Voices of Devon
Tuesday 19 June, Buckfast Abbey at 7.30pm
On Tuesday 19 June, at Buckfast Abbey, the early-music choir ‘Voces’ will present a concert of sacred music by composers of the 15th and 17th centuries who have some association with Devon. The concert is part of the week-long Dartmoor Resonance festival of music organised by the Dartmoor Society.
The concert programme will include a rare performance of the late 15th-century Dartmouth Magnificat, together with works by Richard Davy, Ashburton (c.1465–1507), John Trouluffe and Thomas Packe (Exeter, 15th century), Matthew Locke, Exeter (c. 1621–1677), and plainchant from the Use of Sarum.
In past centuries, creation and performance of sacred music depended on the patronage of rich individuals or prosperous church establishments, both in short supply on Dartmoor itself. Nevertheless the Moor’s hinterland contained a number of abbeys, chantries and, of course, the cathedral in Exeter, where rich ceremony demanded music to match.
The dissolution of the monasteries in the mid-1500s, and the consequent destruction of documents and dispersal of libraries, means we have no record of the actual use of music in the great abbeys of Buckfast, Buckland and Tavistock, the nearest to the Moor itself.
However, it is certain that the daily office was sung in Gregorian chant in its English ‘Sarum’ form. Some pre-reformation music associated with Devon does survive in the 15th-century Ritson Manuscript and (strangely) in the court-books of Dartmouth. Moreover we know that Richard Davy (c.1465–1507), represented in the famous Eton Choirbook, spent some four years in Ashburton.
Representing post-Reformation (and thus Anglican) music, Matthew Locke (c. 1621–1677) was trained as a choirboy and a secondary at Exeter Cathedral, before finding musical fame and fortune in London.
The concerts starts at 7.30pm on 19 June. Tickets are £10 from www.buckfast.org.uk/boxoffice, from the Abbey Bookshop and on the door. The Grange Restaurant at Buckfast Abbey will be open from 6pm, and a pre-concert two-course menu can be booked for £19.75.
For details go to www.buckfast.org.uk/concertdinners or phone 01364 645504.
Philip R Buttall
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