Week 2: 3 – 10 August

Music and Politics; Baroque, Folk, and Creative Writing

Week 2 dazzles with music and politics, alongside folk music, Shakespeare and Ovid. Laurence Cummings directs the Dartington Choir in Handel’s Saul, a wildly exciting oratorio with witches, mad kings, battles and huge choruses. Robert Howarth and Richard Williams direct Handel’s opera Agrippina, a show-stopping satire on Nero’s scheming court, with the original Tiger Mother. The gorgeous contralto Hilary Summers lends her warmth and wisdom to the vocal masterclass; stylish Andrew Watts directs vocal workshops.

There’ll be masterclasses and workshops with Adrian ButterfieldRichard Tunnicliffe, Gail HennesseyAndy Watts, Bukolika Piano Trio and Jill Kemp; Steven Devine runs early keyboard classes, and Joanna MacGregor a piano workshop on Baroque dance and Chopin Mazurkas.

There’s a full week of folk courses led by renowned teacher Alistair Anderson, folk singer, songwriter and concertina player Emily Portman, and fiddler Alexis Bennett; Harbottle & Jonas direct Dartington’s Folk Choir. James Runcie leads Creative Conversations, and examines the complete Shakespeare Sonnets; Katrina Porteous creates the poetry of place; we’ll read Ovid late night. All this and our traditional ceilidh, too!

Check the music supplies page for further information on each course’s required music and editions.

Session by session

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Choral and Vocal Courses

The Big Choir: Handel’s Saul

Laurence Cummings | Session 1

Glyndebourne and ENO conductor Laurence Cummings returns to direct the Big Choir in Handel’s Saul, a wildly exciting oratorio with witches, mad kings and huge choruses. Laurence is one of the most thrilling exponents of historical practice; his music making has been described as ‘both witty and compassionate.’ Don’t miss this wonderful chance to explore Handel’s visercal, powerful work with him.

This course is open to singers who are comfortable working from a vocal score. Music will be available to purchase in advance and you will be expected to sing from the score from the beginning of the course. Each session will start with a brief warm up and the piece will be rehearsed throughout the week, leading up to Friday performance.

We strongly encourage that you attend Big Choir Plus in addition to the Big Choir rehearsals, especially if you are a less experienced choral singer or are unfamiliar with the work.

We will be using the Novello edition, rather than the Barenreiter edition listed in the brochure.

Advanced Opera Course: Agrippina

Robert Howarth, Richard Williams, Lisa Howarth, Hilary Summers and Andrew Watts | Sessions 1, 2, 3 & 4

Robert Howarth and Richard Williams direct Handel’s opera Agrippina: a coruscating, show-stopping satire on Nero’s scheming court, with the original Tiger Mother. There are virtuosic arias, dramatic recitatives and ensemble work, as well as humour and drama. Coached by Andrew Watts and Lisa Howarth, Agrippina will be performed with the Dartington Baroque Orchestra in the Great Hall.

This is an Advanced Selected course; please see the Advanced Courses page for application details.

Vocal Masterclass

Hilary Summers | Session 2

We’re hugely privileged to welcome back the marvelous contralto Hilary Summers to Dartington. Hilary is internationally acclaimed in the world of Baroque opera, working with such luminaries as William Christie, Christopher Hogwood and Deborah Warner; she has also collaborated with major figures in contemporary music, including Pierre Boulez and Michael Nyman. Above all, Hilary’s warmth, experience and personality will bring superb mentorship to this class.

This is an Advanced Selected course; please see the Advanced Courses page for application details.

Improve Your Sight-Singing

Rhiannon Evans | Session 3

Do you struggle with the demanding multi-tasking activity that is sight-singing? Is recognising rhythms, pitching intervals and reading the text all at once a daunting challenge? This course is open to all, especially singers who are not fluent readers, and anyone wishing to brush up on their sight-singing skills.

Vocal Workshop

Andrew Watts | Sessions 3 or 4

The wonderful countertenor Andrew Watts – acclaimed performer, and voice teacher at the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme at the Royal Opera House – will improve your vocal technique and performance skills in a relaxed, supportive and informative atmosphere. Singers of all abilities can choose between two sessions.

These workshops will be taught on a one-to-one basis in front of the group. Equal time will be given to all participants, and piano/harpsichord accompaniment will be available. Participants should expect to attend all sessions in full, learning from their own coaching as well as from observing others.

You should bring 2 or 3 pieces with which you are already familiar, but which will allow you to work on the development of interpretation and technique.

Chamber Choir

Laurence Cummings | Session 3

Laurence Cummings conducts richly textured vocal music. His course includes Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music, and two Shakespeare settings of If Music be the Food of Love, by Purcell and Paul Ayres. The Chamber Choir is aimed at experienced singers, and there will be an informal performance on Friday afternoon.


The Big Choir Plus

Gavin Roberts | Session 4

Additional coaching and rehearsal for The Big Choir repertoire this week, with our wonderful choir repetiteur Gavin Roberts. This additional session for participants already singing in the Big Choir is a really useful opportunity for those less familiar with the repertoire to revisit the morning’s work.

This course is open to those singers already working on the choral repertoire in Big Choir in Session 1.

Instrumental Courses

Advanced Baroque Orchestra

Adrian Butterfield, Robert Howarth, Richard Tunnicliffe, Gail Hennessey and Andy Watts | Session 1, 2, 3 & 4 (Session 3 for Masterclasses or Sectionals)

The Advanced Baroque Orchestra, led by Adrian Butterfield, one of Europe’s most celebrated concert masters, works towards two Handel performances: Agrippina conducted by Robert Howarth, and Saul, conducted by Laurence Cummings. There are opportunities for strings, flutes/recorders, oboes, bassoons, trumpets, trombones, harp, percussion and keyboard players, and daily tuition with our stellar array of Baroque teachers. A very busy schedule, but thrilling! Please note: students need to arrive in time for a 2.30pm rehearsal with Laurence Cummings on Saturday 3rd.

Students will require their own Baroque instruments. This is an Advanced Selected course; please see the Advanced Courses page for application details.

Chamber Ensemble Workshop

Rhiannon Evans | Session 1

Start the day with a fun-filled ensemble playthrough. We’ll be exploring Handel’s ensemble repertoire, including some of his Concerti Grossi and movements from the Water Music and Music for the Royal Fireworks. All strings and non-transposing wind instruments welcome; pitch will be A440.

We recommend a minimum playing standard of Grade 5 level. Music will be provided at the start of the week.

Introduction to Fortepiano

Steven Devine | Session 2

One of the busiest and most experienced keyboard players and music directors around, Steven Devine leads keyboard players in an exploration of the solo music of CPE Bach, Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven and others, and how the fortepiano enhances our understanding and interpretation of this great music.

Recorder Workshop

Jill Kemp | Session 2

Open to all recorder players, these classes cover breathing, coordination, extended techniques, ornamentation and any other areas or repertoire that students would like to cover. This session will focus on solo repertoire, from the 16th to 21st centuries. Please bring a treble at A440 and solo repertoire you would like to work on.

There will be a harpsichordist/pianist available to accompany the sessions.

Piano, Violin and Cello Workshops

Bukolika Piano Trio | Session 2

The fine young Bukolika Piano Trio hails from Poland, and is an ensemble known for their intensely expressive music making and exceptional virtuosity. Roma Tic (violin), Joanna Gutowska (cello) and Anna Szałucka (piano) have performed worldwide, and made their Radio 3 debut in 2017.

Their workshop sessions will be lively and informal; they offer players of all abilities a relaxed and supportive workshop environment, in separate classes.

These workshops are suitable for instrumentalists playing at Grade 5 level and above.

Recorder Ensembles

Jill Kemp | Session 3

An ensemble session for all recorder players. Please bring any sizes of recorder you may have, for an energetic and lively class covering group repertoire from the last five centuries.

Baroque Violin Masterclass

Adrian Butterfield | Session 3

The brilliant violinist Adrian Butterfield, director of the London Handel Players and Professor of Baroque Violin at the Royal College of Music, gives masterclasses focusing on all technical and stylistic aspects of solo Baroque violin-playing.

This class is part of the Advanced Baroque Orchestra, an Advanced Selected course. Details on how to apply can be found on the Advanced Courses booking page.

Baroque Cello Masterclass: The Art of Continuo Playing

Richard Tunnicliffe | Session 3

Richard Tunnicliffe focuses on the subtleties and complexities of continuo playing – the harmonic and rhythmic basis of Baroque style.

This class is part of the Advanced Baroque Orchestra, an Advanced Selected course. Details on how to apply can be found on the Advanced Courses booking page.

Baroque Bassoon Masterclass

Andy Watts | Session 3

Andy Watts, professor of Historical Performance at the Royal Academy of Music and Associate principal bassoon of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, gives a lively, illuminating class on technique and expression in solo and chamber repertoire, and prepares wind players for Handel’s Saul and Agrippina.

This class is part of the Advanced Baroque Orchestra, an Advanced Selected course. Details on how to apply can be found on the Advanced Courses booking page.

Baroque Oboe Masterclass

Gail Hennessey | Session 3

Daily masterclasses from an acclaimed orchestral and solo oboist, providing group and solo tuition coaching, as well as orchestral repertoire. We will be preparing the dazzling oboe parts in Handel’s Agrippina and Saul, for performances in the Great Hall.

This class is part of the Advanced Baroque Orchestra, an Advanced Selected course. Details on how to apply can be found on the Advanced Courses booking page.

Natural Trumpet

Richard Thomas | Session 3

The supremely gifted performer and teacher Richard Thomas directs a class providing group and solo tuition coaching, as well as orchestral repertoire. There’ll be concerts of Handel’s Agrippina and Saul in the Great Hall.

This class is part of the Advanced Baroque Orchestra, an Advanced Selected course. Details on how to apply can be found on the Advanced Courses booking page.

Harpsichord Workshop

Steven Devine | Session 3

Steven is harpsichordist with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and a soloist with many recordings to his name. Here he leads an open class for players with experience of the harpsichord covering the full range of solo repertoire for the instrument.

Piano Workshop: Baroque Dance and Chopin Mazurkas

Joanna MacGregor | Session 4

An open course led by Artistic Director and Head of Piano at the Royal Academy of Music, Joanna MacGregor, examining multiple approaches to Baroque dance movements and Chopin muzurkas. Students are invited to bring any dance movement by Bach, Scarlatti or Handel, and one or more Chopin mazurkas. We’ll also discuss historical performances, editions and performance practices. Please see the website for suggested repertoire.

Chamber Music

Rhiannon Evans, Bukolika Piano Trio and Claire Williams | Sessions 3 & 4

The chamber music programme, open to instrumentalists and singers, will offer one daily formally-organised session. You will be allocated a group in advance in one of the sessions you have signed up to, which session is dependant how we can best accommodate you with other players. Chamber music can also be arranged informally during other sessions once you arrive.

Folk, Poetry and Literature Courses

Three Hundred Years: Music from Northumberland and the Borders

Alistair Anderson | session 1

We’re delighted that Alistair Anderson – master of the English concertina and Northumbrian pipes, founder of Folkworks and the first traditional music degree course at Newcastle University – will be teaching all week at Dartington. Alistair’s instrumental course will cover fiddle and pipe repertoires from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, including the explosion of fiddlers around Tyneside and the piping traditions of the South Northumbrian Coal Field. Alistair will also introduce you to the music of the shepherd musicians he knew well and played with for years, as well as music from the current scene.

Creative Writing: Poetry of Place

Katrina Porteous | Sessions 1 & 2

Katrina Porteous was born in Scotland and lives on the Northumberland coast; we’re thrilled she’s coming back to Dartington. Her course will connect to the physicality of landscape through sound, and there will be a couple of sessions collaborating in words and music with folk fiddler Alexis Bennett. Through listening and writing we’ll explore the voices – natural and human – that lead us towards ‘a sense of place’.

Folk Choir

Harbottle & Jonas | session 2

The stunning young folk duo Harbottle & Jonas wowed audiences and participants with their teaching, performances, and folk sessions in the White Hart last year, and we’re delighted to welcome them back. Receiving plaudits from folk royalty Jon Boden and Seth Lakeman as well as national press, their latest album, The Sea is my Brother, is released in early 2019.

They’ll be rehearsing our popular Folk Choir in sea shanties and sea-inspired songs – all delivered with their inimitable, contemporary twist – for a performance in the Great Hall on Friday afternoon.

This choir is suitable for all singers. There will be an emphasis on learning aurally, but some supportive materials will be provided during the week.

Playing for Dancing

Alistair Anderson | Session 2

The legendary English concertina player Alistair Anderson leads this course on playing tunes for dancing, which will culminate in performing some numbers as part of our vibrant, end-of-week Ceilidh. The course will work on understanding how the pulse of the music relates to the dance, and how the way you play lifts the dancers. You will look at phrasing and dynamics, and how that can energise the dancers while maintaining the interest of those just listening – and indeed the musicians themselves.

Folk Collective

Emily Portman, Alexis Bennett and Harbottle & Jonas | sessions 3 & 4

This year we have a fantastic team of acclaimed folk tutors and performers at Dartington: fiddler Alexis Bennett; contemporary folk duo Harbottle & Jonas; and Emily Portman, one of the most beguiling and poetic presences in today’s folk scene. There’ll be an opportunity to work on traditional tunes, and songs with accompaniment, for both evening sessions in the White Hart and Friday’s performance in the Great Hall.

We will start this course as one group, with the flexibility to work on tunes and songs in two separate groups during the week. Music will predominantly be taught aurally with some support materials provided during the the week.

We welcome musicians both with and without previous experience of folk music who are keen to explore the folk repertoire.

Folk Surgery

Alexis Bennett

The gifted fiddler and composer Alexis Bennett will be available for one-to-one tuition late afternoon and early evening, from Sunday to Tuesday.

These surgeries are open to all those wanting some private coaching on their own material, or on tunes they’d like to play in the White Hart folk sessions later in the week

Coaching can be arranged with Alexis during the week.

Creative Conversations

James Runcie | session 3

A daily series of conversations about creativity and the nature of storytelling – from starting to write and the structure of stories, to discussions about the nature of inspiration, the importance of practice and the development of character (both imagined and real). James Runcie guides you through a series of approaches to the creative life. No experience necessary.

Creative Reading: Shakespeare’s Sonnets

James Runcie | Session 4

A creative reading course with the writer James Runcie. Each day we study, and then read, a group of sonnets with a particular theme – beauty, love, time, memory, age and immortality – in order to gain a deeper appreciation of Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets.

More than music

Tai Chi Qigong

Joe Salmon | 8-8.30AM

An early morning class, designed to relax the body and focus the mind. A dynamic form of moving meditation, Tai Chi Qigong is accessible to people of all ages and ideal for musicians, bringing great benefits for good practice and performance in the day ahead.