Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum is the choir of men and boys which sings the weekday services in Tewkesbury Abbey. The choristers moved to Dean Close Preparatory School, Cheltenham in September 2006 when The Abbey School closed. Dean Close, the choir school for Tewkesbury Abbey, is a full member of The Choir Schools' Association.
Over the last few years, the choir has been involved in a number of collaborations – Bach's Mass in B minor with the Orchestra of St John, Mahler's Third Symphony with Cheltenham Symphony Orchestra, Bach's St Matthew Passion and Britten's Spring Symphony with Cheltenham Bach Choir and Honegger's Cantate de Noel with the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales. Since 2000, the choir has undertaken eight foreign tours, including two lengthy visits to the USA, four visits to France and trips to Italy and Germany. The choir has broadcast regularly from the Abbey, and in September 2006 broadcast Choral Evensong from St Michael's Church Tenbury Wells, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the foundation of St Michael's College. In the front rank: flair, acumen, versatility, and poise.
The choir has made numerous recordings on the Delphian, Guild, Naxos, Priory, Regent and Signum labels. 'The Three Kings' was released in November 2007 to great critical acclaim. In December 2007 the choristers recorded Honegger's Cantate de Noel on the Hyperion label, and in May 2008 the choir recorded a disc of Weelkes's choral music for Delphian. This will be released in October 2008.
The choir has also been active in commissioning new works and in Christmas 2007 gave the first performance of Bob Chilcott's The night he was born. Gabriel Jackson, Mark Blatchly, John Caldwell and Graytson Ives have all written for the choir.
Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum and Charivari Agréable come together for the first time in vividly communicative interpretations of three of Mozart’s sacred masterpieces. The forces are very much as Mozart intended – a period orchestra, an all-male chorus and soloists (including 2009 BBC Chorister of the Year Laurence Kilsby) drawn from the choir. Under Benjamin Nicholas’s spirited direction these performances bristle with energy and the invigorating freshness of youth.
Laurence Kilsby treble; Jeremy Kenyon, alto; Christopher Watson, tenor; Christopher Borrett, bass. Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum, cond. Benjamin Nicholas. Charivari Agréable, Kah-Ming Ng, director.
Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum For his final recording with the men and boys of Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum, Benjamin Nicholas has chosen to celebrate Britain’s best-loved living composer, John Rutter. Rather than simply sticking to familiar classics, this programme explores the full range of the composer’s output from The Lord is my shepherd and Lord, thou hast been our refuge to his most recent piece This is the day, written for the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Rutter’s rare communicative gifts are given a special glow by the refulgent acoustic of Tewkesbury Abbey and the choir’s luminous singing.
(Delphian DCD34097/ISBN B0058NNGBE, CD)
Tewkesbury Abbey Schola CantorumLaurence Kilsby This ‘songbook’ is unique to the Schola Cantorum choristers of Tewkesbury Abbey. “Essentially, it's a showcase for the Abbey trebles,” their Director of Music Benjamin Nicholas explains. “We’ve been assembling our own Songbook for quite a while now – the songs the trebles sing, from time to time, in boys-only concerts, and that they are taught in individual singing lessons. I’ve always been keen to build each boy up as a soloist, not necessarily with the express idea of them singing lots of solos, but so that they can learn to sing in a soloistic way.”
This is evident most of all in the distinctive singing of 11- year-old Laurence Kilsby, whose gifts won him the BBC Chorister of the Year competition in 2009. On this recording, he features as soloist in two Shelley settings by Roger Quilter, the Bach/Gounod Ave Maria and in John Ireland’s beautiful, sincerely-felt Passiontide motet Ex Ore Innocentium from 1944.
The Trebles of Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum
Benjamin Nicholas, director
Helen Porter, piano
Carleton Etherington, organ
Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum Arthur Honegger’s 'Une Cantate de Noël' is a Christmas number with a difference. The text of the cantata is derived from liturgical and popular texts—including Psalms and part of the Latin Gloria. A notable feature is the intertwining of traditional carols in French and German. Honegger scored the cantata for solo baritone, mixed chorus, children’s choir and an orchestra including organ.
(This recording from the BBC National Orchestra of Wales under Thierry Fischer also includes a selection of Honegger’s orchestral works: 'Horace victorieux', 'Cello Concerto' and 'Prélude, Fugue et Postlude'.)