On 4 March 2019, the Monteverdi Apprentices and members of the Monteverdi Choir, under the guidance of Sir John Eliot Gardiner, presented a showcase recital in the stunning surroundings of the recently-restored thirteenth-century tithe barn at Messums Wiltshire.
Now in its eight iteration, the Monteverdi Apprentice Programme continues to have a deep impact upon the development of all these young singers, past and present: extending their musical horizons and broadening their career aspirations. It is difficult to exaggerate the benefits the programme offers in terms of its varied opportunities, enabling the apprentices to work closely with musicians of the highest calibre and under the direction of one of the world’s finest conductors and interpreters of classical music. While this pioneering initiative has been imitated and augmented by other European ensembles it remains pre-eminent in its field and is heavily oversubscribed.
After having been advertised to all the major UK and European conservatoires, universities and cathedrals, the 2018/2019 Programme received 134 initial applications. Based upon a review of these written submissions and letters of recommendation, 51 candidates were invited for a first audition in July 2018. Thereafter, 25 proceeded to the second and final round on 23 August 2018 after which the current Apprentices were chosen. The season began in bombastic fashion with a two-part European tour of Verdi’s Requiem in September and November, preceded by an introductory workshop led by members of the Monteverdi Choir.
In January the Apprentices attended a three-day workshop in London that comprised the following:
• An intensive study of the challenges of interpreting recitatives by Bach led by David Watkin, former principal cello of the EBS and ORR, and renowned baritone Dietrich Henschel
• A day of drama, movement and acting with Thomas Guthrie, who will direct our performances of Handel’s Semele in 2019
• German language tuition by Dietrich Henschel and Italian language tuition by Matteo Dalle Fratte
• An introduction to yoga practice, and its particular value to singers, by Liz Lark.
This presentation of works-in-progress marked the culmination of a four-day residency at the nearby Springhead Trust – John Eliot Gardiner’s childhood home - during which the Apprentices worked closely with their mentors on a range of choral repertoire ranging from folk songs to rounds, covering music from Monteverdi to Grainger, via Schütz, Handel and Brahms - to name but a few.
Brahms: Einförmig ist der Liebe Gram, Op.113, No.8
Schumann: Blüth’ oder Schnee, Op. 65/iii
Monteverdi: Era l’anima mia (Fifth book of madrigals)
Schütz: Ich beschwöre euch, SWV 339
Brahms: Nachtwache I (from Fünf Gesänge, Op. 104)
Handel: Oh terror & astonishment (from Semele, HWV 58)
Bach: Lobet den Herrn, BWV 230
Haydn: Tod und Schlaf, Hob XXVII:b, No.17
Saint-Saëns: Calme des nuits, Op.68 No.1
Fauré: Madrigal, Op. 35
Grainger: Brigg Fair
Grainger: Shallow Brown
Grainger: Danny Boy
Encore - Grainger: I’m Seventeen Come Sunday
Performers - Apprentices:
Sam Cobb, soprano
Jonathan Hanley, tenor
Laura Jarrell, soprano
Michael Lafferty, baritone
Charlotte La Thrope, soprano
Angus McPhee, baritone
Victoria Meteyard, soprano
James Quilligan, bass-baritone
Margarita Slepakova, mezzo-soprano
Humphrey Thompson, bass
Click here for full biographies of our current Apprentices.
The Apprentices were also joined by members of the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists:
Peter Davoren (tenor), Martha McLorinan (alto), Eleanor Meynell (soprano & piano), Graham Neal (tenor), Oliver-John Ruthven (organ), Lawrence Wallington (bass), Poppy Walshaw (cello).
To find out more about the Apprentices Programme please click here, or to discuss how you might support this longstanding artist development scheme, please call Tom Hansell on 020 3197 9818 or email: [email protected].