VOCES

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Extracts from emails sent to us over the years

 

 

In June I stayed in the Totnes/Landscove area for a fortnight. Before departure I had consulted my online version of Devon Life and seen that a choir - your choir - would be singing at Buckfast Abbey on the 16th.
 
Being a chorister myself, in a church choir in Malmö in southern Sweden (just across from Copenhagen) - an accomplished choir but not quite of your high standard! - and loving the music of Palestrina and de Lassus, and renaissance music in general, naturally I went to the abbey to listen to you.
 
This was one of the most beautiful and moving experiences I have ever had. Actually, I sat there with tears streaming down my face and could not help it. The music and the beauty of your voices went deep down into my heart and soul and I sat there quite entranced and hardly moved throughout the concert... At the end of August our choir will rejoin after the summer break, and I will tell them of the wonderful music I was fortunate enough to hear that evening.  Palestrina and Lassus concert (16/6/12.
 
 
What a sublime musical experience!  I cannot put into words how much we enjoyed it. (Victoria Tenebrae 19/3/11)
 
 
A truly wonderful performance. It left me with a feeling of
total peace and tranquility, something I don't ever
remember experiencing from such a performance before.
(Victoria Tenebrae 19/3/11)
 

The Schütz concert in November was my first visit to Voces and I meant to write to you after the concert to say how magnificent I found it.  Such a clever use of different acoustic areas in the Abbey and such refined, accomplished singing.

Diary excerpt, 20 November 2010:

...took off for Buckfast Abbey at 18.30...  The Voces concert was sheer delight.  Schütz’s Requiem is rather sombre, intensely Germanic and brooding, but full of dynamic and tonal variation.  The spezzi chorati sections were thrilling and the choir gave a tonally secure performance throughout the Schutz and in Mendelssohn, Pärt and Tallis (Salvator mundi).  When the choir moved up to sing under the tower for the Pärt and in the semi-chorus sections of the Schutz, the effect was magical.  I wanted to stay for monastic Compline, but lost nerve when the whole audience decamped at the trot at 2055.  However, I drove home in a glow of warmth at what I had heard.

 

My partner and I came to your recent concert at Buckfast Abbey. I  wanted to write and say how much we enjoyed the evening. Very special. Thanks to you and all the  singers. Magical!

 

We thoroughly enjoyed your concert in November - I thought I was in heaven!!  Only complaint is that your concerts are so short!

 

First of all I would like to thank you and the singers for a most wonderful concert last night at the University of Plymouth for Peninsula Arts.  I am still floating on the sound.  Isn't it a wonderful acoustic in that building?  I do hope to hear you again there.

 

 

This is the first opportunity I've had since the Antiphon concert to send my appreciation of another marvellous event. I was sitting at the back of the Abbey on this occasion so probably  had more of the effect of the Buckfast resonance, but Sally Harper's opening solo set the standard with an entrancing and ethereal engagement. The Tu es Petrus was at the other end of the scale, bold, confident, almost overwhelming and a fine way to end. In between you had an interesting and enjoyable selection which was a good showcase for all your talents.

 

 

Just a line to say how much we (that is my husband and I in royal terms) enjoyed the concert last night.  It was truly magical and stayed with us long after we went home.

 

 

You certainly have a beautiful choir and I enjoyed the way you moved the voices around. The first Lassus was really beautifully done - worth coming just for that. The Palestrina also. And your last 'recessional' was very effective.

 

 

I'd like to say how much I enjoyed Saturday's concert at Buckfast Abbey.  I went on the recommendation of [...] but I'd never heard Voces before and didn't know quite what to expect (Renaissance music sung badly can be pretty excruciating, can't it?!).  Anyway, I was very impressed by the standard of singing  - thankyou.

 

 

This is in praise of Saturday 5th.  The first time I had ever heard Voces or been to Buckfast Abbey and I was deeply moved by the performance in that setting.

 

I just felt I had to say how much I enjoyed Saturday's concert - it is 20

years - when working for the Tallis Scholars - since I last heard such

wonderful singing of this repertoire.  I really regret not bringing some of

my school choir.  Perhaps next time!

 

 

Another triumphant success last night. The Ancient was as good as ever, but it was the Modern which was especially exciting and rewarding. I didn't know Rupert Jeffcoat, but his Magnificat was a beautifully balanced and well-rounded cameo. The Part must be really difficult to sing, but you all brought it off superbly.  The harmonic tension was so well controlled and the stillness at the end was quite spellbinding. The Durufle had a very attractive internal rhythm which even the great Buckfast acoustic couldn't hide.

 

From Bob Shingleton's blog 'On an Overgrown Path*', 27 March 2008.   "We had travelled to Buckfast to hear a concert of choral works by the unsung master Philippe de Monte. The music of this 16th century Flemish composer is very rarely performed today (although it is recorded), which is surprising as he wrote 1,073 secular and 144 spiritual madrigals, 45 chansons, 319 motets and 38 mass settings - eat your heart out Leif Segerstam! The intelligently planned and beautifully delivered concert was given in the Abbey church by the vocal ensemble Voces directed by Martyn Warren. There may still be many voices to a part in choirs in Devon and the men may still wear suits, ties and white shirts, but in other ways they are right up there with Radiohead. Here is an extract from the free programme book which included texts:  Concerts are normally free, allowing you to make your own decision about the contribution you make to the retiring collection. After expenses this will be split equally between the Abbey and the Voces music fund. Neither singers nor conductor take a fee. As a rough guide, a ticket for a concert like this would normally cost you at least £8, and we hope you will give generously with your money as the performers have given of their time in preparing and performing."

 *http://www.overgrownpath.com:80/2008/03/what-price-music-of-unsung-master.html 

 

We spoke briefly after the wonderful concert in the Abbey on Saturday. I felt transported by the music and was so pleased that there was no applause [within the concert]. Even the applause at the end seemed to break the wonderful vibrations that had been created. I wish that there was some other way we could show our appreciation of your efforts!
 

It was an evening in Buckfast Abbey that I will never
forget.... I appreciated the talent, skill and concentration
which had clearly been invested in your performance. It
was delightful and immensely moving. I wish my choir could
communicate that well with each other and our conductor...

 

...the quality of the singing was, in my view, extremely high and one would have thought it was from a professional group had one not known otherwise... throughout there was a great assuredness of tempo and a sense of a body of singers working together very effectively.  The male voices, when solo, created beautifully whispering pianissimos.  And when singing as a mixed choir the voices blended extremely well...

Overall this was a concert not only of fine and rarely heard music, but also an event of much warmth.  There was a feeling of great pleasure and a sense of a family relationship between audience and choir.  It was also a great pleasure to hear a choir singing unaccompanied and unadulterated.  Buckfast Abbey was the perfect venue for this music, with one reservation: if the choir continues to build its reputation and following, the Abbey will soon not be big enough a venue.  'Mystery shopper' report for South West Arts, at the Voces 10th anniversary concert in 1997.

 

 

 

 

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