Saturday, 11 December 2010

Sing for your Heart

**Tuesday 21 December**
At the Somerset Rural Life Museum
Glatonbury Cantilena Choir Sing their Hearts Out for Charity

A local choir, is bringing some musical festive cheer to the Childrens Craft Fair at the Somerset Rural Life Museum next week, by holding a Christmas concert to raise money for national charity Heart Research UK’s annual fundraiser, ‘Sing for your Heart’.

The choir will be getting children and parents in a festive mood by performing traditional Christmas carols in the Abbey Barn at the Somerset Rural Life Museum on 21 December at 12pm  and 2pm. All money raised for the charity will help to fund research into the prevention, treatment and cure of heart disease.

 Secretary of Glastonbury Cantilena Choir, Julia Barrett says: “This will be our first year raising money for Heart Research UK. We hope our choir will fill the Childrens Craft Fair with song and put smiles on the faces of all the families. We are all looking forward to raising money for the charity during the festive period.”

Barbara Harpham, National Director of Heart Research UK says: “It’s wonderful that the Glastonbury Cantilena Choir have chosen to raise money for us this year. Without people like them, we could not continue our pioneering research into the prevention, treatment and cure of heart disease.

Monday, 22 November 2010

An Advent Feast from Cantilena

Christmas comes to St Mary's

Saturday 11th December 2010 sees Cantilena Choir returning to St Mary’s Church for a feast of advent music.

Also returning to the choir as its new Musical Director is Tony Bevan. Tony was Musical Director between 1988 and 2000. He’s put together an exciting programme of music for Advent, featuring Bach’s famous Cantata “Wachet Auf” - “Sleepers Awake”. The programme also includes a beautiful Magnificat by Pergolesi, recalling the Visitation of the Angel Gabriel to Mary. There will also be advent carols and readings to put everyone in the mood.

And to help the party go with a swing, there'll be mulled wine and mine pies during the interval.

We welcome the Cantilena Orchestra and soloists Soprano Rachel Bevan, Tenor Edward Ross and Bass Robert Clark.

We are supporting St Magaret's Hospice as part of this event.

For any other information please call 01749 841617 or email

New Look

New Year, New Style

Autumn 2010 sees Cantilena with an all new set up. We welcome our new Musical Director, Tony Bevan. Tony formerly led the choir from 1988 to 2000, grooming the choir into  locally recognised exponents of early music. He didn't neglect other works; the choir performed such great classics as Bach's St John and St Matthew Passions, the beautiful Faure Requiem and the stunning Stabat Mater by Poulenc.

After he left the choir to spend more time with his growing family, we were led by a series of talented musicians from Wells Cathedral. While they all brought much to us in terms of musical training and interesting works, they were none of them able to stay longer than two years. This made the development of a repertoire and a consistent approach to ensemble singing difficult. We hope that we can develop these areas with Tony as our leader.

We have also moved our regular rehearsal venue from St John's Glastonbury to St Mary's Glastonbury as we were outgrowing the available space at St John's. We are also using St Mary's for our autumn 2010 concert. The layout of this venue allows us more space for orchestral players.

This is an exciting time for the choir. Watch this blog and our facebook page for more news!

Friday, 7 May 2010

If Music be the Food of Love

Cantilena Revs up for Summer

After our great success in the spring we're feeling really enthusiastic about our next concert. Like many groups, I guess, we've developed some traditions. For a long time now our summer concert has been one to relax into and enjoy. It's usually more informal in every way.

We dress informally and present a more light-hearted grouping of madrigals and part-songs, interspersed with readings.

As part of the ticket price we provide some wine and a buffet supper. This gives a very social atmosphere to the event and allows us to meet with our audience.

This year the concert will contain some pieces concerning food - from the more serious "O Sacrum Convivium" to a jolly arrangement of the "Teddy Bears' Picnic". We are holding it at the Abbot's Kitchen in Glastonbury Abbey. This is a fascinating venue set in the tranquil grounds of the Abbey and its location allows us all to relax outside afterwards, assuming fine weather.

So we'd like to invite you to hear us. The concert starts at 7.00 pm and costs £10.00 which includes your buffet and a glass of wine.

Call 01458 224486 or go into the Glastonbury Music Shop to book tickets. They are strictly limited so make sure you get there soon.

Want to know more?

Speak to Julia Barrett (Secretary) on

Friday, 16 April 2010

Laudate Dominum

Spring concert, St John’s Church, Glastonbury,
Saturday 27th March 2010

Cantilena Choir and Orchestra under their conductor, Oliver Walker, gave their well-attended spring concert in St John’s Church, Glastonbury.

The first half of the programme was devoted to sacred works by Mozart. First came his little known short Mass in C, K259. After an uncertain start we heard a creditable account of this attractive work. The four soloists were drawn from the choir. The soprano, Becky Quiney is a former pupil at Wells Cathedral School and is now in her first year at Bristol University. In her first solo she appeared understandably nervous but gained in confidence as the evening progressed. The male alto, Jonathan Woodhouse, tenor, Edward Coton, and baritone, Andrew Mahon are Wells Cathedral choristers and they made a solid contribution to the performance.

The “Laudate Dominum” from the Solemn Vespers, K339 which followed flowed easefully with the soprano getting into her lyrical stride. The discrete organ accompanist was Jonathan Vaughn.

The “Ave Verum”, K618, probably Mozart’s most popular sacred piece, moved along gracefully and without sentimentality. Perhaps a touch of rubato here and there might not have been amiss.

The Te Deum, K341 ended the first half with a flourish. The final fugue was brought off with clarity and vigour.

The main work of the evening was Gabriel Faure’s well-loved Requiem. This was delivered with warmth and sensitivity. Despite a momentary loss of pitch in the “Sanctus” there were many ravishing moments throughout the work. Although the “Pie Jesu” movement is frequently assigned to a boy treble the composer had a preference for a soprano. He would certainly have not been disappointed by Becky Quiney’s lovely rendering which displayed apt simplicity. For your reviewer the high point of the evening was the “Libera Me” with its baritone solo, performed to perfection by Andrew Mahon. His expressive legato and dramatic sensitivity were most impressive. The haunting “In Paradisum” brought the evening to a serene close. The small orchestra, led by Tony Bevan, gave firm support in this work and produced some really warm tone from the strings.

Throughout the evening the choir performed with conviction. In spite of their lack of numbers the male sections held their own, especially the tenors. Oliver Walker conducted with clarity and musicality. He is to leave the area later in the year and the choir will be sorry to lose him.

Brendan Sadler

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Glory of Christmas

Cantilena Choir brought the glory of Christmas to St John's Church, Glastonbury, on Saturday 12 December 2010 with a concert of seasonal music, including Vivaldi's Gloria.

Tackling such a popular piece poses the problem of generating freshness and sparkle, and Cantilena rose at least partly to the challenge.

There was plenty of the sort of musical detail that we have come to expect from their focussed but genial conductor, Oliver Walker. Cantilena delivered some very good sections, with increasing confidence and energy towards the end. But they were at times overpowered by the organ, and with some tuning problems in the exposed 2nd movement. The unavoidable positioning of the organ some distance from the singers clearly did not help.

Cantilena were complemented by sweet-voiced soprano soloists Catherine Hart and Becky Quiney and male alto Jonathan Woodhouse, with able accompaniment by organist Matthew Redman.

The choir seemed more settled and cohesive in the unaccompanied Marian pieces, and these were the most successful of the programme. Choir and a superb semi-chorus particularly shone in Benjamin Britten’s delicate Hymn to the Virgin, written when Britten was still a schoolboy.
Cantilena produced some magical moments in this, with particularly good tone, phrasing and dynamics. For me, it was the highlight of the evening.

There was confident attack in Victoria’s rather rumbustous Ave Maria and a pliant rendition of one of Rachmaninov’s fine settings from his All Night Vigil.

After interval refreshments of mulled wine and mince pies, with proceeds going to St Margaret's Hospice, there were carols for choir and audience, interspersed with readings by choir members.

Cantilena are continuing to set a high standard of music-making locally, and I look forward to their Spring concert on Saturday 27 March, featuring another oft-performed gem: Faure Requiem along with a Mozart mass.

Sweet Music

About Cantilena

"Cantilena" is a word meaning "a simple or sustained melody" and is an apt title for what has been described as the finest small choir in Somerset.

The Glastonbury Cantilena Choir was formed in 1978 to bridge the gap between church choirs and larger, 100+, choirs. Started under the direction of Robin Walker, the choir began life with thirty-one singers. During his time the choir developed its current practice of holing three concerts annually. Traditionally, our spring concert includes orchestral players who are supplied from the local musical community.

In 1988 musical direction came under the control of Tony Bevan. He introduced the choir to a large and challenging repertoire, giving us something of a reputation as exponents of early music, performing such works as the Machaut Messe de Notre Dame and the Monteverdi Vespers. A high spot was a performance in aid of the McMillan Cancer Fund in Sherborne Abbey where we performed John Shepherd's thrilling "Verbum Caro", Monteverdi's "Beatus Vir" and Mozart's tranquil "Ave Verum" to a capacity audience.

Tony left the choir in 2000 to spend more time with his growing family and since that time, Cantilena has benefited from a close relationship with Wells Cathedral, drawing conductors from the Cathedral Organ scholars and soloists from the Cathedral School and Vicars' Choral.

This period in our life is shortly to come to an end when the present Musical Director, Oliver Walker leaves Wells in Summer 2010. Tony Bevan has agreed to resume as Musical Director with effect from September 2010 and choir is looking forward to the next phase in its musical journey.

Want to know more? Contact the secretary Julia Barrett on 01749 841617 or