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Audience comments and published reviews:


'...the singing was really excellent and the blend tremendous. Huge credit to everyone.'


'I wanted to congratulate you on The Herdwyck Consort's superb performance this lunchtime. We really enjoyed your singing, your programme and the excellent programme notes.'


'Just to say that the concert on Sunday was simply wonderful, both in its content and its delivery. The Civitas Sancti Tui really was ethereal. Thank you. '


'Wonderful singing. Perfect setting. Thank you.''… I just wanted to say THANK YOU for such a magnificent concert. '


Purcell at the Priory - Saturday November 15th 2015
What a fabulous blow for entente cordiale we were privy to at Lanercost the other night. Perhaps
not the meeting of nations, but certainly the musical equivalent as the Brampton and Herdwyck
Consorts pooled resources to serve up a feast (excuse the mixed metaphors) of glorious music
from the 17th century titans Purcell and Schutz (with a frisson of Tomkins for good measure). The
motivation behind this confluence of consorts was immediately obvious from the program itself. By
definition a consort has an extremely limited number of singers, usually 1 per part, which inevitably
precludes them from singing works of greater density than the more commonplace 4 or 5 parts.
Snug (yes the heating was on and working) in the Priory on a blustery November evening we were
treated to the full 8 part harmonies of works such as Schutz’s psalm 100 setting, the delightful
Tomkins’ ‘O God, the proud’ and Purcell’s stunning verse anthem ‘My Heart is Inditing’. Such dense
texture can often be hard on the ear, but it was evident that each voice was used to holding a line
with clarity, confidence and sympathetic dynamic phrasing. Whilst it’s a perfect acoustic within
which to hear such music, from a singer’s perspective the Priory can be a tricky environment to
hear what’s going on around you and produce a perfectly balanced ensemble. Once or twice this
was lost to sheer enthusiasm, but the overall effect was delightful. The highlight of the concert was
perhaps the rendition of Schutz’s ‘Saul, Saul’. It was a brave choice to pull off effectively as the
choir, with presumably few opportunities to practice this, were split into 3 sections and placed at
different points within the building, thus to make full use of Schutz’s Gabrieli-influenced antiphonal
writing.The geographical obstacles this entailed, of difficult sight lines and inevitable time delays,
were circumnavigated with consummate ease as the whole building became their resonator. It was
a joy to hear. Indeed, throughout the concert each voice remained perfectly tuned and dynamic.
We were left with no doubt these were experienced quality singers predominantly unaccompanied,
but, as this music heralded in the baroque, with occasional delicate support from a sweet and
sonorous chamber organ brought in especially for the concert and played most sensitively by the
Carlisle Organ Scholar Max Smith. Thank you all for a well programmed and expertly executed
Jerry King




The period generally referred to as Baroque covers approximately the 17th century and the first half of the 18th century. Bearing this in mind it would be hard to look at the music from the present day back to mid 1860s and expect there to be just one term to cover it all. The same is true of Baroque - the range of music covered by the term is vast and it was a style which was continually evolving as the pieces in this concert showed. There was a rather sombre theme running through the concert as a number of the pieces were concerned with death; the first of these being "Selig sind die Toten" by Schutz which was performed by The Herdwyck consort singing unaccompanied. This was truly a magnificent introduction to the period, with the incredible blend of voices echoing magnificently in the space beneath the dome of the church and reminding the listener of the flights of angels depicted above the singers. Death in a slightly more comic form was also present in 4 movements from Handel's masque "Acis and Galatea". This included wonderful depictions of good and evil and concluded with a poignant lament accompanied by the accomplished young players, Zoe Carroll and Josephine Goynes from the Giggleswick School Strings. For many the organ is a key feature of baroque music and this was represented in the concert by a Gabrieli's Canzon performed by Jason Lowe, with great style. There was a further exhibition of the talents of the Giggleswick school strings in their performances of works by Buxtehude and Handel, where it was impossible not to notice not only the musical skill of the young people but also their great poise and professionalism as they provided an excellent accompaniment to the Herdwyck consort. School talent was also to the fore in the form of Schola Cantorum, which is composed of members of staff and sixth form students. Their performance of Purcell's "Hear my Prayer" was both beautiful and haunting and built to a spectacular climax of powerful intensity. The concluding item in the programme, "Salve Regina" by Duron, provided an opportunity to combine the talents of both the Schola Cantorum and Herdwyck Consort in an unusual piece which included both a main and echo choir and where produced an ethereal sound which was totally mesmerising. Congratulations to all concerned in the concert, particularly director of music Tricia Rees-Jones who provided such a magnificent taster of the many delights offered in Baroque music.

Gill O'Donnell, The Craven Herald


Review Published in Cumberland and Westmorland Herald, 10 March 2012

Concert at Greystoke Castle, Sunday 26 February 2012, 3pm

What a splendidly appropriate setting for the Herdwyck Consort’s latest concert in the main hall at Greystoke Castle last Sunday.  It was a sell-out and deserved to be. 

The Howards of Greystoke in the late 16th and early 17th centuries maintained their catholic faith, sometimes in the face of extreme persecution, and supported musicians who tried to do the same.  So the first part of the programme consisted of music by Catholic composers who struggled with their positions in the protestant church in the same period.  Byrd, for example, trod a very fine line and maintained his position; Philips opted for exile on the continent.  The second half celebrated musicians who flourished when the catholic queens of both King Charles had their own chapels.  Dering’s output reflected his travels and his conversion to catholicism in Italy and Cossandi was one of many imports to this country in the other direction.  The strong historical basis gave depth to our enjoyment of this concert.

This was a very good performance.  The programme was very varied in mood and numbers of forces – from a two part Monteverdi-like motet from the gallery to a rich and expansive eight part Dixit Dominus with organ.  The nine members of the group are all comfortable one to a part and sing a capella with great ease and lively communication both between themselves and with the audience. The sound in the Hall was vibrant and generous but the group was able to give us some gentle private moments as well.    The one 20th century piece by Gary Higginson, written originally for Greystoke Church, was thrilling.   Only in the last item, full of difficult episodic changes and exciting colours did they feel a little copy bound.  And to take them to the next level they will need to do more work on vocal blend.  I hope they will branch out into madrigals next time.    Now they are more relaxed they would do it well.   We are lucky to have such a terrific group in the area.  


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