Canada Tour Blog 2018

Tour Blog #6 – Owain sums up our summer

After concerts in the beautiful towns of Niagara-on-the-Lake and Elora, we were almost taken aback by the towering architecture as we approached the bustling metropolis of Toronto. A highlight of this tour has been the personal connections we have made along the way, but here was a connection already forged, in the form of our founding second tenor, Robert Busiakiewicz, who is now director of music at St James Cathedral. Having someone who knows the area so well was invaluable – Rob picked out some of his favourite sites, including an amazingly packed bookshop with a seemingly endless supply of fascinating titles. After the usual re-caffeination, we headed to the cathedral to try out some of our repertoire, with the aim of answering the perennial question of where exactly to position Sam.

Having failed in that task, we headed to an Indian restaurant a short walk from the cathedral, where we were treated to a delicious array of dishes, paired with Canadian beer and wine (and yes, Mike, it’s fine to have wine with a curry.) Naturally, the next day got off to a dozy start, but with our final performance within our sights, we courageously ploughed on and finished on a real high, with our seventh standing ovation of the tour. On our final day in Canada, Joseph visited a really big organ, Mike stayed in bed until after midday, and Josh was left behind. Miraculously, we all made it on the last WestJet flight of the day, and arrived at Gatwick the next morning, red-eyed and bushy tailed. 

Our first international tour was fantastic for so many reasons, but none more so than the wonderful people we met; those who came to concerts, and those who kindly let us stay in their homes. I knew Canada would be a great place to tour with this group, but I think the tour exceeded our expectations on all fronts – so we are looking forward to the next with great anticipation!

~ European update ~

After two weeks in Canada, we thought it would be a good idea to continue the fun, and found ourselves in the Netherlands for a concert at the Delft Chamber Music Festival. The Oude Kerk was one of the largest venues we have performed in, and it was fantastic to have a crowd of around 500 people at our concert. Our programme centred around ‘powerful love stories’, with works by Gesualdo at the fore. 

I write this, thankfully, with my suitcase now returned, but when we arrived in Świdnica both Alex and I were without our bags. So, with iPads fully charged and a new set of concert clothes duly purchased, we gave our Polish debut in St Joseph’s Church, and with that, our summer adventure was complete!

There is plenty to look forward to in the coming months, as we embark on European debuts in Kosovo, Belgium, Switzerland and Slovenia. Elsewhere, Joseph is working towards the inaugural Boxgrove Choral Festival with his choir, The Beaufort Singers, which takes place in Boxgrove Priory from 26-29 August. He has kindly programmed several of my pieces, which also feature on the first album of my choral works, released next month by Trinity College Choir on Hyperion Records. Our next performance takes place at the Ripon International Festival on 8 September. All of our future dates can be found on our Concerts page, with further information and ticket links. 


Joe Blogs… #5 about our time in Elora

The penultimate stop on our tour was the rather quaint riverside town of Elora. We were driven by the ever-delightful Al, who has taken us around Ontario in his Dodge Caravan, allowing us to relax and catch up on some much-needed sleep!
Elora is a place that several members of the group have visited before. It was particularly wonderful for Guy and Owain to remake their acquaintance with Stan & Elizabeth, their hosts from recent trips with Trinity College Choir. The whole group enjoyed two delicious meals at their quite amazing home – an old wooden cottage with modern extension – set in acres of diverse greenery and woodland a little way out of town.

The concert we gave was part of the prestigious Elora Festival, several events of which take place in a barn normally used to store road salt. Our concert took place at St John’s Anglican Church, which turned out to have a near-ideal acoustic for us. We enjoyed exploring its possibilities for processing to different spaces, something which lends particular bits of our programme an extra special aspect for both us and the audience.

I’m sure the group’s abiding memories of Elora will be two-fold. Ken, the son of Mike’s host, kindly took us out on the river in his very own punt, giving us a fascinating tour while telling us about the history of Elora. We had an amazing look at a coral reef that had been formed several millions of years ago and which contained an enormous number of fossils. Guy enjoyed sticking his hand out and tasting the rock as the punt hugged the shore…

…as well as tasting some truly excellent local produce at the Elora Brewing Company, another of our Elora highlights. Not only did we enjoy an excellent meal there on the first night, we also headed there after the concert with some wonderful members of the Elora Singers who were so welcoming and jovial. Thank you to them, and to all at the Festival for having us!
I write this from central Toronto, our final stop on this tour, and am not looking forward to leaving this country on Sunday evening. We have been welcomed so wonderfully and warmly by each and every place we visited, and it’s been a truly fulfilling discovery for me. I hope we will be back soon!


Tour blog #4 – Niagara-on-the-Lake by Josh Cooter

The second half of our tour takes place in Ontario, a province that is larger than both France and Spain combined. The first stop was the rather gorgeous Niagara-on-the-Lake, which just so happened to coincide with our first (and only) rest day of this tour. As Owain had visited this region previously he dutifully volunteered to be our travel guide.

In Canada, we’ve so far managed to travel in a variety of vehicles including planes, cars, ferries and even a canoe. Bikes would be our latest means of transportation, and led by our trusted guide we set off on our route of the local vineyards for tastings. My memory of the afternoon’s events is somewhat hazy, however personal highlights of the day would be my first experience of the local ice wines and the impromptu football match played amongst the grape vines.

The next morning we were treated to breakfast by one of our hosts at the the oldest golf course in North America, situated right on the shores of Lake Ontario. Enthused by the nearby sports, in classic G6 tradition we decided to go on a quest for somewhere to play cricket. It turns out, however, that Canadians are not as cricket mad as certain members of the group, and with the midday heat approaching we had to abandon our quest and head to a nearby café to source a well needed iced coffee and some shade before our rehearsal.

Our fifth concert venue was in St Mark’s Church, a lovely church built in 1804 which included 7 different keyboard instruments much to the delight of our keyboard enthusiasts Joseph and Sam. It also provided us once again with ample of opportunity for some more choraleography including at one point singing from both pulpits for a duet by Orlande de Lassus. We were really pleased with the turn-out and with another successful concert done we made our way back to one of our very kind hosts for a post-concert reception.

Next, we travel to the nearby town of Elora for our sixth concert, with the end of this tour sadly getting ever closer.


Tour blog #3 – Vancouver & Victoria by Mike Craddock

Arriving in Vancouver airport, we were met by our old friend, jetlag, having retreated back in time a further three hours. This meant that we were headed into town at what felt like midnight to meet our hosts. However, this did not dampen the incredibly warm welcome from PJ and co from St James’ Church, who we identified in baggage reclaim from the massive concert poster sign they were brandishing.

The next day brought with it a further journey westward; indeed, as far west as any of us have ever ventured. We got a bus to the Spirit of Vancouver ferry, a beautiful 2 hours spent criss-crossing islands in the balmy sun on placid seas. Our final destination was Victoria, and its fabulous Cathedral. Plenty of nooks and crannies for patented G6 choraleography®️, and a tremendous acoustic. Sure enough, the concert was both incredibly well attended and received, with the idyllic surroundings and friendly residents once again making us incredibly sad to leave after less than 24 hours!

Back on the ferry again the next morning, but not before GJ, OP and my host took us out for a little speedboat adventure. I was a terrible driver. Fortunately they didn’t let me at the ferry. In any case, straight from the bus depot to a rehearsal at St James’s in Vancouver, a very stylish Gilbert Scott-designed building with a similarly classy sound to it. The concert was a warm affair, but again was packed out, and it was a particular pleasure to meet Gerda Blok Wilson, and perform her piece to a hugely appreciative audience. It has been a truly wonderful discovery.

Our BC adventure comes to an end this morning, and has been far too brief. It will be nice though to have two days off, with some exciting plans being made for gastronomic adventures in Niagara-on-the Lake!


Tour Blog #2 – Our stop-off in Québec by Guy James

It’s a very great pleasure to be writing my first blog of our Canada Tour from 36,000 feet above the Great Lakes. We’re on our way to Vancouver tonight and Victoria early tomorrow, travelling between the two by ferry. Leaving the incredible Music Centre at CAMMAC on Lake MacDonald this afternoon was a wrench as we have had such a fantastic 24 hours there.

Picked up from our hotel in Ottawa in the familiar G6 tour sight of the 7-seater (albeit the capacious North American equivalent) we weren’t sure what to expect when we arrived at CAMMAC in Québec. CAMMAC is a former hunting lodge and for 8 weeks of the summer or so they host a selection of music courses with different specialities. We were greeted by the most friendly group of keen and driven musicians imaginable, and there was already quite a buzz about our performance. Settling into Counterpoint Week was a joy and the centre proved capable and generous hosts. The setting on the banks of the lake was picture perfect under clear blue skies and opportunities for swimming and some new filming locations soon crystallised and the fruits of these labours will be available very soon.

Leaving the warm waters of the lake barely half an hour before our concert, we were delighted to perform to a very appreciative audience in CAMMAC’s cool and resonant Lucy Hall. Enjoying dinner afterwards with the course attendees, it was wonderful to share our passions for music and its rich history and to learn more about the musical history and ‘set-up’ in the towns and cities of our Canadian friends. A workshop with the a cappella class in the picturesque CAMMAC boathouse followed dinner, which centred on ‘The Banquet Fugue’, a comic work about a restaurant by John Rutter. There was also a new discovery for the team in the form of a pair of Italian madrigals, featuring a cat, dog, cuckoo and an owl improvising over a figured bass. For reasons that may perhaps be apparent, as the sole participating countertenor, I was given the role of the owl.

Rising early the next morning, Mike and I went for a swift jog to the centre’s perimeter before meeting Owain for an early swim. A quick explore of the centre’s music library and shop later, we were sight-reading a motet from Mantua over cookies and coffee, before we headed corporately to put CAMMAC’s canoes to the test. Mike and I launched first, followed by the tenors. Having made it a few yards into the lake we were presented with the sight of the underside of the third canoe sinking slowly into Lake MacDonald and the further two (unnamed) group members scrabbling to recover personal belongings from the depths. That photographic evidence does not exist of this event serves only to highlight the intense will and efforts of those singers still afloat to aid their unfortunate colleagues, and should in no way be considered the result of a period of considerable mirth.

Belongings salvaged and canoe restored, the team spent a very enjoyable and relaxing morning exploring the lake and sharing stories with the course members over lunch. Well-fed and returned to the warm embrace of our trusty 7-seater stead we then headed back to Ottawa, and thence to where you now find us, bourne aloft over the Rocky Mountains.

I’m tremendously excited to visit the western seaboard of North America for the first time tonight; we have heard a lot of wonderful things about Vancouver and Victoria already and we can’t wait to explore ourselves between our two concerns over the coming two days!


Tour Blog #1 – ‘A whole lotta Ottawa’ by Sam Mitchell

We arrived bright-eyed and bushy-tailed on a warm morning at Gatwick airport, making our British farewell known in the form of a Wetherspoons breakfast. After a most comfortable flight we arrived in Halifax to make our connection to Ottawa, a further 90 minutes of travelling. Despite a small matter of the bus breaking down, we soon made it to our hotel, where we were pleasantly surprised to find what can only be described as spacious suites – most of which dwarfed our own flats back home! After some R and R, our stomachs needed filling and Mike led us to Fraser Cafe – a restaurant which certainly did not disappoint with its eclectic menu and excellent wine – proving to be a great distraction for the oncoming jet lag.

Still getting used to the time differential, the next morning some of us rose early and enjoyed some swimming in the hotel pool before exploring the incredibly friendly city of Ottawa, primarily in search of breakfast. After fuelling up, it was time to meet for rehearsal in the very spacious (and very warm) church of St Matthew in the Glebe district. After a sweltering concert, we were grateful to welcome some incredibly refreshing Margaritas before heading for a feast in a heavily hip-hop themed restaurant. Later that evening, we paid a visit to the Canadian parliament and its historic ‘Northern Lights’ Lumiere display, which provided a perfect cultural end to the evening before we head off to neighbouring Québec. 

Ottawa has been the perfect start to this exciting tour – the people are incredibly friendly and welcoming and I for one can’t wait to visit again one day soon.

Flash Concert Announcement

Sunday 3 June 2018 at 5.00pm
St Peter’s Church, Hurstbourne Tarrant

We are delighted to be visiting Hurstbourne Tarrant (nr. Andover) to give a concert at St Peter’s Church on Sunday 3 June at 5.00pm.

We have selected some of our favourite repertoire for this programme: from meditative and atmospheric music from our debut album, English Motets, to madrigals and folk song arrangements.

The concert will last around 70 minutes, followed by refreshments. There is free parking available nearby, and proceeds will be used to support the church, who have kindly agreed to hold this performance at the last minute. There is a suggested donation of £10 on the door.

Please help us spread the word via email and social media!

MGR Music

Thank you to Matthew Rusk of MGR Music for this article about our concert in Winchester as part of our Spring Tour 2018! Read the article here.

MGR Music is a network of professional musicians located throughout the UK and Ireland, tutoring students of all ages and abilities across a wide range of different instruments.

CD Release – English Motets

 

Today is the day!

 

Our first CD, English Motets, is now available to download via the Hyperion website and iTunes! You can of course continue to order hard copies of our CD from our website shop.

We’re very excited to celebrate the release with our friends, patrons and supporters at our launch concert in St. Peter’s Eaton Square on April 7th at 3pm. Tickets for this concert are available by clicking here.


English Motets (2018)

£12.00

During the renaissance, musical composition flourished, but it was a time of great change, fuelled by religious division. The Gesualdo Six’s debut CD showcases the extraordinary journey composition took around the English Reformation, including works by Tallis, Byrd, Sheppard, Dunstable and Cornysh. Available to pre-order now – dispatched before 30 March 2018.

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Description

We are delighted to present our debut album, English Motets (2018).


About the CD

During the renaissance, musical composition flourished, but it was a time of great change, fuelled by religious division. This programme traces music written by some of the English renaissance masters over a period of two-hundred years, encompassing florid medieval-sounding works by Dunstable and Cornysh, intricately woven polyphonic works by Tallis and Sheppard, and the beautiful simplicity of Tomkins and White.

All of these composers were obliged to write in the musical style of the moment, which was constantly fluctuating in one of the most turbulent periods in English history. Lavish Catholic services required suitably elaborate music, with Latin words and rich sonorities. The Protestants did away with such excess, and as the walls were whitewashed so too was the music, with demands placed on composers to set English words as simply as possible, so that every syllable could be clearly heard by the congregation. Then, in Queen Elizabeth I’s reign, came a kind of relaxed simplicity, a halfway house, in which the ideal was both that the words could be heard clearly and also that the music should be interesting.

The enormous contribution to this period by Thomas Tallis and William Byrd is represented by the inclusion of three works from each composer, showcasing the versatility of their writing. While all composers in Tudor England were flexible to the period’s shifting religious requirements, none was quite as skillful at reinvention than Tallis, whose musical quality remains absolutely consistent, even while his style changes dramatically. Byrd gave voice to the plight of Catholics in England through many of his compositions, utilising his royal favour to escape punishment for his beliefs, and in doing so wrote some of the most enduring and powerful music of the era.

The presented order is not a linear journey, but a grouping akin to a concert programme, where a balance of fast and slow, similarity and contrast is all brought into play. The incredible productivity of composers writing during this period, coupled with the advent of printed sheet music and licenses granted for its production has resulted in a wealth of material available to us – and, as such, selecting only a handful of works to reside under the banner of ‘The English Motet’ was by no means easy. But I hope that we have managed to showcase something of the extraordinary journey composition took around the English Reformation, and in turn reflect our immense enjoyment in performing the music we all grew up singing.


Track list

Suscipe quæso Domine Thomas Tallis (c.1505 – 1585)
Vigilate William Byrd (c.1540 – 1623)
Loquebantur variis linguis Thomas Tallis
When David heard Thomas Tomkins (1572 – 1656)
If ye love me Thomas Tallis
Libera nos I John Sheppard (c.1515 – 1558)
Christe, qui lux es et dies (I) Robert White (c.1538 – 1574)
O Lord, in thy wrath Orlando Gibbons (1583 – 1625)
Veni Sancte Spiritus John Dunstable (1390 – 1453)
Haec Dies Thomas Morley (1557 – 1603)
Quemadmodum John Taverner (c.1490 – 1545)
Ave Maria Mater Dei William Cornysh (dc.1502)
Deliver me from mine enemies Robert Parsons (1535 – 1572)
Ne irascaris Domine William Byrd
i. Ne irascaris Domine
ii. Civitas sancti tui
Libera nos II John Sheppard


Listen to our album on iTunes here


 

BBC Radio 3 ‘In Tune’ – Listen again – 16 March 2018

We had a great time returning to the BBC to appear on Radio 3’s ‘In Tune’ for our fourth(!) time yesterday. We spoke to Sean Rafferty about our upcoming CD release and Spring Tour and performed some works from our tour programme: Palestrina’s Io son Ferito and Put out into the Deep by friend of the group David Bednall, alongside three of Poulenc’s Les Petites Voix. Originally scored for children’s choir, these short adorable songs by Poulenc tell stories about a girl coming home from school with her bag, a small unwell boy and a little scared hedgehog.

The team arrive at the set of W1A

British audiences can listen again by clicking here. We joined the programme live from 1:25:00. There’s also a sneak preview of Josh’s favourite piece: Byrd’s Vigilate, from our very soon to be released CD English Motets, at 00:13:34.


CD Launch Concert

We are very much looking forward to launching our debut album, English Motets, with a concert in London on Saturday 7 April 2018 at 3pm. Our venue is St Peter’s Eaton Square, a remarkable building with a great acoustic for renaissance polyphony and a fabulous Portico for post-concert refreshments. Tickets are available to purchase in advance here. We hope you can join us to celebrate the release of our first CD!

Listen to samples on iTunes | Add event to Google Calendar | Map | Tickets

Sam has arrived very early indeed for our launch concert at St Peter’s Eaton Square in London.

Epiphany Concert Weekend

We have just enjoyed a busy weekend putting on our first-ever Epiphany concerts in Bristol and Salisbury! Both hometowns of group members, they were the perfect places to explore some exciting new repertoire for Epiphany alongside some more familiar favourites.

A very happy crew fuelling up with delicious vegetable soup and focaccia ahead of our rehearsal in Westbury-on-Trym.

As you can see, we were very generously looked after by Owain’s family in Bristol (including a gorgeous lasagna that I feel sure Joseph will remember with longing well into 2019) and we enjoyed a restful night before heading South East as a 3 car convoy to Salisbury. Stocked up with lunch and bag-fulls of tea, coffee and biscuits we entered the familiar Sarum St. Martin’s Church to see a glorious sunbeam illuming the incense from morning mass. We filmed a short video of a verse from Robert White’s ‘Christe, qui lux es et dies’ mid-rehearsal, in the most appropriate locus in which I have sung White’s bright homophony.

It was a real treat to return to St Martin’s in Salisbury to round off our weekend of Epiphany concerts. Here is a verse from Robert White’s first setting of ‘Christe qui lux es et dies’, capturing the light as it flooded through the church windows.

Posted by The Gesualdo Six on Sunday, 7 January 2018


Memento nostri Domine
In gravi isto corpore,
Qui es defensor animae,
Adesto nobis Domine.

Remember us, O Lord,
Who bear the burden of this mortal form;
You who are the defender of the soul,
Be near us, O Lord.


The concert over, it was lovely to have a chance after both concerts to talk to our fans, followers and friends over mulled wine, nibbles and tea and coffee. Meeting with and hearing from our audiences has always been a big positive for the whole group. It lets us gauge and develop our craft from the perspective of the onlooker, many of them being musicians and performers themselves. I find that this to be very helpful as I find the nature of performance requires utter concentration, which can sometimes leave me with what I later discover to be a skewed perspective of elements like atmosphere and the passage of time. It was very pleasing to hear how many people had seen our Christmas videos, and to introduce and take pre-orders for our debut CD ‘English Motets’. It is due to be released on the 30th of March and includes Robert White’s ‘Christe, qui lux es et dies’ alongside some of our very favourite pieces.

Regular readers will not be surprised to learn that I was very excited for our first performances of ‘The Morning Star’ by Arvo Pärt on this tour. This we performed from the back of both churches as we processed through our concert’s narrative journey as 2 x 3 ‘wise’ men. ‘The Morning Star’ is a wonderful example of piece written in Pärt’s tintinabulli style, with voices sounding as tiny bell-chimes in a very sparse musical texture. It is the first piece by Arvo Pärt that the group has performed since working with the composer himself and the Holst Singers on his Passio. I certainly felt that that experience helped us to find the special sonority required in this much shorter work.

The programme was interspersed with Gregorian Mass Propers at Epiphany. While not the first time that we have used chant in concert, it provided a wonderful reminder of how effective it can be. We can use it as a way to introduce themes and also to maintain a reflective nature of the concert experience, while it also works as a musical ‘palette cleanser’, contrasting with the polyphony which we programme around it. Movement during chant passages enables us to experiment with different acoustics of the building without interfering with the flow of a concert and it provides individual singers short breaks in the programme. This can be a really important consideration, especially for concerts which lack natural intervals.

We shall be returning to the Bristol area as part of our Spring Tour on the 4th of April when we will be performing in All Saints Church in Clifton. I’m sure it won’t be too long until we return to Salisbury again either, especially after the fabulous dinner which the group enjoyed in the town following Sunday afternoon’s concert. All now safely back in London, we are looking forward to our next concert in Warwick on the 23rd of January, when we shall be performing a programme of Madrigals and Motets from Italy’s Golden Age in St. Mary’s Church at 7:30PM.

#aChristmasMiracle videos from Ely Cathedral

We’re very pleased to announce the release of the first of three videos for advent that we recorded under the octagon in Ely Cathedral as part of their #aChristmasMiracle Campaign. This release is Praetorius’ simple and beautiful ‘Es ist ein Ros entsprungen’, setting the words of an anonymous German author from the 15th Century. Keep your eyes peeled on our facebook page for the next two videos!

A Spotless Rose is growing,
Sprung from a tender root,
Of ancient seers’ foreshowing,
Of Jesse promised fruit;
Its fairest bud unfolds to light
Amid the cold, cold winter,
And in the dark midnight.

Workshops in King’s Bruton

Article by Ashley Marshfield – Director of Choral Studies at King’s Bruton

On Friday 17th November, King’s were fortunate to welcome the Gesualdo Six and their leader Owain Park to give a series of masterclasses to the King’s School Choir, Chapel Choir and Chamber Choir.

The group put the choirs through their paces with real attention to detail and thoughts on making phrases sound as musical as possible. It was a fantastic experience and a real boost to have professional singers performing in amongst our own pupil voices. The whole day really lifted the sound of our choirs to an incredibly impressive level.

During the afternoon, The Gesualdo Six ran a workshop with prep school children from All Hallows and Millfield. The boys and girls had a superb time and experienced singing rounds, ‘mash-ups’ of popular music combined with some beat boxing! The afternoon finished with a short recital to demonstrate to an appreciative audience what they had achieved during the afternoon.

The day culminated with The Gesualdo Six giving an evening performance in the Memorial Hall. The concert was a well-attended event with first-class music ranging from Loquebantur by Thomas Tallis to a performance of an impressive work Sequence: ‘In Parenthesis’ composed by the group leader, Owain Park. Equally comfortable with more light-hearted works, the concert also included selections of Folksongs from the British Isles and Light Music. It was the culmination of what was an excellent day of choral music at King’s and a wonderful experience for all. The group thoroughly enjoyed their visit and are keen to come again!

The original article was titled: The Gesualdo Six Take King’s Choral Singing To An Even More Impressive Level


Photos shared with the kind permission of participating schools.