P a s t   W o r k s h o p s

On the Wings of a Dove

Online workshop with David Allinson

Monday 6th July 2020 7.30pm - 9pm

An online workshop with David Allinson

William Byrd, Vigilate

Manuel Cardoso, Sitivit anima mea

£15 full price, £12 concessions

In this live session, David will look at two wonderful motets of longing — Vigilate by Elizabethan composer William Byrd, whose text speaks powerfully of watching and waiting at a time of great turbulence, and Sitivit anima mea by Portuguese composer Manuel Cardoso, which conjures with images of longed-for peace, of flying like a dove and finding rest. Cardoso’s style is smooth and consoling; Byrd’s is energetically, restlessly rhetorical.


David will explore the context and meaning of each piece in words and images, along the lines of his ongoing ‘From the Conductor’s Stand’ talks. We will mark up our scores together, picking out points of interest. There will be an opportunity to pose questions in the typed ‘chat’ facility, and David will answer some of those queries towards the end of the session.


PDFs of scores will be emailed out in advance to all those signed up. The session is expected to last about 90 minutes.

Saturday 18th January 2020 10am - 5pm

St Mary-at-Hill, Lovat Lane, London EC3R 8EE

£28 full price, £25 concessions


We are delighted to welcome back former Renaissance Singers Director JanJoost van Elburg to lead an all-day workshop on Stradella's Missa Ad te clamamus, for four choirs. 


Stradella  (1644 — 1682) was murdered in Genoa when he was forty-two years old. Until then he enjoyed a dazzling career as a freelance composer, writing on commission, collaborating with distinguished poets, producing over three hundred works in a variety of genres. His musical style is distinctive, characterised by fluid lines, great skill in counterpoint, and harmony which was tonal but which occasionally offers chords that were unusual then and striking even today.  


JanJoost van Elburg is one of the leading conducting teachers in Holland. JanJoost concluded highly successful tenures directing The Renaissance Singers and The Reading Bach Choir and currently conducts The Bartholomew Consort

(Oxford), The Lelikoor and the Westerkerkkoor (Amsterdam). He has directed Blackdowns Early Music Festival events each year since 2004, including the biannual GRAND BAROQUE series in Exeter Cathedral. He is much sought after as a vocal coach both in the UK, the US and the Netherlands, a

teacher of ensemble technique and training, singing, theory and choral conducting. He is a regular guest conductor of Polyhymnia (NY City) and at the Royal Conservatoire of the Hague. Upcoming projects include Coro de las bellas Artes in Mexico, and a teaching project in collaboration with Paul Phoenix (ex-King’s Singers) in Beijing (the China Conservatory of Music) and Shanghai - school choirs, and at University of Wuhan.

As a singer he has performed with a wide variety of ensembles, including the Tallis Scholars, The Dutch Broadcast Choir, Capella Pratensis, Capella Coloniënsis in Cologne, and his own ensembles on several European tours. He gives workshops and lectures at home and abroad, and for more than 25 years he has taught on the Buitenkunst summer course. 

Stradella's 16 part Missa Ad te clamamus

with JanJoost van Elburg

Jean Maillard, International Man of Mystery

with Rory McCleery

Monday 21st October 7 - 9.30pm

The Gresham Centre, EC2V 7BX

Rory McCleery, Director of The Marian Consort, leads an evening workshop exploring Maillard's music, including movements of his Missa Je suis déshéritée and motets from the 1565 Modulorum Ioannis Maillardi print issued by Le Roy and Ballard.

Despite his being identified as ‘one of the most important French composers of the sixteenth century’ by the renowned Musicologist François Lesure nearly half a century ago, Jean Maillard is a figure who remains shrouded in mystery and whose works have rarely been performed in modern times. This contrasts sharply with his reception during his own lifetime: his works were widely disseminated and survive in manuscripts and prints originating in Germany, France, Poland, the Czech Republic, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium and the UK. Telling also is the number of composers who modelled their own compositions on works by Maillard: this list includes fellow Frenchman Goudimel and also such luminaries as Orlando Lassus, Jacob Handl and Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. It is possible that Maillard harboured Protestant sympathies which may have resulted in his exclusion from the circles of the Catholic royal court in Paris, and even, like his fellow composer Claude Goudimel, his death in the 1572 St Bartholomew’s Day massacres.

Rory McCleery, “a countertenor and academic as well as conductor … combining boyish geniality with quite startling erudition”, gained a double first in music from Oxford University, subsequently completing an MSt in Musicology with Distinction. He is the founder and director of The Marian Consort, with whom he performs across the UK, Europe and North America. Under his direction, The Marian Consort has become renowned internationally for its compelling interpretations of a wide range of repertoire, particularly the music of the Renaissance and early Baroque, but also of works by contemporary British composers, and in 2017 was nominated for a Gramophone Award.


Rory is much in demand as a guest conductor and workshop leader, and has led workshop sessions, study days and singing courses across the UK, Germany, Spain and the USA, working with choirs of all ages and sizes in repertoire from Tallis, Gesualdo, Purcell and Gabrieli to the music of James MacMillan and Howard Skempton. He is a passionate believer in the importance of music education and singing for young people and is Director of Choral Music at City, University of London.

Miserere Mei, Deus — motets of yearning and penitence

with David Allinson

Monday 8th April 2019 7pm - 9:30pm

The Gresham Centre, Gresham Street, London EC2V 7BX

David Allinson, musical director of the Renaissance Singers, leads a singing workshop exploring penitential pieces that were included in our concert programme just two days earlier. Whether you were able to attend the concert or not, this will be an immersive experience, exploring gloriously plangent, suspension-laden music in the company of an expert guide, singing alongside members of the Renaissance Singers. David is a highly-experienced, energetic workshop leader. Expect technical insights, historical context and gentle humour, to balance the pathos of this profoundly beautiful music.

Polychoral Music for Voices and Brass

with Gareth Wilson

Saturday 12th January 2019 10am - 5pm

St Mary-at-Hill, Lovat Lane, London EC3R 8EE

£25 full price, £22 concessions, £12.50 Friends

Perhaps for obvious reasons, Renaissance polyphony is commonly sung unaccompanied, and this is how most of us have become accustomed to hearing it. But it is not the case that such music was always performed this way; the use of instruments within choral music, especially multi-choir music, while not necessarily the default option, may have been more common than we often assume. For this workshop, led by Gareth Wilson, we will be joined by six early brass instruments, specifically cornetts and sackbuts, to explore the various means by which they might be employed to enhance its performance. Through the rehearsal of music by Palestrina, Lassus, Cardoso, and culminating in the 16-voice “Vidi Speciosum” by Ingegneri (an Italian contemporary of Palestrina and teacher of Monteverdi), this workshop will look at how voices and instruments can combine in order to create a unique and extraordinary sound world, one which allows us to see familiar music in a very different light.


Gareth Wilson is Director of Chapel Music at Girton College, Cambridge, and Director of Music at Christ Church, Chelsea. He is also an academic professor at the Royal College of Music and is a member of the Music Faculty at Cambridge University, having previously held similar positions at the Royal Academy of Music and at King’s College, London, where he became the first member of the Music Department to receive a KCL Teaching Excellence Award. In addition to his conducting work, he is a composer whose music has been heard in dozens of cathedrals, churches, and college chapels all over Britain, Canada, and the USA, has been broadcast on BBC Radio and Classic FM, features on several recordings, and has been performed by such groups as the BBC Singers, the Choir of St John’s, Cambridge, and by the Choir of the Chapel Royal at the baptism of Prince Louis.

The Colour of Song

with Stephen Connolly

Wednesday 5th September 2018, 7pm - 9:30pm

St. Botolph's Bishopsgate, EC2M 3TL

We are delighted that former King's Singer Stephen Connolly will be leading our first Open Workshop of the season. The group, under Stephen's co-direction, were well-known for their interpretation of secular Renaissance music from all over Europe. Stephen will drawn on his wealth of experience in this repertoire to lead us in bringing vocal colour and expression to a selection of English, French and Italian madrigals. 

Stephen Connolly sang Bass with the internationally acclaimed vocal ensemble The King's Singers from 1987 – 2010. In addition to performing in excess of 120 concerts each year for almost a quarter of a century, he has made frequent appearances around the world. He has recorded extensively with EMI, BMG Records, Signum Records and Sony, collecting many awards - including three Grammy nominations and a Grammy. Following his 23 years with The King's Singers, he spent 6 years as Head of Vocal Studies at The Cheltenham Ladies' College.

in 2008 Stephen formed his International A Cappella School (IAS) to share his knowledge and passion for a cappella music. IAS provides an opportunity for choral singers to immerse themselves in a specially selected and diverse choral repertoire.

Exploring the emotional drama of Tallis's Lamentations

with Carris Jones

Monday 11 September 2017, 7pm - 9:30pm

St Sepulchre-without-Newgate, EC1A 2DQ

Tallis’s Lamentations contain some of the most emotionally charged and highly dramatic music of Renaissance England. In this workshop we unlocked the emotions of the piece through analysing the text, exploring the relationship between breath and sound, and bringing the power of imagination to choral singing.  Beginning with a refresher on how to breathe effectively for singing, we worked our way up to exercises more familiar to actors than choral singers, helping us to discover the drama within the music. Participants were encouraged to come with an open mind and leave with a new way of looking at a familiar work.

Teasing out what lies within

with Robert Hollingworth

Monday 8th January 2018, 7pm - 9:30pm

The Gresham Centre, Gresham Street
London EC2V 7BX

The media seem very focussed (in professional musical performance) on directors and conductors: yet at the same time the performance of Renaissance sacred vocal music often appears to be characterised by a lack of any directorial interpretation.  Is this a good thing?  And when directors take a particular approach, does it get us closer to the heart and soul of the piece?

Rather than discuss the merits of (for example) emotional over drier performances, this workshop aimed to tease out what one might call ‘interpretation’ from clues in the music itself and to aim to use the voice so these are as clear as possible.  It may have touched on affairs of Renaissance performance practices here and there but rather more was about looking at the piece, understanding what the composer seems to have aimed at and then trying to make it work.  Sounds simple!

Robert Hollingworth was a chorister at Hereford Cathedral, set up his first solo-voice ensemble at the age of 16 and read music at New College Oxford followed by a year at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. He has spent 30 years directing vocal groups, notably I Fagiolini which he founded at university in 1986. The group has a unique reputation for innovative and creative productions.

Nearly 30 CDs and DVDs have included first recordings of works and collections by Byrd, Croce, Tomkins, Andrea Gabrieli and more.

Chant and polyphony: a living tradition at Westminster Cathedral

with Martin Baker

Monday 19 March 2018, 7:15pm - 9:45pm

Venue: Gresham Centre, Gresham St, London EC2V 7BX

Martin Baker, Master of Music, examined the conflux of gregorian chant and polyphony in the daily liturgical environment at Westminster Cathedral, with emphasis on music in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary, referring in particular to Victoria’s Missa Ave Maris stella and Guerrero’s Ave virgo sanctissima. This was an opportunity to examine how the performance of chant and polyphony are naturally connected, and to understand how great music from the past finds an authentic expression in the contemporary church.

© 2020 The Renaissance Singers                                                Registered charity number 1015930

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