The Exon Singers, founded in 1966, will celebrate their 53 Annual Summer Festival from Tuesday 30 July to 4 August, in Tavistock Parish Church.
Since 1973 the annual Exon Singers festival has been centred in Tavistock, and is based in the beautiful 13th century parish church of St Eustachius. The choir has broadcast regularly on BBC Radios 2,3 and 4 and has made a number of highly acclaimed recordings for Albany, ASV, Delphian and Regent record labels. In recent years the choir has also been recognised for commissioning many new works from some of the UK’s most exciting composers- Russell Pascoe, James Burton, Toby Young, Francis Jackson, Gabriel Jackson, Philip Moore, Grayston Ives, Howard Skempton, Philip Wilby, Joseph Phibbs, George Lloyd, David Briggs, Richard Allain and the U.S. composer Gary Davison.
Over the years the choir has also performed at the Edinburgh International Festival and the Oxford Festival of Contemporary Music, as well as giving concerts in St John’s College Cambridge, Gloucester and Wells Cathedrals and in Winchester, Salisbury, Belfast and northern Germany. Reviews describe the choir’s performances as “brilliantly sung” (Classic FM) with “beautifully tailored singing” (Gramophone) and a “brilliant soprano sound” (The Daily Telegraph) and where “the Exon Singers excel” (BBC Music Magazine).
Exon Festival Chorus
For the opening performance of this year’s Festival on Tuesday 30 July, the Exon Singers will be joined by the Exon Festival Chorus in John Rutter’s joyful setting of popular Spirituals Feel the Spirit, and the Exon Singers showcase Gerald Finzi’s 7 Part-songs – settings of poems by Robert Bridges. Inaugurated in 2014, the Exon Festival Chorus is made up of choral singers from the Tavistock area who come together each year to join the Exon Singers in performing some of the great works of the choral repertoire.
Exon Festival ChorusWorkshop
The preparatory Exon Festival Chorus Workshop day on Saturday 13 July from 11am to 5pm, with the Exon Singers’ Conductor and Artistic Director, Joseph Judge. Registration is at 10.30am. Singers can opt just to attend the workshop on 13th, or to attend the workshop and sing in the concert on 30 July. Music can be hired from the choir.
On Wednesday 31 July the Exon Singers will perform Tota pulchra es – a programme of gorgeous Renaissance polyphony centred around William Byrd`s great 5-part Mass interspersed with motets by John Sheppard, Thomas Tallis and John Taverner.
Thursday 1 August sees the Exon Singers joined by Manchester chamber musicians The Chadbond Quartet for Eric Whitacre’s 5 Hebrew Love Songs, Samuel Barber’s Twelfth Night & To be sung on the water, Libby Larsen`s A Lover’s Journey and Morten Lauridsen’s Nocturnes.
On Friday 2 August BBC Radio 3 will be in Tavistock to record Choral Evensong for broadcast later in the year. The recording starts at 7.00pm and members of the congregation are asked to be seated by 6.45pm.
The Festival`s closing concert on Saturday 2 August highlights the area`s naval connections, showcasing the way composers have drawn on the sea as inspiration. Richard Rodney Bennett`s Sea Change forms the centrepiece, with works by other popular composers Eric Whitacre (Water Night), Percy Grainger, Bob Chilcott and James MacMillan, Eriks Esenvalds`s A Drop in the Ocean and Cecilia McDowall`s Shipping Forecast.
Lunchtime concerts from 1-1.40pm comprise performances from Festival Guest Artists: Mezzo Soprano Olivia Hamblyn on Wednesday 31 July, The Chadbond Quartet on Thursday 1 August and Soprano Leoma Monteiro on Friday 2 August.
From Tuesday to Thursday the Exon Singers end the day with the atmospheric service of Compline by Candlelight from 9-9.20pm.
The Festival closes this year with a BBC Broadcast for Radio 4 Sunday Worship, at 8.10am. Members of the public are invited to join the Tavistock congregation for this live broadcast with the Exon Singers and FIGO Ensemble; please be seated by 7.45am.
All evening concerts take place at 7.30pm in St Eustachius Church, Tavistock.
Tickets are available from: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bookstop, 3 Market Street, Tavistock (01822 617244), or at the door on the night.
Philip R Buttall
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