Ex Cathedra

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This article is about the British choir. For the 2009 English film, see Ex Cathedra (film). For the Roman Catholic belief, see Papal infallibility.
Ex Cathedra
ExCathedra-BirminghamTownHallCafe-byJamesAshby-20080301.jpg
The Ex Cathedra Choir in the foyer of Birmingham Town Hall, one of its performing venues
Website www.excathedra.co.uk
The Ex Cathedra Choir in performance at the Birmingham Town Hall – photographed on 1 March 2008
Ex Cathedra's logo

Ex Cathedra (/ˌɛks kəˈθdrə/ EKS-kə-THAY-drə) is a British choir and early music ensemble based in Birmingham in the West Midlands, England. It performs choral music spanning the 15th to 21st centuries, and regularly commissions new works.

Ex Cathedra was founded in Birmingham in 1969 by Jeffrey Skidmore, who is its artistic director and conductor. Originally conceived as a chamber choir, it now comprises a full choir of about 20 to 40 singers, the Ex Cathedra Consort made up of ten young professional singers who feature regularly as soloists, and a Baroque ensemble/orchestra.

Each year, the choir presents a season of eight diverse programmes in a variety of venues in and around Birmingham and London. It has also participated in concert series and festivals across the UK and in Europe, including the BBC Proms, Brighton Early Music Festival, Kilkenny Festival, Lichfield Festival, Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music, Spitalfields Festival, Three Choirs Festival and York Early Music Festival.[1] In 2008 it was invited to the Newbury Spring Festival, St. David's Cathedral Festival, Chelsea Festival and Chichester Festivities.[2][3] The choir has also appeared at festivals in Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Italy and Spain. The ensemble collaborates regularly with other Birmingham-based arts organizations, including Birmingham Royal Ballet and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. It became an Associate Artist at the Birmingham Town Hall in 2007.[1][4]

In 2009 Ex Cathedra was due to celebrate its 40th anniversary with a programme, XL Anniversary, that included a performance of Mendelssohn's Elijah on 18 October 2008, and to feature Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius in November 2009 and commissions from James MacMillan and Fyfe Hutchins. The choir also planned to make recordings of John Joubert's oratorio Wings of Faith, and pieces from its annual Christmas Music by Candlelight concerts.[3][4]

Ex Cathedra Baroque Orchestra[edit]

The first period instrument orchestra to be established in an English regional city,[5] Ex Cathedra's Baroque Orchestra was founded as part of the choir's 1983–1984 season and made its début with a performance of Bach's Mass in B Minor. The orchestra's principals regularly give master classes and coach students at the Birmingham Conservatoire as part of its early music programme.[1]

Music education[edit]

Ex Cathedra has its own youth and children's choirs, the Academy of Vocal Music (for singers aged 16 years and upwards, trained by Jeffrey Skidmore) and the Junior Academy (6 to 16 years, trained by Rebecca Ledgard and Ex Cathedra vocal tutors), which meet on a project basis. In addition, since 1990 the choir has been involved in education programmes in schools and local communities. It runs Ring of Sound, an intergenerational choir for the Perry Common Regeneration Project; the Singing Medicine project at five wards of the Birmingham Children's Hospital; and singing workshops for Key Stage 2 boys at an inner-city Birmingham primary school;[6] In the 2007–2008 academic year, Ex Cathedra conducted its Singing Playgrounds project in 24 schools in Birmingham, Coventry, Derby and London as part of the government's Sing Up initiative. It also introduced a project called Singing Mix, based on Singing Playgrounds, to help new Polish immigrant children to integrate. In addition, Ex Cathedra conducts activities for the Birmingham City Council's Arts Champions and Creative Futures schemes.[3][7]

Recordings[edit]

Ex Cathedra has made a number of critically acclaimed recordings for ASV Records and Hyperion Records, and on its own label.[8][9] It is well known for its recordings of French and Latin American Baroque music.[1]

Title and CD number[10] Release date[11] Performers[10]
Vivaldi: Vespers
ECCE EXCCD001
1991 Ex Cathedra Chamber Choir and Baroque Orchestra
Jeffrey Skidmore
Michel-Richard de Lalande: Regina Coeli; De Profundis; Cantate Domino
ASV Gaudeamus CD GAU 141
16 January 1995 Ex Cathedra Chamber Choir and Baroque Orchestra (leader Micaela Comberti)
Jeffrey Skidmore
Sanctus: Baroque Music for the Nativity
ASV Gaudeamus CD GAU 166
Ex Cathedra Chamber Choir and Baroque Orchestra
Jeffrey Skidmore
Monteverdi: Madrigali Fatta Spirituale
ASV Gaudeamus CD GAU 174
[Unknown] Ex Cathedra
Jeffrey Skidmore
Sir Christèmas: Carols Old and New
ASV Gaudeamus CD DCA 912
21 February 1995 Ex Cathedra
Jeffrey Skidmore
Orlande de Lassus: Sacred Choral Music; Missa ad Imitationem Vinum Bonum
ASV Gaudeamus CD GAU 150
13 March 1996 Ex Cathedra
His Majesty's Sagbutts and Cornetts
Jeffrey Skidmore
A New Heaven: 1,000 Years of Sacred Choral Music
ECCE EXCCD002
2000 Ex Cathedra
Jeffrey Skidmore
Christmas Music by Candlelight: Alleluya, a New Work
ECCE EXCCD003
2001 Ex Cathedra
Jeffrey Skidmore
New World Symphonies: Baroque Music from Latin America
Hyperion CDA67380
7 April 2003 Ex Cathedra
Jeffrey Skidmore
Charpentier: Messe à Quatre Chœurs; Salve Regina à Trois Chœurs; Salut de la Veille des 'O'; Le Reniement de St Pierre
Hyperion CDA67435
5 January 2004 Ex Cathedra
Jeffrey Skidmore
Rameau: Règne Amour: Love Songs from the Operas
Hyperion CDA67447
3 May 2004 Carolyn Sampson
Ex Cathedra Choir and Baroque Orchestra
Jeffrey Skidmore
Peerson: Latin Motets
Hyperion CDA67490
3 January 2005 Ex Cathedra Consort
Jeffrey Skidmore
Moon, Sun & All Things: Baroque Music from Latin America – 2
Hyperion CDA67524
29 August 2005 Ex Cathedra
Jeffrey Skidmore
Fire Burning in Snow: Latin American Baroque 3[9]
Hyperion CDA67600
28 January 2008 Ex Cathedra
Jeffrey Skidmore
J.S Bach: St Matthew Passion
Orchid ORC100007
1 November 2009 Ex Cathedra
Jeffrey Skidmore
Grace Davidson - Soprano I
Mark Chambers - Alto I
Jeremy Budd - Tenor I & Evangelist
Eamonn Dougan - Bass I & Jesus
Greg Skidmore - Bass I & Pilate
Natalie Clifton-Griffith - Soprano II
Matthew Venner - Alto II
Christopher Watson - Tenor II
James Birchall - Bass II
Joy in the morning
Orchid ORC100008
1 November 2009 Ex Cathedra
Jeffrey Skidmore
Andrew Fletcher - organ
Orlande de Lassus: St Matthew Passion
SOMMCD0106
1 April 2011 Ex Cathedra Consort
Jeffrey Skidmore
Nicholas Mulroy - Evangelist
Greg Skidmore - Jesus

Hyperion lawsuit[edit]

In 2001, Ex Cathedra recorded four sacred works by Michel-Richard de Lalande for Hyperion Records. The sessions used newly prepared editions made by scholar Lionel Sawkins. Sawkins went on to sue Hyperion for royalties arising from his claimed copyright in the editions.[12] The recording was issued but subsequently withdrawn from the market after Sawkins won the lawsuit and subsequent appeal.[13][14] In his judgment in the initial case, Mr Justice Patten was critical of Ex Cathedra, stating: "It was clear to me that Ex Cathedra really played both sides off to ensure that the recording did proceed."[15] The criticism was regarded as unfair by Ex Cathedra's chairman John Pulford, who said: "We were not on trial and had no legal representation to cover our interests. We did our best, and I did not expect our reputation would be called into question." Simon Perry, the director of Hyperion, said he did not realize copyright in the de Lalande works was being claimed by Sawkins until shortly before the recording session. Cancelling the session would have been costly to Hyperion. Perry felt that the dispute between Hyperion and Sawkins had been contributed to by poor communication by Ex Cathedra, which was then in the process of changing general managers, although he said: "I think there was a series of errors, but I don't think there was any attempt to do anything wrong."[16]

Upon Hyperion's appeal, the Court of Appeal held on 19 May 2005 that Sawkins owned the copyright in his modern performing editions of the de Lalande music, even though de Lalande's music itself was out of copyright.[17] The decision was not welcomed by all. Peter Phillips, the director of the Tallis Scholars and a music editor himself, said: "All the music I perform has to be edited, or we couldn't read it. But copyright should be there ... to reward creativity, not scholarship or diligence. How much an editor did or did not write should never be asked and judged upon during a million-pound lawsuit involving a small and innovative recording company."[14]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Ex Cathedra, Ex Cathedra, retrieved 2008-06-19 .
  2. ^ Ex Cathedra by Candlelight, Chichester Cathedral, Thursday July 10, Chichester Cathedral, 2008, retrieved 2008-06-19 .
  3. ^ a b c Programme for Ex Cathedra's performance Parisian Vespers: Summer Vespers by Candlelight at The Oratory, Birmingham, on 18 June 2008.
  4. ^ a b Terry Grimley (11 October 2007), "Ex Cathedra launches new season", Birmingham Post .
  5. ^ Ex Cathedra Baroque Orchestra, Goldberg: The Early-Music Portal, 2003, retrieved 18 December 2008 .
  6. ^ Programme for Ex Cathedra's performance of John Joubert's Wings of Faith at The Oratory, Birmingham, on 22 March 2007.
  7. ^ Ex Cathedra education, Ex Cathedra, retrieved 2008-06-19 .
  8. ^ See, for instance, Andrew McGregor (19 May 2003), Ex Cathedra; New World Symphonies, BBC, retrieved 18 December 2008  ("Ex Cathedra and Jeffrey Skidmore are first-rate ambassadors for this music. ... [T]he overall sound is beautiful and the performance, from instrumentalists and singers, has great conviction and energy. ... An album of unexpectedly wicked delight."); Christopher Morley (20 October 2005), "Classical CD review: Celestial sounds sourced from sunny Latin America; Moon, sun and all things – Ex Cathedra", Birmingham Post  ; and John Quinn (2008), Fire Burning In The Snow/Skidmore, Ex Cathedra, ArkivMusic.com, retrieved 18 December 2008  ("The standard of performance is unfailingly excellent. Ensemble work, both vocal and instrumental, is tight and the many vocal solos are all taken extremely well. The performances display flair and finesse on the part of all concerned. Jeffrey Skidmore's direction is perceptive, lively and, above all, persuasive.").
  9. ^ a b Andrew Clements (1 February 2008), "Fire Burning in Snow, Ex Cathedra/Skidmore (Hyperion)", The Guardian .
  10. ^ a b Recordings, Ex Cathedra, retrieved 2008-02-20 
  11. ^ Amazon.co.uk (album release dates)
  12. ^ Sawkins v. Hyperion Records Limited [2004] EWHC 1530 (Ch), High Court (England and Wales).
  13. ^ Terry Grimley (10 July 2004), "Facing the music: ... [H]ow a prestigious project turned sour for Birmingham baroque ensemble Ex Cathedra", Birmingham Post .
  14. ^ a b Ed Vulliamy (23 December 2005), "£1m legal bill rocks a musical institution: Classical record firm at risk after court defeat; Bill for copyright action a 'self-inflicted wound'", The Guardian .
  15. ^ Sawkins v. Hyperion Records, para. 81.
  16. ^ Terry Grimley (10 July 2004), "Royalty row rocks choir", Birmingham Post .
  17. ^ Hyperion Records Limited v. Sawkins [2005] EWCA Civ 565, [2005] 1 W.L.R. 3281, Court of Appeal (England and Wales).

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]