August Grand Baroque in Exeter

United KingdomUnited Kingdom August Grand Baroque in Exeter

Two UK premiere performances of large-scale baroque choral works will be performed in Exeter Cathedral on Friday August 30th 2013, by an impressive line-up of internationally renowned instrumentalists and vocalists. Appropriately, the concert is called ‘Grand Baroque.’

The bigger choral work is Missa in Labore Requies by Georg Muffat (1653-1704) – a cosmopolitan musician of French/Scottish parentage who spent the majority of his working life in German speaking countries. While the majority of Muffat’s compositions are for keyboard and chamber ensembles, his sole surviving large scale choral work was written during his time in Salzburg, possibly for the enthronement of Archbishop Ernst in August 1687, employing the full range of baroque instrumentation to colourful effect.

The other UK premiere is the 1693 Missa Sanctissimae Trinitatis by Johann J. Fux (1660-1741), remembered as a fine composer and the author of a definitive treatise on Renaissance counterpoint used by Bach, Handel, Mozart and Beethoven which even today is a mainstay of college curricula. This work received its first modern day performance in Amsterdam last autumn when Dutch conductor JanJoost van Elburg prepared it for performance by his choir Lelikoor. Fux wrote the work for Vienna Cathedral in the 1690s and although scored without trumpets, its writing for double choir, soloists, strings, winds and continuo is also truly spectacular.

This Exeter concert combines the expertise of international vocal soloists (Sally Dunkley, Amy Haworth, Caroline Trevor, Hannah Cooke, Julian Stocker, Mark Dobell, Jonathan Arnold, Thomas Flint), all from groups such as Tallis Scholars, Taverner Consort, Gabrieli Consort, Tenebrae, The Sixteen,  I Fagiolini.and Stile Antico

The 8-part ripieno choir will again comprise hand-picked singers from Devon’s own Blackdowns Early Music Project (BEMP) drawn together from all over the UK and Holland. The authentic orchestra brings together the Monteverdi String Band, the English Cornett & Sackbut Ensemble as well as the 5-part Altenburg Trumpet Ensemble. JanJoost van Elburg (who has also been principal music director of Blackdowns Early Music Projects since 2004) will bring these dazzling works to life for the first time outside central Europe.

The concert will be another first for the three instrumental groups, who have not worked together in a major project of this kind before although the English Cornett & Sackbut Ensemble have previously joined forces with the Monteverdi String Band for many polychoral performances. Most fascinating however is BEMP’s addition of the recently formed Altenburg Ensemble, the only historical ensemble in the UK performing on ‘real’ natural trumpets. This is a major move into authentic baroque performance as they will perform without the modern vent holes (which make pitching easier, but at the cost of tone quality). On August 30th, each of the individual ensembles will contribute pieces from their own specialist repertoires from central Europe to provide rich support to the programme’s choral works.

BEMP’s founders, Catherine and Geoffrey Bass, have organised early music workshops and concerts in Devon and Somerset for the past ten years. They are passionate about providing performances from the less well-known early music repertoire; certainly this stylish presentation in Exeter Cathedral at 7.30 on Friday 30th August will be one not to miss.

Tickets (£10 – £25) are on sale online at, or from Exeter Phoenix Theatre (01392 667080), Exeter Northcott Theatre (01392 493493), Exeter Tourist Information (0392 265700) and Taunton Tourist Information (01392 336344).

Blackdowns Early Music Projectshave occurred every year since 2004, organised at the home of Catherine & Geoffrey Bass in Culmstock, Devon EX15 3JD (01884 849172, The Project was principally conceived to draw together groups of experienced singers to work under the expert guidance of specialist music directors on programmes of infrequently performed early music (mostly pre 1720). Frequently the music is accompanied by specialist early music instrumentalists. The resulting choral concerts have become a mainstream event in the local calendar for anyone who loves renaissance or baroque vocal music.

1. JanJoost van Elburg has worked as principal musical director with Blackdowns Early Music Projects since 2004. Living in Amsterdam, he pursues a busy career with professional commitments between his two home choirs (Lelikoor and Westerkerkoor), the UK and all over Europe.

2. The English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble is a virtuoso period instrument ensemble at the forefront of the early music scene. As well as giving many recitals in its own right, ECSE regularly accompanies leading vocal ensembles including I Fagiolini, Cantus Cölln, The Dunedin Consort, Trinity Baroque and the Armonico Consort. It has also performed with countless chamber choirs and choral societies throughout Europe, including many performances of Claudio Monteverdi’s magnificent 1610 Vespers.

3. The Altenburg Ensemble is the UK’s premier historical ensemble performing on natural trumpets and is unique in the UK in performing without the aid of vent holes. Members of the ensemble have worked with almost all of the major period orchestras in the UK, as well as many in Europe and around the world.

4. The Monteverdi String Band is an outstanding ensemble of specialists in the rich and fascinating string repertoire of the early 17th century. The collective expertise of the band’s members in repertoire, style and ornamentation has brought exhilaration to performances ranging from intimate madrigals to grand polychoral celebrations for almost a decade.