Ex Cathedra

Ex Cathedra

[eks kuh-thee-druh, kath-i-druh]

Ex Cathedra (Pronunciation respelling key) is a British choir and early music ensemble based in Birmingham in the West Midlands, England. It performs choral music spanning the 15th to 21st centuries, and regularly commissions new works.

Ex Cathedra was founded in Birmingham in 1969 by Jeffrey Skidmore, who is its artistic director and conductor. Originally conceived as a chamber choir, it now comprises a full choir of about 20 to 40 singers, the Ex Cathedra Consort made up of ten young professional singers who feature regularly as soloists, and a Baroque ensemble/orchestra.

Each year, the choir presents a season of eight diverse programmes in a variety of venues in and around Birmingham and London. It has also participated in concert series and festivals across the UK and in Europe, including the BBC Proms, Brighton Early Music Festival, Kilkenny Festival, Lichfield Festival, Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music, Spitalfields Festival, Three Choirs Festival and York Early Music Festival. In 2008 it was invited to the Newbury Spring Festival, St. David's Cathedral Festival, Chelsea Festival and Chichester Festivities. The choir has also appeared at festivals in Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Italy and Spain. The ensemble collaborates regularly with other Birmingham-based arts organizations, including Birmingham Royal Ballet and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. It became an Associate Artist at the Birmingham Town Hall in 2007.

In 2009 Ex Cathedra will celebrate its 40th anniversary with a programme, XL Anniversary, that will include performances of Mendelssohn's Elijah on 18 October 2008 and Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius in November 2009, and commissions from James MacMillan and Fyfe Hutchins. The choir also plans to make recordings of John Joubert's oratorio Wings of Faith, and pieces from its annual Christmas Music by Candlelight concerts.

Ex Cathedra Baroque Orchestra

The first period instrument orchestra to be established in an English regional city, Ex Cathedra's Baroque Orchestra was founded as part of the choir's 1983–1984 season and made its début with a performance of Bach's Mass in B Minor. The orchestra's musicians include many of Europe's top period instrumentalists, and its principals regularly give master classes and coach students at the Birmingham Conservatoire as part of its early music programme.

Music education

Ex Cathedra has its own youth and children's choirs, the Academy of Vocal Music (for singers aged 16 years and upwards, trained by Jeffrey Skidmore) and the Junior Academy (6 to 16 years, trained by Rebecca Ledgard and Ex Cathedra vocal tutors), which meet on a project basis. In addition, since 1990 the choir has been involved in education programmes in schools and local communities. It runs Ring of Sound, an intergenerational choir for the Perry Common Regeneration Project; the Singing Medicine project at five wards of the Birmingham Children's Hospital; and singing workshops for Key Stage 2 boys at an inner-city Birmingham primary school; In the 2007–2008 academic year, Ex Cathedra conducted its Singing Playgrounds project in 24 schools in Birmingham, Coventry, Derby and London as part of the government's Sing Up initiative. It also introduced a project called Singing Mix, based on Singing Playgrounds, to help new Polish immigrant children to integrate. In addition, Ex Cathedra conducts activities for the Birmingham City Council's Arts Champions and Creative Futures schemes.

Recordings

Ex Cathedra has made a number of critically-acclaimed recordings for ASV Records and Hyperion Records, and on its own label. It is well known for its recordings of French and Latin American Baroque music.

Title and CD number Release date Performers
Christmas Music by Candlelight: Alleluya, a New Work
Ex Cathedra
[Unknown] Ex Cathedra
Jeffrey Skidmore
Vivaldi: Vespers
ASV Gaudeamus CD GAU 137
[Unknown] Ex Cathedra Chamber Choir and Baroque Orchestra
Jeffrey Skidmore
Michel-Richard de Lalande: Regina Coeli; De Profundis; Cantate Domino
ASV Gaudeamus CD GAU 141
16 January 1995 Ex Cathedra Chamber Choir and Baroque Orchestra (leader Micaela Comberti)
Jeffrey Skidmore
Sanctus: Baroque Music for the Nativity
ASV Gaudeamus CD GAU 166
[Unknown] Ex Cathedra Chamber Choir and Baroque Orchestra
Jeffrey Skidmore
Monteverdi: Madrigali Fatta Spirituale
ASV Gaudeamus CD GAU 174
[Unknown] Ex Cathedra
Jeffrey Skidmore
Sir Christèmas: Carols Old and New
ASV Gaudeamus CD DCA 912
21 February 1995 Ex Cathedra
Jeffrey Skidmore
Orlande de Lassus: Sacred Choral Music; Missa ad Imitationem Vinum Bonum
ASV Gaudeamus CD GAU 150
13 March 1996 Ex Cathedra
His Majesty's Sagbutts and Cornetts
Jeffrey Skidmore
A New Heaven: 1,000 Years of Sacred Choral Music
ECCE EXCCD002
2000 Ex Cathedra
Jeffrey Skidmore
New World Symphonies: Baroque Music from Latin America
Hyperion CDA67380
7 April 2003 Ex Cathedra
Jeffrey Skidmore
Charpentier: Messe à Quatre Chœurs; Salve Regina à Trois Chœurs; Salut de la Veille des 'O'; Le Reniement de St Pierre
Hyperion CDA67435
5 January 2004 Ex Cathedra
Jeffrey Skidmore
Rameau: Règne Amour: Love Songs from the Operas
Hyperion CDA67447
3 May 2004 Carolyn Sampson
Ex Cathedra Choir and Baroque Orchestra
Jeffrey Skidmore
Peerson: Latin Motets
Hyperion CDA67490
3 January 2005 Ex Cathedra Consort
Jeffrey Skidmore
Moon, Sun & All Things: Baroque Music from Latin America – 2
Hyperion CDA67524
29 August 2005 Ex Cathedra
Jeffrey Skidmore
Fire Burning in Snow: Latin American Baroque 3
Hyperion CDA67600
28 January 2008 Ex Cathedra
Jeffrey Skidmore

Information in this table was obtained from the following websites: ; Amazon.co.uk (album release dates).

See also

Notes

Further reading

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External links

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