John Poole has given a wide repertoire of choral concerts throughout the world with many and varied organisations. Especially during his years as Director of the B.B.C Singers he was involved in an enormous output of music of all periods at the highest level. During these years he regularly conducted choral and orchestral concerts with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and other orchestras in Britain and Europe. He is a committed advocate of new music and is regularly involved in commissioning new works. He has a special interest in working in courses and master classes with singers, conductors and composers.
Ex Cathedra is a leading UK choir and Early Music ensemble with a repertoire that reaches from the 12th to the 21st centuries, via almost all points in between. It has become known for its passion for seeking out the best, the unfamiliar and the unexpected in the choral repertoire and for giving dynamic performances underpinned by detailed research. It comprises a choir, Consort of 10 voices and period instrument orchestra.
Since it was founded by Jeffrey Skidmore in 1969, the group has established a niche for the research and performance of neglected or hitherto unknown Early Music repertoire, and for ground-breaking re-examination of choral classics. It is also acknowledged as a champion of contemporary choral composers, regularly commissioning new work and giving world premieres.
Ex Cathedra presents its own series of concerts both in its home city of Birmingham, where it is an Associate Artist at Town Hall, and in London. It is delighted to receive invitations to appear at festivals and concert series across the UK and abroad. Recent UK performances have included Stockhausen's World Parliament for the London 2012 Festival and BBC Proms 2013 (London premiere). Recent tours have taken Ex Cathedra to Belgium, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the USA, where it has performed music from Gabrieli, Scarlatti and Handel to the Latin American Baroque. Over the last three years, the group has collaborated with His Majestys Sagbutts & Cornetts, Concerto Palatino, Fretwork, Birmingham Opera Company, Sinfonia New York, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Birmingham Royal Ballet, among others.
Much more than a choir, Ex Cathedra aims to share its knowledge, expertise and love of singing with as many people as possible through high quality performances, workshops, education and training initiatives not only in its home city of Birmingham, but also across the UK and internationally.
Ex Cathedra is supported using public funding by Arts Council England and Birmingham City Council.
Jeffrey Skidmore is one of the country’s foremost choral conductors and is highly regarded by instrumentalists, singers and audiences for the high quality of his performances. He is well-known for exciting programming which is often challenging but always accessible. Jeffrey read music at Magdalen College, Oxford, before returning to his native Birmingham to develop Ex Cathedra into the internationally-acclaimed choral group it has become today.
Directing Ex Cathedra, and its associated Consort and Baroque Orchestra, Jeffrey has appeared in concert series and festivals across the UK and abroad and made more than a dozen highly-acclaimed recordings. He regularly conducts other ensembles, and in the last five years Jeffrey has commissioned more than ten new works and conducted many world premieres by both well-established composers and new, young talent. Composers include Fyfe Hutchins, Gabriel Jackson, John Joubert, Alec Roth, Daryl Runswick, Peter Sculthorpe, Philip Shepherd, Peter Wiegold and Roderick Williams.
Jeffrey is a pioneer in the field of research and performance of neglected choral works of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, and has won wide acclaim in particular for his recordings of French and Latin American Baroque music with Ex Cathedra. An Honorary Fellow at Birmingham Conservatoire and a Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham, he has prepared new performing editions of works by Araujo, Charpentier, Lalande, Monteverdi and Rameau.
- 01. Julian Anderson: Four American Choruses: Beautiful Valley of Eden6'45"
- 02. Giles Swayne: Cry: Sky5'31"
- 03. Robert Saxton: I will awake the dawn: IV - Flowing, moving onwards4'36"
- 04. Michael Finnissy: Descriptive Jottings of London 4'47"
- 05. Richard Rodney Bennett: Spells: Spell of Sleep4'08"
- 06. Benjamin Britten: On the Frontier: 'The clock on the wall' 4'07"
- 07. Anthony Payne: Phoenix Mass: Gloria4'44"
- 08. Christopher Fox: Open the Gate2'02"
- 09. Alexander Goehr: The Death of Moses: To the man who emanated light4'06"
- 10. Harrison Birtwistle: Meridian: I3'04"
- 11. Howard Skempton: The Bridge of Fire 7'05"
- 12. Elisabeth Lutyens: Magnificat5'04"
- 13. Benjamin Britten: Coal Face: The shift is finished2'05"
NMC explores the rich offerings of its back catalogue in a new mid-price series called New Music Collections: each album introduces different areas of contemporary classical music, with the first four volumes focusing on music written for choir, orchestra, piano and electronics.
‘There was something revelatory about the experience of listening to the 207+ minutes of music contained in these albums. Taken as a whole, they testify to the remarkable breadth of NMC’s output in its 25-year existence, and individually, they illustrate something of the impressive variety to be found in music by British composers. […] Any label whose catalogue includes such diverse figures as Giles Swayne, Michael Finnissy, Christopher Fox, Harrison Birtwistle, Donnacha Dennehy, Roger Smalley, Claudia Molitor, Richard Causton, Hugh Watkins, Richard Rodney Bennett, Simon Holt, Tansy Davies and James Dillon surely has a great deal to boast about. […] What these four albums do best is act as portals, points of departure from which one can take a huge number of entirely different trajectories.’ 5:4