Ex Cathedra announce 24-25 season

Works by Bach, Bruckner, Allegri, Latin American Baroque and more.

Ex Cathedra have unveiled their season of concerts for 2024-2025, with a rich repertoire ranging from the soaring beauty, myth and legend of Allegri’s Miserere to Bruckner’s epic Mass in E Minor, two great works by JS Bach, a new programme of music from the Latin American Baroque, and much more.

Ex Cathedra celebrates the 200th anniversary of Anton Bruckner’s birth by performing his magnificent Mass in E Minor, alongside wind and brass players from the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. This sacred symphony is one of Bruckner’s greatest works, and together with Allegri’s Miserere and Palestrina’s Missa sine nomine forms an elegant programme at Birmingham Town Hall on 13th October.

Faire is the heaven on 9th November revisits the origins of Ex Cathedra, and appropriately enough takes place in the utopian Birmingham village of Bournville, where Artistic Director Jeffrey Skidmore went to school and became a chorister. The programme includes music from Ex Cathedra’s first 20 years or so, including music heard at the 16th century wedding of Fernando dei Medici, alongside works by Fauré, Parry and Joubert.

Ritual 1631 recalls the vivid colours, the fire and passion of Latin American Baroque music. The haunting mantra of the Inca hymn Hanac pachap cussicuinin (the oldest printed polyphony in the Americas) provides the heartbeat that binds the narrative together, in a concert that explores the fusion of musical styles from Africa, the Americas and Europe. Taking place in March 2025, the concert is performed in Birmingham Town Hall, Hereford Cathedral and St Martin-in-the-Fields, London.

Nurturing talent is a key feature in all of Ex Cathedra’s work. Chansons d’amour on 12th February platforms the choir’s current crop of future stars (Scholars) who perform a seductive programme of love-songs from Monteverdi to Bach and Mozart, from Marlene Dietrich to the Carpenters, Bacharach and the Beatles. As Valentine’s Day approaches, enjoy a little light music in the cabaret-style ambience of the Jennifer Blackwell Performance Space at Symphony Hall.

The traditional Good Friday Bach Passion in Symphony Hall – this year the ‘great’ St Matthew Passion – has evolved into a powerful and poignant opportunity for ‘historical’ participation. All the elements of Ex Cathedra’s work come together with a liturgical reconstruction similar to that which might have been heard when the work was first performed in St Thomas Church in Leipzig in the 18th century.

Bach’s music is sublime and has always been a major part of Ex Cathedra’s repertoire. His idealised setting of the Mass in B Minor, performed on 1st December at Birmingham Town Hall, is the absolute pinnacle of the great man’s achievement and one of Ex Cathedra’s most loved works.

The two solstice concerts – Summer Music by Candlelight and Christmas Music by Candlelight – have for a long time attracted large audiences with their mix of a diverse range of music and poetry presented and choreographed to explore the architecture and acoustic of the beautiful buildings in which the choir perform.

This year, the Summer Music by Candlelight programme includes an ornithological theme, referencing the windhover, swallow, cuckoo and bluebird with music by Clément Janequin, Benjamin Britten, Caroline Shaw, Charles Villiers Stanford and Liz Dilnot Johnson. There are poems by Carol Ann Duffy, Shakespeare, Maya Angelou and Benjamin Zephaniah alongside the usual selection of songs about sea, sun and sand.

For many people Christmas Music by Candlelight represents the start of Christmas, with the usual eclectic mixture of seasonal goodies. This year’s extensive tour takes in Hereford, Leicester, Lichfield, Moseley, London, Wolverhampton, Hagley, Shrewsbury, Coventry and Birmingham.

Jeffrey Skidmore, Artistic Director of Ex Cathedra, comments: “There is something for everyone in our new season of concerts. The golden triangle of live music, performers and audience is elemental. So join us to discover some great classical choral music and find out how Birmingham’s ‘jewel in the crown’ is put together.”

Full details of the season can be found at excathedra.co.uk, with tickets available from £15 (£5 for children and students in full-time education).