a course for choral singers led by Gabriel Crouch, 10 to 16 June 2018

A course for experienced choral singers of all ages and nationalities in an Italian 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 early music 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.

Passions on the death of Prince Henry

Thomas Tomkins ~ When David Heard
Thomas Weelkes ~ O Jonathan, Woe is Me
John Ward ~ Weep Forth Your Tears
Robert Ramsey ~ Sleep Fleshly Birth
Thomas Ford ~ Tis Now Dead Night
William Cranford ~ Weep Britaynes Weep

Cipriano de Rore ~ Dissimulare etiam sperasti

After the death of Queen Elizabeth in 1603, James VI of Scotland was eventually chosen to accede to the English throne. Poets and playwrights of the day would often represent King James either as David or Solomon to imply wisdom and austerity, just as previous writers had used Diana and Oriana to represent Elizabeth. James had two sons: Henry and Charles. Henry had a reputation for temperance and for chivalry, and his patronage of artists, architects, and men of letters promised a coming renaissance under Henry IX. In the early spring of 1612, the seventeen year old Henry took an ill judged dip in the River Thames and quickly succumbed to typhus, dying in November of that year. This event prompted a quite unprecedented outpouring of national grief, represented in the composition of dozens of musical and poetic epitaphs, many of which refer analogously to the death of King David’s son, Absalom.

In total there were more than 40 pieces that were written upon the death of the young prince. In this workshop we will be delving into this precious body of works, which together comprise a sort of swan song for the English Renaissance, and a glorious example of the fusion of English contrapuntal craft, and continental rhetorical flourish.

For an object lesson on the dramatic musical depiction of a whole range of emotions, we will aslo look back as did the Jacobean composers to Italy and an earlier age. Cipriano’s masterly setting of Dido’s famous speech from Virgil’s Aeneid employs a whole range of devices textual repetion, homophony, wayward sidesteps in tonality and a textural crescendo from five to seven voices to create a work that presents challenges and rewards to the interpreter in equal measure.

Gabriel Crouch is Director of Choral Activities and Senior Lecturer in Music at Princeton University. He began his musical career as a choirboy in Westminster Abbey, where he sang a solo at the wedding of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson. After a choral scholarship at Trinity College Cambridge he joined The King’s Singers. In the next eight years he made a dozen recordings and gave more than 900 performances in almost every major concert venue in the world. Since moving to the USA in 2005 he has built an international profile as a conductor and director, with recent engagements in Indonesia, Hawaii and Australia as well as Europe and the continental United States. In 2008 he was appointed musical director of the British early music ensemble Gallicantus, with whom he has released four recordings to rapturous reviews, garnering multiple ‘Editor’s Choice’ awards in Gramophone and Early Music Review, and, for the 2012 release ‘The Word Unspoken’, a place on BBC Radio’s CD Review list of the top nine classical releases of the year. His most recent recording, Lagrime di San Pietro, was voted second in the Early Music category of the Gramophone Awards.

This is a course for experienced and confident choral singers of all ages. You should be a good reader and be comfortable singing a line by yourself, have a 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. The atmosphere is relaxed and informal. All the music will be printed in a booklet and sent to you in good time before the course.

The course takes place at the Hotel Monteconero, just south of Ancona. It began life as a mediaeval monastery and still has a Romanesque church at its centre, where we rehearse and perform. Set on a mountaintop on the very edge on the Adriatic, it has breathtaking views up and down the coast and inland across to the Appenines.

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.

Further details of the programme, travel, accommodation, fees and enrolment.