a course in Tobago for choral singers led by Justin Doyle
28 January to 2 February 2018

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.

Tallis in Tobago
Thomas Tallis
~ Loquebantur variis linguis, Audivi vocem, Mihi autem nimis
Hans Leo Hassler ~ madrigals and canzonets from Lustgarten
Neuer Teutscher Gesäng
Will Todd ~ Christus est stella

Andrew van der Beek writes: “When I asked Justin Doyle to direct a course in Tobago in 2016 he called his programme ‘Tallis in Tobago . . . part I’. The ruse worked: I had to ask him back to continue the project. Three motets from the Tudor master form the backbone of the repertoire. As a contrast we will add a selection from Hassler’s Lustgarten. Hassler was the first great German composer to travel in Italy and his famous collection unites popular Italian forms with German text. Will Todd was born in 1970 and has growing repute as a composer in a variety of genres. His ‘Christus est stella’ is a homophonic setting of a text by the Venerable Bede, by turns ecstatic and calmly contemplative. We will also throw in a few ‘Doylisms’, Justin’s brilliant choral arrangements of music from the four corners of the globe.

“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 - the whole north east end of the island has been a nature reserve since the eighteenth century - 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 amazing variety of humming birds to the pterodactyl-like frigate birds, which do not fish themselves but steal the catch of other birds. Edmund de Waal (yes, that one) likes it 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.