Ex Cathedra, the Birmingham-based choir has just announced details of their 2015/16 season.
Fittingly, for an ensemble that’s based in the Midlands a highlight will be a celebration of the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare. Ever enterprising, Ex Cathedra Director, Jeffrey Skidmore has devised a commemorative programme that looks back and also engages with the present. For their Shakespeare Odes programme they’ll be joined by The City Musick to perform a brand-new work, A New Ode, which is a collaboration between Carol Ann Duffy, the Poet Laureate, and composer Sally Beamish. The same programme will feature a reconstruction of Thomas Arne’s musical setting of an Ode to Shakespeare by David Garrick, which was composed for a Shakespeare Jubilee that Garrick organised in the Bard’s birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon in 1769. There will be six performances across April and May 2016: the first takes place at Shakespeare’s church in Stratford-upon-Avon on the eve of the anniversary, followed by performances in Birmingham, Hereford, Wolverhampton, London, and Southwell
Before then Ex Cathedra will mark another anniversary: the centenary of the first performance of Rachmaninov’s All-Night Vigil, commonly known as the “Vespers”. They’ll revive an exciting collaboration with renowned pianist Steven Osborne. Complementary and contrasting Preludes and Études-Tableaux, performed by Steven Osborne, will interpolate the movements of the “Vespers”. This collaboration has previously worked to great effect (review) so the chance to catch it again is not to be missed. (Sunday, 27 September 2015, 19:30, Milton Court Concert Hall, London,)
Ex Cathedra’s first concert in Birmingham this season is The Grand Tour. They will join forces with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra to discover afresh Baroque favourites by Handel (Dixit Dominus), and hidden gems by Lalande and Mondonville, concluding with one of the glories of Rome, Allegri’s Miserere. (Sunday, 11 October 2015, 16:00, Symphony Hall, Birmingham)
There is a further collaboration with the CBSO on Good Friday, for Bach’s St Matthew Passion at Symphony Hall, with soloists Andrew Tortise and James Rutherford. (Friday, 25 March, 2016, 14:00, Symphony Hall, Birmingham)
Indeed, Bach features strongly; there is a chamber performance of the Bach St John Passion in Birmingham Cathedral at the start of Holy Week (Saturday, 19 March, 2016, 17:00), and a performance of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio at Birmingham’s Town Hall, a wonderfully uplifting start to the Christmas season (Sunday, 6 December, 2015, 16:00).
Full details of all the season’s concerts, including Ex Cathedra’s busy schedule of concerts in the run-up to Christmas 2015, can be found at their website, www.excathedra.co.uk