The Fitzhardinge Consort is thrilled to be working with Cancer Research UK to put on a Christmas celebration, in the beautiful space of Bristol Cathedral, to thank all the countless people in the South West who have helped the fight against cancer, and to support those affected by the disease.

Some reflections and readings will be interspersed with festive music that will take us from the mystery of Advent to the joy of Christmas. Music will include:

Jauchzet dem Herrn, alle Welt – J. S. Bach
Veni, Veni Emmanuel – Kodaly
O Magnum Mysterium – Scarlatti
A Spotless Rose – Howells

… and much more, including some festive favourites and opportunities for the audience to chip in.

Date: Thursday 5 December, 2019
Time: 7pm
Venue: Bristol Cathedral
Tickets: FREE – please email or call 01308 423805 to book

On 29 September 2019 – Michaelmas day – Bristol Cathedral bad farewell to its Dean, David Hoyle, who leaves to become Dean of Westminster. Dr Hoyle has long been a firm friend of The Fitzhardinge Consort, and we wish him all the best for his exciting new vocation.

Happily, however, at evensong on 1 November – All Saints day – the Reverend Michael Johnson will be installed as Canon and Acting Dean of Bristol, and The Fitzhardinge Consort are delighted to have been asked to sing this service. Music selected to mark this wonderful occasion and to celebrate All Saints day includes…

Tomas Luis de Victoria’s epic Magnificat primi toni a 8 and his vivacious O Quam Gloriosum.

Date: Friday 1 November, 2019
Time: 5.15pm
Venue: Bristol Cathedral
Entry FREE

The weekend of Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 October sees the annual Art on the Hill art trail in Windmill Hill, South Bristol. At 7.30pm on Sunday 6 october, The Fitzhardinge Consort are delighted to be giving a concert at St Michael & All Angels, Windmill Hill, highlighting the relationship of music and art through the ages. 

The arts trail sees venues and homes on Windmill Hill open to a broad range of artists and workshops for the weekend. In addition to these many exciting artists exhibiting in their own homes and community spaces, there are workshops for children, a treasure hunt, and live music throughout the weekend.

The beautiful church of St Michael & All Angels is a venue for the arts trail, and a wonderful venue for this concert. Expect our trademark mix of Tudor polyphony and close harmony, but with an artistic slant. 

The concert is free to attend, and a retiring collection will be split between the Church and the Consort. 

For more information about the various things you can see and experience on the Art on the Hill trail, visit their website at Art on the Hill.

Date: Sunday 6 October, 2019
Time: 7.30pm
Venue: St Michael & All Angels, Windmill Hill

Tickets: FREE

When a new singing pupil stands before me for the first time, the first question I ask, almost invariably, is ‘so what voice part are you?’ And every time I kick myself. After all, how much do I really learn from knowing which part this person sings in a choir – soprano, alto, tenor or bass? In truth, the only thing I’ve learned from asking this question of so many pupils is that an awful lot of people are singing the wrong part. The age-old case of the ‘lazy tenor’ springs to mind – the man possessed of a natural tenor voice but not the inclination to put in the work required to sing tenor properly. You’ll find him comfortably ensconced in the bass line. The number of self-proclaimed altos, who, when they don’t know what notes they’re singing, can stray well into soprano register with no discomfort whatsoever, is surprising. And let’s not forget that it can work both ways: is there anything more unpleasant than listening to the ‘soprano’ who should be sat with the altos, or the ‘tenor’ who, lazy or not, should embrace his baritone?

one of many nonsense vocal charts available online

The problem, however, is with the process of labelling voices, and this is why I kick myself every time I ask a new student ‘so what voice part are you?’ The answer, for the purposes of proper singing technique, is – or should be – irrelevant. Take Dame Emma Kirkby. She is undoubtedly one of the most accomplished sopranos of her generation, yet this hardly qualifies her to sing the role of Wagner’s Brunhilde. Her voice is her own. She is not a soprano, she is Emma Kirkby.

This is a straight-forward enough policy to adopt as a one-to-one singing teacher, but rather harder as a choral conductor. Soprano, alto, tenor and bass labels are useful for choral composers and directors – indeed, that is (or should be) their sole purpose. The unfortunate fact, however, is that we are too wedded to this system. What kind of anarchy do we fear might ensue as a result of individual voices stepping beyond the confines of the doctrinal SATB? It takes a brave conductor, when the range allows and balance requires, to bump a baritone to the tenor line or a tenor to the alto, yet how many tenor lines remain comfortably within baritone range, and how many alto lines growl away well below middle-C? The question is of course not only one of range but of tonal colour: a baritone singing the tenor line will naturally produce a different sound to his tenor comrades; one that is likely to be broader (and possibly louder), while a tenor singing the alto line may have a similar effect. But let’s not forget how much repertoire – especially early music – was not written with SATB voices in mind at all. Those gravelly alto lines were written for men, remember. The issue is a complex one, but must eventually boil down to intelligent and creative leadership from the director’s podium.

Perhaps choral conductors – myself included – should spend less time looking at their scores and more time listening to their choirs. It might just open up a whole new world of sound; one in which every voice is allowed to shine.

Peter Wagstaff, 6 May 2019

On Saturday 18 May 2019, Fitz joined Bristol Phoenix Choir and the Corelli Orchestra for a performance of J. S. Bach’s great choral work, the Mass in B Minor, in Clifton Cathedral.

Paul Walton conductor
Daisy Walford soprano
Rob Waters alto
Chris Lombard tenor
Daniel Robson bass

“The Bristol Phoenix Choir, founded in 1963, is a thriving and highly active ensemble of about 70 singers. Their Conductor is Paul Walton, Assistant Organist of Bristol Cathedral and a good friend of Fitz. We thoroughly look forward to this exciting collaboration.”

Date: Saturday 18 May
Time: 7.45pm
Venue: Clifton Cathedral, Bristol

Students £5
Under 16s Free.
Available from Opus 13, St Michael’s Hill 0117 9230164, ticket office 07931 812625

On 22 June 2019, Fitz returns to Holy Trinity Church, Abbots Leigh, for a sunny summer’s evening of eclectic repertoire, featuring the Consort‘s first ever performance of J. S. Bach’s virtuosic jewel, Singet dem Herrn.
Other repertoire to include…

  • Two beautiful and contrasting motets by Victoria – Salve Regina (a 8) & Lauda Sion
  • Sing Joyfully – Byrd
  • Bring us o Lord God – Harris
  • Litany to the Holy Spirit – Peter Hurford (died this year)

…then grab a glass of something chilled to enjoy during a jazzier second half, which may see a reappearance of J. S. Bach…

The idyllic village of Abbots Leigh lies a short hop over the suspension bridge from Bristol. To learn more about the venue, click here

This concert is generously supported by Opus 13, Fitzhardinge‘s favourite Bristol music shop. Click their name to visit the website.

Date: Saturday 22 June, 2019
Time: 7.30pm
Venue: Holy Trinity Church, Abbots Leigh

Tickets: FREE, with a retiring collection to be shared between Holy Trinity and The Fitzhardinge Consort

On Thursday 15th August, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Assumption, marking the ascent of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven. The Fitzhardinge Consort is delighted to be singing Choral Evensong at Bristol Cathedral for this celebration.

Fortunately for musicians, the mother of Christ has inspired some of the most haunting, uplifting, contemplative, beautiful music in the choral repertoire. The service music will be…

Introit: Ave Regina Coelorum – Victoria
Magnificat: Buxtehude
Nunc Dimittis: Plainsong
Anthem: Alma Redemptoris Mater – Victoria
Preces & Responses: Byrd

Date: Thursday 15 August, 2019
Time: 5:15pm
Venue: Bristol Cathedral

Tickets: FREE

a trio from the performance, sung by members of Fitz before a moment’s silence held for Notre Dame Cathedral

The Fitzhardinge Consort returned to Bristol Cathedral for a special Holy Week performance of Dieterich Buxtehude’s stunning cantata cycle, Membra Jesu Nostri, in the Eastern Lady Chapel, accompanied by a small contingent from the The Fitzhardinge Players – two violins and continuo.

Date: Tuesday 16 April, 2019
Time: 5.15pm
Venue: Bristol Cathedral, Eastern Lady Chapel
Free admission

The following notes were provided at the performance of Membra Jesu Nostri (Buxtehude), on 16th April 2019, the day after the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral

Last night a cathedral burned, and the heart of a nation broke. Tonight, The Fitzhardinge Consort comes together in grief and stands with the people of France. During this time of Passiontide especially, one cannot help but call to mind the destruction of the Temple at Jerusalem 1,400 years ago. The distance at which we stand from this catastrophic event makes it difficult to comprehend its enormous significance to those who had come to invest so much of their faith and national identity in the foundations of that building. The events of last night provide us with a modicum of understanding.

The reason, however, that we are so sad is not that irreplaceable objects have been lost, tragic though this is. We are sad because we thought Notre Dame would always be there. In the face of our own frailty we build our faith and our identity into great monuments of stone, to stand for ever. Small wonder that when these temples to our own immortality come crashing down, our world shakes. Everything becomes more fragile than we ever thought it could be.

Consider, then, how the followers of Christ might have felt when, in a series of terrifyingly swift events, the man in whom they had put all their faith, whom they had followed through destitution and travail, and who had promised them immortality, was ignominiously mocked, beaten, and brutally murdered.

the moving trio Ad Cor, sung before a silence held for Notre Dame Cathedral

Dieterich Buxtehude’s Membra Jesu Nostri is the story of this pain. In a journey across the body of Christ – that seemingly imperishable temple in which the disciples had invested everything – we hear odes to his feet, knees, hands, side, chest, heart and face. The remarkable text – a mixture of scripture and poetry – has been printed and translated for you, to enhance your experience. But the experience is more than the words on the page. Look up; watch the musicians; take in this beautiful chapel; close your eyes. Do whatever you can to allow this extraordinary music to reach beyond your head and touch your heart. After Cantata VI: Ad Cor, we will keep a moment of silence as we remember those people whose world came crashing down last night.

Peter Wagstaff, 16 April 2019

from Bach to barbershop

Fitz takes a colourful programme to two beautiful Bristol venues. Repertoire ranges from 17th-century Italian polyphony to 21st-century close harmony, featuring J. S. Bach’s magnificent motet Lobet den Herrn. This relaxed event is the perfect way to unwind on a summery Saturday, with a glass or two of something chilled!

Holy Trinity, Abbots Leigh
Entry FREE with a retiring collection shared between Fitz and Holy Trinity

Christ Church, City of Bristol
Entry FREE with a retiring collection shared between Fitz and Christ Church