Meet our new countertenor: Alex Chance

We are thrilled to announce that we have appointed Alex Chance as our new Countertenor II. Alex recently graduated from New College, Oxford, where he read Classics and was a choral scholar under the direction of Edward Higginbottom and Robert Quinney. Born in London, Alex took up the recorder at the age of 7, and sang as a treble in the Eton Chapel Choir under Ralph Allwood before moving to countertenor for his last three years. Recent appearances have included a joint recital with his father, Michael Chance, in the 2015 Stour Festival, solo appearances under Richard Cooke and Mark Deller in Kent, as well as choral projects with Tenebrae, the Tallis Scholars and Vox Luminis. He is also a keen sportsman, and represented New College in both football and cricket, despite, in the case of the latter, often having to leave after the first innings to go and sing.

Alex will perform with us for the first time in St John’s Smith Square on 19 June, a performance that includes the winning entries of our composition competition. Here are a few words from him:

“The Gesualdo Six sing with such style and musicianship, and I’m delighted to be joining them as they continue to build their already impressive reputation. I was entranced by their recent recording of Rheinberger’s ‘Abendlied’, and I’m really excited to be able to be part of all their exciting projects, especially with a group of such lovely guys.”

Alex Chance - The Gesualdo Six

Meet our new tenor: Josh Cooter

We are delighted to have appointed Josh Cooter as our new Tenor II. Josh began his musical studies as a chorister at Chichester Cathedral before accepting a music scholarship to Eton College. Having finished his degree at King’s College London, where he sang in the chapel choir under the late David Trendell, he began work as a freelance singer and now pursues a busy ensemble career, enjoying singing for some of the UK’s most prestigious consorts such as The Sixteen, Tenebrae and Britten Sinfonia Voices. Recent soloist highlights include singing the role of Evangelist in Bach’s ‘St. John Passion’, Jupiter in Handel’s ‘Semele’ and solos in Schutz’s ‘Christmas Story’ and Handel’s ‘Israel in Egypt’. Not just content with singing, Josh also teaches the trombone and aims to teach himself the harmonica in order to ultimately become the one man band he’s always dreamed of…

Josh will begin working with us next month, before taking the reins from August. Josh gave an outstanding audition in a field of very strong candidates, and we offer him our warmest congratulations. Here are a few words from him:

“I have been interested in joining the group ever since hearing their electrifying recording of Byrd’s ‘Vigilate’, so when the tenor vacancy came up I leapt at the opportunity! I’m delighted to be joining at what is an exciting time for the group as it rapidly progresses.”

Josh Cooter - The Gesualdo Six

Hiroshi is moving on

It is with sadness that we announce that Hiroshi will perform his last concert with us in June. Hiroshi joined the group in September 2014 and has since performed with us all over the UK, delighting audiences with his charming renditions of Poulenc’s Les Petites Voix and characterful interpretations of Ligeti’s Nonsense Madrigals. There are still several opportunities to see Hiroshi perform with us before his last concert on 19 June in St John’s Smith Square. Whilst being an outstanding musician, he is also a great friend to us all. We wish him all the very best in his future endeavours.

HA

Video Release & March Update

Despite not having any scheduled concerts in March, the team have been hard at work rehearsing and planning over the last few weeks for some exciting developments this summer. We can’t say too much yet, but we’re very excited about the prospect of releasing our first disc and performing abroad for the first time!

Meanwhile, entries for our Composition Competition 2016 continue to arrive from all over the globe! We’re very proud to be curating what is now a truly international competition, and we can’t wait to get together to sing through some of the entries. Do please help us by spreading the word about the competition – it’s free to enter, there’s a 18-and-under age category and also a veritable smörgåsbord of wonderful prizes. The deadline for entries is the 15th April so there’s still well over a month left to get writing and send in your scores!

There’s so many exciting projects with The Gesualdo Six to look forward to this year, but right now we’re very pleased to be able to share our new video with you! Kindly produced by our friends at St. John’s Smith Square, it highlights some music from our Young Artist’s Series. Do come along on Tuesday April 12th for our next concert in this glorious Westminster venue where we will be presenting a secular ‘Old and New’ programme, with madrigals by Schütz, Monteverdi and Gesualdo alongside Ligeti’s amazing Nonsense Madrigals. We’ll also be performing some lovely arrangements of British Folksongs, including Oh my love is like a red, red rose, a snippet of which can be heard here as the last excerpt, in an arrangement by Simon Carrington, with a solo by Mike Craddock: both our resident baritone and our resident romantic.

We look forward to seeing you soon!

Composition Competition 2016 Launch!

The Gesualdo Six are very pleased to announce the launch of our first Composition Competition! There are some fabulous prizes available, with £1000 up for grabs across the two age categories, a world premiere at a fabulous London venue – St. John’s Smith Square in Westminster and the potential for the score to be considered for publication by Novello, part of the Music Sales Group. Full details about the competition can be found here: http://www.thegesualdosix.co.uk/composition-competition-2016/

We can’t wait to see all the entries, and to rehearse and perform the winning compositions. Best of luck to everyone!

Review: Tenebrae Responsories in SJSS

“The Gesualdo Six have everything going for them – talent, youth, stamina, confidence and years of experience of singing the most difficult vocal polyphony in the repertoire.

“they sang with utter conviction, perfect intonation, impeccable blend, just balance and even a little humour.

“they created the stillness and peace of night in the hushed awe that greeted each Responsory. They sang the Latin as if it were a second language.

“Each Responsory contains a fast section, usually of short frantic phrases across the parts, which are the most difficult to integrate, but the sextet knew exactly where their harmonies were heading, often illustrating the text with impromptu looks and body gestures, the tenor’s little wake-up kick at vigilate (“be watchful”), the shiver that ran through the voices at fugam (“flee”). They were completely involved with text and score, singing their own part while meshing with the others so that Gesualdo’s gorgeous Poulenc-esque phrase on ego vadam, justified its several repetitions. The blend is superb; but the line-up consists of soloists who will surely also appear as Evangelists, lieder singers or lute-song recitalists in time.

“Owain Park moulded the beat with fluency and a sense of momentum.”

Published in The Tablet on 11/02/16: http://www.thetablet.co.uk/arts/11/7960/lenten-promise 

…and a look forward to 2016!

The vernal season is upon us! Spring brings new life and this year has brought The Gesualdo Six a new bass: Sam Mitchell, who we are very pleased to welcome to the team. We’re all looking forward immensely to working and performing with Sam, who’s first appearance will be (very appropriately!) Carlo Gesualdo’s exquisite Tenebrae Responsories for Maundy Thursday. The programme of The Gesualdo Six’s first concert just under two years ago in Trinity College, Cambridge, this work is still very much at the heart of our repertoire. It is always wonderful to be reacquainted with Gesualdo’s extraordinary setting of the events of Maundy Thursday, which we have happy memories of performing most recently in the world-famous Chapel of King’s College back in March.

‘..what Owain Park and the singers have managed to achieve is an ensemble with extraordinary potential … who surely have a promising future ahead.’

 StarStarStarStarStar – Varsity, March 2015

In Gesualdo’s 450th anniversary year we are very proud to present the Tenebrae Responsories in the glorious setting of St. John’s Smith Square on the 4th of February at 1:05pm. This lunchtime recital is the opening concert of St. John’s Smith Square’s Young Artist Programme Concert Series for 2016, and the first of three such concerts given by The Gesualdo Six. Further information about this concert can be found by clicking here, while for box office and more information about the Young Artist Programme can be found on the St. John’s Smith Square website, here.

Themes of betrayal, sacrifice, despair and discipleship are woven throughout the Responsories, providing a reflective text as we near Lent, however despite these grave themes, Gesualdo’s writing is full of passion and colour. Presented with plainsong propers, the Tenebrae Responsories are also the major work on our debut record which we are currently in the midst of preparing! We look forward immensely to sharing this (and much, much more!) with you all over the course of the coming year.

A look back on 2015…

We’ve had a brilliant year – here are some of our highlights from 2015.

A series of concerts to start the year 

We began the year with four concerts in Cambridge Colleges, performing in the chapels of Jesus, Caius, St John’s and King’s. Our one-year anniversary concert of Gesualdo’s Tenebrae Responses for Maundy Thursday in King’s Chapel was given a five-star review:

“…what Owain Park and the singers have managed to achieve is an ensemble with extraordinary potential, who stand head and shoulders above any other vocal group in Cambridge, and who surely have a promising future ahead.”

It was a rather lovely experience to perform in Kingston Parish Church, the first concert in living memory for the audience! This varied programme inspired our tour concerts later in the year. We then returned to Trinity College Chapel for a ‘Nachtmusik’ concert, performing madrigals and motets by candlelight to a late-night audience.

Mid-rehearsal in King's College Chapel

Mid-rehearsal in King’s College Chapel

SJSS Young Artists

In May, it was revealed that we were to be St John’s Smith Square Young Artists for the 2015-16 season. Richard Heason, the director of SJSS said that “as a concert hall it is crucial that we don’t just give voice to established artists but that we also invest in future talent. Through our Young Artists’ Scheme we are able to select musicians who have shown themselves to have enormous talent and energy and help them as they shape their careers.”

 

Summer 2015

Last summer was a fantastic time for the group, first appearing on BBC Radio 3’s In Tune programme with Sean Rafferty, talking about our tour and recording, and singing three pieces live on air. We then gathered in the Chapel of Trinity College Cambridge to record our first disc. It was very exciting to be working with John Rutter, who produced our recording, and David Hinitt, who was engineering – our sincerest thanks to them. Our debut CD featuring Gesualdo’s Tenebrae Responsories for Maundy Thursday will hit the shelves next year, so watch this space! We then immediately headed to London for the first of ten concerts of a Summer Tour, which took us all across England (read more here).

After-concert photo on tour in Salisbury

After-concert photo on tour in Salisbury

LIACC Competition

We were delighted to make the final of the London International A Cappella Choir Competition in September. Comments from the judges included:

“The Jackson, with the soloist stood above and behind the group, was confident with a lovely sense of style. The Gesualdo had great beauty of tone with a nice fluidity, whilst the Clemens Non Papa had great control and shape. The Claude le Jeune was vivid, and the Harold Arlen had some lovely close harmonies.”

“The Gesualdo Six had impressive ensemble, and he felt they were a mix of the Hilliard Ensemble and the King’s Singers” – high praise indeed!

 

Final concerts to round off the year 

It was a real treat to perform our Madrigals Old & New programme in St James’ Piccadilly in October, before trying out a new programme of Schütz Italian Madrigals and Flemish sacred renaissance works in Cambridge’s West Road Concert Hall.

Our last concert with Jonny as our resident bass was in the intimate setting of Grange Wellington Chapel in Vincent Square. We were performing as part of the Brandenburg Choral Festival of London’s 2015 season to a sell-out crowd. It is always sad when a member leaves, but we wish Jonny well in his exciting new post, and know that we’ll see more of him yet!

Post-concert high

Post-concert high

Our new bass 

Right at the end of the year, it was announced that we had appointed Sam Mitchell to take over from Jonny. Sam gave an outstanding audition, and we can’t wait to get to work with him. It was a nice coincidence that we announced his appointment on his birthday!

 

* * * * *

 

Plans for 2016

We will perform three times in St John’s Smith Square as their Young Artists, and also appear as part of the Cambridge Early Music Festival of the Voice. Other plans are still in the making, but include several performances abroad, as well as more closer to home. Concert dates will be announced on our website.

 

Favourite performances

Particular highlights from this year include performing Joanna Marsh’s captivating work, Fading. We are looking forward to programming this work, as well as others by Marsh in 2016 and beyond. We have also explored the work of other contemporary composers this year, including Gabriel Jackson, Paweł Łukaszewski and of course, György Ligeti. As ever, we have enjoyed performing works by Owain, including his Fantasia on English Children’s Songs, an absolute audience favourite!

 

Final thought: a numbers game? 

This year we have appeared as a five-, six- and at times seven-part ensemble. Mark Williams came up with a memorable suggestion as to why this could be…

“After the interval there was another vocal ensemble, the all-male group The Gesualdo Six, director Owain Park; though there were only five of them, and afterwards Mark Williams suggested that in true Gesualdo fashion they had murdered their sixth member.” [Planet Hugill]

We hope 2016 brings you health and happiness!

We hope 2016 brings you health and happiness!