a course for choral singers led by Gabriel Crouch, 19 to 25 June 2022

 A course for experienced choral singers of all ages and nationalities in an Italian mediaeval abbey on a mountain top overlooking the Adriatic, now converted into a comfortable hotel with an excellent swimming pool and a reputation for the gastronomic specialities of the Marche. A group of up to thirty-six singers will rehearse a programme of unaccompanied music in the Romanesque church that still stands at its centre. The course will be held in English. The general aim is to create an intense musical experience in good company and a relaxed and convivial setting.

Early Music of Latin America

Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla ~ Circumdederunt me and Versa est in luctum
Missa Ego flos campi/Joseph fili David
Lamentations of Jeremiah
by Padilla and Manuel de Sumaya
works by the Peruvian/Bolivian composers Juan de Araujo and Gutierre Fernández Hidalgo

Gabriel Crouch writes: When I first discovered the irresistible pleasure of consort singing as a nineteen-year-old, I would wander the book stacks of Cambridge’s University Library and revel in the overwhelming amount of 16th and 17th repertoire that I had never heard of. Anything that looked interesting I would write down for later reference, and in a few cases I’d copy passages out by hand in order to try them out with friends. This was the first time I encountered the name of the Mexican composer Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla – I noted down some titles and copied a page, but forgot about it after falling for other distractions. Fast forward twenty-five years, and the early music world is in the middle of a blossoming love affair with the music of Padilla and his New World contemporaries, seduced by the deliciously rich and gratifyingly singable polyphony of works like Circumdederunt me dolores, the thrilling grandeur of large scale works such as the double-choir masses (we will select movements from two of the best), the irresistible rhythms and folk-inspired melodies of a vast trove of non-liturgical (though often sacred) villancicos, and even works in the Inca and Aztec languages, Quechua and Nahuatl. For our week together in Monteconero we’re going to delve in to all those elements which make this music unique, vital, and an utter joy to sing.

Gabriel Crouch is Director of Choral Activities and Senior Lecturer in Music at Princeton University and made a very successful Lacock debut as director of Music at Monteconero in 2018. He began his musical career as a choirboy in Westminster Abbey and a choral scholar at Trinity College, Cambridge, after which he joined the Kings Singers in 1996. In the next eight years he made a dozen recordings and gave more than 900 performances in almost every major concert venue in the world. Special collaborative projects saw him working and performing with some of the world’s most respected musicians, including percussionist Evelyn Glennie, pianists Emanuel Ax and George Shearing, singer Barbara Hendricks and Bruce Johnston of the Beach Boys. In 2008 he was appointed musical director of the British early music ensemble Gallicantus, with whom he has released four recordings to high critical acclaim, garnering multiple ‘Editor’s Choice’ awards in Gramophone and Early Music Review , and, for the 2012 release ‘The Word Unspoken’, a place on BBC Radio’s CD Review list of the top nine classical releases of the year. His most recent recording, of Lagrime di San Pietro by Orlando Lassus, was nominated for a Gramophone Award in 2014. When the academic calendar allows, Gabriel maintains parallel careers in singing and record production, crossing the Atlantic frequently to appear with such ensembles as Tenebrae and The Gabrieli Choir, and in the US, performing recitals of lutesongs with such acclaimed partners as Daniel Swenberg and Nigel North. As a producer his latest credits have included Winchester Cathedral Choir, The Gabrieli Consort and Tenebrae. His work as a singer, coach and musical director has led to his name appearing in the Times list of ‘Great British Hopes’.

This is a course for experienced and confident choral singers of all ages. You should be a good reader and be comfortable singing in a small section, have a blending voice with full dynamic range, be used to normal choral discipline and be able to respond quickly to direction – the aim being to combine professional pace of work with amateur enthusiasm. The atmosphere is relaxed and informal. All the music will be printed in a booklet and sent to you in good time before the course.

The course takes place at the Hotel Monteconero, just south of Ancona. It began life as a mediaeval monastery and still has a Romanesque church at its centre, where we rehearse and perform. Set on a mountaintop on the very edge on the Adriatic, it has breathtaking views up and down the coast and inland across to the Appenines.

Patrizia and Augusto Melappioni, the third generation of owner-managers of the Hotel Monteconero, with receptionist Sabrina Marini (centre) in the courtyard of the hotel with the church in the background.

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