a course for choral singers led by Jeffrey Skidmore, 14 to 20 June 2014

A course for experienced choral singers of all ages and nationalities in a mediaeval abbey on a mountain top overlooking the Adriatic, now converted into a comfortable hotel with an excellent swimming pool and a reputation for the gastronomic specialities of the Marche. We rehearse a programme of Monteverdi in the Romanesque church that still stands at its centre. The course will be held in English. The general aim is to create an intense musical experience in good company and a relaxed and convivial setting.

Monteverdi’s Madrigali Spirituali

The Spiritual Madrigals, adaptations of the well-known secular compositions to sacred texts, are some of Monteverdi most expressive music available to the choral singer.

Jeffrey Skidmore writes: ‘The crucial first decade of the seventeenth century saw the publication in Milan and Venice of Monteverdi’s revolutionary madrigals – Books Four and Five – and their sacred contrafacta.  Seven publications from 1603 to 1609 made this extraordinary music available to consorts and choirs. Monteverdi’s good friend the Milanese priest Coppini wrote that ‘there is in them a wonderful power to move the passions exceedingly’. He wanted to harness the depth of this expression for the church and their choirs and his skilful adaptations of the secular Italian originals into sacred Latin are impressive.

Of Ex Cathedra’s recording of these pieces the critic Anthony Pryer wrote ‘…the performers transform the familiar notes into something entirely new…the disc certainly shows how this glorious music can be effectively made accessible to choirs.’

The music will include:
O infelix recessus 1608 (Ah, dolente partita! 1603)
O Jesu mea vita 1609 (Si ch’io vorrei morire 1603)
Stabat Virgo Maria 1607 (Era l’anima mia 1605)
Maria, Maria, quid ploras?  1607 (Dorinda ah dirò 1605)
Plagas tuas 1609 (La piaga c’ho nel core 1603)

There will be opportunities for those who want to sing the original secular madrigals in solo-voice consorts.

Jeffrey Skidmore is one of the country’s foremost choral conductors and is highly regarded by instrumentalists, singers and audiences for the high quality of his performances. He is well-known for exciting programming which is often challenging but always accessible. Jeffrey read music at Magdalen College, Oxford, before returning to his native Birmingham to develop Ex Cathedra into the internationally-acclaimed choral group it has become today.

The course is designed for the serious amateur musician. You should be a competent sight-reader, have a straight, blending voice with full dynamic range, be used to normal choral discipline and be able to respond quickly to direction – the aim being to combine professional pace of work with amateur enthusiasm. Participants are of all ages and nationalities and come alone, with a friend or partner, or in a group. Jeffrey Skidmore is experienced at working with amateur musicians and the atmosphere is relaxed and informal. The music will be printed in a booklet and sent to you in good time before the course.

We all stay at the Hotel Monteconero, which gives exceptional value for the degree of comfort on offer. The rate for half board per person per day excluding drinks in a double room is
72 (for the whole course 432, about £360). There is a daily supplement of 19 for single occupancy. A room will be booked for you on registration; you pay the charges direct to the hotel. Those staying for both the Monteconero Voice Workshop and Music at Monteconero will not be charged by the hotel for the intervening Saturday. Ancona is the nearest airport; Ryanair fly there from Stansted. The hotel will send a minibus to meet the Saturday flight and we will arrange the sharing of taxis for other arrivals. The nearest train station is Ancona.

The plan is to meet for an early evening session at 5pm on Saturday 14 June. Then from Sunday to Thursday there will be rehearsal sessions each morning and another at the end of the afternoon. We have dinner together in the hotel. We will give a final concert in the church at the hotel in the evening of Thursday 19 June. The course ends after breakfast on Friday 20 June.

The fee for the course is paid in two parts: a deposit of £200 or €240 on registration (this will be returned in full if you have to withdraw before 1 April; after that you may hold it over to another course) and €250 on arrival at Monteconero. The fee includes payment for the music booklet, which will be sent to you in advance but not travel; meals and accommodation are paid separately direct to the hotel. To enrol, just email us and include the information listed below, or if we already know it just let us know that you would like to come. We will then send you details of how you may pay the deposit.

      o your name

      o address (to send you the music booklet)

      o telephone number(s)

      o preferred email address

      o voice (soprano – mean/mezzo – alto – tenor – baritone – bass)

    Email us for further enquiries about MUSIC AT MONTECONERO.

Patrizia and Augusto Melappioni, the third generation of owner-managers of the Hotel Monteconero, with receptionist Sabrina Marini (centre) in the courtyard of the hotel with the church in the background.