Internationally renowned choral conductor Edward Caswell conducts concerts in Estonia dedicated to Arvo Pärt’s 85th birthday

In a programme of works centred around the Blessed Virgin Mary, three of Arvo Pärt’s Seven Magnificat Antiphons have been chosen to frame settings of the Magnificat by William Byrd and Heinrich Schütz. The programme opens with Videte miraculum by Byrd’s great contemporary Thomas Tallis and concludes with a rarely heard masterpiece from the early twentieth century, Mater ora filium by Arnold Bax which was inspired by the music of William Byrd. The programme also includes Jacob Obrecht’s six part Salve Regina.

On 28 August in St John’s Church Tartu and 29 August in St. John’s Church Tallinn, the concerts “Great Service” will be conducted by internationally renowned choral conductor Edward Caswell.  The performances will be dedicated to Arvo Pärt’s 85th birthday and will be performed by Voces Tallinn and the ensemble Floridante.

The programme takes its name from the most celebrated setting of the Evening Canticles by any English composer of the era of Elizabeth 1. The “Great Service” is Byrd’s most extended and ambitious work in the language of the new Anglican Church and tells us something of the capabilities of the choirs at that time.

Edward Caswell is a versatile and widely respected choral conductor, singer and teacher. Working throughout the UK and Europe he has established a reputation for approaching choral conducting from a singer’s perspective. 2017 saw the publication of his first book: It’s always a Pussycat: a singer’s approach to choral conducting; in 2019 a version in Dutch became available and the French version will be published this year. Since 2004 Edward has worked with professional choirs, amateur choirs and student choirs throughout Europe, particularly in The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and France.

A regular chorus master with Collegium Vocale Gent Edward recently prepared them for performances of Britten’s War Requiem, Dvorák’s Requiem and Mendelssohn’s Elias under Philippe Herreweghe. In the 18/19 season Edward also worked on two productions with Chœur de Radio France, preparing them for Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with Václav Luks and Tippett’s A Child of Our Time with Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla. Since 2016 Edward has been Trevor Pinnock’s regular chorusmaster and last season they collaborated on Bach’s St. Matthew Passion at The Royal Academy of Music in London. In 2019 Edward was appointed Artistic Director of Konzertchor Leipzig and led their performance of Bach’s St. John Passion in Leipzig’s Nikolaikirche.

Last season included his first project with Zürcher Sing-Akademie, preparing them for Messiah with Freiburg Baroque Orchestra under Trevor Pinnock, and return visits to The Netherlands to conduct Dudok Ensemble in BWV 140 and Handel’s Dixit Dominus, and to work for the first time at the Dutch National Opera Studio preparing the chorus for the world premiere of Ritratto by Willem Jeths. In the coming season Edward will work for the first time with the Turkish State Choir and return to Radio France for projects with Václav Luks and Trevor Pinnock.

In 2013 Edward founded Cromarty Youth Opera in the Scottish Highlands with a production of Noye’s Fludde by Benjamin Britten. Annual productions followed all directed by Will Kerley, and in August 2018 they led the company in the world premiere of their fifth anniversary commission Tod!, an opera based on the writings of Beatrix Potter by Andrew Gant.

In addition to conducting and chorusmastering, Edward is also in demand as a teacher, adjudicator and jury member. He recently joined the jury examining choral conducting students at CNSMD Lyon, and was delighted to accept the invitation to be a member of the artistic committee of Institut Français d’Art Choral.

Concerts conducted by Edward Caswell will begin 28th August at 19:00 Tartu St John’s Church and 29th August at 19:00 Tallinn St. John’s Church. Concerts will be produced by Voces Tallinn and supported by Estonian Ministry of Culture and Cultural Endowment of Estonia.

Voces Tallinn, established in 1999 (until 2019: Voces Musicales), has become a high-level choir with an established and unique place in the Estonian musical life. Its repertoire embraces Western musical culture in all its richness – from early music (Tallis, Victoria, Palestrina) to the latest works of Estonian contemporary composers (Holten, Tulev, Tulve, Seppar, Steiner, Krigul) – and contains a significant part of the world’s choral music classics. In January 2020 the chamber choir’s CD “A Black Birch in Winter” (2019), recorded in cooperation with USA conductor David Puderbaugh, was awarded with Estonian Choir Music Album of the Year 2019. In 2015 the chamber choir received the Award of the Year from the Cultural Endowment of Estonia Foundation for producing high level concerts.  The choir’s artistic consultant is Risto Joost.