Summer 2016 concerts

We’re very pleased to announce that we will be touring parts of England this summer. We enjoyed our wonderful (rather busy) tour last August very much and we’ve been working hard to secure further events and concerts for this coming August and September. Full tour dates will be released soon but we can reveal that as part of this summer’s projects we will be heading off-shore for the first time in the group’s history with a trip to the beautiful island of Jersey.

Venturing further north, Leicester has been enjoying a fabulous year so far and we’re excited to visit the city to perform on the 3rd of September. We’re also looking forward to returning to places featured in last year’s tour, including the stunning Dore Abbey, which is nestled in the glorious Herefordshire countryside (see picture below).

With these and many more concerts being planned it’s a very exciting time for the group and we can’t wait to share more details about both this tour and more with you very soon.

Some of the audience arriving just before our concert in Dore Abbey on 25th August 2015.

Dore Abbey before our concert on 25 August 2015.

Composition Competition 2016

The Gesualdo Six - Composition Competition Judging Panel 2016The ensemble and the judges were amazed by the number of entries and the extremely high standard of work. It was particularly pleasing to receive submissions from all over the world from composers of all ages, and in a variety of interesting styles. We thoroughly enjoyed looking through all the entries, and it was wonderful to see composers writing so well for the group’s specific requirements. We are delighted to reveal the winners of our Composition Competition 2016.

The Winners

In the 18-and-under category, the winner is Joanna Ward, with For a number of coins.

In the 19-and-over category, the winner is Phillip Cooke, with Judas Mercator Pessimus.

The two winning works were given their world premieres on Sunday 19 June 2016 at St John’s Smith Square, and the winners formally presented with their awards. We also ran a composition workshop for entrants in the under-19 category with composer David Bednall; sixteen young composers attended to hear their works sung as part of a masterclass and concert.

The Gesualdo Six - Composition Competition Entries

The Gesualdo Six - Composition Panel 2

About the winners

Joanna Ward – 18-and-under category winner

The Gesualdo Six Composition Competition Winner - Joanna WardJoanna Ward is an 18 year old composer, pianist and singer from Newcastle upon Tyne. After enjoying composing at school, she was encouraged to broaden her horizons and take specialised composition lessons, and has done so at the Sage Gateshead’s Weekend School for the past two years. Her compositional successes thus far include being selected as a composer for the NYO; having pieces performed at the Sage (including a piece she wrote for their Youth Orchestra, Young Sinfonia); and having a piece workshopped and performed by Voces8. She also enjoys playing the piano and singing, and is a member of the National Youth Choir of Great Britain. She is currently studying for A levels in Music, Maths and Physics, and hopes to read Music at university next year.

Phillip Cooke – 19-and-over category winner

PhiThe Gesualdo Six Composition Competition Winner - Phillip Cookellip Cooke was born in the Lake District in 1980 studying at Durham and Manchester Universities before taking a PhD at Cardiff University with Anthony Powers. He was a Junior Research Fellow at The Queen’s College, Oxford University and Composition Tutor at Eton College before being appointed Lecturer in Music at Aberdeen University in 2013. His music has been performed across the country by many of the leading choirs and ensembles. He is active as a musicologist having co-written The Music of Herbert Howells in 2013 and is currently writing the first scholarly book on James MacMillan. He is married with two children, lives in rural Aberdeenshire and supports Everton.

About the 2016 Competition [archive]

Composers are invited to submit a new work for The Gesualdo Six’s inaugural Composition Competition. The winning works will be premiered by the group at St John’s Smith Square on Sunday 19 June 2016. A prize fund of £1000 is available.

2016 marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, and the 450th anniversary of Gesualdo’s birth. Works by Shakespeare and words set by Gesualdo make up some of the chosen texts for composers to set, alongside poems by Christina Rossetti and Emily Brontë.

This competition is open to all composers, divided into two age categories: 18 years and under, and 19 years and above. The deadline for submissions is Friday 15 April 2016 at 5pm.

The competition is supported by St John’s Smith Square and Novello & Co Ltd, part of the Music Sales Group of Companies.

The Gesualdo Six Composition Competition 2016

Shakespeare 400

2016 marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. We have included two texts by William Shakespeare in our competition: passages from Twelfth Night and The Merchant of Venice.

Gesualdo 450

2016 marks the 450th anniversary of Gesualdo’s birth. We have included two texts that he set to music during his lifetime: Sparge la morte and Judas mercator pessimus.

Rossetti and Brontë

Composers are also invited to set poems by Christina Rossetti and Emily Brontë, A Birthday (My heart is like a singing bird) and Fall, leaves, fall.

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.


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:

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: