SINGING IN CASTARA
a course in Tobago for choral singers led by JanJoost van Elburg
10 to 15 February 2019

A week of music-making in the idyllic village of Castara Bay on Tobago’s Caribbean coast. We rehearse a programme of largely early music every day in the morning and late afternoon for a concert at the end of the course. This is one of Lacock’s occasional ventures to this part of the world; previous courses have been held in Havana and in San Miguel de Allende and Cholula in Mexico. The aim is always to combine music-making with a chance to explore, in good company and a relaxed and convivial setting.

The Garden of Eden

Clemens non Papa & Francisco Guerrero ~ Ego flos campi
Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla ~ Missa Ego flos campi
Melchior Franck ~ Du bist aller Dinge schön, Fahet uns die Füchse
Heinrich Schütz ~ Ego dormio
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina ~ Canticum canticorum
Camille Saint Sa
ëns ~ Calme des nuits, Les fleurs et les arbres
Frederick Delius ~ Song to be sung of a summer night on the water
Robert Lucas Pearsall ~ Waters of Elle

JanJoost’s programme is inspired by Castara’s spectacular coastal setting in the world’s first legally protected forest, established in 1776 “for the purpose of attracting frequent showers of rain on which the fertility of lands on these climates doth entirely depend”. All the early works take their inspiration from the the dark green religion of the Bible’s most sensuous book, The Song of Songs. Padilla was maestro de capilla of Puebla cathedral in Mexico; the motet on which his mass is based has not been identified, but the mass’s exceptional rhythmic vitality is undoubtedly influenced by the musical culture of the Aztec and African elements of the population. The four romantic part songs are a singerly self indulgence entirely in keeping with the spirit of the place.

Andrew van der Beek writes: “I discovered Castara Bay on a family holiday a few years ago and was immediately struck by the thought that it would make an ideal Lacock course venue: an idyllic Caribbean fishing village with two glorious swimming beaches, surrounded by virgin jungle crashing down into the sea, the choice of a church and a community hall to sing in and no large-scale tourist development. It was the perfect place to go when the northern winter begins to pall. The bird life was fantastic, from the motmots, trogons and amazing variety of humming birds to the pterodactyl-like frigate birds. Edmund de Waal (yes, that one) liked the place too; he visited Castara a few years ago and wrote about it here.”

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

The villagers fish the bay daily with seine nets, dressing and selling the catch at a small market on the beach. Thanks to the oil and gas fields in the sister island, Trinidad, the whole country is surprisingly prosperous, with income per head higher, for instance, than Portugal.

Tobago is 26 miles long and no wider than seven miles. It is not in the hurricane belt and by dint of the southeasterly trade winds has a pleasant equable climate. The interior is mountainous with many waterfalls, including the spectacular Argyle Falls on the Atlantic side of the island. The one shown here is a short walk from the centre of Castara.

The island has an exceptionally rich and diverse range of bird life. It is on a migratory route and the proximity of  South America brings additional species visiting from the continental mainland. The best way of seeing as much wild life as possible without getting lost in the rain forest is to engage the services of one the very knowledgeable specialist guides.

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