undefinedBill Carslake

This course for chamber choir and baroque orchestra will explore sacred music by Marc-Antoine Charpentier, including his Magnificat H79, Beatus Vir H208 and instrumental “Ouvertures” written for church performance. We will be working at A=415.


Resident: £420 Non-Resident: £320 Code: 20/350

What is the course about?

We will explore large-scale pieces for choir and orchestra by Charpentier including the Magnificat a 4 voix avec instruments H79 and Beatus Vir H208. There will be some opportunities for solo singing as both these works include passages for solo voices, and there may be further possibilities for one-to-a-part and solo singing in smaller-scale items for voices and instruments. Please indicate on your application form whether you would like to tackle any solos but please note that we cannot promise to give everyone these opportunities. We require an orchestra of baroque strings and continuo and can accept up to six violins, four violas, three tutti cellos or bass violins, one continuo bass viol, two keyboard players on harpsichord or organ (who should be proficient in reading figured bass) and two theorbos. There will be some passages for two recorders but these should be played by other instrumentalists or singers – please indicate if you are able to double on recorder. Some sessions will be spent with the choir and orchestra working separately and instrumental pieces likely to be studied are the Overture pour l’Eglise H524 and the Overtures pour le Sacré d’un Évêque H536 and H537.

We are able to offer a few bursaries to student or budding professional singers interested in furthering their knowledge of baroque vocal music, who will have the opportunity to take some solo parts and further their experience by assisting with coaching.

Tutor websites: http://www.canzona.org.uk/theresa.html http://www.farnboroughsymphony.org.uk/about-fso/artistic-director

What will we cover?

Sacred music by Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1643 – 1704) including the Magnificat a 4 voix avec instruments H 79 and Beatus Vir H 208 and other smaller-scale pieces for voices and continuo, some with violins or recorders. Instrumental music will include one or more of the Overture pour L’Eglise H 524 and the Overtures pour le Sacré d’un Évêque H 536 and 537.

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

You will be introduced to some of the wonderful sacred music of this highly influential and important composer. You will learn more about French baroque style in general, including tempo relationships, ornamentation and French pronunciation of Latin. We will work in depth on the principal pieces so that we can give an informal performance on the final afternoon.

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


Singers should be confident in holding a part in a small choir with up to five per part and be a competent sight-reader. String players preferably should play on baroque set-ups but modern instruments with gut strings and baroque bows will be accepted. Keyboard and theorbo players should be confident in reading figured bass.

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

Most sessions will be with choir and instruments together, conducted by William Carslake with Theresa Caudle giving added guidance from the violin. Some sessions will be taken with William directing choir and continuo instruments alone, whilst Theresa directs the orchestra in instrumental items. We will send links to the music (most of which is freely available on IMSLP) some weeks before the course and singers, in particular, are expected to become familiar with the notes in advance. 

Will music be provided in advance of the course?

We will send links to the pieces that are freely available on IMSLP and would ask that singers print out their own copies and bring them to the course.  Please let Benslow know if you are unable to do this and we will provide print-outs. Instrumental parts will be provided although continuo players may also like to print out scores and/or bass parts in advance in order to check or add to the figuring.

What previous participants said about this course…

“Excellent for learning new repertoire and how to approach early music.”

“Excellent choral instruction and instrumental direction from both tutors. Attention to detail presented in a hugely enjoyable way. Good camaraderie amongst course participants and tutors.”

“One of the most enjoyable courses I've ever attended at Benslow. Both tutors are superb, not only utterly on top of the material with which they were working, but outstanding at jollying along those who needed that.”

“Friendly and patient. Inspiring!”

Booking for Members opens at 9am on Tuesday 7 January 2020. Non-Nember and Online booking opens at 9am on Monday 3 February 2020. For details on how to become a Member to take advantage of early booking see here.