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West Country

Choral Festival


Cathedrals and churches in Gloucestershire, Somerset and Devon – eight concerts, eight outstanding choirs.


It is hard to articulate the joy of our festivals. World-class musicians playing wonderful music in glorious historic buildings. A thrilling sequence of private concerts, each contrasting with or complementing the others, receptivity deepened by talks by experts. Anxieties about practicalities – where to eat? where to park? will we miss the last train home? – all fall away. Everything is highly organised, without the feeling of being regimented. You relax in a bubble of untroubled leisure. The MRT staff are incredible, both at planning these festivals and at looking after everyone during the event. The manager of West Country Choral, Lizzy Holsgrove, is not only a sparkling member of the MRT team but has sung in Gloucester Cathedral, been a Lay Clerk at Glasgow Cathedral and now sings with the Bach Choir. She knows of what she speaks. Artistically, our festivals rank with all but the grandest. None surpasses them for the merry totality of the experience.

Martin Randall Chief Executive


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This brochure was produced in house. Text compiled by Lizzy Holsgrove and Martin Randall, with contributions from Jon Cannon, Charlotte Crow, Geoffrey Tyack and Lizzie Watson. Designer: Jo Murray (template devised by Silver Leopard, London). Photograph ©Bill Knight.






ACCOMMODATION & PRICES Choose from five different hotels in Bath.

Our festival is based in Bath, one of the most beautiful of English towns.


THE FESTIVAL PROGRAMME The day-by-day itinerary including details of concerts.



PRE-FESTIVAL TOURS Extend your time in the West Country with one of our pre-festival options.


Our eight concert venues range from a grand Georgian hall to mighty cathedrals.





Some of Britain’s best choral ensembles and instrumentalists. Photographs credited to Bill Knight were taken on MRT festivals. www.knightsight.co.uk.

The booking form, details of our booking process, and the booking conditions.

Date printed: 24th August 2018.





It is unlikely there has ever been a choral event like this before.

Top professional choirs; some of the greatest cathedrals and churches in the land; repertoire from the Renaissance to the present day, from England to Italy, Estonia to Spain; a small private audience which lives in curated comfort for the five days of the event. The musical experience will be heightened by an orchestra, a wind ensemble and a violinist. There are also lectures by outstanding experts on choral music and medieval architecture, Stephen Darlington and Jon Cannon respectively. A bundle of carefully planned logistics – accommodation, transport, refreshments – ensure a comfortable and stress-free time. Martin Randall Festivals has been impresario of over a hundred similar events in Britain and Europe, and you can be sure that this one has been planned and will be administered meticulously to maximise your enjoyment.

The audience is based in a selection of hotels in Bath, location of three of the concerts, and luxury coaches transport you through the amazingly attractive rural strip of England between Exeter and Gloucester. Wells, Bristol and Taunton are the other places where there are performances. The choirs of Gloucester and Exeter Cathedrals, among the finest cathedral choirs in the world, perform on home ground. The other ensembles are Stile Antico, Gallicantus, Ex Cathedra, VOCES8, The Oxford Consort of Voices and the National Youth Chamber Choir of Great Britain. Instrumental contributions are from Instruments of Time and Truth, the English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble and violinist Rachel Podger.

‘Many musical memories that will last forever.’

Illustrations. Above: Bath, watercolour by E.W. Haslehurst, publ. c. 1920. Opposite: Gloucester Cathedral, etching c. 1920s.

Participant on an MRT festival. 4

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‘I don’t know how you did it! Organisation superb. Staff are helpful and standard of music very high.’ Participant on an MRT festival.



Access to the concerts is exclusive to those who take our festival package, which includes:

Stephen Darlington is one of the country’s leading choral conductors. He was Director of Music at Christ Church, Oxford, 1985–2018 and was also an Associate Professor there, establishing the college as a centre of academic musical excellence and maintaining the highest choral traditions of the Church of England in the cathedral. Stephen was President of the Royal College of Organists 1998–2000.

— all eight concerts — a ccommodation for four nights – choose between five options, detailed on page 18 — f our dinners, interval drinks — t alks on the music and on medieval church architecture — t ravel by comfortable private coach — a ssistance of festival staff and a detailed programme booklet In addition, there are extra services that can be booked: —C  hoose between two pre-festival tours: Architecture of Bath or Country Houses of the South West. See pages 19–20. —O  r a London Day: Seven Churches & a Synagogue. See page 20 for brief details.

Jon Cannon is a writer, lecturer and broadcaster with a speciality in historic religious architecture. He co-wrote and presented the BBC’s How to Build a Cathedral and publications include Cathedral: the Great English Cathedrals & the World that made them and The Secret Language of Sacred Spaces. He teaches at Bristol University and has worked for English Heritage and the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments.





Day 1

Day 2

Sunday 7 July Bath

Monday 8 July Bath, Taunton, Wells

The festival begins at 3.30pm at the Assembly Rooms in the centre of Bath with a talk by Professor Stephen Darlington. This is followed by refreshments.

Evidence for the religious preferences of composers around Queen Elizabeth I can be vague or contradictory – unsurprisingly, given the punishments meted out to recusant Catholics. Some of the greatest works in English music arise from these stresses. While Thomas Tallis became adept at creating the right music for the prevailing religious climate, William Byrd bitterly laid bare his faith and politics. Music by Robert Whyte and John Sheppard reveal that they possessed all the invention and rhetorical power of their more famous counterparts.

Concert, 5.15pm: Bath, Assembly Rooms English Coronation Anthems Instruments of Time & Truth The Oxford Consort of Voices Edward Higginbottom conductor In an appropriately Georgian setting, a programme of eighteenth-century coronation anthems gets the festival off to a rousing start. Prefaced by an overture by the Oxford-based composer Philip Hayes, there follow William Boyce’s setting of The King Shall Rejoice, composed for the coronation of George III (1761), and two anthems by Handel for George II’s coronation (1727), including one of the best-loved and most stirring of all Baroque pieces, Zadok the Priest. Dinner in your chosen hotel following the concert.

Illustrations. Above centre: Wells Cathedral, Chapter House, early 19th-century steel engraving. Opposite: Bath, Abbey and Pump Room, watercolour publ. c. 1910. 6

A very pretty hour’s drive to the ancient cathedral town of Wells. Here dinner is provided in the medieval Bishop’s Palace and the Vicars’ Hall before the concert. Concert, 8.00pm: Wells Cathedral Guardian Angel Return to the Assembly Rooms for talks at 10.00am by Stephen Darlington and architectural historian Jon Cannon. Otherwise the morning is free.

VOCES8 Rachel Podger violin

This innovative alternation of a cappella singing and solo violin creates a hauntingly beautiful sequence of musical moods In the afternoon, coaches leave Bath and meanings. There are choral works for Taunton, Somerset’s county town. Refreshments are provided in the excellent by Praetorius and Gabrieli, Tallis and Gibbons, Rachmaninov and Mendelssohn, Castle Hotel. Macmillan and Dove, and violin pieces by Biber – Rosary Sonata No. 16, A Guardian Concert, 3.45pm: Angel – and Bach. The concert concludes Taunton, St Mary Magdalene Sweet Laments of the English Renaissance with a new commission by Owain Park. These are performed without a break and exploit the spatial complexity of Wells Gallicantus Cathedral while dusk turns to darkness. Gabriel Crouch director

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Day 3

Day 4

Tuesday 9 July Exeter, Bath

Wednesday 10 July Bath, Gloucester

Leave at 9.30am from your hotel in Bath for the drive to Exeter. Concert, 12 noon: Exeter Cathedral Blessed be the God & Father Exeter Cathedral Choir Timothy Noon director Samuel Sebastian Wesley, grandfather of the English choral tradition as we know it today, was buried in Exeter in 1876. His extended anthem settings find an echo in Walton’s magnificent The Twelve, to which Exeter Cathedral Choir add more recent contributions to the repertoire, from England (John Sanders, Richard Rodney Bennett, David Briggs, Timothy Noon) and the Baltics (Arvo Pärt and Ēriks Ešenvalds). For the concert the choir shares the quire with the audience and the 14th-century stalls and magnificent episcopal throne. After an independent lunch and time for leisurely enjoyment of the cathedral, drive back to Bath. Concert, 7.00pm: Bath Abbey In Forty Parts Ex Cathedra Jeffrey Skidmore director English Cornett & Sackbut Ensemble

There are a two talks in the morning, on music and architecture, beginning 10.30am. Concert, 11.30am: Bath, St Michael’s Without Women in Song National Youth Chamber Choir of Great Britain Ben Parry director Alessandro Striggio’s 40-part motet Ecce beatam lucem is believed to have inspired Thomas Tallis to compose Spem in alium. This soaring, truly monumental motet for eight choirs of five voices has achieved cult status among performers and listeners. Spem became the model for all subsequent 40-part works, including two written for Ex Cathedra, Sanctum est verum lumen by Gabriel Jackson and Alec Roth’s breathtaking Earthrise, a meditation on the photograph taken by the Apollo 8 crew as the Earth rose over the Moon’s horizon. Further lustre will be added to the concert by inserting Renaissance and contemporary fanfares. Dinner follows the concert in Bath’s historic Grand Pump Room.


British choral music is enjoying a modern renaissance, a second golden age, and the outstanding contemporary cohort of female composers gives particular cause for celebration. Vibrant and melodious, both sacred and secular, this programme showcases approachable and enjoyable new music by a dozen leading lights including Roxanna Panufnik, Sally Beamish and Kerry Andrew. One piece reaches back a hundred years: the stirring March of the Women by suffragette Ethel Smyth.

Photograph: audience at an MRT Festival concert in 2018 ©Bill Knight.




Day 5 Thursday 11 July Bristol

After an independent lunch in Bath, reach Gloucester in the afternoon.

Participation in our festivals is a very different experience from conventional group travel – no repetitive or redundant announcements, no herding by elevated umbrella, no unnecessary roll calls, little hanging around. We work on the assumption that you are adults, and our staff cultivate the virtue of unobtrusiveness.

Concert, 4.45pm: Gloucester Cathedral Music for Gloucester Gloucester Cathedral Choir Adrian Partington director Gloucestershire has a uniquely rich musical heritage. The list of composers who were born in or worked in the county includes Holst, Vaughan Williams, Parry, Howells and Finzi; works by all of these are in this concert. The outstanding musical tradition continues with pieces regularly commissioned from many of the nation’s best contemporary composers. All who make music in the cathedral enjoy its breath-taking acoustic. The audience sits alongside the choir, before processing with them to the Lady Chapel for a final anthem. Return to Bath after the concert for dinner in the hotels.

Fitness for the festival. See page 23. You can also contact us if you require extra advice.


For the final concert, coaches leave Bath by 10am for the half-hour drive to Bristol. Concert,11.00am: Bristol, St Mary Redcliffe Spanish & Italian polyphony Stile Antico This programme of rich variety and dramatic contrasts explores the glorious music composed for Passiontide and Easter. Tomás Luis da Victoria’s meditative O Domine Jesu Christe and Francisco Guerrero’s exuberant Maria Magdalene stand as the extremes of an emotional journey retracing the events of Holy Week – from the Mount of Olives and Christ’s betrayal, through death on the cross to resurrection. There are Renaissance masterpieces from Spain, Italy, England and the Low Countries, including Allegri’s famous setting of Psalm 51, Miserere mei. Dispersal. Immediately after the concert, some coaches leave for Bath while others are driven the few minutes to the railway station, Bristol Temple Meads. You should have plenty of time to catch a train which departs c. 12.40pm or later.

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Though there will be up to 150 participants, you will often find yourself in smaller groups – the audience is divided between five hotels, and into different restaurants for two of the dinners. We provide sufficient information to enable you to navigate the festival events without needing to be led. However, festival staff are also stationed around the events to direct you if needed.

Illustration opposite: Exeter Cathedral, copper engraving 1655. Photograph: audience at an MRT Festival concert in 2018 ©Bill Knight.






MORE ABOUT THE CONCERTS Duration. Concerts are around sixty to seventy minutes, without an interval. Acoustics. Most of the venues are very large churches. However, we are limiting the size of the audience to the number that can fit into the quire or chancel, sometimes in the stalls alongside the choir performing. Sound and sightlines will therefore be much better for everyone than for many cathedral concerts, although these features will vary in character according to where you choose to sit. 10

Seats. Specific seats are not reserved. You sit were you want to. In the churches seating is largely on pews. Exclusive access. The concerts are private, being planned and administered by Martin Randall Festivals exclusively for an audience consisting of those who have taken the full festival package.

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Photograph: choristers of Exeter Cathedral Choir. ŠTim Pestridge




Instruments of Time and Truth was set up in 2014 to take advantage of the many exceptionally talented period musicians resident in and around Oxford and to present world-class performances of Baroque and Classical music in the city and the region. Their success has already propelled them further afield, with performances in London and Spain. The orchestra has assumed a significant role in underpinning the tradition of choral excellence at Oxford through collaborations with several college choirs as well as the Oxford Consort of Voices.

Founded by Edward Higginbottom and now one of the UK’s leading vocal ensembles, The Oxford Voices is made up of singers selected from college choirs moulded in their student days by the experience and discipline of the University’s famous choral tradition. Its members also enjoy their own independent professional musical careers. They perform choral repertory from the 15th century to the present, and oratorio with Instruments of Time and Truth.

Photographs above. Left: Instruments of Time & Truth ©Nick Rutter. Right: Ex Cathedra ©Neil Pugh.

Professor Edward Higginbottom is one of the most distinguished musicians and choir directors of our time. He was appointed Director of Music at New College at the age of 29, a post he held for nearly 40 years. During his incumbency the choir acquired international renown, with regular concert tours and many recordings. Particularly influential in promulgating French music, he has been honoured as ‘Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres’.



Gallicantus – literally ‘cock crow’ – takes its name from the monastic office just before dawn which evoked the renewal of life offered by the coming day. One of Europe’s foremost early music ensembles, the group brings together six highly skilled men who are dedicated to the interpretation of Renaissance music and a love of communicating text. They have performed at some of the most prestigious venues in Europe and the USA and made a series of recordings whose sombre tone and superb ensemble resulted in rapturous reviews.

Founded in Birmingham 49 years ago, Ex Cathedra has developed into an internationally-acclaimed choral group which has appeared in concert halls and festivals across the UK and overseas. They have made celebrated recordings ranging from Renaissance polyphony via Latin American Baroque to Alec Roth and Roxanna Panufnik, and have commissioned over thirty new works. Ex Cathedra has an enduring commitment to vocal education, from its groundbreaking children’s project Singing Playgrounds to nurturing professional singers early in their careers.

Singer, coach and record producer, Gabriel Crouch is Musical Director of Gallicantus as well as Director of Choral Activities and Senior Lecturer in Music at Princeton University. A Westminster Abbey chorister (aged 8) and Trinity College Cambridge choral scholar, he spent eight years with The King’s Singers and continues to sing with ensembles such as Tenebrae and Gabrieli.


Jeffrey Skidmore OBE is one of the UK’s leading choral directors and an ardent advocate of the importance of singing in people’s lives. He founded Ex Cathedra while a student. A pioneer in the field of research and performance of choral works of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, Jeffrey’s driving passion has been to refresh and reinvigorate the choral repertoire and to make it accessible to as many people as possible.



VOCES8 VOCES8 is one of the most sought-after vocal ensembles of its generation, performing globally with repertoire stretching from Renaissance polyphony to arrangements of jazz and pop standards. They regularly commission new music; Jonathan Dove is their current composer in residence. Their collaborations are diverse, from Rachel Podger to Jacob Collier. VOCES8 records for Decca, publishes with Edition Peters and has its home at the Gresham Centre in London, where it spearheads the education programme of the VCM Foundation.

RACHEL PODGER Rachel Podger is one of the world’s finest practitioners of gut-stringed and historically informed violin performance. She has several award-winning recordings to her name, including sonatas and partitas by J.S. Bach; she has recently recorded the cello suites on violin. Rachel holds chairs for Baroque violin at the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. She is also founder and director of the Brecon Baroque Festival.



‘One of the country’s finest choirs’ (Classic FM), Exeter Cathedral Choir leads eight services each week during term time, maintaining a tradition that has been largely unbroken for centuries. It also has a busy programme of concerts, recordings, radio broadcasts and tours (recently to Austria and Slovakia). Since the addition of girls’ voices in 1994, there are up to 38 choristers (aged 7–13) as well as adults, lay vicars (professional singers) or choral scholars (students from Exeter University).

In 2018, The English Cornett & Sackbut Ensemble celebrates 25 years at the forefront of the early music scene. In that time the group has performed at many major music festivals and concert halls in the UK and abroad, sometimes in collaboration with other ensembles. They have been involved in many memorable recordings, including Flower Of Cities All with music from Shakespeare’s London and the award-winning Striggio Mass in 40 Parts.

Timothy Noon was a chorister at Hereford Cathedral and studied music at Oxford. He has held appointments ranging from Organ Scholar to Director of Music at the cathedrals of Canterbury, Oxford, Dublin (St Patrick’s), St Davids, Liverpool and Auckland (New Zealand). He took up the post of Director of Music at Exeter Cathedral in 2016.

Photographs, clockwise from top left: National Youth Chamber Choir of Great Britain; Gallicantus; Voces8 ©Evan Dawson. Above centre: Rachel Podger ©Theresa Pewal. 12

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NATIONAL YOUTH CHAMBER CHOIR OF GREAT BRITAIN The National Youth Chamber Choir is made up of singers from the senior ranks of the National Youth Choir, the most inspiring organisation for young choral singers in the UK. The mission of the NYCGB is to discover and nurture exceptional musical talent, provide performance opportunities and world-class musical training and give the spark to the next generation of singers, conductors and leaders. A registered charity, fundraising aims to ensure that no young person is prevented from taking part through financial disadvantage. Artistic Director of the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain, Ben Parry is a composer, conductor, arranger, singer and producer. He is Co-Director of the professional choir London Voices, Assistant Director of Music of King’s College, Cambridge and Music Director of the Aldeburgh Voices.

GLOUCESTER CATHEDRAL CHOIR Nine centuries ago the boys and monks of the then Benedictine Abbey of St Peter sang for daily worship. Today’s choir stems from that established by Henry VIII, and consists of nine professional lay clerks, three choral scholars, 20 boy choristers and, since 2016, 20 girls. In addition to eight services each week they perform in concerts at home and abroad and in live BBC broadcasts. They are key participants in the Three Choirs Festival, the world’s oldest music festival (1715). Adrian Partington is one of the UK’s most renowned choral conductors. Currently he is Director of Music at Gloucester Cathedral (since 2008), Artistic Director of the Gloucester Three Choirs Festival and Artistic Director of the BBC National Chorus of Wales (since 1999). Herbert Howells was among his teachers at the Royal College of Music.


Renaissance polyphony. Its bestselling recordings on the Stile Antico is firmly established Harmonia Mundi label have earned accolades including as one of the world’s most the Gramophone Award for accomplished and innovative Early Music, Diapason d’or vocal ensembles. Working de l’année, Edison Klassiek without a conductor, its Award and Preis der deutschen 12 members have thrilled Schallplattenkritik. They touch audiences on four continents the hearts and minds of an with their fresh, vibrant and audience as few others. moving performances of

Photographs. Top: Gloucester Cathedral Choir. Centre right: Stile Antico ©Marco Borggreve. WWW.MARTINRANDALL.COM




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‘Organised to perfection and uniquely special.’ Participant on an MRT festival.

Bath first became a resort town in Roman times, but its modern reincarnation dates from the 18th century.

Illustration: Bath, Royal Crescent, wood engraving from ‘The Illustrated London News’ 1888.

It was then that a succession of architects and entrepreneurs, most of them from the city itself, succeeded in creating one of the supreme achievements of European architecture and urban design, inspired by the memory of the Roman past but adapted to satisfy the taste of the Georgian aristocracy and merchant classes.

Here a succession of fashionable and aspirational visitors lodged for the ‘season’ while they ‘took the waters’, enjoyed musical and theatrical entertainments, and went shopping: a world that Jane Austen described in her novels and which we can still experience today.

Lively and culturally vibrant, Bath is no museum city; the presence of two universities precludes genteel ossification. Bath owes its origin and much of its present character to its riverside situation, As well as patches that are wonderfully picturesque – not a quality usually within a bowl of limestone hills where the associated with Georgian formality – the healing springs of the Roman Aquae Sulis centre has much that is surprising and gushed up, and from which the honeyquirky. Festival participants will be given coloured ashlar stone of its 18th-century buildings was quarried. It was an important a curated list of the city’s less obvious delights – cafés, independent bookshops, place even before its Georgian heyday, art galleries and unusual museums. though never a great commercial city like its neighbour and rival Bristol. Travelling to the five other places where there are concerts – Gloucester, Bristol, Like Exeter and Taunton, Bath was a Wells, Taunton and Exeter – will be one flourishing centre of the cloth industry in of the pleasures of this festival, not merely the 16th and 17th centuries, and some of a tedious necessity. Gloucestershire, the houses of the prosperous clothiers Somerset and Devon are among the more still survive, though much rebuilt. But rural and scenically beautiful counties it is the Georgian architecture of the of southern England, with rumpled hills, city that remains in the memory: not broadleaf woodland, small fields and only the setpieces – Queen Square, the centuries-old hedgerows. Circus and the Royal Crescent; Pulteney Bridge and Great Pulteney Street; the Pump Room and Assembly Rooms – but also the ordinary houses, many of them designed in the Palladian manner by the local father-and-son team of John Wood, and by a succession of local architects and craftsmen whom they inspired.




DISCOVER THE VENUES ‘Wonderful! I can’t praise MRT more. The venues were spectacular, the singers extraordinary.’ Participant on an MRT festival.

THE ASSEMBLY ROOMS, BATH The Assembly Rooms constitute perhaps the finest Georgian civic building in England. Opened in 1771 to the designs of John Wood the Younger, they rapidly became the centre of Bath society, with concerts featuring regularly during the season. There are three halls, and we use them all – the Tea Room for the talk, the Octagon Room for refreshments and the Ballroom for the concert.


crossing tower are 14th-century, as is almost everything to the east, including the retrochoir, lady chapel and octagonal chapter house, all among the finest of their kind. Simple beauties interlock with intriguing complexities.

EXETER CATHEDRAL The great length of Exeter Cathedral is pegged midway by a pair of immense Norman towers, but the rest is Gothic at its most luxuriant. The interior is a profusion of arches and shafts and ornament and elaborate tracery; no two windows on each side of the church are the same. The stone vault with its abundance of ribs, reaching unbroken from one end of the church to the other, is the longest in the world. Three tiers of monumental medieval sculpture of high quality adorn the west front.

The west tower of the church of St Mary Magdalene in Taunton is the finest in the West Country, its beauty magnified by its location at the end of a street of Georgian terraces. With five aisles, the building is large for a parish church and speaks of the wool-based prosperity of Somerset at the end of the Middle Ages. The nave roof (the BATH ABBEY only timber one in the festival) is gloriously The church of Bath Abbey – a cathedral embellished with gilded angels. for 450 years – was comprehensively rebuilt in the 40 years before dissolution WELLS CATHEDRAL in 1539, and so became the last of the For some, Wells is the loveliest of all medieval ‘great churches’. The apogee of English medieval cathedrals. Begun after the Perpendicular style, the light-filled 1175 and completed within 70 years, it was interior rises to amazing fan vaults, which one of the first major exercises in Gothic were expertly completed in the 19th architecture in England, and provides century. Shorn of monastic buildings, it sits both the beauty of homogeneity and with wonderful incongruity in the centre the fascination of stylistic and technical evolution. The unique and strikingly handsome strainer arches supporting the

of Georgian Bath, though harmony is provided by the honey-coloured sandstone with which both were constructed. Restoration is in progress but should not impinge adversely on the concert.

ST MICHAEL’S WITHOUT, BATH Influenced by Salisbury Cathedral, St Michael’s Without announces itself with the tallest spire in central Bath – though in the Middle Ages it lay outside the city walls. Rebuilt 1834–7, it is a fine example of the ‘pre-archaeological’ phase of the Gothic Revival. It was restored and reordered recently and as well as being a thriving church and community centre it regularly hosts concerts.

ST MARY REDCLIFFE, BRISTOL ‘The fairest, goodliest, most famous parish church in England’, St Mary Redcliffe is of cathedral-like proportions and ambition – a 90m spire, soaring nave, extended east end and lady chapel, and deep, three-aisled transepts. Construction spanned the 14th and 15th centuries, so while it displays some of the most gorgeous confections of Decorated Gothic in the country, it is predominantly Perpendicular, rippling with profuse but tightly organised ornament.

Illustration: Gloucester Cathedral, aquatint 1831.


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GLOUCESTER CATHEDRAL The 15th-century tower is one of the most beautiful architectural creations of medieval England, the procession of massive cylindrical piers in the nave a potent expression of Norman rule. The fame of Gloucester Cathedral, however, derives from its eastern parts, whose exquisite 14th-century remodelling is the earliest large-scale manifestation of the Perpendicular style. Superlatives continue: the east window is the largest expanse of glass of the Middle Ages, the cloister is the most homogeneous and the tomb of Edward II may justifiably claim to be the finest medieval monument in England.

Travelling to the venues For five of the eight concerts which are outside Bath, there are drives in comfortable coaches of between thirty minutes and two hours. These are almost entirely through attractive green countryside, with the longer journeys being largely on fast motorways. Timings avoid peak hour traffic.

Within Bath, the three centrally located hotels are within easy walking distance – maximum 15 minutes – of the concerts and lectures. Two others are 20 to 30 minutes away on foot, but transport will be arranged by coach or minibus (see page 18 for hotel details).





Your choice of hotel in Bath determines the price you pay for the festival package. See page 5 for what’s included.



A quirky boutique hotel in one of Bath’s finest, centrally located Georgian terraces. The décor is colourful and eclectic. Each room is highly individual, with modern art by local artists featured throughout. Rooms vary in size and there is no airconditioning. There is a restaurant, a bar and small spa.

An attractive amalgam of Georgian, Victorian and modern buildings in expansive landscaped grounds. The spacious bedrooms, decorated in NeoGeorgian style, have recently been renovated, many have views across the city. The hotel has air conditioning, a good restaurant, bar, lounges, swimming pool and spa facilities. A 20-minute walk to www.no15greatpulteney.co.uk the city centre through the picturesque grounds of the nearby Holburne Museum, PRICES, per person Double/twin £2,370 transport to the concerts and lectures in Double for sole use £2,650 Bath will also be provided. macdonaldhotels.co.uk PRICES, per person Double/twin £2,560 Double for sole use £2,840



In four acres of gardens, this beautifully designed country house-style hotel occupies adjacent Georgian mansions. The décor throughout is homely with contemporary touches. The hotel has air-conditioning. There is an excellent restaurant, a brasserie, indoor and outdoor pools and spa facilities. It is a scenic 20-minute walk through Royal Victoria Park to the Bath Assembly Rooms, although transport will be provided for the concerts and lectures within Bath.

Set in the centre of the Royal Crescent, Bath’s grandest display of Georgian architecture and perhaps Europe’s finest street, the five-star hotel is a peaceful idyll in the middle of the city. Bedrooms are individually styled, making the most of period features; all have air-conditioning and access to the spa facilities. The hotel has an award-winning restaurant that overlooks its attractive gardens.

PRICES, per person Double/twin £2,960 Double for sole use £3,660

thebathpriory.co.uk PRICES, per person Double/twin Double for sole use Courtyard view double for sole use Garden view double for sole use 18


£2,820 £2,920 £3,120 £3,280 CONTACT US: +44 (0)20 8742 3355

THE GAINSBOROUGH BATH SPA Occupying two town houses with grade II listed Georgian and Victorian façades right in the centre, this smart hotel has recently reopened under new ownership. Bedrooms are elegant with marble bathrooms, air conditioning and numerous mod cons. There is a bar and an awardwinning restaurant. The hotel has the only spa with access to the city’s natural thermal water. thegainsboroughbathspa.co.uk PRICES, per person Double/twin £2,690 Double for sole use £3,050



Pre-festival tour: 4 –7 July 2019 (mf 613) 4 days • £1,240 Lecturer: Anthony Lambert The landscapes on this tour range from the enchanting patchwork fields and wild moors of Devon to the verdant hidden valleys of Exmoor. The houses and their families reflect deep attachment to place: 18 generations of the Luttrell family have clung to their castle turned country house at Dunster; Montacute was home to the Phelips family for three centuries. The beautifully situated house at Crowcombe combines Baroque and Palladian influences, while the 18th century is also wonderfully exemplified by the delicious Adam interiors at Saltram. The severe Palladianism of Claverton is home to a unique collection of American interiors, and Edwardian eccentricity is demonstrated by Lutyens’s faux fortress at Castle Drogo. There are many fine works of art to see, and historic gardens and parks are a feature. The tour has several special arrangements and out-of-hours visits. Anthony Lambert is a historian, journalist and travel writer, and has worked with and for the National Trust in various capacities for almost 30 years. His books include Victorian & Edwardian Country House Life and he writes regular profiles of country houses for the Historic Houses Association magazine.

ITINERARY Day 1: Montacute. The coach leaves The Castle Hotel at 1.10pm and Taunton Railway Station at 1.30pm. Drive to Montacute, one of the loveliest and least changed of Elizabethan country houses, with the longest long gallery in England. An outstation of the National Portrait Gallery, it is hung with 16th- and 17thcentury pictures. Day 2: Saltram, Castle Drogo. Drive across Devon to Saltram, a largely 18th-century house with lavish Robert Adam interiors, rooms of fine Chinese wallpapers and pictures, books and furnishings. Among the paintings are works by Reynolds, Stubbs, Rubens, Brueghel, and Pieter de Hough. A rugged Dartmoor setting matches Sir Edwin Lutyens’s imaginative exercise in medievalism at Castle Drogo, which is nearing the end of a six-year restoration programme. Though equipped with a working portcullis, the castle incorporates all the latest early 20th-century comforts.

Day 4: Claverton Manor. Built in 1819–20, this Neo-Classical villa was designed by Jeffry Wyatt. Today it houses a remarkable collection of rooms transported from America, including Shaker and Mexican Indian examples. Part of the garden is a copy of Mount Vernon outside Washington. The tour ends at the festival hotels in Bath by 2.00pm.

PRACTICALITIES Price, per person. Two sharing: £1,240. Single occupancy: £1,400. Included: hotel accommodation; breakfasts and 2 dinners with wine, water, coffee; transport by private coach; all admissions; all tips; all taxes; the services of the lecturer and tour manager. Accommodation. The Castle Hotel, Taunton (the-castle-hotel.com): awardwinning family-run 4-star hotel, pleasingly decorated and with excellent service. How strenuous? Unavoidably, there is quite a lot of walking on this tour. Coaches can rarely park near the houses, some of the parks and gardens are extensive, the houses visited don’t have lifts. Average distance by coach per day: c. 75 miles.

Day 3: Crowcombe Court, Dunster Castle. Crowcombe is a beautiful 18th-century house with fine Italian plasterwork. Edward Barry added a ballroom in exuberant Victorian style. Drive between the Quantocks and Group size: 10 –22 participants. Exmoor to the picturesque village of Dunster. Atop a wooded hillock, the defensive features of the Norman castle were long ago domesticated, notably in the Illustration: Carolean and Victorian ages. Dunster Castle, Watercolour by Walter Tyndale, publ. 1913. WWW.MARTINRANDALL.COM




Pre-festival tour: 6–7 July 2019 (mf 614) 2 days • £420 Lecturer: Dr Geoffrey Tyack A survey of Bath’s architectural landmarks and some lesser-known gems. Led by architectural historian Dr Geoffrey Tyack, who specialises in the 18th–20th centuries in Britain and Europe. He is a Fellow of Kellogg College, University of Oxford, and Editor of the Georgian Group Journal. He co-edited ‘Sir George Gilbert Scott 1811–1878’ and is currently working on a book about the history of the British urban Landscape.



Day 1. Meet outside Bath Abbey at 1.30pm. Bath Abbey is one of the handful of great late-medieval religious buildings completed in the first 30 years of the 16th century. The visit focuses particularly on its 18th-century monuments. No.1 Royal Crescent (interior), then the Circus and Assembly Rooms (interior: Ballroom, Card Room and Tea Room). Walk via Great Pulteney Street and Pulteney Bridge to the hotel.

Price, per person. Two sharing: £420. Single occupancy: £480.

Day 2. Walk through Sydney Gardens, the only remaining 18th-century pleasure gardens in the country. Visit the Holburne Museum, home to Sir William Holburne’s excellent 18th-century collection of fine and decorative arts. Continue to the Circus, glancing briefly at the restored garden of one of the houses here. Walk through Victoria Gardens to Queen Square then the Theatre Royal (exterior) and the Cross Bath (exterior) via Kingsmead Square. Finish at the Guildhall at c. 1.30pm. The rest of the day is free before the festival begins in the Assembly Rooms at 3.30pm.

Seven Churches & a Synagogue with festival lecturer Jon Cannon. 5th July 2019. Contact us to register your interest.


Included: hotel accommodation; breakfast; 1 dinner with wine, water, coffee; all admissions; all tips; all taxes; the services of the lecturer and tour manager. Accommodation. Macdonald Bath Spa (macdonaldhotels.co.uk): an attractive amalgam of Georgian, Victorian and modern buildings set in an expansive landscaped grounds with views across the city. Bedrooms are spacious and recently renovated. The hotel has a good restaurant, bar, lounges, air-conditioning, swimming pool and spa facilities. How strenuous? Most of the tour is spent outside and on foot, both standing and walking. Unless you enjoy entirely unimpaired mobility, cope with everyday walking and stair-climbing without difficulty and are reliably sure-footed, this tour is not for you. Group size: 10 –22 participants.

Some appointments cannot be conf irmed until early 2019. Illustration: Bath, Pulteney Bridge, watercolour by E.W. Haslehurst, publ. c. 1910.

CONTACT US: +44 (0)20 8742 3355


WEST COUNTRY CHORAL FESTIVAL 7–11 JULY 2019 NAME(S) – We do not use titles on documents issued to tour participants unless you want us to by including them here: Participant 1 Participant 2 Contact details for all correspondence: Address

Postcode/Zip Country Telephone (home) Mobile E-mail T  ick if you are happy to receive your tour and booking documents online, where possible – and confirm your e-mail address above if so.

Marketing preferences – I would like to receive regular updates on MRT tours and events: By post (once a month at most) Yes


By e-mail (weekly) Yes


What prompted your booking? e.g. an advert in a specific publication, an e-mail from us, receiving this brochure:

ACCOMMODATION & ROOM-TYPE – see page 18. Please tick: Hotel  No  15 Great Pulteney Macdonald Bath Spa The Gainsborough Bath Spa The Bath Priory The Royal Crescent

PRE-FESTIVAL TOURS See pages 19–20. Tick to add:

Room-type Double for sole use  ourtyard view double for sole use C Bath Priory only G arden view double for sole use Bath Priory only Double room – two sharing Twin room – two sharing

FURTHER INFORMATION and special requests, including any dietary requirements:

 C ountry Houses of the South West 4–7 July 2019

A  rchitecture of Bath 6 –7 July 2019


PASSPORT DETAILS. In case of emergency – UK residents are not required to complete this section. Title


Date of birth (dd/mm/yy)


Place of birth

1. 2.

Passport number

Issue date (dd/mm/yy)

Place of issue

Expiry date (dd/mm/yy)

1. 2. NEXT OF KIN. Participants of all nationalities are required to complete this section. Next of kin name

Relation to you

Telephone number(s)

1. 2. PAYMENT. We prefer payments by bank transfer, cheque or debit card. We can also accept payment by credit card. Please tick one option: BANK TRANSFER. Please use your surname and the festival code (mf 615) as a reference and ask your bank to allow for all charges. Account name: Martin Randall Travel Ltd. Bank: Handelsbanken, 2 Chiswick High Road, London W4 1TH. Account number: 8663 3438. Sort code: 40-51-62. Transfers from non-UK bank accounts: please instruct your bank to send payment in pound sterling (GBP). IBAN: GB98 HAND 4051 6286 6334 38. Swift/BIC code: HAND GB22. CHEQUE. I enclose a cheque payable to Martin Randall Travel Ltd – please write the festival code (mf 615) on the back. DEBIT OR CREDIT CARD. I authorise Martin Randall Travel to contact me by telephone to take payment from my Visa credit/Visa debit/Mastercard/AMEX. Please tick payment amount: EITHER Deposit 10% of total booking cost.

OR Full balance Required if you are booking within 10 weeks of departure.


I have read and agree to the Booking Conditions and Privacy Policy (www.martinrandall.com/privacy) on behalf of all listed on this form. Signature: Date:

FITNESS TESTS Please also read ‘fitness for the festival’ opposite. By signing this form, you conf irm that you have taken these tests. 1. C hair stands. Sit in a dining chair, with arms folded and hands on opposite shoulders. Stand up and sit down at least eight times in 30 seconds.
 2. S tep test. Mark a wall at a height that is halfway between your knee and your hip bone. Raise each knee in turn to the mark at least 60 times in two minutes.
 3. A gility test. Place an object three yards from the edge of a chair, sit, and record the time it takes to stand up, walk to the object and sit back down.
You should be able to do this in under seven seconds. An additional indication of the f itness required, though we are not asking you to measure this, is that you should be able to walk unaided at a pace of three miles per hour for at least half an hour at a time, and to stand for at least 15 minutes.

Martin Randall Travel Ltd Voysey House Barley Mow Passage London W4 4GF, United Kingdom

Martin Randall Australasia PO Box 1024 Indooroopilly QLD 4068, Australia

North America 1155 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 300 Washington, DC 20036 USA

Tel +44 (0)20 8742 3355 Fax +44 (0)20 8742 7766 info@martinrandall.co.uk www.martinrandall.com

Tel 1300 55 95 95 New Zealand 0800 877 622 Fax +61 (0)7 3371 8288 anz@martinrandall.com.au

Tel 1 800 988 6168 usa@martinrandall.com ATOL 3622 | ABTA Y6050 | AITO 5085


Making a booking 1. Optional booking. We recommend that you contact us first to make an optional booking which we will hold for seven days. To confirm it please send the booking form and deposit within this period – the deposit is 10% of your total booking price. Alternatively, make a definite booking straight away through our website. 2. Definite booking. Fill in the booking form and send it to us with the deposit. It is important that you read the Booking Conditions at this stage, and that you sign the booking form. Full payment is required if you are booking within ten weeks of departure. 3. Our confirmation. Upon receipt of the booking form and deposit we shall send you confirmation of your booking. After this your deposit is nonreturnable except in the special circumstances mentioned in the Booking Conditions. Further details about the festival may also be sent at this stage, or will follow shortly afterwards.

Booking Conditions Please read these. You need to sign your assent to these booking conditions on the booking form. Our promises to you: —W  e aim to be fair, reasonable and sympathetic in all our dealings with clients, and to act always with integrity. —W  e will meet all our legal and regulatory responsibilities, usually going far beyond the minimum obligations. —W  e aim to provide full and accurate information about our holidays. If there are changes, we will tell you promptly. — If something does go wrong, we try to put it right. Our overriding aim is to ensure that every client is satisfied with our services. What we ask of you. That you read the information we send to you. Specific terms: Our contract with you. From the time we receive your signed booking form and initial payment, a contract exists between you and Martin Randall Travel Ltd. Eligibility. You must be in good health and have a level of fitness that would not impair other participants’ enjoyment by slowing them down or by absorbing disproportionate attention from festival staff. Please read ‘Fitness for the festival’ (below) and take the selfassessment tests described on the booking form; by signing the booking form you are stating that you have passed these tests. If during the festival it transpires, in the judgement of our staff, that you are not able to cope, you may be asked to opt out of certain visits or to leave altogether. This would be at your own expense. We reserve the right to refuse to accept a booking without necessarily giving a reason.

FITNESS FOR THE FESTIVAL There are two concerts on three days and one concert on the first and last days. But the schedule is not exhausting. Days don’t begin before 9.30am or 10am and there is over an hour at the hotel before dinner or an evening concert, except for the day when dinner is in Wells before a concert. All the concert venues are in the centres of historic towns where traffic is strictly limited. Unavoidably therefore it is necessary to be able to walk for several hundred yards from where coaches can

Insurance. It is a requirement of booking that overseas residents have adequate holiday insurance cover to cover, at minimum, medical treatment in the UK and repatriation; please also ensure that your insurance covers the cost of your international travel in the rare event of Martin Randall Travel cancelling the festival. We advise additionally that all participants (including UK residents) have holiday insurance in place that covers loss of property and loss of payments to us in the event that you cancel your booking. Experience indicates that free travel insurance offered by some credit card companies is not to be relied upon. Passports and visas. Overseas residents’ passports must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of the festival. Visas are not required for the UK for EU citizens, or for citizens of the USA, Canada, Australia or New Zealand. Nationals of other countries should ascertain whether visas are required in their case, and obtain them if they are. If you cancel. If you have to cancel your booking after confirmation, there would be a charge which varies according to the period of notice you give. Up to 57 days before departure the deposit would be forfeited. Thereafter a percentage of the total cost of your booking will be due: up to 57 days: between 56 and 29 days: between 28 and 15 days: between 14 days and 3 days: within 48 hours:

deposit only 40% 60% 80% 100%

If you cancel your booking in a double or twin room but are travelling with a companion who chooses to continue to participate, the companion would have to pay the single-occupancy price. We take as the day of cancellation that on which we receive written confirmation of cancellation.


park. Bath is hilly, as is Exeter. We ask that you consider carefully your fitness before committing to a booking. Please try the simple exercises on the booking form. If you have a medical condition or a disability which may affect your holiday or necessitate special arrangements being made for you, please discuss these with us before booking – or, if the condition develops or changes subsequently, as soon as possible before departure.

If we cancel. We may decide to cancel the festival or tour if there were insufficient bookings for it to be viable (though this would always be more than eight weeks before departure). We would refund you with everything you had paid us. Health and safety. With rare exceptions, all the hotels we use have undergone a safety audit, by our staff or by independent consultants on our behalf. The limits of our liabilities. As principal, we accept responsibility for all ingredients of a festival or tour, except those in which the principle of force majeure prevails. Our obligations and responsibilities are also limited where international conventions apply in respect of air, sea or rail carriers, including the Warsaw Convention and its various updates. If we make changes. Circumstances might arise which prevent us from operating a tour or festival exactly as advertised. We would try to devise a satisfactory alternative, but if the change represents a significant loss to the tour or festival we would offer compensation. If you decide to cancel because the alternative we offer is not in your view an adequate substitute, we would give a full refund. Financial protection. Payments for tours or festivals which do not include an international flight (such as those in this brochure) are protected by ABTA – The Travel Association. So, in the (highly unlikely) event of our insolvency before departure, you would get your money back, or if we failed after the tour or festival had begun, it would be able to continue. English Law. These conditions form part of your contract with Martin Randall Travel Ltd and are governed by English law. All proceedings shall be within the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales. Privacy. By signing the booking form you are stating that you have read and agree to our Privacy Policy, which can be found online at www.martinrandall.com/privacy.




is Britain’s leading specialist in cultural travel and one of the most respected tour operators in the world.

THE J.S. BACH JOURNEY 13–19 MAY 2019 WEST COUNTRY CHORAL FESTIVAL 7–11 JULY 2019 MUSIC ALONG THE DANUBE 31 AUGUST–7 SEPTEMBER 2019 SACRED MUSIC IN SANTIAGO 26 or 28 SEPTEMBER–2 OCTOBER 2019 THE THOMAS TALLIS TRAIL 1–3 NOVEMBER 2019 OPERA IN SOUTHERN SICILY 5–11 NOVEMBER 2019 MID-WEEK & WEEKEND CHAMBER MUSIC Endellion String Quartet, 15–17 October 2018 The Albion Quartet, 23–25 November 2018 Rising Stars, 25–27 January 2019 The Nash Ensemble, 1–3 March 2019 The Heath Quartet, 5–7 April 2019 Fitzwilliam String Quartet, 14–16 May 2019

MRT aims to produce the best planned, best led and altogether the most fulfilling and enjoyable cultural tours and events available. They focus on art, architecture, archaeology, history, music and gastronomy, and are spread across Britain, continental Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, India, China, Japan and the Americas. Each year there are about 250 expert-led tours for small groups (usually 10 –20 participants), six or seven music festivals (such as this West Country Choral Festival), a dozen music and history weekends in the UK and over 100 single-day events in London. For nearly 30 years the company has led the field through incessant innovation and improvement, setting the benchmarks for itinerary planning, operational systems and service standards. To see our full range of cultural tours and events, please visit www.martinrandall.com

Please contact us for more information.

Martin Randall Travel Ltd Voysey House Barley Mow Passage London W4 4GF, United Kingdom

Martin Randall Australasia PO Box 1024 Indooroopilly QLD 4068, Australia

North America 1155 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 300 Washington, DC 20036 USA

Tel +44 (0)20 8742 3355 Fax +44 (0)20 8742 7766 info@martinrandall.co.uk www.martinrandall.com

Tel 1300 55 95 95 New Zealand 0800 877 622 Fax +61 (0)7 3371 8288 anz@martinrandall.com.au

Tel 1 800 988 6168 usa@martinrandall.com ATOL 3622 | ABTA Y6050 | AITO 5085

Profile for Martin Randall Travel

West Country Choral Festival, 7–11 July 2019  

Cathedrals and churches in Gloucestershire, Somerset and Devon – eight concerts, eight outstanding choirs.

West Country Choral Festival, 7–11 July 2019  

Cathedrals and churches in Gloucestershire, Somerset and Devon – eight concerts, eight outstanding choirs.

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