A look back at our 2017 Spring Season

Guy James reflects on our first concerts in the North of England, CD recording and performance at the SJSS Holy Week Festival 2017.

An early start heralded the beginning of our Spring projects, with me meeting Owain, Joseph, and the familiar rented 7-seater just outside Cambridge on Sunday morning. Engineering works on the Great Western Railway, a hasty U-turn and three hours of driving later saw more of us than we were expecting arriving together in the car in Monmouth for a concert as part of Wye Valley Music’s 2016/17 season. Our programme spanned the whole range of our repertoire, featuring several pieces that would be recorded later in the week! The church and Monmouthshire were stunning and we really enjoyed performing there and seeing some familiar faces in the audience, many of whom had travelled down from Herefordshire. Being one of the members of the group who suffers from standing at a normal height, I then found myself in the familiar position of being pressed up against Josh and our luggage in the back of the car for the drive back to Cambridge to begin our much-anticipated recording in the beautifully sunny Trinity College.

We were very happy to be recording some of our very favourite repertoire, that of the English Renaissance Masters. The whole group have grown up singing and loving the works of such composers as William Byrd, Thomas Tallis, John Sheppard and Orlando Gibbons and it was a real privilege to be able to work intensely on their music with Adrian Peacock and David Hinitt in Trinity College Chapel where we gave our first concert over three years ago. This work completed we headed off to further our first ever Spring Tour with a concert in Kingston Parish Church on one of the most beautiful days of the year, preceded by tea and croquet kindly provided by our very generous hosts.

The following days saw our tour continue, for the first time headed northwards! One of several highlights for me included working with the brilliant Blackburn Cathedral choristers on Allegri’s Miserere as part of a concert featuring highlights from our tour repertoire. The cathedral is a wonderful modern building, perfect for some of our more ethereal pieces and I particularly enjoyed performing Lukaszewski’s Recessit Pastor Noster alongside two of Bach’s Passiontide Chorales in the warm acoustic. The next day brought a further personal highlight, a day in Bolton alongside the energetic and inspiring Bolton Music Service, enjoying performances by many local amateur choirs and ensembles before a workshop with the gathered company and a short performance by ourselves. It was marvellous to see local live music making in such rude health and to see so many people brought together by music and performance supporting each other. Long may this ethos and such friendships flourish.

The next week we concluded our spring projects with a return to St John’s Smith Square for their inaugural Holy Week Festival alongside Tenebrae and several of our other favourite artists. Our concert featured several modern pieces including the London Premiere of Owain Park’s Sequence: ‘In Parenthesis’. Requiring the unusual forces of 5 voices and a narrator I have had the opportunity to listen to this piece several times in churches across England and it has quickly become one of my favourite pieces in our repertoire. It was a perfect conclusion to our spring projects to hear it performed in London for the first time alongside Thomas Tallis’s Lamentations of Jeremiah in a very moving exploration of loss and lament for Holy Week.

Josh Cooter writes about Arvo Pärt’s Passio

We were incredibly honoured to be asked to continue our connection with St John’s Smith Square to perform Arvo Part’s ‘Passio’ in the opening concert of London’s International A Cappella Choral Competition on the 25th June. We were thrilled that the composer himself was able to attend to see us perform the parts of Jesus, Pilate and the Evangelist quartet, with Owain conducting the soloists and instrumentalists alongside Stephen Layton and the Holst Singers in this remarkable setting of the Passion story. It truly was a very special evening for all involved!

Alexander Chance on our performance at Raynham Hall

Early in June we made a trip past Cambridge on to King’s Lynn, and thence into the depths of the gorgeous sun-soaked Norfolk countryside, to Raynham Hall. This is the home of Lord and Lady Townshend, who host an annual summer concert series in its stunning marble Great Hall. We had been invited to perform by the series’ musical advisor, Michael Chance.

After a delicious lunch, we had a chance to test and delight in the concert hall’s marvellous acoustic for several hours, before our important pre-concert ritual of garden cricket, featuring, in a testament to the depths of the Townshends’ cupboards, the rare luxury of actual stumps and bails.

The concert programme itself seemed a fitting one for a sultry May evening – Italian madrigals by Monteverdi and Gesualdo, as well as lesser-known but equally joyous works by their contemporaries Gastoldi, Anerio and Giovanelli. We sang to a greatly appreciative audience, who had travelled from all corners of this glorious and often under-visited county (where I lived with my family for ten years); the packed room did nothing to dampen the acoustic. We are immensely grateful to the Townshends for hosting us so warmly and generously, and we hope to return in the future.

Arvo Pärt’s ‘Passio’ in SJSS

We are really looking forward to presenting Arvo Pärt’s stunning Passio in St John’s Smith Square with Stephen Layton and the Holst Singers on 25 June. This concert will launch the London International A Cappella Choir Competition 2017, which celebrates Arvo Pärt as its featured composer.

G6 in SJSS - LIACC 2015

Completed in 1982, Passio is one of Pärt’s most popular works and employs his truly original tintinnabuli style.

Tickets can be booked here: https://www.sjss.org.uk/book?873571079.

Full competition details can be found at: liaccc.org.uk

G6 in SJSS April 2016

CD Crowdfunder 2017

In 2017 we raised the funds to make a recording of some of our favourite music from the English Renaissance, including works by Tallis, Sheppard and Byrd. Our crowdfunding campaign was a huge success and we’d like to thank our supporters for their generosity and for helping us reach our stretch targets for the project. If you would like to support our work or hear more about the project please don’t hesitate to get in touch through our contact form here.

Visit our now-completed Crowdfunding page with all the details about the project. 

Recording in Process!

Our recording team: Hinitt and Peacock

Spring Season

We are looking forward to a busy spring season, with our first performances in the North of England as well as in The Hague and at the Wye Valley Music Festival. We are also recording our first CD of English Renaissance Polyphony, before appearing at the inaugural Holy Week Festival at St John’s Smith Square, in partnership with Tenebrae.

Performance Dates

– 22 March: REMA European Day of Early Music in The Hague | Website

–  26 March at 3pm in Monmouth Priory Church | Website

–  30 March at 6.30pm in Kingston Parish Church | Tickets available by emailing Linda Rimmer

–  31 March at 6.30pm in Blackburn Cathedral (featuring the Cathedral Choristers) | Tickets

–  1 April at 5pm in Victoria Hall, Bolton (concert and workshop for Bolton Choirs Festival) | Tickets

–  2 April at 7pm in St Ann’s Church, Manchester | Tickets

–  10 April at 6pm in St John’s Smith Square (part of the Holy Week Festival) | Website

G6 Northern Tour 2017 Poster

Northern Tour 2017

St Anne's Manchester.jpgWe are delighted to be performing our first concerts in the North of England, taking place in Blackburn, Bolton and Manchester 31 March – 2 April.

“The coolest vocal group around – revel in the gorgeous sounds, the spellbinding music, the programmes with something for everyone. Don’t miss them, I guarantee you’ll have the best evening ever.” – John Rutter

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–  Friday 31 March at 6.30pm in Blackburn Cathedral. Featuring the Cathedral Choristers in a joint performance of Allegri’s stunning Miserere mei, Deus | Tickets (£8/Free under-18s)

–  Saturday 1 April at 5pm in Victoria Hall, Bolton. Concert and workshop for Bolton Choirs Festival | Tickets (£6/Free under-18s)

–  Sunday 2 April at 7pm in St Ann’s Church, Manchester. Featuring a work by local composer Douglas Mason as well as folksong and light music arrangements  | Tickets (£8/Free under-18s)

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The Gesualdo Six are a vocal consort directed by Owain Park. Formed in March 2014, the ensemble has since gone on to perform numerous concerts around the UK, including two summer tours.

Whilst focusing on early music, the group often programmes modern works, including pieces by Joanna Marsh, Sarah Rimkus and Paweł Łukaszewski in their recent concerts.

The group were St John’s Smith Square Young Artists 2015-2016, following a highly competitive audition process. The scheme invests in promising artists who show “enormous talent and energy”, endeavouring to help shape their futures.

The group’s first recording will be an album of English renaissance polyphony, due for release in late 2017.

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Click here for Facebook Events

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We are looking for some sponsorship with this venture. Read more in a blog post from Owain here: http://thinknowltd.com/guest-blog-owain-park-director-of-the-gesualdo-six/

Christmas Tour Blog – Day 4

Guy talks us through the happenings on the fourth day of our Christmas Tour.

After the reception in the wonderful Willey Place we went straight to bed as we’d had a very long day, and the next morning we enjoyed the (much-needed) first lie-in of the tour. Spurred on by England’s batting performance in Mumbai some of the group took to the cricket net in the garden. Exploiting slippery conditions, house-rules and the lack of an actual Cricket bat, I proceeded to make hay, bowling Owain through the gate early on to take a crucial head-start. Some creamy late cuts and a punched 6 down the ground from Alex set up a crucial final over. Guy kept the bowling tight to hold him to a crucial tie. A good result secured we proceeded to pack and headed straight to BBC Broadcasting House.

With excitement mounting for only our second live radio appearance we were whisked upstairs to experiment with the balance and reacquaint ourselves with Sean. We loved performing in the studio and we’re all amazed, being able to listen back, what a great job the ‘In Tune’ team do to make the tiny room sound like a church. You too can listen again on the Radio iPlayer to our performance of ‘Es ist ein Ros’ by Praetorius, ’There is no Rose’ from the Trinity Carol Roll, Audivi Vocem by Taverner and ‘Oh my love is like a red, red Rose’ in a lovely arrangement by Simon Carrington by clicking on this link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b084dclm.

After the broadcast the group divided, with many of us enjoying quick stop through the Euston tap before we came together to once again zoom south, this time to Joe’s family’s house in Salisbury to prepare for the penultimate concert of the tour…

The lads rehearse 'There is no Rose' from the Trinity Carol Roll in the Radio 3 studio. Featuring Alex's now-famous-shirt.

The lads rehearse ‘There is no Rose’ from the Trinity Carol Roll in the Radio 3 studio. Featuring Alex’s now-famous-shirt.

Christmas Tour Blog – Day 3

Day the third comes from Alex Chance, who’s always trying his luck.
Day 3 was moving day for us: one which began bright and early in the balmy climes of the Cote D’Azur and ended in wintry Hampshire frost. We all came down for breakfast in our Monaco hotel remarkably punctually given Owain’s and Josh’s heroic exploits on the felt of Monte Carlo’s casinos in the early hours of the morning: that they had emerged with all their clothing was commendable enough; but to return with their wallets bulging was positively impressive. The views along the coast from the rickety train to Nice airport gave us one final glimpse of the Mediterranean luxury to which we had managed to grow accustomed in the space of 36 hours.
Back to reality in England, we set off on our journey down to Hampshire via an assortment of the best that British public transport has to offer – a Rail Bus service to Woking and a South West train down to Farnham. They ran impossibly smoothly – proving that the infection from Southern Rail has not yet spread westwards – and Owain’s best-laid travel plans and timings were left untouched.
We were picked up from Farnham station by Sarah Hard, a devoted supporter of ours who had kindly agreed to host an intimate concert in the ballroom of her stunning Hampshire house, Willey Place. After a lavish champagne reception (the beef-and-stilton sausage canapés were feasted upon with relish), we sang a wide-ranging programme featuring some christmas music alongside others from our core repertoire, as well as a couple of Purcell solo numbers with the in-house harpsichord.
The evening was a big success and we’re enormously grateful to Sarah and her daughter Clarissa for organising everything and hosting us so generously.

Christmas Tour Blog – Day 2

Blogging about our concert day in Monaco is Josh Cooter.

We awoke on Day 2 of our Christmas Tour with high hopes after last night’s impromptu performance at the tapas restaurant. Even Joe was wide eyed and bushy tailed and suggested, as he was a F1 aficionado, that THE THING to do in Monaco was to walk the F1 track and, whilst not all the members quite shared his passion, the chance to top up our tans in the glorious December sunshine was hard to turn down.

Returning from essentially “walking on a road” we had a quick bite to eat before meeting our Monaco contact Emmanuelle who took us to the Chappelle de la Visitation where we were to perform later that day. The baroque church overlooked the stunning view of the harbour and was such a pleasure to sing in – we even managed to record a quick video which you can find on our Facebook page.

A strange thing was happening around town. Either we were sticking out like sore thumbs or word had spread after last night as glances and conversations by random passers-by suggested that we were “les musiciens”.

Success! We were the talk of the town! The concert was a sellout and after an encore of John Taverner’s ‘The Lamb’ and a standing ovation the crowd left, what I can only assume through my lacklustre French, happy.

Now it was time to enjoy the high life of Monaco. Unfortunately our invites to one of the many incredible yachts in the harbour must have been lost in the post so instead we decided to treat ourselves to a meal. This, however, turned out to be a rather pricey affair so a couple of members of the group were sent to the casino to recuperate some of the lost money.

Luck turned out to be on our side as it had been throughout our time in Monaco, and we really hope to return soon!

G6 in Monaco 2016

Christmas Tour Blog – Day 1

Written by Sam Mitchell, purveyor of good cheer. 

It was a typical December day in London on the day of our departure with advent chill becoming ever more intense and Southern rail living up to its reputation. This only enhanced our anticipation of our first leg of the tour with a quick pit stop in Monaco. After some last minute train cancellations we rendezvoused at Gatwick’s northern terminal, clad in Christmas jumpers, where Monsieur Park handed out his immaculate tour packages, containing everything we required for the week ahead.

After a very pleasant flight courtesy of British Airways we arrived in Nice where we could hop on a train to take us to Monaco, Monsieur James decided to take charge and lead the group on a magical mystery tour, giving us a chance to admire the palm trees whilst walking alongside a French dual carriageway – the classic holiday vibe. After walking three sides of a very large square we finally got the train to Monaco.

G6 Monaco Ferris Wheel 2016
Upon arriving in Monaco we instantly marvelled at the beauty of its topography, architecture, the expensive boats and also the surprising number of chihuahuas. Soon enough our day of travelling had left the group feeling rather peckish and soon enough we settled upon a charming tapas bar. About half way through our delicious meal, word got around that some singers were performing in the Chappelle de la Visitation, and that we were the very same musicians. Naturally, some of our fellow diners requested a few songs, and despite the fact that absolutely no one in The Gesualdo Six likes singing in public, we obliged in singing a few Christmas ditties.

With our appetites satisfied we retired to the hotel and ended the day with a few relaxing games of Perudo before getting a good night’s sleep to prepare for sightseeing in the morning before our concert preparations. Here’s to a wonderful remainder of our time in Monaco!

— Sam Mitchell, 05/12/16

Joseph on returning to Salisbury

Joseph Wicks – tenor Joseph Wicks - The Gesualdo Six (Leicester)

“I for one am hugely looking forward to returning home to Salisbury with the group for several reasons. Firstly, it will be a joy to give a concert once again at St Martin’s, a church in which I gave many a school concert, occasionally practised the organ and regularly visit to hear other local musicians perform. Secondly, we will also be singing to the children and staff of the cathedral school during their weekly assembly in the cathedral itself. This will not only be a magical moment for the ensemble to perform in such an iconic, vast and wonderful building, but will also be a magical moment for me, to sing to the current pupils of my alma mater! For a school to meet each week in Salisbury Cathedral is a privilege, and I’m so pleased that we are able to sing to the school.”

The Gesualdo Six perform in St Martin’s Church, Salisbury, on 9 December 2016 at 7.30pm. Tickets are available in advance from Eventbrite (click here).

Find out more about our Christmas Tour here.