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Britten & Bach

7.30pm, Saturday 20 November 2004 – Church of St. Mary Platt, Nr. Borough Green


Iestyn Evansorganist


Britten – Festival Te Deum
Bach – O Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht BWV 118 (organ)
Britten – St Godric’s Hymn
Britten – Rejoice in the Lamb (organ)
Bach – Jesu, joy of man’s desiring (organ)
Britten – Yif ic of luve can
Britten – A death
Bach – Jesu, meine Freude BWV 227 (Motet III) preceded by a short organ prelude

Summer Concert

7.30pm, Saturday 5 June 2004 – St. Martin’s Church, Brasted


Iestyn Evansorganist
James Laing – counter-tenor


Vivaldi – Gloria in D major
J.S.Bach – Cantate: Vergnugte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust
Byrd – Justorum Animae
Purcell – Remember not Lord our offences
Weelkes – Alleluia, I heard a voice
Bernstein – Chichester Psalms

Faure and the Romantics

7.30pm, Saturday 13 March 2004 – Church of St Mary, Platt, Nr Borough Green


Michael Bacon – organist
Eve Borsey – soprano
David Milner-Pearce – baritone


Vaughan-Williams – Five Mystical Songs
Schubert – Psalm 95
Bruckner Motets
Os justi
Ave Maria
Afferentur Regi
Locus Iste
Shelley – Ode to the West Wind (Reading)
Elgar – As torrents in summer
Stanford – The Blue Bird
Mendelssohn – Ich Wollt, meine Lieb ergosse sich
Faure – Cantique de Jean-Racine
Faure – Requiem

Ross Brown

Ross played trumpet with the choir during its Concert of Christmas Music in December 2003.

Ross started to play the trumpet at the age of ten, and at fifteen was awarded a scholarship to sudy at Wells Catherdral Schoold with Robert Farley. Ross now stuides at the Roayal Academy of Music with Howeard Snell and Paul Archibald, and Natural Trumpet with Robert Farley. Whilst studying at the Academy, he has performed a trumpet concerto with Academy Brass and has been awarded the Leslie Regan Brass prize, the Robert Alva Memorial prize, and the William Thomas Steven prize. He is principal trumpet of the European Union Baroque Orchestra, and has performed and recorded with them through Europe, as well as performing with the Hanover Band, The Sixteen, The Gabrieli Consort and Players, Canzona, The Classical Opera Company, The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the former Wallace Collection and the Kings Consort.

Heidi Sutcliffe

Heidi played trumpet with the choir during its Concert of Christmas Music in December 2003.

Heidi is currently studying in her fourth year at the Royal Academy of Music studying with Howard Snell and Paul Archibald. Whilst at the Academy she has been awarded various prizes: the Leslie Regan Brass award (2001), the William Steven-Thomas prize (2002) and the John West prize (2003). This summer she represented the Academy in the Encuentro de Musica y Academia de Santander, Spain. Last year Heidi joined the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra on their European tour under Claudio Abbado and represented the Academy in the Kyoto International Festival in Japan, performing as soloist as well as in the international symphony orchestra.

Elizabeth Moore

Elizabeth performs regularly with the Cantate Choir in various concerts.

Elizabeth Moor, Cello

Elizabeth Moore played in the National Youth Orchestra before being awarded the Sterndale Bennett Scholarship to study at the Royal Academy of Music. She was continuo ‘cellist for the Thomas Tallis Society for 10 years and performs for music clubs and festivals with chamber groups and as recitalist. Together with the Amicitia String Quartet, she broadcast on Classic FM’s Masterclass in 1994 and with The Chantry Choir for the BBC In Praise of God series in 1998. She has taught at Sevenoaks School and privately since 1971.

Clifford Benson

Clifford performed with the choir in its Summer Love Songs & Jazz concert in June 2003.

I was lost in admiration for the elegance of Clifford Benson’s playing“. Gramophone

The evening’s pianist was Clifford Benson who played as if he had composed the music himself, here and in older works as well.” The Times

Clifford Benson showed himself an equally graceful and adept pianist in every style required of him.” Sunday Times

Clifford Benson, who is the pianist performing with the choir at their concerts in March 2003.
Clifford is probably unusual as a pianist, in that his career spans the whole range of the piano repertoire. He performs as a soloist in recitals and concertos, as a chamber musician with long-standing colleagues William Bennett, Trevor Wye, Levon Chilingirian and Thea King, and as an accompanist, in particular with the baritone Stephen Varcoe.

Clifford is known for his outstanding musicianship and sensitivity, his strong feeling for poetry and colour, and for the passion that he imparts in his performing and teaching.

He was born in Essex, England, and studied at the Royal College of Music with Cyril Smith and Lamar Crowson. Whilst there, he was awarded the Chopin Sonata Prize, the Geoffrey Tankard Lieder Prize for Accompaniment, and the Tagore Gold Medal as the outstanding musician of his final year. A Martin Music Fund Scholarship, awarded by the New Philharmonia Orchestra, enabled him to further his studies.

With the violinist Levon Chilingirian, he was first prize-winner in the BBC Beethoven and the Munich International Duo Competitions, which led to numerous collaborations with prestigious artists, to solo and chamber music recitals and to recordings for BBC Radio 3 and Classic FM.

Clifford was the pianist for the Jacqueline du Pré masterclasses on BBC 2 television and has appeared as a soloist and chamber musician at the Proms. A member of the Nash Ensemble for many years, he enjoyed a wide-ranging repertoire, performing with such artists as Cleo Laine, Eartha Kitt, Marion Montgomery, Sarah Walker, John Taverner and Sir Simon Rattle. He has also worked with conductors Sir Charles Mackerras, George Hurst, Daniel Barenboim and Sir Neville Marriner.

Clifford enjoys composing and has given some notable world premières of other contemporary composers, including:

  • Richard Rodney Bennett’s Three Romantic Pieces on a BBC Pebble Mill live broadcast.
  • Malcolm Lipkin’s Sonata No 4 for BBC Bristol.
  • The London première of Lipkin’s Second Violin and Piano Sonata in December 2000 with Levon Chilingirian and several first performances of works by F L Dunkin Wedd.

As a recording artist, Clifford has encompassed a whole range of styles from Mozart to the present day. Apart from his recordings for Hyperion, specialising in English music, he has covered much of the flute and piano repertoire with William Bennett and Trevor Wye, and has recorded other combinations for Chandos, CRD and Deutsche Grammophon.

Clifford currently teaches solo piano and gives piano chamber music workshops at the Royal Academy of Music, London. He has adjudicated at many music festivals, at the major colleges of music in Britain, and has been a panel member for the BBC Young Musician of the Year. Travelling for much of the year, he has given recitals and masterclasses in Europe, the Middle and Far East, the USA and Canada.

Review of Summer Love Songs & Jazz

Reviewer – Lionel Steuart Fothringham

This wonderfully varied programme conducted by Robin Walker was presented to a capacity audience in the sympathetic acoustic of St John’s Church.

The Liebeslieder waltzes of Brahms which opened the concert were sung with well-shaped phrases and excellent pronunciation. Overall, the women’s voices came across much better than the men’s in their respective solo passages, and the sound remained well-controlled in the louder items. The piano duet accompaniment played by Clifford Benson and Junko Nakamura was played with great sensitivity.

Schumann’s Fantasiestücke for cello and piano were performed by Elizabeth Moore and Clifford Benson in a very expressive way with an excellent sense of rubato. It was a pity, however, that the cello was poorly positioned and did not project well, forcing the pianist to hold back a little too much in the final piece.

Elgar’s There is sweet music is a challenging work for unaccompanied 8-part choir incorporating a complicated key scheme. Unfortunately the performance suffered from tuning problems as a result, but the choir captured the enigmatic quality of the text very well.

The jump to the early seventeenth century for a selection of madrigals worked very well. All were sung with an excellent sense of style and contrast, but there were some problems of balance and pacing in one or two items. Most impressive were the two quiet numbers (Weep you no more, sad fountains by Dowland and The Silver Swan by Gibbons) which were very well controlled.

Prelude, Fugue & Riffs for cello and piano by local composer Laurie Dunkin Wedd was excitingly performed, despite some tuning problems in the difficult first movement. The virtuoso last movement seemed curiously out of character with the rest of the work – it would doubtless sound better played by a rock band!

The concert concluded with four well-known jazz items from 1930s New York. Sadly, In The Mood and I Got Rhythm lacked a certain amount of the sparkle and energy that the music is crying out for, but the gentler Night And Day and Deep Purple were performed with great skill and excellent interplay between the voices.

Junko Nakamura

Junko Nakamura supported Clifford Benson in the choir’s Summer Love Songs & Jazz concert in June 2003.

Junko Nakamura, Piano

Junko Nakamura was born in 1970 in Tokyo, Japan. She studied at Tokyo College of Music, graduating in 2002. Last September she was awarded a Thomas Jennings Exhibition Award to study solo and chamber music with Professor Clifford Benson at the Royal Academy of Music. In the Academy’s internal competitions, she won the Christian Carpenter Prize for the best pianoforte recital, was very highly commended as the runner-up in the Brahms Sonata Prize, and was chosen as one of the six finalists of the RAM Club Prize encompassing all instruments. The final of this is to be held later in June.

Howells Requiem

7.30pm, Saturday 22 March 2003 – St Martin’s Church, Brasted
7.30pm, Saturday 29 March 2003 – Church of St. Mary Platt, Borough Green


Nicholas Shaworgan


Victor Clements


Herbert Howells – Take him earth for cherishing?
Herbert Howells – Psalm Prelude, Set 1 No. 1
Herbert Howells – Requiem
Johannes Brahms – Geistliches lied
Johannes Brahms – Warum ist das licht gegeben?
Matthew Martin – Veni Sancte Spiritus
Tongues of Fire
Gustav Holst – Ave Maria
Robert Harris – Oh, how can I keep from singing?
Cesar Franck – Cantabile

Nicholas Shaw

Nicholas played with the choir during its two concert in March 2003.

Nicholas Shaw began playing the organ whilst a scholar at Wellington College, Berkshire, and has since held organ scholarships at Rochester and Westminster Cathedrals, and at Magdalen College, Oxford. He currently combines the post of Sub-Oganist and Keeper of the Songes to Her Majesty’s Chapel Royal with a busy freelance career in London.

Nicholas has appeared as soloist and accompanist on television and radio, including solo work on Radio 3’s In Tune programme and at the Enthronement Services for both the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of Westminster. As a continuo player he has appeared with the Orchestre Philharmonic de Strasbourg in France.

After graduating from Oxford, Nicholas continued his studies as the Robinson Scholar at the Royal Academy of Music. Here he studied choral direction with Patrick Russill and graduated with a MMus in 2001. He has recently been appointed a Visiting Music Tutor at The King’s School Canterbury, where he conducts the 30-voice Chamber Choir.

Review of Howells Requiem

Reviewer – Victor Clements

The concert on Saturday last was stunning! I was so moved by the quality of voices and the musicality of the whole programme: I thought it was absolutely brilliant and so did my companion. We were both so glad we came – so very, very, sorry not so many others did – look what they missed.

The Howells is so beautiful especially as sung by the Cantate – I could go on but I won’t – you will gather I loved it and keep re-living the joy of it.

Summer Love Songs & Jazz

7.30pm, Saturday 22 March 2003 – St Martin’s Church, Brasted
7.30pm, Saturday 29 March 2003 – Church of St. Mary Platt, Borough Green

J Brahms – Liebeslieder walzer Op 52
Schumann – Fantaisiestucke
Elgar – There is sweet music
Bennet – All creatures now
Dowland – Weep you no more, sad fountains
Farmer – Fair Phillis I saw sitting all alone
Gibbons – The silver swan
Morley – My bonny lass she smileth
FL Dunkin Wedd – Prelude, fugue & riffs
Garland, arr Gritton – In the mood
Poret, arr Carter – Night and day
DeRose/Parish, arr Carter/Blackwell – Deep purple
Gershwin – I got rhythm

Murray Stewart

Murray conducted the choir during its Magnificat! concert in January 2003.

Murray Stewart, Conductor

Born in London, Murray Stewart read Music at Cambridge University, where he was Organ Scholar at Trinity Hall. His early years were devoted to following a career as an Organist. Following studies in St Albans with Peter Hurford and later with Daniel Roth in Paris on an Arts Council Scholarship, he recorded the complete organ works of Cesar Franck, and works by Vierne for the Danish label, Kontrapunkt.

Since 1988, Murray Stewart has devoted himself exclusively to a conducting career, studying with Harold Gray, Meredith Davies and Sir Charles Mackerras. He has worked with many Orchestras including the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, the Bournemouth Sinfonietta, the Ulster Orchestra, the City of London Sinfonia, and the London Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. Murray Stewart has also worked with the BBC Concert Orchestra, with whom he has recorded the complete orchestral works of Maurice Durufle. He has also worked with the Musici de Praga and with the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, including a performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony at the Smetana Hall, Prague.

Murray Stewart, Conductor

Murray Stewart is Artistic Director of the London Pro Arte Orchestra and the London Pro Arte Baroque Orchestra. With the former, he has conducted many Premieres, including works by Ropartz, Langlais, Sallinen, Kokkonen, Szymanowski, Howells, Patterson, Brian Chapple, Piers Hellawell, Geoffrey Burgon, Howard Blake, Naji Hakim and Robert Walker, all to critical acclaim. Murray Stewart is a former Conductor of the Collegium Musicum of London, where he succeeded Laszlo Heltay, Bristol Choral Society and the London Forest Choir. He was also Artistic Director of Finchley Children’s Music Group, with whom he gave the British Premiere of Pierre Max Dubois’ opera Le ruban merveilleux at Sadlers Wells, and appeared regularly on television. He is currently Music Director of the East London Chorus, and appears regularly as a Guest Conductor with other distinguished choirs at home and abroad, and has recorded with the West German Radio Choir in Cologne.

Murray Stewart, Composer

Since early days, Murray Stewart has maintained a strong interest in French repertoire of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He has recorded two discs of music by Jean Langlais for Koch International. Murray Stewart also made the premiere Recording of Richard Maunder’s edition of the Mozart Requiem, in its entirety, and on modern instruments, as well as a Christmas disc for Conifer Classics, which enjoyed great success in the classical charts. He has conducted over 20 Premieres both at home and abroad, including works by Kenneth Leighton and Naji Hakim in concerts this Season. Future engagements include the World Premiere recording in Belgium of the Requiem Mass by Rodriguez de Ledesma, and concerts in Spain of music by Britten and Stravinsky. Murray Stewart has appeared with the London Pro Arte Orchestra in the International Orchestral Concerts Series at the Fairfield Hall, Croydon.

For further biographical information, visit Murray’s professional website

London Pro Arte Orchestra & London Pro Arte Baroque Orchestra

The Cantate Choir perfomed with the London Pro Arte Orchestra and London Pro Arte Baroque Orchestra during the Magnificat concert as part of the Tudely Festival in January 2003.

London ProArte Orchestra

London Pro Arte Orchestra

Originally founded in 1985 as the Orchestra of St James, the London Pro Arte Orchestra is now in its fourteenth Season. Murray Stewart became Artistic Director and Principal Conductor in 1985, and since that time the Orchestra has given over 100 concerts both at home and abroad. The Orchestra made its South Bank debut in 1986, appearing at St John’s, Smith Square the following year. It appears regularly in all of London’s major Concert Halls, making its Barbican debut in 1995, as well as the Fairfield Hall in Croydon. The Orchestra has regularly appeared at the Colston Hall in Bristol.

The London Pro Arte Orchestra has toured abroad in France and Denmark, being invited to give the opening concert at the Vendsyssel Festival, when it broadcast on Danish Radio. The London Pro Arte Brass Ensemble (one of three associated Ensembles of the Orchestra) has since returned to Denmark, recording once again for Danish Radio.

A number of distinguished soloists have appeared with the Orchestra, including the late Manoug Parikian, Erich Gruenberg, Peter Katin, Marie-Louise Langlais, Peter Katin and Tim Hugh. The London Pro Arte Orchestra has appeared in three South Bank Festivals, Beethoven Plus, the French Bicentenary Festival, and the Szymanowski Festival. It also gave the UK Premiere of Aulis Sallinen’s Iron Age Suite in the presence of the composer.

London Pro Arte Orchestra

Having made its Royal Festival Hall debut in 1991, the London Pro Arte Orchestra took part in the Herbert Howells Centenary Concert the following year, when it gave the London Premiere of Howell’s Sine Nomine. The Orchestra has since returned to the Festival Hall to give a performance of Britten’s Noye’s Fludde with Finchley Children’s Music Group.

The London Pro Arte Orchestra has a commitment to premiering contemporary works. It has given London Premieres of works by Paul Patterson and Piers Hellawell, as well as premiering several works by Jean Langlais at the South Bank. The Orchestra gave the UK Premiere of Naji Hakim’s Organ Concerto, and the World Premiere of Robert Walker’s Mele Livida. Two more Premieres will be given this Season, the Oboe Concerto by Kenneth Leighton, and Naji Hakim’s Violin Concerto. The Orchestra’s first CD, of works by Jean Langlais, was released in 1998 by Koch International. The London Pro Arte Orchestra also made the premiere recording of Richard Maunder’s edition of the Mozart Requiem, in its entirety, and on modern instruments.

In 1997 the Orchestra began a Residency at the People’s Palace Concert Hall, Queen Mary and Westfield College, London. Last Season the Orchestra appeared as part of the International Orchestral Concert Series at the Fairfield Hall, Croydon. It has also appeared at the Henley Festival and in open air Concerts at Portchester Castle and Tredegar House, as well as the 650th Anniversary celebrations at Trinity Hall, Cambridge. The Orchestra has twice appeared at ‘Music in the Air’ in Hampshire, playing before its largest audience ever of ten thousand people on both occasions. Future concerts this Season include St John’s, Smith Square, St Martin in the Fields and St Giles’, Cripplegate in London. A return visit to ‘Music in the Air’ will be made in 2003.

London Pro Arte Baroque Orchestra

An associated ensemble of the London Pro Arte Orchestra (founded in 1989), the London Pro Arte Baroque Orchestra, formed in 1995, brings together some of the finest young musicians specialising in playing period instruments.

The Orchestra made its London debut at St John’s, Smith Square in November 1995, and has since concentrated its activities around the major choral works of J S Bach. This has included acclaimed performances of Bach’s Mass in B minor in France.

Members of the orchestra play in some of the most prestigious Orchestras and Ensembles, including the Academy of Ancient Music, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the English Concert, the London Classical Players and Floregium, under the direction of such distinguished conductors as Sir Charles Mackerras, Sir Roger Norrington and Christopher Hogwood. Between them, members of the Orchestra have taken part in many recent and highly praised recordings of renaissance, baroque and classical music.

The Orchestra appears regularly at the London venues of St John’s, Smith Square and at St Martin in the Fields. Last Season’s highlights included performances of Bach’s Easter Oratorio and Handel’s Messiah at St John’s, Smith Square, as well as a Bach programme at the Henley Festival. This Season the Orchestra performs Handel’s Judas Maccabeus with the East London Chorus at St John’s, and later gives a performance of Bach’s Mass in B minor. Tours to both France and Denmark are planned for the end of the Season in the summer of 2003.

Further details can be found on the orchestra’s website.

Amy Freston

Amy sang with the choir during its Magnificat! concert in January 2003.

Amy Freston, Soprano

Amy Freston trained as a classical dancer at the Central School of Ballet and now studies singing with Sandra Dugdale at the RNCM. Whilst at the RNCM she has taken part ina number of the College’s opera productions including Verdi’s Falstaff (covering Nanetta), Sondheim’s Into the Woods (playing both Snow White and Rapunzal), Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte (covering the first boy) and Janàcek’s Jenufa (chorus and dancer). She performed the role of Asteria in the RNCM’s production of Handel’s Tamerlano and is a winner of the Alexander Young Award and the Brigette Fassbaender prize for lieder.

Recent engagements include the role of Galatea in Kent Opera’s Sprin 2002 production of Handel’s Acis and Galatea, the role of Sister Genevieve in Puccini’s Suor Angelica with Opera Holland Park, and soprano soloist in a performance of two Bach Cantatas and a Harrison Birtwistle song cycle, in the presence of the composer, at the home of Alfred Brendel this summer.

Recent concert performances include soloist in Carmina Burana with the City of Birmingham Symphony Hall, Mozart’s Exsultate Jubilate and Brahms’ Requiem with Nottingham Choral Trust, and Vivaldi’s cantata Nulla in mundo pax sincera with the RNCM chamber orchestra conducted by Douglas Boyd.

For Opera North Amy covered the Sandman and the Dewfairy in their Summer 2001 production of Hansel and Gretel, and last January sang the role of Pamina in a two-week workshop of Die Zauberflöte in preparation for their Spring 2003 production directed by Tim Supple. Amy also sang the role of Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier for a masterclass lead by James Holmes this November.

Amy is most grateful to the Countess of Munster Musical Trust and the Peter Moores Foundation for their generous support of her studies.

Jonathan May

Jonathan sang with the choir during its Magnificat concert in January 2003.

Jonathan May, Bass-baritone

Jonathan May was born in Windsor and educated there and at Newcastle University. He then studied singing with Ellis Keeler at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where he gained several scholarships as a post-graduate and member of the Opera Course. He also participated in Masterclasses at the Britten-Pears School with Martin Isepp and John Shirley-Quirk, and studied privately with Norman Bailey.

After working with Kent Opera, Jonathan joined the Royal Opera House Chorus, remaining there for three seasons, during which time he undertook numerous small roles including Hermann Les Contes d’Hoffmann and Venetian Guide Death in Venice. Other work during that period included Escamillo Carmen for Vivaldi Concertante, Geronte Manon Lescaut for Opera South and Basilio Barber of Seville for The Opera Company.

Jonathan left the Royal Opera House Chorus in 1992 and following a Wagner Faust and Ceprano Rigoletto for Opera Northern Ireland he attended the National Opera Studio on a Royal Opera House scholarship. During his time there he also sang three roles for the Royal Opera: Commissioner Madam Butterfly, Second Prisoner Fidelio and Fiorello Barber of Seville. In past seasons he has appeared with Bath and Wessex Opera: Grenvil La Traviata and Monterone Rigoletto; English Touring Opera: Dulcamara L’Elixir d’Amore, Colline La Boheme, Bartolo Barber of Seville, Papageno The Magic Flute; Opera Northern Ireland: Zaretsky Eugene Onegin and Masetto Don Giovanni; at Garsington as Peneios Daphne and Figaro Marriage of Figaro for Mid-Wales Opera and Commendatore Don Giovanni for the Civit Hills Festival.

In 1997 Jonathan made his debut with Welsh National Opera as Zuniga in their acclaimed production of Carmen. Subsequently other roles for WNO have included Monterone Rigoletto, Gorianchikov From the House of the Dead, Mr Flint Billy Budd, Horn Un ballo in Maschera and numerous understudies. His debut with Scottish Opera as Zuniga in 1999 was followed by Angelotti Tosca and he returned to Scottish Opera for the 2002 season singing the roles of Bonze in Madam Butterfly and Samual Taylor Colerdige in the world premier of Monster, a new opera by Sally Beamish. Future plans include Traveller Curlew River for Opera National de Rouen and Polonius Hamlet and a Richard Strauss role for the Royal Opera House. Concert performances have included Pulcinella with City of London Sinfonia, Glagolitic Mass with Bournemouth Sinfonietta, Angelotti in Tosca with Bournmouth Symphony, Verdi’s Requiem at the Albert Hall with Sir David Willcocks, Haydn’s Creation and Mozart’s Requiem, (English Haydn Festival, Messiah in Singapore, Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius (Rochester Cathedral) and Berlioz’s Messe Solennelle at Dartington, and Handel’s Acis and Galatea for Huntingdon Choral Society.

You can read further detail on Jonathan’s professional website.

James Oxley

James sang with the choir during its Magnificat concert in January 2003.

James Oxley, Bass

James Oxley studied at the Royal College of Music, at Oxford and privately with Rudolf Piernay. In 1994, he was awarded first prize at the renowned International Vocalisten Concours at ‘s-Hertogenbosch.

He made his London debut at St John’s, Smith Square, singing Britten’s Les Illuminations. Since then, he has appeared at all the major concert halls in London, at the Symphony Hall (Birmingham) and Philharmonic Hall (Liverpool) as well as at the Three Choirs Festival. His engagements have taken him to all the major European countries, especially to France where he has worked with Philippe Herreweghe, Hervé Niquet and Christophe Rousset. In 1996 he gave performances of Britten’s War Requiem in San Sebastian and Amiens. Further afield, he has sung in Tel Aviv in concerts of Bach, in Hong Kong and Singapore, and he sang Schumann’s Dichterliebe with the pianist David Owen Norris at the Huntington Festival in Australia. Last year he made his North American debut with Philharmonia Baroque in San Francisco.

James sings regularly for Opéra de Rennes, his recent roles including Antinoüs in Faure’s Penelope, Lensky in Eugene Onegin, Belmonte in Seraglio and Male Chorus (The Rape of Lucretia). He has sung in two Strauss operas at Garsington: Die Liebe der Danaë and Intermezzo and sang the role of Lucano in ENO’s acclaimed Coronation of Poppea.

His recent engagements include Acis & Galatea for Kent Opera, Rameau’s Pygmalion at the Cheltenham Festival, a broadcast of French baroque music from the Royal Chapel at Versailles and Verdi’s Requiem at Gloucester Cathedral. This year, he will give performances of Cosi fan Tutti for Opéra de Rennes and the Britten Seranade in Limerick, Dublin, and at the Sydney Opera House.

Katherine Manley

Katherine sang with the choir during its Magnificat! concert in January 2003.

Katherine Manley, Soprano

Born in 1979, Katherine Manley began her musical training at Leicester Arts In Education. Here she participated in various ensembles and choirs such as the Leicester Bach Choir and the Chanterelles, performing in venues including the Royal Albert hall and the Queen Elizabeth Hall.

For four years from 1997 she was scholar studying at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, where she was chosen as the young singer to represent the college in the Kathleen Ferrier Society Bursary. She has appeared in master classes with Benjamin Luxon, Roger Vignoles and recently with Sarah Walker. She took part of college opera performances of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Così fan tutte and Bizet’s Carmen.

Katherine is now continuing her postgraduate training on the Diploma Course at the Royal College of Music.

As a soloist Katherine has worked with both amateur and professional performances of oratorio and as a member of the RSAMD Chamber Choir performed with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Forthcoming engagements include work with Opera Holland Park, and singing in Händel’s Messiah, Haydn’s Nelson Mass, and an orchestral recital in Cambridge of Britten’s Les Illuminations.

William Purefoy

William sang with the choir during its Magnificat! concert in January 2003.

William Purefoy, Countertenor

A graduate of Magdalen College Oxford, William attended the Opera Course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where he received the John Clifford Pettican Award and was a finalist in the 1997 Gold Medal Competition. In 1995 he was a finalist in the Kathleen Ferrier Awards and a winner of the NFMS Young Concert Artists Award, and in 1997 won the Silver Medal from the Worshipful Company of Musicians. He studies with David Pollard.

Operatic work has included Truth (The Triumph of Beauty and Deceit Barry) Almeida Opera, Coridon (Acis and Galatea Handel) New Kent Opera, Sir Philip Sydney (Angel Magick John Harle/David Pountney) Royal Albert Hall BBC Proms, Ernesto (Il Mondo Della Luna Haydn) Garsington, Ensemble Countertenor 1 (Orfeo Monteverdi) English National Opera, Arsace (Partenope Handel) Covent Garden Festival, Buxton Festival and Aldeburgh Proms, Endimion (La Calisto Cavalli) Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Orfeo (Gluck) St Endellion Festival, Ptolemy (Giulio Cesare Handel) St John’s Smith Square and Shepherd/Huntsman (Venus and Adonis Blow) Globe Theatre.

In concert he has sung with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the King’s Consort, the New London Consort, the Musicians of the Globe, the Hanover Band, the Irish Chamber Orchestra, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, the Purcell Quartet, Concordia, La Cetra, the BBC Concert Orchestra (Friday Night Is Music Night), I Fagiolini and Cantabile. He has given recitals at the Wigmore Hall, the Barbican and the Purcell Room as well as in Innsbruck, Graz, Passau, Brezice and Radjovlica. This year, he will be appearing in a BBC documentary about William Shakespeare.

He has recorded Rosey Blood (Sederunt) (Terror and Magnificence, John Harle)Decca Argo, Ode for Saint Cecilia’s Day and David’s Lamentation Over Saul and Jonathan (Boyce, Hanover Band) ASV Gaudeamus, Mass in G Minor (Vaughan Williams, Richard Hickox) Chandos, a Purcell recording (Orchestra of the Golden Age) Naxos and a recital for the 1998 Innsbruck Festival CD.

For further biographical information, visit William’s personal website.

Review of Magnificat!

Reviewer – Robert Hardcastle

Review of the concert by The Cantate Choir at Chapel of St Augustine, Tonbridge School. – 26th January 2003

Image from programme for Magnificat! concert, part of the Tudely Festival

Three setttings of the Magnificat in one afternoon may sound like two too many, but thanks to some very ingenious programme planning and superbly authentic performances by the Cantate Choir, the London Pro Arte Baroque Orchestra and a well-chosen group of soloists, a packed audience in the Tonbridge School Chapel last Sunday enjoyed a rare feast of joyous and celebratory music-making.

Mounted by Dr Stephen Coles as part of this year’s Tudeley Festival, this unique concert was given in aid of the Tonbridge Cottage Hospital, who are raising money for much-needed ceiling hoists to make patient care easier for the staff and patients alike. The programme consisted of two Magnificats in D major, the first by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, and the second composed by his father, Johann Sebastian, some twenty years earlier.

Sandwiched between these two works – and this is what gave the programme such an intriguing shape – was a third Magnificat, composed in the latter part of the 17th century either by Jean Baptiste Lully or Couperin Le Grand, for two sopranos, organ and cello. The young sopranos were Amy Feston and Katherine Manley whose voices, although contrasting in character, blended together extremely well. As in the two Bach works, they brought to their performances a high degree of musicianship and insight. I do not know how much, if at all, they have sung together in the past, but I think we may have in the making here a future duo to compare with Felicity Lott and Ann Murray, which is high praise indeed.

Press clipping of review of Magnificat! concert in January 2003

Equally impressive were their colleagues William Purefoy, James Oxley and Jonathan May, in the two works by members of the Bach family. Purefoy, a wonderfully mellow counter-tenor – if that’s not a contradiction in terms – and the tenor James Oxley were heard to great advantage in the CPE Bach Magnificat, especially in ‘Deposuit potentes’ duet, while the bass-baritone Jonathan May, accompanied by chamber organ and cello, dealt powerfully with the unsympathetic acoustic of the Tonbridge School Chapel in, for example, ‘Quia fecit mihi omnia’, the one bass aria in JS Bach’s work.

The Cantate Choir, until recently known as the Chantry Choir based in Sevenoaks and directed by Robin Walker, director of music at St.Giles-in-the-Fields parish church in London, provided admirable support throughout, as did the London Pro Arte Baroque Orchestra led by Theresa Caudle and conducted by Murray Stewart. Special mention should also be made of the two oboes, who wove the usual Bach spell around many of the soprano arias, together with the splendid baroque trumpets, and the harpsichord and chamber organ parts performed by Kathryn Cok and James Longford. In the hands of all these dedicated musicians – soloists, chorus and instrumentalists – the causes of music and of medicine were, in equal measure, very well served.


7.30pm, Saturday 26 January 2003 – St Augustine’s Chapel, Tonbridge School

CPE Bach – Magnificat in D
Francois Couperin or Jean-Baptiste Lully – Magnificat
JS Bach – Magnificat in D

Review of Charpentier, Bruckner, Poulenc

Reviewer – Roger Evernden

Review of the concert by The Cantate Choir at St Martin’s Church, Brasted – 30th November 2002

St.Martin’s Church, Brasted was full on Saturday evening when a very enthusiastic audience supported the Sevenoaks-based Cantate Choir under its new conductor, Robin Walker. The choir members are all experienced, local singers, but the conductor, organist and soprano soloist are young professional musicians; a blend which certainly produced splendid results in this programme of liturgical music by Charpentier, Bruckner and Poulenc.

The church is notable for its striking new roof and beautiful organ – both works of great craftsmanship. The organ was heard in accompaniment and solo roles. Steven Grahl captured truly authentic French Baroque sounds in the attractive noels which act as interludes in Charpentier’s Messe de Minuit. As accompanist in Poulenc’s Gloria he displayed extraordinary virtuosity, producing genuine French cathedral sonorities. He was always sensitive to Robin Walker’s authoritative conducting and soprano soloist, Benedikte Moes’s fluid and expressive lines.

Interestingly, Charpentier’s Mass, because of its lack of contrast in the vocal textures and tonalities characteristic of this seventeenth century style, restricted the choir to a rather monochrome style. The liturgical scenario was confirmed by Robin Walker’s cathedral-choir style of conducting. This elicited a smooth, warm-toned but unremarkable, and occasionally imprecise choral sound. However, delightful interludes were interpolated by solo voices and small ensembles from within the choir.

Holding the choir back in this way meant that the bolder contrasts in tone and dynamics needed for Bruckner’s motets were particularly telling when they arrived. Here the passion and intensity of Bruckner’s Romanticism, coupled with his genuine religious austerity, made a fascinatingly shifting musical scene.

Poulenc’s Gloria is an extraordinary amalgam of sacred and secular theatricality. This enabled Robin Walker, now with a more secular conducting style, to draw long, sinuous lines from his choir, but also contrast them with incisive attacks and striking dynamic contrasts. Ensemble was tight, yet flexible. In the movements with soprano solo, Benedikte Moes sang antiphonally with the choir, at other times her voice floating above them. She demonstrated an effortlessly impressive range of pitch and tonal control. She could be both operatic and hauntingly introspective.

This was an evening where the musicians communicated directly with their appreciative audience. Clearly both the choir and its conductor will go from strength to strength as they work together in the future.

Benedikte Moes

Benedikte sang with the choir during its performance of Poulenc’s Gloria in November 2002.

Benedikte Moes, Soprano

Benedikte Moes was born in Denmark and began her training at the age of 12, singing with the Girls’ Choir of Radio Denmark.

A graduate and rising star from the Royal Acadamy of Music, Benedikte Moes has given concerts throughout England and Europe, worked with Dame Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonynge, and sung in masterclasses with Nicolai Gedda, Robert Tear, Marjorie Thomas and Paul Sperry. She has also worked intensively with Dame Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonynge at the Britten-Pears School in Snape.

In 2001 Benedikte performed the role of Mimi in Clonter Opera’s production of Puccini’s La Boheme.

Her oratorio performances have included Bach’s St John Passion and St Matthew Passion, as well as Brahms’ Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, Haydn’s Harmony Mass, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Rutter’s Gloria and Requiem and Vivaldi’s Gloria and Magnificat. Forthcoming engagements include touring with Scottish Opera in 2003.

Steven Grahl

Steven Grahl played with the choir during its performance of Charpentier’s Messe de Minuit and Poulenc’s Gloria in November 2002.

Steven Grahl, Organ

Steven Grahl’s musical training began as a chorister at Derby Cathedral, where he was later sixth-form organ scholar. Following a similar gap-year position at Norwich Cathedral, he won the organ scholarship to Magdalen College, Oxford, combining reading for a music degree with playing for the daily chapel services. Whilst at Oxford, Steven played for several broadcasts, directed the chamber choir Musica Beata, and also conducted concerts given by the Academical Clerks of Magdalen College. Following his Final Organ recital, Steven was awarded the Betts Organ Scholarship for further study, and graduated with a 2:1 in Music in June 2001.

Having been Assistant Organist at St Marylebone Parish Church, Steven is now Director of Music there, where he has responsibility for the 10-voice professional choir and Rieger Organ. He combines this position with a postgraduate scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, studying the organ with David Titterington.

In early 2002, Steven won the Limpus and Dixon prizes in his FRCO examination, and was recently awarded the Worshipful Company of Musicians Silver Medallion.

Steven has played in masterclasses given by Andrea Marcon, Kei Moito, and Marie-Clarie Alain, among others, and recent recitals have included St Michael’s Cornhill, Lincoln Minster, Bath Abbey, Norwich Cathedral and Westminster Cathedral.

Steven is much in demand as an accompanist on both the organ and the piano, and in addition to his freelance work is accompanist to The Chiltern Choir. Other interests include singing and jazz piano.

Review of the Bach, Corelli, Poulenc & Handel Concert

Phoenix flies high

Reviewer – FL Dunkin Wedd

Review of the concert by The Cantate Choir with the Corelli Consort at St Martin’s Church, Brasted – 25th May 2002

As so often, the tone of this concert was set from the very first note: Cantate’s opening to Bach’s Jesu meine Freude was confident, full-bodied and spiritual, setting the standard for the whole evening.

Those who seek to walk in the steps of the Chantry Choir aim high. Chantry established a peerless reputation with performances of near professional standard; after their demise The Cantate Choir – with many of the same members – has risen, phoenix-like, from the ashes, their former esteem evidenced by a long queue of conductors hoping to be associated with them. On this showing Cantate have nothing to fear from comparison with their forebears.

In fact fear – or the lack of it – was a bit of a theme in this concert. When a new choir chooses to start their very first programme with an icon of the choral repertoire like Jesu meine Freude it’s a confident start – and a courageous one. For all its familiarity, Jesu meine Freude is difficult to sing; it depends for variety on subtle changes in vocal colour, and can easily become wearisome in amateur hands – a challenge for choir and conductor alike.

But Cantate did not disappoint. From the first ebullient note, they displayed superb ensemble singing. They entered into the spirit of Bach’s masterpiece with gusto, allowing conductor Adrian Pitts to add subtle character to the work; the elision of the lines in the chorales was beautifully brought off, showing a good understanding between choir and conductor. Adrian Pitts was long associated with the Chantry Choir – and it shows.

There were some fine details hers – especially from altos and tenors; the altos were perhaps the stars of the evening, offering a wonderful bloom of tone, secure intonation and lots of eye contact with the conductor. There were some details for Cantate to work on in future; Bach’s trio mercilessly exposes any weakness, and confidence and intonation are at risk in the most professional performance; the Cantate sopranos could achieve a more caressing tone and more hushed pianissimo. But these caveats apart both choir and conductor did full justice to a demanding piece, producing a most moving performance.

Before the next choral work, Cantate’s clever programming had four notable local musicians play Corelli’s Trio Sonata in C op. 34 No. 1; like a sorbet between courses of a gourmet meal, this cleansed the aural palate. Vreni Gould and Robin Morrish (violins), Tony Gould (organ) and Elizabeth Moore (cello) are all fine players – and know each other well. It seemed that they joined effortlessly together in marvellous rapport, listening so intently to each other, attuned to the slightest nuances of each others’ playing.

Vreni Gould led with a wonderful lustrous silvery tone, firm but unassuming; husband Tony’s continuo was sensitive and supportive. So often when one hears a second violin one wants to take them out a buy them a square meal; this could never be the case with Robin Morrish, who knows exactly when to take centre stage, exactly how to support without dominating – rare qualities. Elizabeth Moore’s luminous cello playing was characterised as ever by grace and elegance – always sensitive, never forgetting the spiritual dimension. All four have the technical mastery that allows them to relax and enjoy the music – and their enjoyment was infectious. The cheerful and melodic Corelli was a good choice – music for pleasure, played with love.

As we’ve seen, Cantate don’t duck a challenge. Poulenc’s Four Penitence Motets are complex both emotionally and harmonically, and as difficult to sing as the Bach – though for very different reasons.

The programme notes suggested that these four motets represent a normally frivolous composer in deeply religious mood – but Poulenc is more complex that that. Spirit and spirituality are interwoven so closely that they cannot be separated; in these miraculous motets powerful expression is given to the religious uncertainty that typifies the twentieth century. Written in 1938-9, they embody the looming wars – one remembered, one foreshadowed – that gave rise to this questioning of faith.

Again the Cantate Choir gave us a wonderful opening, presaging good things to come. Balance and dynamics were now perfected, and Adrian Pitts finely managed subtle changes of character. The choir coped admirably with the harmonic language, especially in the fourth movement where Poulenc’s Gallic wit comes to the fore. These are complex and expressive works, and it’s hard to imagine a performance where their contradictory qualities could be better balanced, or one more moving. In the third movement one could have wished for the sopranos to concentrate more on tone quality than volume: the top line will always be heard without the need for strong projection. One would have liked a more firm and focused sound in the bass. But these quibbles only serve to show how close to perfect these performances were.

The Corelli Consort returned for Bach’s Sinfonia from the Easter Oratorio, in a marvellous arrangement by Norman Carrell. Although again a refreshment to the palate, this was much more than an amuse-bouche – more like Bach’s double violin concerto in miniature, with Vreni Gould and Robin Morrish swapping phrase for heartfelt phrase. Never were Bach’s runs and trills thrown off with mere technical bravura: every one was beautifully played – and here again, Elizabeth Moore’s grave and thoughtful cello playing was crucial in setting the mood. This performance alone was worth the admission price.

Last came Handel’s Zadok the Priest, cleverly placed at the end of the programme, not the beginning – and again Cantate showed great courage. The piece is so well known that it begs comparison with the ‘perfect’ studio recordings we have all heard. It can easily turn into a bit of a shout – but in these hands never did so: the vocal tone was warm, the sound was bright and focused, diction was clear, and intonation was accurate. The dynamic range was perhaps better handled here than anywhere else in the programme.

And here also Tony Gould’s organ playing came into its own with wonderfully chosen registration, building up splendidly to the climactic choir entry. The choir obviously know the piece well and could probably sing it by heart – in fact I would have liked to hear them do so; singing without books sharpens listening skills and encourages eye-contact with the conductor.

This was a concert of fearless programming, cleverly varied, with a capacity (and rapturous) audience; very high standards of singing and conducting – an example of future Cantate concerts.