Week 4: 17 – 24 August

Turn of the Screw; Harrison Birtwistle, John Cage, Jazz and The Rite of Spring

The 2019 Summer School & Festival reaches a climax with Britten’s chilling opera The Turn of the Screw starring Tom Randle, The Passion of Piazzolla, and John Cage’s joyfully anarchic Musicircus. The week explodes with Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring.

Stephen Barlow conducts Dartington Choir, and the great Harrison Birtwistle celebrates his 85th birthday; Neil Brand directs his popular Improvising to Film course, alongside popular returning courses by the Dead Rat Orchestra and Black Voices. Jazzers Chris Batchelor, Mark Lockhart, Steve Lodder, Alec Dankworth and Martin France work alongside Paul Archibald and Brett Baker’s brass courses and Steve Dummer’s Big Band.

Sing in Songs from the Jazz Age with Sarah Gabriel and Richard Williams; experience vibrant tuition from Florian Mitrea, Gildas Quartet, Trio Tritium and Anna Szałucka. End the summer on a creative high; be inspired by these daring artists, and their dazzling music.

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

Session by session

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Choral, Vocal and Opera Courses

The Big Choir: Eleanor Alberga, Tippett’s Spirituals and Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy

Stephen Barlow | Session 1

The fantastic conductor Stephen Barlow comes for the first time, to conduct a very special occasion – Artistic Director Joanna MacGregor’s last concert for the Summer School. There’s a world premiere for choir and piano by Eleanor Alberga, with words by Alice Oswald; Tippett’s amazing settings of spirituals from A Child of Our Time, for choir and orchestra; and Beethoven’s joyful Choral Fantasy – his tryout for Ode to Joy – for piano, soloists, choir and orchestra.

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.

Chamber Choir

Stephen Barlow | Session 3

Stephen Barlow rehearses repertoire to complement our programme this week, with gorgeous English music by Vaughan Williams, Frank Bridge, Moeran and Warlock. The Chamber Choir is aimed at experienced choral singers.

Gospel Choir

Carol Pemberton and Celia Wickham-Anderson | Session 2

Uplifting, harmonious, soul-stirring, challenging and fun all describe the power and appeal of the Gospel Choir sessions, led by Carol Pemberton and Celia Wickham-Anderson of the internationally-acclaimed a cappella group Black Voices. The workshops will cover a range of black music traditions that influence and shape what today we call Black Gospel. Black Voices perform on 17 August, and there will be an informal performance for participants on the final Friday.

Advanced Opera: The Turn of the Screw

Tom Randle and Graeme Jenkins |Sessions 1, 2, 3 & 4

The second week of this two-week course for advanced singers directed by Tom Randle, leading to two semi-staged performances of Britten’s chilling The Turn of the Screw on 21 and 24 August. You must take part in Week 3 and 4 of this course. For more details, see the course description in Week 3. This is a two week course running 10-25 August.

Vocal Workshop

Sarah Gabriel | Session 2

As at home in Mozart or Britten opera as she is in music theatre, Sarah Gabriel made her European debut as Eliza in My Fair Lady at the Théâtre du Châtelet, opposite Alex Jennings. Her vocal class is open to all singers. Sarah is particularly interested in being authentically yourself onstage, and in how to express your individuality. You can see her in action in her recital on 22 August.

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.

Songs of the Jazz Age: The War and After

Sarah Gabriel and Richard Williams | Session 4

As war engulfed Europe the popular music of the period became defiant, romantic, and patriotic. We’ll be looking at songs originally sung by popular British artists – Gracie Fields, Vera Lyn, and Noel Coward – and their French counterparts Charles Trenet, Maurice Chavalier and Edith Piaf. We’ll also explore work by Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, The Andrews Sisters and Memphis Minnie, as well as the writers Hemmingway, Tennessee Williams, Orwell, and the post-war existentialists Sartre, Camus and Beckett.

The music will be given historical context through film, poetry and prose. This workshop is open to all singers, actors and writers.

Vocal Masterclass

Tom Randle | Session 3

We’re privileged to welcome the superb operatic tenor Tom Randle to direct this week’s vocal masterclass. Tom has international performing experience, from Renaissance and Baroque music through to contemporary song and opera, in great opera houses: Théâtre des Champs Elysées, Royal Opera House London, Staatsoper Berlin, Netherlands Opera and Los Angeles Opera. He welcomes a wide variety of repertoire.

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

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.

Conducting, Composition, Film and Site Specific Courses

Advanced Conducting

Graeme Jenkins | Sessions 1, 2, 3 & 4

Two weeks of intense study, for the first week with Timothy Redmond, guest conductor with the London Symphony Orchestra and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and Professor of Conducting at the Guildhall School of Music. For the second week, we welcome Graeme Jenkins back to Dartington. He’s known for his enormous breadth of experience: with Glyndebourne, Opera Australia, Vienna State Opera and Covent Garden, and as Music Director of Dallas Opera.

The second week of this two-week course presents a fantastic opportunity to prepare and perform Britten’s The Turn of the Screw, with Tom Randle and students from the Advanced Opera Course, as well as Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring.

This course offers both extensive podium time in front of the orchestra, as well as time working with pianists on the scores. This course is for a small group of 6 students, and there will be performance opportunities for all involved.

This is an Advanced Selected course; please see the Advanced Courses page for application details. This is a two week course from 10-25 August.

Improvising to Film

Neil Brand | Sessions 1 & 2

One of the world’s foremost exponents of live film music, Neil Brand is known for his compelling presentations on television and radio. This course offers composers, pianists and other instrumentalists a great opportunity to study selected silent classic films, discussing the art of improvisation and ‘reading’ a film.

We’ll create new music around excerpts of film; as part of this course, participants will informally showcase their work in the Barn Cinema at the end of the week.

Open Composition

Stephen Pratt | Session 1

Liverpool-born Stephen Pratt’s first orchestral work was premiered by Simon Rattle and the RLPO; since then he’s been an in-demand composer and conductor, well-known as a broadcaster on Radio 3’s Hear and Now.

This class is designed for people who like composing in all styles, as well as those who enjoy arranging and songwriting, with expert guidance in a friendly, collaborative atmosphere. Students will showcase their work in an informal concert at the end of the week.

Site Specific Installations

Dead Rat Orchestra | Sessions 3 & 4

Dead Rat Orchestra are adventurers, adrift in a sea of sound and possibility. They’ve gained a reputation as one of the most innovative ensembles on the UK music scene – raw, elemental and poignant, with a love of idiosyncratic folk traditions and antiquated technology.

This course will use found objects, old instruments and analogue systems to create mixed-media installations all over the estate, culminating in a promenade at the end of the week.

Advanced Composition

Harrison Birtwistle | Sessions 1, 2, 3 & 4

We’re extraordinarily lucky to have one of the world’s greatest living composers, Sir Harrison Birtwistle, joining us this year in Dartington. A leading European figure in contemporary music, his seminal works have combined a modernist aesthetic with emotional impact; he takes his inspiration from contemporary art, and rituals of classical mythology and pre-history. This immersive course focuses on creating new music for the Gildas Quartet, the outstanding young clarinet trio Tritium Trio, and trumpeter Lucy Humphris, for performances at the end of the week. We’ll also be celebrating Harry’s 85th birthday, in a special concert.

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

Jazz and Brass Courses

Introduction to Jazz

Steve Dummer | session 1

Conductor, composer and clarinettist Steve Dummer directs a lively, enjoyable class especially for newcomers to jazz, or those with a classical background who want to brush up their skills.

Brass Warm-up Session

Paul Archibald, Chris Batchelor and Brett Baker | Session 1

The essential morning ritual: a warm-up session for brass players, taken in turn by three very different brass tutors. A great way to start your day by focusing on breathing and the fundamentals of technique.

Trumpet Workshop

Paul Archibald and Chris BaTchelor | session 2

Our trumpet class is open to trumpeters of all music backgrounds. Paul Archibald is one of UK’s busiest orchestral trumpeters, regularly working with Britten Sinfonia, London Philharmonic and his own English Brass Ensemble. Chris Batchelor is one of the coolest trumpeters in jazz. You’ll be learning music techniques in a variety of styles, and be working on a whole range of repertoire. There’ll be a chance to perform informally at the end of the week.

Trombone and Low Brass Workshop

Brett Baker | Session 2

Brett Baker is one of the world’s top trombonists and educators, working with musicians and groups as diverse as Black Dyke Band, Grimethorpe Colliery Band and Goldfrapp. He’s passionate about teaching the trombone, and is the director of the Singapore and Thailand Low Brass Festivals. As well as coaching, he’ll be encouraging you to perform and collaborate with the trumpet and jazz faculty all week.

Jazz Piano and Keyboards Workshop

Steve Lodder | session 2

Steve Lodder is a leading jazz pianist, synth player and teacher, working with some of the coolest names in jazz. His course is open to intermediate jazz pianists and keyboard players who wish to develop their improvisation skills.

Saxophone Workshop

Mark Lockheart | Session 2

Mark Lockheart offers one-to-one and ensemble tuition to all saxophonists. Mark is one of jazz’s greatest collaborators, and his characteristic sense of lyricism, alongside very personal use of rhythms from Asia, Africa and South America, will be inspiring for young and older saxophonists alike.

Double Bass Workshop

Alec Dankworth | session 2

Alec Dankworth is one of the most stylish, imaginative jazz bassists around, and we’re delighted he’s coming to Dartington. Part of an amazing jazz dynasty – mother Cleo Laine, father John Dankworth and sister Jacqui Dankworth – Alec has worked with an extraordinary list of artists including Van Morrison, Stéphane Grappelli, Abdullah Ibrahim, and The Dave Brubeck Quartet. He’ll be coaching and inspiring jazz bassists at all levels.

Jazz Drumming and Percussion Workshop

Martin France | Session 2

Martin France has worked with the finest and most creative musicians in the world – including Elvis Costello, Evan Parker, Dave Holland and Nils-Petter Molvaer – as well as many classical orchestras. His class is open to all drummers and percussionists who’d like to hone their jazz skills.

Open Jazz Ensemble

Mark Lockheart, Chris Batchelor, Steve Lodder, Alec Dankworth and Martin France | session 3

Our fantastic jazz tutors focus on improvisation, collaboration and creativity, creating smaller jazz ensembles to work together. Jazz students will also be performing in our regular late night Jazz Jam in the White Hart on Thursday night.

Music will be provided at the start of the week.

Brass Ensemble

Paul Archibald and Brett Baker | Session 3

A chance to work together on great brass repertoire for trumpets, horns and trombones, with two of the UK’s top brass players and teachers. We’ll be working on Paul Patterson’s Count Down, Richard Rodney Bennett’s Flowers of the Forest and Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s The Hampshire Suite, for an informal performance on Friday lunchtime.

There’ll be opportunities to play in the beautiful outdoor spaces of Dartington too – weather permitting! Music will be provided at the start of the week.

Big Band

Steve Dummer | session 4

Steve Dummer will be rehearsing the Dartington Big Band for the final Friday night bash. The repertoire will range from big band standards to more contemporary jazz pieces. Absolutely unmissable fun, this workshop is for saxes, brass and rhythm instruments.

Music will be provided at the start of the week.

Piano and Instrumental Courses

Piano Workshop

Florian Mitrea | session 1 or 4

The Rumanian pianist Florian Mitrea is always a huge hit at Summer School as a performer and teacher, and returns to run the Piano Workshop. Florian will guide pianists in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. He will coach anything from Bach to Bartók, but particularly likes the Viennese school of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. You’ll be able to choose between two different sessions.

Celebrating Tango: The Passion of Piazzolla

Joanna MacGregor | Session 3

Artistic Director Joanna MacGregor celebrates Astor Piazzolla. Open to pianists and instrumentalists of all backgrounds, we’ll be looking at his wonderfully evocative tangos, milongas and etude-tangos.

There’ll be a suggested repertoire list on the Music Supplies page.

Violin, Viola and Cello Workshops

Gildas Quartet | session 3

Christopher Jones and Gemma Sharples (violin), Kay Stephen (viola) and Anna Menzies (cello) lead individual instrumental classes for string players in a friendly and supportive workshop environment.

Chamber Music

Anna Szałucka, Gildas Quartet and Tritium Trio | Sessions 1, 2, 3 & 4

The chamber music programme, open to instrumentalists and singers, will offer one formally-organised session each day in Session 1. Chamber music can also be arranged informally in the other sessions.

Please see the Chamber Music page for more details.

More than music


Justin Dalton | 7.45-8.30AM

This course, based on the gentle, fluid Scaravelli approach to yoga, is suitable for participants of all ages and abilities. Yoga is practised by many musicians; it’s a great way to loosen up the body before the day’s music making.

Jive dance

Kevan Kennedy | Session 4

Everyone is invited to get ready for the final Big Band party on Friday night by learning the cool jazz movements of Jive, taught by the experienced tutor.