gerontius newsletter - April 2015

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Dear Gerontius subscriber,

Welcome to the April 2015 issue of our newsletter.

This time the theme is Singing Holidays and Summer Schools, and we have a short article discussing what to expect and what to look for. A few of you responded to my request in the last newsletter to share your experiences of holidays and summer schools, and these fell into two distinct camps – glowing recommendations for some companies/organisations, and "do not touch with a bargepole" warnings about others! In the end, I have decided not to include any of them, because I'm not sure that the Gerontius newsletter is an appropriate place for this. Maybe we should add a reviews section to the Gerontius website instead – what do you think?

The June edition of the newsletter will look at Making a Recording, and this time we'd love to include your experiences – what music you recorded and why, how you funded the project, how you arranged the technicalities, how you sold the finished product. Was it a good experience, something you'd like to do again? Please share your thoughts and tips by emailing or as soon as possible if you'd like to contribute.

As always, we are happy to include any other choir news or announcements, even if they are not specifically related to the newsletter's theme. We hope you enjoy the newsletter. Do feel free to share on Facebook, forward it on to friends and others in your choir, or just send them the link to the newsletter online:

With best wishes,

Tim and Denise Ault

Newsletter contents
1. La Maison Verte
2. Choosing a Singing Holiday or Summer School
3. Lacock
4. Cambridge Early Music
5. Rayburn Tours
6. Music Summer Schools 2015
7. Site Sponsors

La Maison Verte

La Maison Verte logo

Chamber Choir Week

Residential singing holiday in Southern France
30 Aug – 6 Sept 2015 with Will Dawes & Francis Steele

La Maison Verte building
Swimming pool at La Maison Verte

This week is designed for experienced choral singers to get together for a fantastic holiday with others who have the same interest. The repertoire will be taken from 600 years of great choral music, from the early Renaissance to the present day (tantalizingly Byrd's Laudibus In Sanctis and Brahms Drei Gesange Op42 are two works Will is really keen to do). Normally we sing 2-6 to a part; however sometimes we'll divide into smaller groups to explore consort repertoire, or into other configurations to give us flexibility.

The tutors are Francis Steele and Will Dawes: Francis was, for thirty years, a professional singing bass for such groups as The Tallis Scholars, The Sixteen and the Gabrieli Consort. Since 2003 he has developed a world-wide reputation as a vocal group coach/tutor. Will conducts several groups in the UK including the Bath Choral Society, Ludus Baroque, Ensemble 45, Orlando Choir, and the choir of St Mary Magdalen Oxford. As a professional singer and performs frequently with Stile Antico, one of the best young groups touring today. He recently appeared on Gareth Malone's TV series: Sing while you work.

La Maison Verte provides the perfect backdrop for these weeks of musical, culinary and social immersion. It is an old wine mansion in the heart of the Languedoc countryside, with a swimming pool, rehearsal spaces, and a large, beautiful garden.

We use local chefs who enjoy preparing traditional Languedoc dishes so that we can savour the best of Southern French cuisine. We'll be providing local wine, free of charge, with meals.

All prices are in Euros. The fee for the course is €450 (£335 sterling)which includes tuition, music loan, food (2 meals a day) and facilities. Accommodation at La Maison Verte is charged separately and we have a wide range of options to suit all prices ranges from 95 euros per week to 390 euros. Non-singing partners are welcome and are charged for accommodation plus food.

For more details contact, (look at the Verte Musique page) or email

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Choosing a Singing Holiday or Summer School

Why go?

Singing holidays and summer schools are a great way to improve your vocal skills and musical technique, meet new people, visit some lovely places, and above all have fun!

Who goes?

Great for people travelling on their own, singing holidays are also popular with couples, friends and small groups – many cater for non-singing partners by offering other activities as well. They are an excellent option for anyone who wants to do more than just lie on the beach.

What's on offer?

Just about anything and everything! There are courses and holidays all over the UK, in Europe and further afield. Some run for a few days or a weekend, others for a week or more. Some centre around music festivals, so you might meet people playing a range of instruments as well as other singers, and be able to go to concerts put on by other students. Some courses form singers into a choir for one or more concerts, whilst others will focus on individual or solo voice work. Many holidays are based in lovely places with a range of visits to places of interest, art galleries, historic monuments, concerts or opera performances.

Different tour operators specialise in different areas. Some are travel specialists, who will arrange well-priced accommodation and maybe flights, and will lay on interesting excursions. Others are music specialists, who may recruit inspirational and teachers and find unusual repertoire, to help you develop your vocal skills. It all depends what your priorities are...

How to choose

Start by making a list of what you want from the holiday – maybe you could categorise some activities as essential, and others as "nice to have". Keep an open mind though – when you start searching you might find combinations you'd never thought of, like singing with yoga or scuba diving! If other people are going on the holiday with you, do make sure you've all agreed your priorities before you start falling in love with wonderful locations and beautiful scenery.

Check the costs carefully to see what is included. Most holidays provide tuition, accommodation, and some meals, but excursions and concerts may be extra, and flights will be too.

Think about the standard of music you are looking for – do you want to really hone your skills and improve your voice, or are you more interested in having a fun, relaxing time? And how much experience do you have right now? Some courses demand a high level of sight reading (some even audition!) whilst others are much more laid back. It's important to find a course where you will fit in and feel comfortable – neither out of your depth nor bored and frustrated. The best way to find out is to talk to the organisers! Ring up, or send an email asking all your questions. No one will mind answering them, because holiday organisers want their customers to be happy, and you won't be if what's on offer does not match your expectations.

Where to Look

Google, of course, will come up with all sorts of suggestions if you enter some choice key words. If you have a particular country in mind, you could try searching for "singing holidays Italy" has some useful contact details, and the Gerontius website and newsletter carries adverts for holiday and tour operators. The Summer Schools and Courses Directory lists a wide range of singing and musical courses and holidays.

Prefer to do your own thing? lists most of the music festivals in the UK and a few abroad, alphabetically and with dates. So just pick a town to visit, and book your own accommodation and excursions.


Reviews of singing holidays are not that easy to find. It's always worth Googling the name of a particular company or organisation plus "review" but you may not find anything. Should Gerontius start a section of reviews for tour operators, schools and holidays? Let us know what you think.

Denise Ault, April 2015


Lacock logo
Lacock - Jimena de la Frontera
Lacock - Justin Doyle
Lacock - Jimena de la Frontera 2

Lacock courses and Justin Doyle invite you to join them at their singing week in the Andalusian town of Jimena de la Frontera from 9 to 15 August 2015. We will spend the week rehearsing a programme of music for the Feast of the Assumption by composers ranging from Lassus, Victoria, Vivaldi and Bach to John Tavener, with a public performance at the end. The full details are on the web site

Jimena de la Frontera is a delightful "pueblo blanco" within sight of Gibraltar and has been a host to Lacock courses for over twenty years. We rehearse in the central church of San Francisco, and El Antiguo Juzgado, the old courthouse, the turreted house at the end of the street in the picture above, acts as the course clubhouse. The town has a wide range of inexpensive places to stay, many with swimming pools.

Justin Doyle, a product of Westminster Cathedral and King's College Cambridge is a rapidly emerging conductor of the younger generation. He is currently based in the north of England, where he has conducted Orchestra of Opera North, Northern Sinfonia, Hallé Orchestra and the Manchester Chamber Choir.

Jimena is on the edge of a natural park "Los Alconocales", a vast expanse of predominantly cork oak forest and the haunt of many rare birds including Imperial and Royal eagles and vultures, also wild boar, deer, badgers, mongooses and otters.

You will find more information about this course and many others on the Lacock web site To join our emailing list to receive alerts when new courses are announced, email us at

Cambridge Early Music

I Fagiolini smoking gun
2014 - Week 1
2014 - Week 2

20-22 May 2015
Cambridge Junction, Cambridge UK

Betrayal is a daring and innovative collaboration between vocal ensemble I Fagiolini and director John La Bouchardière, as they reunite for the long-awaited follow-up to their highly successful show The Full Monteverdi. Fusing voices with contemporary dance, Betrayal is an immersive dramatisation of intense and unsettling music by Carlo Gesualdo, the Italian Renaissance composer whose radical harmonic experiments were unsurpassed until hundreds of years later, and whose brutal killing of his unfaithful wife and her lover made him one of the most notorious figures in classical music.

Full information:

2-15 August 2015
Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge UK

The centre-piece of this year's Baroque course with The Parley of Instruments (2-9 August 2015) will be portions of Bach's Mass in B minor but during the week, and in the associated concerts, we will also explore a range of other music he composed, collected and performed. Alternatively join Philip Thorby & Friends on the Renaissance course (9-15 August 2015) for a musical Grand Tour of the city states of sixteenth century Italy, exploring the unparalleled riches of their courts and chapels.

Full information and booking:

Rayburn Tours

Rayburn Tours logo
Rayburn Tours image

Did you know that this year, Rayburn Tours will be celebrating its 50th anniversary year? We are extremely proud of the fact that in this time we have created thousands of tailor-made international concert tours for choirs just like yours!

Since 1965 there have been many things that have changed, but the one thing that has always remained constant is our passion for what we do. Our dedicated and experienced team have proven over the years that they have the skills and expertise to arrange unique and memorable concert tours, which are tailored to meet both the performance and leisure objectives of each and every choir we work with. We know that no two choirs are the same, and likewise, no two tours are the same!

Each year we delight in the positive feedback we receive from touring choirs. Through travelling and performing together over such a condensed period of time, performances improve, understanding of roles will heighten and the overall bond of your group will develop significantly. Couple this with the fact that everyone on tour has had a fantastic holiday together and it's a great way for you to provide your members with fond memories that will last a lifetime!


Let us help you start planning something special…

Enquire before the end of 2015 and you could be in with a chance of winning one of our special birthday Golden Tickets, giving each member of your group a massive £50 off the price of the tour! (

Give us a call today on 01332 347828 to start talking to one of our choir tour experts about the possibilities for your choir. Alternatively you can view a sample of our favourite choir tour destinations and venues at

Music Summer Schools 2015

Summer Schools

Are you looking for the perfect music summer school?

The Summer Schools Directory is the UK’s leading online directory listing a huge range of UK and international music summer schools, including:

  • Instrumental and orchestral courses
  • Conducting and composition courses
  • Choral and solo singing courses
  • Different age groups and abilities
  • Residential and non-residential courses

Music summer schools really do offer something for everyone, and the locations are often beautiful and inspiring as well. Experience the opportunity to develop your musical skills and gain recognised certifications whilst connecting with like-minded people and making lasting friendships along the way.

Our summer schools directory allows you to search for exactly the sort of music experience you’re looking for, as well as the right location, age range and type of accommodation. Or if you’re not sure, just browse! So whether you are looking for yourself, a group of friends, or family members, you should find the perfect course. The Summer Schools Directory also lists summer schools and camps in a wide variety of other subjects and areas, including sports, theatre, and English language learning. So why not get searching?

Site Sponsors

Many thanks to the following:


Chameleon Arts Orchestras and soloists

Rayburn Tours

Chameleon Wedding Music

Alberon - web design

Note Perfect


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Tim and Denise Ault

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