined the Imperial Singers in the 1980s and also brought together many of his musical colleagues to form the now famous 'Counterpoint' choir.
'Counterpoint' made many recordings at Buckfast Abbey, Holy Trinity Exmouth and Exeter Cathedral up until 2012. In 2003, on their regular tour of Brittany with the Groupe Vocal Jef le Penven, they made a series of recordings at l'Eglise de Locmaria in Quimper and l'Eglise Saint-Pierre in Pont l'Abbé.
|Groupe Vocal Jef le Penven|
In 2011 David became part of the new 'Antiphon' choir directed by Exeter Cathedral Decani bass Matt Cann. Also in that choir was then Director of Music at Buckfast Abbey, Michael Vian Clarke and Lay Clerks from the Cathedrals of Wells, Gloucester, Winchester and Exeter. The Antiphon choir still give regular performances throughout the South West.
|Matt Cann and Antiphon|
In 2012 the Choir of Trinity Cathedral Cleveland, Directed by Todd Wilson, were visiting Wells Cathedral and participated in an exchange of singers with David's Counterpoint Choir. In 2013 David moved to Cleveland and joined the Trinity Cathedral Choir and the Trinity Singers. He also participated in Quire Cleveland's 2013 Christmas Concert.
Particuarly memorable was David's collaboration with John McElliott and Joe Schlesinger at Cleveland Cathedral, entitled "The Three Countertenors".
In May 2014 David and Judith formed the 'Contrapunctus Early Music' high voices ensemble which performed at Trinity Cathedral and the Cathedral of St John the Evangelist in Cleveland. After moving to South Carolina, they formed 'The King's Counterpoint' with eight sopranos, including Judith. The eight altos included John Cunningham, who is now part of 'Cantores Charleston' as well.
|Judith and David Acres|
Judith (formerly Dr Judith Overcash) is extremely well known and respected throughout the United States as a performer of vocal music from mediaeval songs to operatic arias. Her voice is hailed as "clear as a bell".
Judith has performed with the Mansfield Symphony Orchestra and Warren Philharmonic Orchestra (both in Ohio), the Baroque Orchestras of Seattle, Atlanta and Austin (La Follia) and the Texas Early Music Project. She also joined Al Cofrin of the University of Texas in the creation of 'Istanpitta', an ensemble of oud, saz, krumhorn, bagpipes, recorder, lute, vielle, shaum, harp - and voice, who recreate the music of the tenth to fourteenth centuries.
At Buckfast Abbey on 9 July the visiting choirs, in collaboration with the former Counterpoint members and Abbey organist David Davies, will bring us music both ancient and modern. There will be seventeenth century polyphony by Portuguese composer Diego Melgáz, and eighteenth century music by Boston folklorist William Billings. There will also be sacred choral music by nineteenth century composer Anton Bruckner.
There will be music by twentieth century composers, including Herbert Sumsion who was Organist at Gloucester Cathedral from 1928 until 1967. The other twentieth century works are composed by three men all born in the late 1950s. Moses Hogan, the New Orleans spiritual song writer sadly died in 2003, aged only 55. Frank Ticheli who was only a year younger, is still Professor of Music at the University of South California in Los Angeles.
Graham Keitch, who composes at Chichester Music Press and now lives in Manaton, has composed two pieces especially for the visiting choirs: "Resplenduit Facies Ejus" (His Face Shone) which was composed for a performance at Canterbury Cathedral which has been postponed owing to covid restrictions, and a setting of Psalm 8 "O Lord, Our Lord". Both will have their première at Buckfast Abbey on 9 July.
This Friday's 'Classical Journey' at 2pm will be given over to an interview with David Acres in South Carolina - where it will be 9am. David has also provided four tracks recorded by his various choirs.
The King's Counterpoint will perform Ralph Vaughan Williams' hymn "The Truth from Above".
Cantores Charleston will perform Cecil Alexander's 1853 "Saw Ye Never in the Twilight" set to the 1840 tune 'Harwell" by Lowel Mason.
Vox Regis will perform the poem "This Marriage" by thirteenth century Sufi poet Jalal al-Din Rumi, set to music by contemporary composer Eric Whitacre.
Contrapunctus Early Music will perform "Be Still my Soul, God is on my Side" a poem by early eighteenth century writer Katharina von Schlegel, translated by Jane Bothwick in 1855 and set to music as a hymn by Jean Sibelius as part of his tone poem "Finlandia" in 1899.
The programme will open with "Tourdion" a traditional French dance (literally 'the twist' but more of a galliard) which was the last piece performed by Counterpoint at that farewell concert in 2015. The recording we will hear was made at the Abbey in 1994 and featured the voices of Alison Burnett, Vicky Evans, Brian Northcott, Phil Hobbs, Gordon Pike, Tony Yates, Chris Walledge and Jonathan Watts.
There will be more classic 'Counterpoint' moments, and some recordings by James Bowman too.
After seven years, it will be a singular thrill to hear David on the air once again!
The King's Counterpoint
Saturday 9 July 7.30pm
Musical Director: David Acres
Organist: David Davies
with members of
'Contrapunctus Early Music' high voices ensemble
and the 'Counterpoint' Choir
Anton Bruckner - Orlando Gibbons
Moses Hogan - Georg Friederich Händel
Diogo Dias Melgás - Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla
Paul J Smith - Sir Charles Villiers Stanford
Sir John Tavener - Frank Ticheli
or from The Abbey Bookshop