In a programme of works centred around the Blessed Virgin Mary, three of Arvo PĂ¤rt’s Seven Magnificat Antiphons have been chosen to frame settings of the Magnificat by William Byrd and Heinrich SchĂĽtz. 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 Johnâ€™s Church Tartu and 29 August in St. Johnâ€™s Church Tallinn, the concerts â€śGreat Serviceâ€ť will be conducted by internationally renowned choral conductor Edward Caswell. The performances will be dedicated to Arvo PĂ¤rt’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 singerâ€™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 Brittenâ€™s War Requiem, DvorĂˇkâ€™s Requiem and Mendelssohn’s Elias under Philippe Herreweghe. In the 18/19 season Edward also worked on two productions with ChĹ“ur de Radio France, preparing them for Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with VĂˇclav Luks and Tippett’s A Child of Our Time with Mirga GraĹľinytÄ—-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 ZĂĽrcher 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 VĂˇclav Luks and Trevor Pinnock.
In 2013 Edward founded Cromarty Youth Opera in the Scottish Highlands with a production of Noyeâ€™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 FranĂ§ais d’Art Choral.
Concerts conducted by Edward Caswell will begin 28th August at 19:00 Tartu St Johnâ€™s Church and 29th August at 19:00 Tallinn St. Johnâ€™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 â€“ from early music (Tallis, Victoria, Palestrina) to the latest works of Estonian contemporary composers (Holten, Tulev, Tulve, Seppar, Steiner, Krigul) â€“ and contains a significant part of the worldâ€™s choral music classics. In January 2020 the chamber choirâ€™s CD â€śA Black Birch in Winterâ€ť (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 choirâ€™s artistic consultant is Risto Joost. www.vocestallinn.ee
January 26, 2020 the Estonian Choral Music Association awarded the album “A Black Birch in Winter” with the Estonian Best Choral Album of the Year 2019 award.
The album brings together choral songs by young Estonian and American composers, such as Gregory W. Brown, Kile Smith, Evelin Seppar, Maria KĂµrvits and PĂ¤rt Uusberg. Music was performed by Voces Tallinn and conductor David Puderbaugh.
At the same day the choir announced that the chamber choir Voces Musicales’ has changed it’s name to Voces Tallinn. Choir’s artistic consultant Risto Joost told that collective has ambitions for bigger professionality.
“A Black Birch in Winter” (Voces Musicales, David Puderbaugh, 2019) was published under the US record label MSR Classics.
“… smoothly manicured sound… the 24 singers producing a richly blended, beautifully balanced sound, undeniably, appealing to all but the most jaded of ears… Fine sound, fascinating disc…”
Guy Rickards, Gramophone [February 2020]
â€ś… is a singularly lovely disc. The general mood here is contemplative. Most of these works are slow in tempo, but what keeps us interested is the variety of choral textures and colors, and a high level of inspiration… Throughout the program the relationship between text and music is very strong, and one is grateful to MSR for providing English texts. The choral singing could hardly be betteredâ€”beautifully balanced, perfectly in tune, and intense in its concentration. [The recording] is suffused with the warm glow and resonance you would expect from a church setting, but it is balanced with real clarity. I can recommend this release with enthusiasm to any lover of choral singing.â€ť
Henry Fogel, Fanfare [January/February 2020]
â€ś… a fascinating program of music… this is a bautifully engineered disc, capturing the balanced sound of twenty-four expert voices… The ensemble comprises excellent voices that have been trained to blend seamlessly… here is prtoof that the famed Estonian choral tradition remains vibrant and flourishing.â€ť
Philip Barnes, ACDA Choral Journal [January 2020]
“Gorgeous, transcendent, resonant, radiant and transfixing… [This album] is destined to thrill a listener to the core just when [they thought] beauty has been totally drained out of the world… this international recording is a welcome reminder that is not the case… If your mind is full of thoughts, visions and desires and you set this CD to play, you may find yourself completely absorbed, mesmerized, as I was, listening to the choir in deep meditation, piece after piece… The vocal range and harmonious quality of the chorus contribute to the quality of the effort inspired by the outstanding poetry that has been set.”
Joel C. Thompson, Cherry Grove Music Review [November 2019]
“The world premiĂ¨re recordings performed by the Voces Musicales chamber choir…provide an opportunity to explore less-familiar vocal territory… The very smoothness of the chorus tends to lull a listener to this CD… the choirâ€™s singing [is] even and well-balanced.”
Mark J. Estren, InfoDad [November 2019]