8.30pm, Thursday 16 May
St Pancras Parish Church, NW1 2BA
This event is unticketed and takes the form of a liturgical service. The performance duration is approximately 45 minutes.
The Lacock Scholars
Greg Skidmore Director
Night Prayer: Compline Renewed Ben Rowarth
The Lacock Scholars directed by Greg Skidmore perform Night Prayer, a complete musical setting of the liturgy of compline. Ben Rowarth’s music is entirely through-composed, carefully allowing the elements of the compline service to flow together into one seamless forty-five minute presentation. Examining themes of intimacy, fear, life and death, the work explores ways that sound can be experienced in different parts of sacred spaces.
Night Prayer takes its inspiration from compline’s rich musical heritage while simultaneously seeking to challenge, experiment, and reinvent the way music can be used to enhance sacred liturgy.
Winner of the NCEM Composers Award (2012) and Leeds International Film Festival Best Documentary Soundtrack (2013), Ben Rowarth has received numerous commissions and international performances, including Merton College Oxford (2014), York Minster (2015) and The Tower of London (2017). Following commissions for extended orchestral works from the Edinburgh Incidental Orchestra and Durham University Symphony Orchestra, Ben has also composed two live soundtracks for plays receiving exceptional reviews. His extended ensemble work The Turn has received multiple repeat performances since its premiere in 2016; its first recording has just been awarded the BBC Music Magazine ‘Choice Disc’ for March 2018 in the Choral and Song category.
Ben has been commercially recorded by ORA, The Rodolfus Choir and The Fieri Consort. His work has also received regular broadcasts on BBC Radio 3 by performers including The Tallis Scholars. His most recent commission, The short walk of a madman, a thirty-minute piece for eight solo voices, was recorded earlier this year by The Fieri Consort. Ben is currently working on commissions from Ensemble XY and The Fulham Camerata, where he holds the position of Composer in Residence.
Ben began his musical life as a chorister at Hexham Abbey where he later went on to sing bass and became organ scholar in 2009. Following undergraduate and postgraduate music degrees at Durham and York Universities, Ben now performs regularly as a baritone soloist, recently playing the role of Sarastro in Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Polyphemus in Handel’s Acis and Galetea and Plutone in Monteverdi’s Orfeo with ensembles including Britten Sinfonia, The OAE, I Fagiolini and The BBC Singers.
Following his Organ Scholarship at Hexham Abbey Ben went on to become Interim Director of Music at University College, Durham in 2011. Having also spent time conducting University College Orchestra in Durham and guest conducting a number of choirs in the North East and around London, he now manages and conducts his own professional ensemble, Renaissance.
The Lacock Scholars
Founded in 2014, The Lacock Scholars is the United Kingdom’s premier amateur consort group. Originally formed of young participants on Lacock Courses, and still retaining a close association with these events, the group is dedicated to small-ensemble, a cappella singing of Renaissance polyphonic music and plainsong.
The Lacock Scholars has found a unique approach in their series of monthly concerts in London, exploring the relationship between concert performance and liturgical observance in partnership with one of London’s hidden architectural gems, St Cuthbert’s Church in Earl’s Court. The ensemble seeks to create unified, holistic experiences for their audiences, free from applause and other interruptions, in which listeners are free to approach the music and architecture on their own terms. Branching out from this base in west London, the group now performs in this unique style throughout the capital and around the country, with highlights including performances at The Brighton Early Music Festival, The Music Room at Gray’s Antiques as part of the new Baroque Voices series, The Cherubim Youth Music Festival, and performances at Gloucester and Hereford Cathedrals.
The group released a second recording, In memoriam, in the autumn of 2018, including Duarte Lobo’s Requiem for six voices and motets by Josquin, Byrd, Weelkes, and others written as contemporary laments for the great composers of the Renaissance. It is available to stream on Spotify and can be purchased from the group’s website.
Born in Canada, Greg Skidmore arrived in England as an undergraduate at Royal Holloway College, University of London. After graduating with First Class Honours in Music, his post-graduate Choral Scholarship at Wells Cathedral lead him to Lay Clerkships at Gloucester Cathedral and Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford. He now lives in London and pursues a varied career as a consort, choral, and solo oratorio singer alongside his burgeoning work as a conductor and workshop leader.
Solo engagements have included working with ballet dancer Carlos Acosta in his A Classical Farewell at the Royal Albert Hall; Stravinsky’s Canticum Sacrum with The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in Symphony Hall, Birmingham; Handel’s Messiah with The Irish Baroque Orchestra; Purcell’s Ode for St Cecilia’s Day with The Orchestra of the Age of the Enlightenment; Purcell’s Fairy Queen with The Gabrieli Consort at The Spitalfields Festival in London; Bach’s St. Matthew and St. John Passions, Mass in B Minor, and Christmas Oratorio, all with Ex Cathedra as part of a long and regular association with the group; Mendelssohn’s Elijah; Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana; Monterverdi’s 1610 Vespers at The Brighton Early Music Festival, and with I Fagiolini and the BBC Singers at the Barbican Centre’s Milton Court Concert Hall; and Samuel Barber’s Dover Beach, for baritone and string quartet, at the Southwell Music Festival and with Ensemble Perpetuo in London. His solo work has taken him to Washington National Cathedral in the United States; the Scuola Grande di San Rocco in Venice; deSingel in Antwerp; Laeiszhalle in Hamburg; Wells, Gloucester, York, and Hereford cathedrals in the UK; and the Queen Elizabeth Hall and St. John’s Smith Square in London. His solo recording debut, released in 2011, was as Christus on Ex Cathedra’s recording of the Lassus St. Matthew Passion and a recent Ex Cathedra CD release of Alec Roth’s oratorio A Time to Dance features Greg in a role written for him.
Equally comfortable in choral and consort singing, he has appeared with The Tallis Scholars, The Sixteen, The Cardinall’s Musick, I Fagiolini, Tenebrae, The Gabrieli Consort, Alamire, Contrapunctus, The Eric Whitacre Singers, EXAUDI, Collegium Vocale Ghent, Cappella Amsterdam, La Grand Chapelle (Madrid), and the Tafelmusik Baroque Chamber Choir (Toronto), among others. He can be heard on discs released by Decca, Deutsche Grammophon, Harmonia Mundi USA, and others, including Alamire’s recent Grammophone Early Music Award winning disc, The Spy’s Choirbook. In 2015, he featured in I Fagiolini’s Betrayal, a fully staged, devised presentation of the madrigals and sacred music of Carlo Gesualdo. This year, I Fagiolini tour their recent recording project Leonardo: Shaping the invisible extensively in the UK and abroad.
While at Christ Church in Oxford, he began a course of doctoral research in Musicology at the University of Oxford and started his own men’s voices consort, I Dedicati. More recently he was appointed Musical Director of The Lacock Scholars and gives a regular series of concerts with them, creating site-specific evenings that weave polyphonic music with plainsong and silence. Greg recently completed major coaching projects with students at the University of York and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and he has given workshops and masterclasses in the UK, France, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia in association with The Sixteen, I Fagiolini, and on his own. In 2015, he lead his first week-long Lacock Course, and has joined Eamonn Dougan and Justin Doyle as Assistant Director of the Ludlow Summer School. He is increasingly engaged in Canada as a guest conductor, clinician, and record producer, founding The Canadian Renaissance Music Summer School in 2018. He has been published in Early Music and his writing has appeared in programmes and CD liner notes for The Tallis Scholars, The Sixteen, The Cardinall’s Musick, The Gabrieli Consort, Tenebrae, and Ex Cathedra.