Our London Choral Days put outstanding and exciting choral ensembles in some of the most beautiful buildings in the capital. They take the form of a day-long sequence of performances, talks, lunch and refreshments, the audience moving between the venues on foot.
The days are conceived not as three discrete concerts but as an integrated, over arching musical experience in which the individual parts illuminate and enlarge upon what has gone before. Usually there is some connection between the venues and the music performed in them, which may be chronological – music of the same period as the building – or associational: a specific historical link between music and building.
Kensington and Knightsbridge are two of London’s more affluent addresses. The area is an intriguing blend of grand residential properties and some of London’s best-known institutions. During the course of the day we are a stones throw from Imperial College, the Royal College of Music, the V&A, Natural History and Science museums and Harrods. An area known for its tranquil private squares, tree lined streets and handsome architecturally diverse churches.
St Columba’s Church of Scotland
It would be hard to find a group of London churches that are more different than the three we have selected for this Choral Day. We begin at St Columba in Pont Street; Scandinavian modernism with a touch of Byzantium in the service of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. It was built 1950–55, after the wartime destruction of its predecessor, to the designs of Sir Edward Maufe, architect of Guildford Cathedral. White without and white within, it is filled with light and far from dour.
Siglo de Oro made its professional debut in 2014 at the Spitalfields Festival, of which the Financial Times said: ‘Siglo de Oro, under the assured direction of Patrick Allies, performed with vivacity and poise’. Since then, the group has given concerts at St John’s Smith Square, Stour Music and the Barber Institute, performed live on BBC Radio 3’s In Tune, and taken up invitations to give concerts in Belgium, the Netherlands, Finland and Malta.
The contrast – liturgical, doctrinal, aesthetic – with the previous venue could hardly be greater. A startlingly persuasive piece of Baroque Italy in Knightsbridge, it has the full panoply of vast vaulted nave, capacious side chapels, high dome, polychromatic marble revetment and ecstatic sculptured saints (the 17th-century Apostles were made for Siena Cathedral in the 1690s). The Plymouth-bred, Dublin-based architect, Herbert Gribble, a Catholic convert, was chosen in open competition in 1878 and the church was largely completed in under 20 years.
Founded in 1852, the Choir of The London Oratory is the country’s senior professional Catholic church choir, comprising singers from the leading concert choirs in London. The Director of Music, Patrick Russill, is also Head of Choral Conducting at the Royal Academy of Music. The choir presents a programme based on the Italian and Flemish traditions of the 16th and early 17th century.
Holy Trinity, Prince Consort Rd
The final church of the day is serenely beautiful, and can be claimed in style to represent the swansong of the Victorian Gothic Revival. Holy Trinity was also G.F. Bodley’s last great work; he lived just long enough to see it completed before dying in 1907 (his monument is here), though outfitting continued for several more years. The carving of the reredos, choir stalls, pulpit and other furnishings is of supreme sensitivity, and the glass by Burlison & Grylls glows with rich autumnal hues.
Coupling powerful interpretations with path-breaking scholarship, Contrapunctus presents music of celebration from the Spanish Golden Age by composers including Francisco Guerrero, Tomás Luis de Victoria and Cristóbal de Morales. Since its foundation in 2010, the group has appeared in many prestigious music festivals including Martin Randall Travel’s Seville: A Festival of Spanish Music. The group is Vocal Consort in Residence at the University of Oxford.
Advent Choral Day
To register your interest for our Advent Choral Day (December 2020) please e-mail email@example.com
11.30am at St Columba’s Church of Scotland. Doors open at 11.10am.
c. 6.50pm at Holy Trinity, Prince Consort Road.
For those who do not choose the vehicular option, there are walks at a leisurely pace of, at most, 20 minutes (waiting at pedestrian crossings included). There is the option of signing up in advance for taxis to avoid the walks at a cost of £25 per person.
Price, per person
£225 (with taxis £25 as additional as specified above). This includes lunch and afternoon refreshments, as well as exclusive admission to the three concerts and the lecture.
Lunch and refreshments
Lunch in good restaurants; the audience is split between several. Refreshments are served in the afternoon.
We will return the full amount if you notify us 22 or more days before the event. We will retain 50% if cancellation is made within three weeks and 100% if within three days. Please put your cancellation in writing to firstname.lastname@example.org. We advise taking out insurance in case of cancellation and recommend that overseas clients are also covered for possible medical and repatriation costs.
The Choral Day was the highlight of my six week trip to the UK and Europe this year.
A brilliantly well-organised and thoroughly enjoyable experience.
The churches selected for the music venues were well chosen for their architectural interest and as complements to the music programme.
Beautiful singing in the best English choral tradition. A lovely mixture of sacred & secular song.
It's a wonderful day, superbly organised, with excellent choirs, very interesting churches and a good lunch.