Ex Cathedra’s Exciting 2013/14 Season Announced.

United KingdomUnited Kingdom Ex Cathedra’s Exciting 2013/14 Season Announced.

Birmingham-based Ex Cathedra continue to make headlines for all the right reasons. They return to the BBC Proms in July with a late-night concert devoted to the music of Stockhausen (details here). In addition, they are one of just three nominees in the Ensemble category of the Royal Philharmonic Society’s highly prestigious RPS Awards – a category in which they are competing with the Britten Sinfonia and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House. They’ll find out on 14 May if they’ve won one of these musical Oscars but just reaching the shortlist shows how highly regarded Jeffrey Skidmore’s unique organisation is – so much more than ‘just a choir’.

So, confidence is understandably high as they unveil their 2013/14 season. Most of their concerts will be in Birmingham but, as usual, they’ll be performing on the road too, visiting Hagley, London, Leicester, Malvern and Shrewsbury.

The season opens with Beethoven’s magnificent, if daunting, Missa Solemnis, for which they’ll be joined by four fine soloists and the CBSO (Symphony Hall, Birmingham, 12 October). Their other Symphony Hall appearance will be the annual Good Friday performance of a Bach Passion: this season it will be the St. John (18 April, 2014).

One event that particularly catches my eye is Brazilian Baroque. A musical Eldorado. Over the last few years Ex Cathedra have made some fantastic, ear-opening CDs of Latin-American Baroque music, prompted by the ground-breaking research work of Jeffrey Skidmore. He’s been mining the archives again and this programme is, I believe, the result of research he undertook in Brazil early in 2012. The programme is to comprise “ravishing, almost unknown, eighteenth-century music from Rio de Janeiro and the beautiful Baroque mining town of Ouro Preto: a musical Eldorado, restored to life.” This looks like a compelling concert. (Town Hall, Birmingham, 1 March, 2014).

Earlier the Ex Cathedra Consort will collaborate with the celebrated viol consort, Fretwork, to present An Elizabethan Christmas, featuring music by Byrd, Tallis and Gibbons (Town Hall, Birmingham, 8 December). There will also be Ex Cathedra’s traditional and highly popular Christmas by Candlelight evenings (16 December, St. John’s Smith Square, London; 18-21 December, St. Paul’s Church, Birmingham).

The season ends with Summer Vespers to celebrate the birth of the Sun King. You might expect that music in honour of the birth of the future Louis XIV (1638-1715) would be by a Frenchman. However, the music chosen by Jeffrey Skidmore was composed by an Italian, Giovanni Rovetta (1596-1668). He eventually succeeded Monteverdi at St. Mark’s, Venice. As his music is less well-known than that of Monteverdi this candlelight performance of the Vespers music that he wrote for the future French king’s birth should be illuminating in more ways than one (25 June, 2014, The Oratory, Birmingham)

Full information about all programmes and how to book and, indeed, about Ex Cathedra itself can be found on the Ex Cathedra website.

John Quinn