undefinedJames Oldfield

An exploration of the riches of secular vocal music from the Renaissance to the 20th century.


Resident: £572 Non-Resident: £435 (25% off for under 27s) Code: 24/343

Booking for Members opens at 11am on Wednesday 28 February 2024

Non-Member and online booking opens at 11am on Wednesday 20 March 2024

For details on how to become a Member to take advantage of early booking, see here.

What is the course about?

James Oldfield returns to Benslow Music in 2024 to guide singers through the art of consort singing, and we’ll enjoy some sight-reading challenges whilst exploring the riches of secular music from the 16th century to the present day. Participants are welcome to bring their own suggestions of repertoire to look at in afternoon sessions. Good sight-reading and the ability to hold a line and stay in tune are all essentials. This course is ideal for instrumentalists who play at a high level and wish to transfer their chamber music skills into a vocal context. An enjoyable, relaxed and inclusive atmosphere whilst making music at a high level.

Tutor website: www.james-oldfield.com

What will we cover?

We will work through a pre-prepared booklet of Madrigals and Partsongs, which will be given to each participant as they arrive. If you would prefer this could be sent as a PDF to be viewed on a tablet. The booklet covers a range of languages, vocal parts, styles and periods, and singers should feel like they have had a good smattering of madrigals from across the centuries.

What will we accomplish? By the end of this course you will be able to…

The aim is to advance skills in sight-reading, help to better shape phrases and to have greater consort awareness. Breathing exercises and postural tips will also enhance the experience for participants. Should you opt to do so, you will also be able to take advantage of one to a part singing in consorts, which many previous participants name as their highlight of the course.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

Very good sight-reading is desired, but no prior knowledge of the repertoire is needed, nor even experience of choral music (the course is ideal for instrumentalists who play at a high level).

How will the course be taught, and will any preparation be required?

The majority of sessions are delivered to everyone as a chamber choir, but in afternoon sessions we will reduce down to small consorts for one-to-a-part singing (optional). In the last session there will be an informal performance. No preparation is required.

Will music be provided in advance of the course?

All music will be provided by the tutor on the course. If you would like to suggest repertoire for the consort group sessions then please do bring a copy!

Is there anything I need to bring?

Please bring a reusable water bottle and a pencil.

What previous participants said about this course…

An excellent opportunity to sing a variety of madrigals and part songs to a high musical standard with excellent, professional leadership and guidance.”

“If you want to improve all areas of your singing of part songs and madrigals then this is the course for you. You do need a high level of sight singing and, although the group was only eleven singers, I think we all benefitted from James' expertise.”

“James had chosen a wide variety of madrigals and part songs which kept us well-entertained and on our toes. He is a dedicated and professional teacher whose knowledge of music and musicality is second to none.”

“James was well prepared with varied and challenging repertoire which was perfectly suited to the course participants. He was friendly and professional with a nice balance of humour and hard work.”