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Choral Services
2nd-3rd September 2017

Salisbury Cathedral

Tour to Galway
26th-29th October 2017


Autumn concert
Saturday 4th November 2017

St Martin's Church, Salisbury

Christmas concert
Saturday 16th December 2017

St Martin's Church, Salisbury

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Concert Diary

Please do revisit this page for the latest information, as details may occasionally change for reasons beyond our control.

You can also find details of our concerts on the Music in Salisbury website

Choral Services at Salisbury Cathedral
Saturday 2nd - Sunday 3rd September 2017

More details to follow soon.

Tour to Galway
Thursday 26th - Sunday 29th October 2017

We are thrilled to have been invited by Irish choir Cois Cladaigh to collaborate with them for a concert in Galway. We will also be travelling to Clifden in Connemara for a lunchtime concert, and will be singing at a Sunday morning service in Galway before returning.

More details to follow soon.

Autumn Concert
Saturday 4th November 2017
St Martin's Church, Salisbury

More details to follow soon.

Christmas Concert
Saturday 16th December 2017
St Martin's Church, Salisbury

More details to follow soon.

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Recent concert programmes and reports

Seventh Heaven - sacred choral music from seven centuries and seven countries
Thursday 22nd June 2017
St Nicholas Church, Porton

Plainsong - Veni, sancte spiritus
Walter Lambe - Nesciens Mater
Jean Lhéritier- Surrexit pastor bonus
Peter Phillips - Ecce vicit leo
Orlande de Lassus - Missa ad imitationem vinum bonum (Kyrie, Sanctus, Agnus Dei)
Heinrich Schutz - Singet dem Herrn
Thomas Tallis - O sacrum convivium
Henry Purcell - Hear my prayer
William Byrd - O Lux beata Trinitas
William Harris - Faire is the heaven
Anton Bruckner - Christus factus est
Sergei Rachmaninov - Bogoroditse Devo
Josef Rheinberger - Abendlied
Charles Wood - Hail gladdening light

All the Queen's Men
Saturday 10th June 2017
St Michael the Archangel, Mere

With Elizabeth Kenny (lute and theorbo), Reiko Ichise (viola da gamba) and Melanie Ferris (narrator).

Every summer Queen Elizabeth I travelled about the shires in stately pageantry to be hosted and entertained by members of the aristocracy. With little notice and chaos ensuing, it was said that to have the dainty footfall of the Queen through one’s home was like a whirlwind, a comet and a plague of locusts all rolled into one!

All the Queen’s Men is a fictionalised account, written by Deborah Mackay, of one of these visitations with music by composers from Byrd to Weelkes. This entertaining evening contained words and music contemporary with the reign of Elizabeth I, and pieces by Weelkes, Byrd, Morley, Tomkins, Gibbons and others.

This concert was part of the Flower and Music Festival 2017 at St Michael's Church, Mere.

Tender is the night
Saturday 18th March 2017
St Martin's Church, Salisbury

With Guy Cutting (tenor), Andrew Littlemore (horn), and Fisher Sinfonia

Malcolm Archer - Vespers - first performance
Jonathan Dove - Into thy hands
Philip Moore - Three prayers of Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Benjamin Britten - Serenade for tenor, horn and strings


The first performance of Malcolm Archer’s Vespers was given as part of an exciting programme of 20th and 21st century music. The work consists of beautiful settings of poems and prayers relating to the evening from such writers as Shakespeare, CS Lewis and and WB Yeats, as well as a Collect from the service of Evensong and, unusually, a Ghanaian fisherman’s prayer.

The programme also included Into Thy Hands by Jonathan Dove, which was commissioned by the Dean and Chapter of Salisbury Cathedral and given its first performance by Salisbury Cathedral Choir in 1996, and Philip Moore’s moving setting of Three Prayers of Dietrich Bonhoeffer - Morning Prayers, Prayers in Time of Distress and Evening Prayers - which were written while Bonhoeffer was incarcerated by the Nazis prior to his execution just three weeks before the end of the war.

Completing the programme was Benjamin Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings, performed by Guy Cutting (tenor), Andrew Littlemore (horn) and Fisher Sinfonia.

Service for the Rule of Law
Sunday 2nd April 2017
Salisbury Cathedral

This is the annual "Service for the Rule of Law", which celebrates the office of High Sheriff of Wiltshire, and all who maintain law and order in our county.

London Concert
Saturday 11th February 2017
St Paul's Church, Covent Garden, London ("The Actors' Church")

Johannes Brahms
Ein Deutsches Requiem
Fest und Gedenkspruche
Two Rhapsodies, Op 79

Our regular audience members will remember a particularly poignant concert last November, when we performed Brahms' German Requiem the day after the tragic attacks in Paris. We repeated the performance in London, but this time with the choir accompanied by Edward Reeve playing his own arrangement for solo piano. Joining us for this magnificent and moving work were soprano Amy Carson and baritone Tim Dickinson.

Also included in the programme were Brahms' three motets that make up his Opus 109 - Fest und Gedenkspruche, and works for solo piano.

This concert was a Brandenburg Choral Festival of London event.

Concert review by Peter Grove:

The Farrant Singers made an excursion to London last Saturday to take part in the Brandenburg Choral Festival. They were rewarded by a large and enthusiastic audience in St Paul's, the Actors' Church by the Covent Garden piazza.

The all-Brahms programme began with three unaccompanied motets for double choir. The two groups, conducted by Andrew Mackay, were well separated for the stereo effect, and after a tentative start gave a powerful performance which stayed on pitch throughout.

Edward Reeve, a former organ scholar at our Cathedral, struggled with a rather small and thin-toned piano in the Two Rhapsodies, but played maturely and accurately.

The German Requiem seemed an appropriate choice, surrounded as they were by memorials to famous actors. Here Edward Reeve did the work of two pianists and the shortcomings of the instrument were less distracting. Without having to compete with a full orchestra, the choir was able to cover the full gamut from whispered pianissimos to overwhelming outbursts. The ensemble was immaculate and this was a greatly moving experience altogether.

Amy Carson, a former Salisbury chorister, had to wait until the fifth movement for her demanding solo, but sang flawlessly, bringing out the purity and sympathy of the setting. Timothy Dickinson was imposing in his two contributions, singing in immaculate German.

This was a very successful outing for the Farrants and deserved further invitations in the future.

Christmas Concert
Saturday 10th December 2016
St Martin's Church, Salisbury

Arnold Schönberg - Freide auf Erden
W A Mozart - Vesperae solennes de Confessore
Arcangelo Corelli - Christmas Concerto
and lots of carols

Our annual festive concert included chances to join the choir in singing some traditional carols. We were also joined by soprano Abigail Hooper, organist Edward Reeve, and the Farrant Orchestra.

The programme included Arcangelo Corelli’s Concerto Grosso in G minor, popularly known as the Christmas Concerto because it bears the inscription "Fatto per la notte di Natale" (made for the night of Christmas), the peaceful yet joyful Vespers of Mozart (KV 339) with its famous soprano aria "Laudate Dominum", and a relatively early piece by Arnold Schönberg describing the message of the angels to the shepherds – Friede auf Erden (Peace on earth).

Choral services at Salisbury Cathedral

Wednesday 26th October 2016
Choral Evensong

Music included Tomkins' Responses, Evening Service in B minor by Christopher Tye, and I heard a voice by Tomkins.

Friday 28th October 2016

Music included Berkeley's Missa Brevis and Vigil of St Peter by Ferguson.

Seventh Heaven - sacred choral music from seven centuries and seven countries
Thursday 20th October 2016
All Saints' Church, Tarrant Monkton, near Blandford

Plainsong - Veni, sancte spiritus
Walter Lambe - Nesciens Mater
Jean Lhéritier- Surrexit pastor bonus
Peter Phillips - Ecce vicit leo
Orlande de Lassus - Missa ad imitationem vinum bonum (Kyrie, Sanctus, Agnus Dei)
Heinrich Schutz - Singet dem Herrn
Thomas Tallis - O sacrum convivium
Henry Purcell - Hear my prayer
William Byrd - O Lux beata Trinitas
William Harris - Faire is the heaven
Anton Bruckner - Christus factus est
Sergei Rachmaninov - Bogoroditse Devo
Josef Rheinberger - Abendlied
Charles Wood - Hail gladdening light

All proceeds towards the building of the new village hall.

Andrew Mackay and Jonathan Willcocks compare notes
Friday 2nd September 2016
Medieval Hall, Salisbury

At an exclusive event for Patrons of The Farrant Singers, the choir took part in a choral workshop with Jonathan Willcocks on Victoria’s Vadam et circuibo. Then he and Andy Mackay discussed Jonathan’s career and Sir David Willcocks’ legacy, and Jonathan talked about some of his favourite music.

You can see more about the benefits of joining our wonderful group of supporters here.



Love and the Bard
Saturday 25th June 2016
All Saints Church, Broad Chalke
Simon McEnery - reader

Our summer evening of music and readings devoted to the subject of love included settings of texts from the Old Testament ‘Song of Songs' by composers as diverse as Palestrina, Guerrero and Victoria (contemporaries of William Shakespeare) and Francis Grier who is still writing today. Grier's Dilectus Meus Mihi is beautifully crafted with a mystical feel, and of special significance is his piece The Voice of my Beloved, which was written for our conductor’s wedding twenty-five years ago. Woven through the first half of the programme were love poems and readings by Christopher Marlowe, Robert Herrick and John Donne, again all contemporaries of Shakespeare.

Madrigals and English part songs from 16th century composers such as John Wilbye and John Ward as well as works by Charles Villiers Stanford and Edward Elgar featured in the second half, this time interspersed with the writings of Shakespeare himself on the theme of love.

Nunc Dimittis - a programme of sacred choral music
Thursday 12th May 2016
St Andrew's Church, Hurstbourne Priors, Hampshire

Sacred choral music from seven centuries of European music, linked by settings of the Nunc Dimittis.

Plainsong - Veni, sancte spiritus
Jean IV roi de Portugal - Crux fidelis
Jean Lhéritier - Surrexit pastor bonus
David Bevan - Nunc Dimittis
Hans Leo Hassler - Sanctus
Antonio Lotti - Crucifixus
Hans Leo Hassler - Agnus Dei
Sergei Rachmaninov - Nunc Dimittis
Thomas Tallis - O sacrum convivium
Henry Purcell - Hear my prayer
William Byrd - Praise our Lord
Gustav Holst - Nunc Dimittis
Herbert Howells - I will lift up mine eyes
Edward Elgar - Psalm 15
Ralph Vaughan Williams - Valiant for truth
Charles Wood - Nunc Dimittis

Nunc Dimittis - a programme of sacred choral music
Thursday 17th March 2016
St Peter's Church, Britford, Salisbury

Sacred choral music from seven centuries of European music, linked by settings of the Nunc Dimittis.

Plainsong - Veni, sancte spiritus
Jean IV roi de Portugal - Crux fidelis
Jean Lhéritier - Surrexit pastor bonus
David Bevan - Nunc Dimittis
Hans Leo Hassler - Sanctus
Antonio Lotti - Crucifixus
Hans Leo Hassler - Agnus Dei
Sergei Rachmaninov - Nunc Dimittis
Thomas Tallis - O sacrum convivium
Henry Purcell - Hear my prayer
William Byrd - Praise our Lord
Gustav Holst - Nunc Dimittis
Herbert Howells - I will lift up mine eyes
Edward Elgar - Psalm 15
Ralph Vaughan Williams - Valiant for truth
Charles Wood - Nunc Dimittis

From Parry to the Present:
a concert of English choral music
Saturday 5th March 2016
St Martin's Church, Salisbury

A concert of music by English composers both past and present, many of whom have local links. The Farrant Singers presented Howells' Requiem, Finzi's Lo, the full, final sacrifice, and works by Francis Grier and Patrick Gowers.

The award winning Godolphin Vocal Ensemble sang the first performance of The Godolphin Missa Brevis by Dr Douglas Coombes MBE, and joined the Farrant Singers in works by Parry and Bob Chilcott.

Douglas Coombes - The Godolphin Missa Brevis (first performance, written for Godolphin Vocal Ensemble)
Hubert Parry - Hear my words (commissioned for Salisbury Diocesan Festival)
Francis Grier - Dilectus meus mihi (commissioned for Edington Festival)
Herbert Howells (former Organist of Salisbury Cathedral) - Requiem
Bob Chilcott - Like a singing bird
Gerald Finzi - Lo, the full, final sacrifice
Patrick Gowers - Viri Galilei

With Godolphin Vocal Ensemble (director, Olivia Sparkhall), Christopher Guild (pianist), Simon Dinsdale and Stuart Robinson (organists).

Choral Evensong
Tuesday 16th February 2016
Salisbury Cathedral

Smith - Responses
Psalm 84
Purcell - Canticles in G minor
Purcell - Hear my prayer, O Lord

Christmas Concert
Saturday 19th December 2015
St Martin's Church, Salisbury

Our traditional Christmas concert featured the music of Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli, and lots of carols! In memory of David Willcocks, who died recently, we included some of his much-loved carols arrangements.

We were joined for this concert by Farrant Brass, and organists Edward Reeve and Stuart Robinson.

Review by Jeremy Barlow,
Salisbury Journal, 7th January 2016:

I moved to Salisbury from London a year ago and have been delighted time and again by the standard of musical performance in the city; Saturday’s Christmas concert in St Martin’s Church by The Farrant Singers and Farrant Brass under Andrew Mackay exceeded my expectations.

The first half of the programme reflected the influence of music at St Mark’s, Venice, where 450 years ago Andrea Gabrieli and his nephew Giovanni heightened the musical impact by placing the choir in different parts of the building. The opening Magnificat by Andrea Gabrieli had The Farrant Singers and Brass split in three, placed behind the audience, in front of the rood screen and at the back of the chancel; Mackay nevertheless achieved miraculous unanimity. Two instrumental works interspersed the well-contrasted choral pieces; Giovanni Gabrieli’s Sonata pian’ e forte for brass, and Bach’s organ Fantasia in G, the latter magnificently played by twenty year old Edward Reeve. A name to watch.

After the interval came a tribute to Andrew MacKay’s mentor, the late Sir David Willcocks. The audience joined in familiar Willcocks carol arrangements, with brass fanfares enhancing O come, all ye faithful and Hark! The herald angels sing; the choir alone contributed more complex arrangements by Willcocks and others, as well as Poulenc’s touching O magnum mysterium.

On the way out an audience member remarked ‘That was fun’. Yes, but it was much more too; a beautifully planned, uplifting programme, superbly performed. I’d have been lucky to find anything as rewarding in London.

Autumn Concert
Saturday 14th November 2015
St Martin's Church, Salisbury

Brahms - A German Requiem
Brahms - motets
Schubert - F minor fantasia for four hands

With John Reid and Edward Reeve (piano), Amy Carson (soprano) and Hugh Hetherington (baritone)

Review by Stuart Robinson:

It was entirely fitting that there was a minute’s silence prior to The Farrant Singers’ performance of Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem, given the shocking events that had unfolded in Paris less than 24 hours earlier. This was the main work in the Farrant Singers’ concert, a performance edged with poignancy for both performer and listener alike, ably conducted by the Farrant Singers’ incumbent conductor - Andrew Mackay. Brahms’ work, translated as A German Requiem,  sets  biblical texts from the Lutheran Bible.  As the excellent programme notes pointed out, Brahms’ intention was to write a Requiem to comfort the living, not one for the souls of the dead.

Brahms’ hour-long masterpiece is scored for orchestra and choir but in this Farrant Singers’ concert, the accompaniment was provided by a piano duet version played by Edward Reeve and John Reid – an excellent combination and balance.  What one lost in orchestral colour was certainly fully repaid in pianistic drama!  

The two soloists – Amy Carson, and (appearing at short notice) Alastair Watson gave authoritative accounts of their respective solos – Amy Carson’s voice is crystal clear while Alastair Watson brought both warmth and gravitas.  Add to that, the brisk tempi of some movements set by Andrew Mackay, this was a performance that did not let up both in energy and passion where required, contrasted with moments of romantic tenderness. The evening was an oasis of calm in a mad, mad world. Brahm’s intention to comfort was well accomplished.

Cathedral Residency
Saturday 24th - Sunday 25th October 2015
Chester Cathedral
Saturday 17th October 2015
Beaulieu Abbey

Pitoni - Cantate Domino
Monteverdi - Adoramus te, Cantate Domino
Lotti - Crucifixus
Palestrina - Nunc Dimittis
Byrd - Haec Dies
Purcell - Hear my prayer
Philips - Ascendit Deus
Holst - Nunc Dimittis
Elgar - Psalm 15
Vaughan Williams - Valiant for Truth
Wood - Nunc Dimittis
Debussy - Trois Chansons
Saint-Saëns - Calme des nuits, Les Fleurs
Brahms - Fest und Gedenksprüche, Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen
and works for organ

Magna Cantata
Tuesday 7th - Friday 10th July 2015
Salisbury Cathedral

The choir took part in this musical celebrating the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, alongside hundreds of children from around the Diocese. The work has been created by Andrew Mackay and Philip Lawson.




On the eve of Magna Cantata
Thursday 25th June 2015
Blackledge Auditorium, Godolphin School, Salisbury

The choir joined forces with Godolphin Vocal Ensemble to present a concert of music for a summer evening. The music included a preview of pieces both choirs will be singing in Magna Cantata, as well as:

French songs by Debussy, Saint Saens and Franck
John Rutter's Birthday Madrigals, Five Childhood Lyrics, The Lord bless you and keep you and I will sing with the spirit
A medley of summer songs, including Billy Joel and The Beach Boys!

With Andy Baker (bass) and Chris Guild (piano)

Nunc Dimittis - a programme of choral classics from around Europe
Thursday 16th April 2015
All Saints Church, Whiteparish

Choral classics from seven centuries of European music, linked by settings of Nunc Dimittis from Wood, Rachmaninov and Holst.

This concert was part of All Saints Church Whiteparish Music Festival 2015.

Nunc Dimittis - a programme of choral classics from around Europe
Thursday 19th March 2015
Ebbesbourne Wake Church

Choral classics from seven centuries of European music, linked by settings of Nunc Dimittis from Wood, Rachmaninov and Holst.

Proceeds to St John the Baptist restoration appeal.

Spring Concert
Saturday 7th March 2015
St Martin's Church, Salisbury

Francisco Guerrero - Missa Sancta et Immaculata
Herbert Howells - Take him earth for cherishing / Even such is time
Dominico Scarlatti - Stabat Mater
Lotti - Crucifixus a 8

Our spring concert had a ‘loose’ Passiontide theme running through it, featuring Domenico Scarlatti’s setting of Stabat Mater - the hymn meditating on Mary, the mother of Jesus, at the foot of the cross. It is scored for 10 voices with continuo, and contains some wonderfully rich polyphony, as well as sparse, meditative solo lines.

The other large work in the programme was a Mass by the Spanish Renaissance composer Francisco Guerrero. Although brighter in nature than Stabat Mater, it refers again to the Virgin Mary in its use of a musical theme from Morales’s motet Sancta et immaculata virginitas.

Contemporary with Scarlatti, Lotti took us back to the cross with his well-known motet Crucifixus (in eight parts).

And Herbert Howells brought us into the twentieth century with two wonderful anthems reflecting on the temporary nature of mortal life. Take him, earth, for cherishing is perhaps one of his most loved pieces, written for a memorial service for John F Kennedy in 1964. Even such is time is a student work, only rediscovered and published for the first time in 2008. Sir Walter Raleigh’s words reflect on the transience of life and the hope of resurrection to new life.

Choral Evensong
Friday 20th February 2015
Salisbury Cathedral

Byrd - Responses
Psalm 104
Bevan - Magnificat Quarti Toni
Rachmaninov - Nunc Dimittis
Anthem - Rachmaninov - Magnificat

Is there a doctor in the house?
Sunday 18th January 2015
Salisbury Playhouse

An entertainment in words and music celebrating medicine and the arts.

The Farrant Singers are taking part in this review show devised by John Cox and Ben Occhipinti, alongside Instant Sunshine, Stage '65 and other local performers.

Proceeds to Salisbury Playhouse 40th Anniversary Campaign and the Stars Appeal of Salisbury District Hospital

Christmas concert
Saturday 13th December 2014
St Martin's Church, Salisbury

J S Bach - Magnificat
Handel - excerpts from Messiah
Plus lots of Christmas carols!

Our traditional Christmas concert this year featured J S Bach’s wonderful Magnificat. The choir was joined by The Farrant Orchestra, and five soloists: sopranos Abi Hooper and Amy Carson, alto Leonora Dawson-Bowling, tenor Ian Wicks and bass Tim Dickinson.

This was followed by excerpts from Handel’s Messiah, and lots of Christmas carols.

Autumn concert - Rachmaninov and Pizzetti
Saturday 15th November 2014
St Martin's Church, Salisbury

Rachmaninov - All-night Vigil (Vespers)
Pizzetti - Messa di Requiem

The Farrant Singers’ autumn concert presented two significant works from the early years of the twentieth century.

Rachmaninov’s All-Night Vigil (1915) is commonly known as “Vespers” (although only six of the fifteen movements actually draw their texts from the service of Vespers). It has been described as “the greatest musical achievement of the Russian Orthodox Church”, and was one of the composer’s favourite compositions. Rachmaninov uses chant styles from the Orthodox tradition, which, together with rich unaccompanied choral textures and remarkably low bass lines, give the piece a distinctive Russian flavour.

We paired the All-Night Vigil with Ildebrando Pizzetti’s Requiem of 1923 - a work that we think deserves to be better known. Though written only a few years after Rachmaninov’s piece, it has a much more ‘twentieth-century’ feel. Its lush harmonies include quasi-plainsong lines, a thoroughly spooky Dies Irae, and a triumphantly uplifting Sanctus in 12 parts.

Seventh Heaven
Thursday 16th October 2014
All Saints Church, Farley (SP5 1AH)

Sacred masterpieces from seven countries spanning seven centuries, from the Eton Choirbook to the present day; music from Ireland, France, Italy, England, Germany, Spain and Flanders.




Visit to Rochester
Friday 24th - Sunday 26th October 2014
Rochester Cathedral

The choir visited Rochester to sing the daily services.

Informal concert of choral classics
Friday 11th July 2014
St Laurence Church, Downton

Five centuries of choral classics, including early music by Lambe, Lhéritier and Mouton, Italian music from Palestrina and Pitoni, music from the English Renaissance by Byrd, Tallis and Philips, and an "Irish Corner" by Wood and Stanford. Also included pieces by Richard Lloyd and Richard Shephard.

The concert was part of the Downton Festival:

George Herbert Festival concert - 'One Harmonie'
Saturday 12th July 2014
Wilton House

More information at

Informal concert of choral classics
Thursday 19th June 2014
St John the Baptist Church, Tisbury

Five centuries of choral classics, linked by George Herbert meditations. Included early music by Lambe, Lhéritier and Mouton, Italian music from Palestrina and Pitoni, music from the English Renaissance by Byrd, Tallis and Philips, and an "Irish Corner" by Wood and Stanford. Also included pieces by Richard Lloyd and Barry Ferguson.

All proceeds to St John's Church's east window project.

Ascension Day Service
Thursday 29th May 2014
Salisbury Cathedral

Music included Palestrina's Missa Brevis and Ascendit Deus by Philips.

Choral Evensong
Monday 21st April 2014
Salisbury Cathedral

Included Orlando Gibbons' Second Service, and Arvo Pärt's setting of Psalm 131.

I was glad
Saturday 22nd March 2014
St Martin's Church, Salisbury

Review by Stuart Robinson,
Salisbury Journal, 27th March 2014:

The Farrant Singers’ most recent concert drew a very good audience for this wellthought out programme.

The texts of the Psalms of David, written well before the birth of Christ, express every human emotion going; joy, sadness, despair and even anger. Not surprisingly, these ancient biblical words have provided rich pickings for composers down the ages – and the Farrant Singers offered some familiar and not so familiar examples.

Allegri’s plaintive Miserere, Schubert’s comforting setting of Psalm 23, and Parry’s majestic I Was Glad were excellent choices, with the mood of each perfectly caught by all singers.

Among the lesser known were two psalm settings by the contemporary Latvian composer Arvo Pärt. Although he writes sparingly, the first of these is fast with some tricky rhythms, and the Farrants acquitted themselves confidently in these with some beautifully poised singing in the slower closing section.

Not surprisingly for a choir which has been steeped in sacred music throughout its half-century existence, settings of psalm texts to Anglican chant featured prominently. It’s a shame that churches have ducked out of singing these – but not so the Farrant Singers.

Although some of the reciting of the texts was rather deliberate and straight in places, and sung in four-part harmony throughout, this was chant singing at its best.

“Lord I am not high minded; I have no proud looks,” they sang. As a choir they certainly don’t look haughty, but they are hard-wired with an understanding of the music, and they visibly feel the heartbeat of each piece.

Choral Evensong
Tuesday 18th February 2014
Salisbury Cathedral

Included Richard Shephard's Magnificat & Nunc Dimittis in memoriam Lionel Dakers, and Almighty and everlasting God by Orlando Gibbons.

Christmas Concert
Saturday 7th December 2013
St Martin's Church, Salisbury

Vaughan Williams - Fantasia on Christmas carols
Finzi - In terra pax
Handel - Concerto Grosso Op 6 No 1
and lots of Christmas carols!

Review by Stuart Robinson,
Salisbury Journal, 12th December 2013:

It’s perhaps all too easy at this time of year for choirs to put on a seasonal concert of miscellaneous diverse carols and give the whole extravaganza some fluffy catch-all Yuletide title.

Not so for the Farrant Singers.

Over the years this local choir has established a reputation for concert programmes that are innovative, well thought out and competently performed. Their latest Christmas offering was no exception.

For starters, the recent death of the composer John Tavener moved the choir to open with a performance of his much loved carol The Lamb.

Although its writing seems simple, its technical demands (not least intonation) are considerable. This was a fitting tribute to a remarkable and unique composer, the like of which we’re unlikely to see again.

Two substantial seasonal works followed – In Terra Pax by Gerald Finzi, and Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on Christmas Carols, accompanied (with musical understanding) by a small string orchestra.

Finzi’s piece is an evocative and lush musical portrayal of the first Christmas Eve – the shepherds keeping watch, angels hovering in the sky, and isn’t without its dramatic moments. This was an engaging performance from all concerned, with crystal-clear singing from soloists Alistair Watson (baritone) and Eloise Irving (soprano).

Under its director Andrew Mackay, the choir has continued to develop a mellow and balanced tone.

With seasonal works by Palestrina, Sweelinck, Kenneth Leighton and William Walton, interspersed with audience participation in some old favourites, this was a thoughtfully assembled carol-fest.

The audience-only verses were heartily performed.

Autumn Concert
Saturday 9th November 2013
St Thomas's Church, Salisbury

Mouton - Nesciens mater
Lhéritier - Surrexit pastor bonus
John Browne - Stabat mater
Fayrfax - Agnus Dei
Lambe - Nesciens mater
Brahms - Ich aber bin elend
Brahms - How lovely are thy dwellings
Brahms - Geistliches Lied
Mendelssohn - Sit laus plena
Mendelssohn - Hear my prayer
Mendelssohn - Richte mich Gott
Mendelssohn - Denn er hat seinen Engeln
Mendelssohn - Weihnachten
Rheinberger - Abendlied

The Eton Choirbook was one of very few collections of Latin liturgical music to survive the Reformation, and was compiled between 1500 and 1505 for Eton College. Our selection included some of the best examples of early Renaissance polyphony, with pieces by Lambe and Fayrfax, and a substantial setting of the Stabat Mater by John Browne. Also included were works by French composers Mouton and Lhéritier, contemporary with the Choirbook.

By contrast, the second half of the concert featured Romantic choral music from Brahms, Mendelssohn and Rheinberger. Most familiar was Brahms’ Geistliches Lied and Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen (How lovely are thy dwellings), and Hear my prayer by Mendelssohn. We we’re delighted to welcome back Anita Monserrat as the soloist for this piece - formerly Dean’s Chorister at Salisbury Cathedral, she will be remembered for her exquisite solo during our performance of Fauré’s Requiem earlier this year.

Visit to Coventry
Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th October 2013
Coventry Cathedral

The choir visited Coventry to sing Evensong on Saturday, and Eucharist and Evensong on Sunday at the Cathedral. Music included pieces by Richard Farrant, Matthew Martin, Kodaly, Mathias, Howells, Leighton and Balfour Gardiner.

'Library' Concert
Thursday 10th October 2013
All Saints Church, Charlton All Saints

A short concert including music from the Eton Choirbook, and
pieces by Brahms, Mendelssohn, Rheinberger, Parry, Stanford and Wood.

Thursday 11th July 2013
All Saints Church, Netheravon

A concert of British choral classics, both sacred and secular, for a summer evening.
Parry – My soul; Never weather beaten sail; There is an old belief
Stanford – Beati quorum; Justorum animae; Coelos ascendit
Harris – Faire is the heaven
Wood – Hail gladdening light
Pearsall – Great God of love
Britten – The evening primrose; Green broom
Wilbye – Draw on sweet night

Proceeds towards mission projects in the Avon River Team

Summer Concert
Saturday 6th July 2013
St James Church, Shaftesbury

Hadley - My beloved spake
Stainer - I saw the Lord
Moore - All wisdom cometh from the Lord
Clemens - Ego flos campi
Victoria - Vadam et circuibo
Stanford - For lo, I raise up
Alison Duncan - Night
Tavener - The Lamb
Bairstow - Blessed City
Elgar - Psalm 15 (chant)
Bainton - And I saw a new heaven

Report of the concert by David Seymour:

The Farrant Singers’ summer concert at St James’ Church, Shaftesbury, on 6th July wasn’t given a title, but their conductor, Andrew Mackay, suggested that it might have been something like ‘Visions of Heaven’. Certainly a Dorset church overlooking the Blackmore Vale on a serene July evening is close to heaven on earth and the choir’s singing did not disappoint and only added to the celestial mood.

Our musical journey began in the Old Testament, in that much debated book ‘The Song of Songs’, and the arresting opening of Patrick Hadley’s My beloved spake assured us that the evening was going to be one to remember. This motet and the Stainer that followed had to bow to the pure genius of the 17th century Spanish master Victoria, whose supreme polyphony in Vadam et circuibo (also from the Song of Songs) displayed the Farrants at their absolute best and provided the highlight of the night. Works by Philip Moore (born in 1943) and the little known Flemish 16th century composer Jacob Clemens left Stanford’s For lo I raise up to end the first half. This is a strange work, with an elusive structure, and its understated ending made it a curious choice to take us into the break.

But there were more gems awaiting us in part two. This began with Night, a long piece composed by the choir’s own Australian soprano, Alison Duncan, singing in the final concert before her return home. This work combines Biblical passages with words of William Blake, and it enthralled the audience, the most effective section being her four-part setting of Isaiah’s vision of a new Eden - "the wolf shall live with the lamb". There was more Blake next, with John Tavener’s evergreen setting of The Lamb. This produced some of the finest singing of the evening, the subtle changes of Tavener’s early years beautifully rendered.

By now, we were on solidly New Testament territory in the form of Edgar Bainton’s setting of Revelation 21, And I saw a new heaven, and after a short and simple setting of Psalm 15 by Elgar, "to clean the palate" according to Andrew Mackay, the concert concluded with Sir Edward Bairstow’s Blessed city. The Biblical journey was complete and we departed knowing that we had been treated to a rich feast from one of the district’s most accomplished choral outfits.

Monday 6th May 2013
Salisbury Cathedral

Music included:
Howells - Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis - Collegium Regale
Bax - Mater ora filium

Spring Concert
Saturday 9th March 2013
St Martin's Church, Salisbury

Fauré - Requiem
Brahms - Es ist das Heil uns kommen her
Brahms - Schaffe in mir, Gott, ein rein Herz
Bruckner - Ave Maria; Os Justi; Christus factus est
Britten - Hymn to St Cecilia

Review by Stuart Robinson in Salisbury Journal
14th March 2013:

Visionary Singing

"Blessed Cecilia appear in visions to all musicians, appear and inspire". So sang the Farrant Singers in Benjamin Britten’s Hymn to St Cecilia, the patron saint of musicians, at the start of their recent concert in St Martin’s Church.  

The Farrants caught Britten’s distinctive idiom; fast and intricate tongue-twisting singing combined with expansive and exciting choral sonorities. Floating above the mix was the crystal-clear confident singing of 15-year-old soprano soloist Anita Monserrat, performing in her first professional engagement since leaving Salisbury Cathedral Choir last year. Directed by Andrew Mackay, here was excellent choral singing that was balanced, vibrant and in tune.

The same applied to the unaccompanied motets by Brahms and Bruckner. What helped was the choir’s distribution, so no singer was standing next to anyone else singing their part. Would that other choirs would have the courage to do the same!

Meanwhile, in the organ loft Timothy Hone extracted an impressive range of dark and bright tone-colours from the church’s ageing yet sonorous instrument in his solo performance of Duruflé’s Variations sur ‘Veni Creator’, and in his assured accompaniment of the much-loved Requiem by Gabriel Fauré.

Baritone Richard Hooper has a wonderful voix chocolat; an appropriate warmth perfect for this reflective work. Anita Monserrat’s Pie Jesu was spell-binding and moving. While departing in sombre mood, many of the near-capacity audience would have returned home enthusing at the birth of a new career. Blessed Cecilia invoked at the evening’s outset did indeed appear and inspire… 

Stuart Robinson

Ash Wednesday Eucharist
Wednesday 13th February 2013
Salisbury Cathedral

Byrd - Mass for five voices
Byrd - Ne irascaris, Domine

Christmas Concert
Saturday 8th December 2012
St Martin's Church, Salisbury

Schutz - Christmas Story
and a selection of Christmas carols

Read the Salisbury Journal's review here





A Song for Mary
Saturday 17th November 2012
St Martin's Church, Salisbury

Tye - Euge Bone Mass
Stravinsky - Ave Maria
Tavener - Two Hymns to the Mother of God
Gorecki - Totus tuus
Byrd - Salve Regina
Britten - Hymn to the Virgin
Bax - Mater ora filium
Ockeghem - Intemerata Dei mater
Taverner - Dum transisset

Read the Salisbury Journal's review here

Ely Cathedral
Saturday 27th - Sunday 28th October 2012

The choir sang the services at Ely Cathedral:

Evensong on 27th October, including Leighton Responses, Mathias Jesus Service, and Stanford's anthem For lo! I raise up.

Eucharist on 28th October, with Byrd's Mass for Five Voices and Ave verum corpus.

Evensong on 28th October, including Leighton Responses, Howells Gloucester Service, and Richard Lloyd's anthem O thou who camest from above (written for the choir's 50th anniversary).

Short informal concert
Thursday 11th October 2012
Longbridge Deverill church

Tye - Missa Euge bone
Britten - Hymn to the Virgin
Taverner - Dum transisset
Gorecki -Totus tuus
Beethoven - Duo for viola and cello

Evensong at Newton Tony
Sunday 9th September 2012

Including Smith Responses, Farrant's Short Service, and Never weather-beaten sail by Parry

Fair Oriana
Sunday 15th July 2012

All Saints' Church, Broad Chalke, Salisbury

Review by Sue Finniss in Salisbury Journal, 19th July 2012:
"Versatile in Voice

This concert was pure joy, enhanced as it was by the rare evening sunshine and the excellent acoustic of the church. Conductor Andrew Mackay had chosen a varied programme of choral gems which began with madrigals from the 16th century dedicated to Fair Oriana and continuing with music from the 20th century.

It was a great pleasure to hear the madrigals performed with dynamic variation, particularly impressive in the bass line. The piece by Philippe Rogier was beautifully interpreted.

The reaction of the audience to Hubert Parry’s Songs of Farewell was testimony to the choir’s performance. Sitting in rapt attention the audience enjoyed the sublime phrasing and sensitivity of the choir to Parry’s composition.

The versatility of the Farrant Singers was demonstrated in the second half of the concert which began with Shakespeare Songs by Jaakko Mantyjarvi and continuing with the Birthday Madrigals by John Rutter. Both choir and audience enjoyed the element of swing provided by bass player Andy Baker, and keyboard player Peter Grove.

The programme finished with Draw on Sweet Night by John Wilbye, but we were treated to the bonus of an encore of The Bluebird featuring Heather Bamber as soloist. A perfect evening.

Informal Concert
Thursday 5th July 2012

United Reformed Church, Fisherton Street, Salisbury

A shortened version of the 'Fair Oriana' programme.

Saturday 17th March 2012
St Martin's Church, Salisbury

Andrew Mackay, conductor
Hugh Hetherington, tenor
Philip Lawson, baritone
Alistair Watson, bass
Timothy Hone, organ

Charles Wood - St Mark Passion
C V Stanford - Latin Magnificat
Ralph Vaughan Williams - Five Mystical Songs
Herbert Howells - Te Deum Collegium Regale

Review from Church Times, 5th April 2012, by Roderic Dunnett

A 1920s English Passion

Charles Wood, whose St Mark Passion has just received a rare revival in Salisbury, was a younger colleague of Stanford on the teaching staff at the Royal College, and for many years at Cambridge. Wood (1866-1926) succeeded Stanford as Professor only two years before his own untimely death, aged 60.

He was versatile. One of those operas that we hear little of is Wood’s The Pickwick Papers. Cambridge produced from him (as from Parry and Ralph Vaughan Williams) the usual flutter of music for university Greek plays. He wrote large-scale settings of Milton, Swinburne, Whitman. There was a flurry of string quartets; and, of course, a welter of glorious church anthems, whose climactic power is on a par with, say, Bairstow.

This performance, conducted by the Farrant Singers’ newly appointed music director, Andrew Mackay, could scarcely have done the St Mark Passion more justice. The work was planned in 1920 by Eric Milner-White — fresh back from decorated war service, newly appointed Dean of King’s College, Cambridge, a founder of the Oratory of the Good Shepherd, and ultimately to become Dean of York — as a riposte and rival to Stainer’s Crucifixion and the nearly as popular Olivet to Calvary, whose composer, J. H. Maunder, died that year.

The Passion’s opening was galvanising: Timothy Hone’s organ playing was an asset throughout (as later in RVW), teasing out from a limited registration some of the remarkable detail and decoration that Wood sneaks in below the vocal line. Without it, the work can wax pallid in places; with such subtle organ colouring, it gains immensely.

The Farrants produce a rewarding unified, well-focused sound; this reflects the choir’s striking discipline and precision: the quality of their consonants, for instance, and their sheer attentiveness ensure that the sound emerges as lucid and remarkably pure. This gave early sections their feeling of Bachian urgency; while the plainsong and other hymns (“Sing my tongue, the glorious battle” provides the sizzling start) had a tremendous warmth, and a mesmerising appeal.

The tenor Hugh Hetherington’s wonderfully versatile, seasoned musicianship lent a fluid and florid character that recalled his withering Britten staged performances in Salisbury Cathedral; it helped the Wood to glow in places. Philip Lawson, in his first solo outing in Salisbury since leaving the King’s Singers, was to give a sensationally beautiful reading in the second half, beefed up by some first-rate choral singing, of Vaughan Williams’s Five Mystical Songs. But his portrayal of our Lord under duress lacked bite. As with Bach’s St John Passion, the exposed role of Christ needs a personal stage presence — there are colleagues in the trade one might easily learn this from — and a shrewder gauging of the needs of the space where you are singing. Alistair Watson had a good stab at several remaining parts; but the same applied.

The Passion arguably loses impetus: you might expect from Wood a tight structure, but it was hard to hear one, and any late 19th-century chromatic colouring is scarcely followed through. The successful opening has shades of Liszt’s Christus, but I found myself inevitably saying, “It’s not Elgar”. (I felt similar doubts decades ago, when I sang in the work at school. Our Director of Music, loyally doing his bit, was Wood’s great-nephew.)

But when Stanford’s Latin Magnificat, dating from 1918 and dedicated to Parry’s memory, burst upon us, one sensed a different league. There is something in those gutsy engineered build-ups and delicate contrasts that could only be Stanford (who, symphonies apart, wrote wonderful songs and string quartets).

The Farrants’ discipline and colouring were exhilarating: witness their thrillingly controlled, protracted unison at “divites dimisit inanes”, or their razor-sharp precision for “deposuit potentes”.

Howells’s Collegium Regale Te Deum was another work designed for King’s: here, the Farrants’ agile girls dazzled in trickily exposed high leads; while Howells’s masterly writing was mirrored to the letter by Mackay’s lithe command, nifty, flexible dynamics, articulate leads, and shrewd, slick grasp of overall structure. The Farrants’ go-ahead new regime looks to be a winner.

Review from Salisbury Journal, 22 March 2012, by Stuart Robinson:

Power, passion and moving moments from the Singers

The Farrant Singers’ Saturday concert was the first major occasion with Andrew Mackay as their new conductor. For one soloist, baritone Philip Lawson, this was his first Salisbury concert since leaving The King’s Singers earlier this year.  There was a loose St Patrick’s Day theme with music by two Irish composers, Wood and Stanford; both stalwart Edwardian composers of church music.

Sadly, Charles Wood’s finely wrought St Mark Passion is rarely heard, but like the passions of JS Bach, it effectively portrays the dramatic events leading up to Christ’s crucifixion. Philip Lawson as Christ was straightforward and direct, while the tenor Hugh Hetherington as the Evangelist, combined operatic power with tenderness as the mood dictated. In particular, the crowd exclamations “Crucify” were incisively declaimed by the choir. Wood uses hymns to break up the action; these were well sung, though the audience could have been involved too in singing these.

An excellent and vivacious performance of Stanford’s Magnificat for Double Choir began a more joyous second half which continued with The Five Mystical Songs by Ralph Vaughan Williams.  As the soloist, Philip Lawson gave exquisite and lyrical phrasing to these Easter words. There were some beautifully moving moments as soloist and choir sang together. Finally, the soloists melted into the choir’s ranks for Howells’ Te Deum a splendid finale. Special mention must be reserved for superb playing by organist Timothy Hone who was the busiest musician of the entire evening.

Ash Wednesday service
Wednesday 22nd February 2012
Salisbury Cathedral

Byrd - Mass for four voices
Morley - Nolo mortem peccatoris
Tallis - In ieiunio et fletu

Informal Concert
Thursday 9th February 2012
Nunton Church

Byrd - Mass for four voices
Stanford - Latin Magnificat in B flat
Morley - Nolo mortem peccatoris
Philips - Stella quam viderant Magi
J S Bach - Fugue in G (Gigue), BWV 577 (organ solo)
Scarlatti - O magnum Mysterium
Tallis - In ieiunio et fletu
Holst - Nunc Dimittis

Epiphany Eucharist
Friday 6th January 2012
Salisbury Cathedral

Philips - Stella quam viderunt magi
Kodaly - Missa Brevis
Alessandro Scarlatti - O magnum mysterium

The Spacious Firmament The Spacious Firmament
Saturday 3rd December 2011
St Martin's Church, Salisbury

A concert in association with John Armitage Memorial Trust, featuring music for choir, brass and organ.

Daniel Cook, conductor
Simon Hogan, organist
Onyx Brass

Gabriel Jackson - The spacious firmament
Tarik O’Regan - The night’s untruth
Philip Moore - Three prayers of Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Paul Mealor - Now sleeps the crimson petal
G F Handel - Zadok the priest, The King shall rejoice
Timothy Jackson - Anything but (for brass ensemble)
Rory Boyle - Tallis's Light - see more here

We’re delighted to collaborate once again with JAM for this concert. This Trust commissions and promotes new music for choir, organ and brass, and The Farrant Singers are very grateful to JAM for its support.

The programme includes some vibrant and exciting music such as Gabriel Jackson’s The Spacious Firmament, describing the ethereal heavens and the night sky. In contrast, O’Regan’s The Night’s Untruth speaks of sleep as a parallel existence to the one experienced in our waking hours. Paul Mealor’s collection of madrigals on ‘rose’ texts includes Now sleeps the crimson petal, which was adapted for the Royal Wedding in April this year. Also in the programme are favourites from the choir’s repertoire and some pieces for brass ensemble.

Visit to Lincoln Cathedral
Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd October 2011

Officium Defunctorum

Officium Defunctorum
Saturday 15th October 2011
St Martin's Church, Salisbury

Josef Rheinberger
Mass in E-flat 'Cantus Missae'
Motets: Anima Nostra, Laudate Dominum, Meditabor
Tomas Luis de Victoria
Requiem 'Officium Defunctorum'
Gustav Merkel
Fantasia & Fugue in A Minor (organ solo)


Review from Salisbury Journal, 20 Oct 2011, by Sarah Collins:

City singers go from strength to strength

A capella singing is a collective leap of faith for any choir. The Farrants rose to the challenge beautifully in their gorgeous opening work by Joseph Rheinberger, written in the Romantic era but harking back to the earlier Venetian styles of Monteverdi and Gabrieli. The piece is written for double choir, and they were clearly defined and focused throughout.

As an interlude for audience and choir, musical director Daniel Cook played a Gustav Merkel organ fantasia and fugue. The harmonies were a little saccharine in places, especially after the simple, open quality of the first work, but naturally it was played with mastery (and some very fancy footwork) ending with a triumphant fugue, before Daniel returned to conduct the next part of the evening.

For this we returned to Rheinberger, and to three motets written for King Ludwig II (yes, the ‘mad’ one) which were handled deftly and confidently by the choir, a lush vibrant sound. The king must have had good musical taste, as he appointed Rheinberger to his court in 1877.

After the interval came the great Renaissance piece Officium Defunctorum of Tomas Luis de Victoria. The choir gave the full work here, with a sung lesson of Matins to open, and a funeral motet and Absolution to finish. The work is based on Plainsong, which has been said to be all about breath, with its phrases lasting a breath’s length. Perhaps this helps to explain the enduring popularity of this type of music, as its clarity and restfulness give a still, calm place. The plainsong materials of each movement are clearly laid out, with women’s voices (often solo) announcing each section before the gorgeous polyphony unfolds.

Again St Martin’s proved a perfect acoustic for this nature of programme and the Farrants gave us the clear, full, supported and sustained sound most necessary for this work. As a choir they go from strength to strength and Salisbury is lucky to have them.

Missa Ego flos campi

Missa Ego flos campi
Saturday 18th June 2011
St Martin's Church, Salisbury

Early choral music from Spain and Latin America:
Cristobal de Morales - Magnificat primi toni
Francisco Guerrero - Ego flos campi, Missa Sancta et immaculata
Juan Gutierrez de Padilla - Missa Ego flos campi
Juan Gutierrez de Padilla - Salve Regina


With music for flute and guitar from The Ancora Duo, including Piazzolla, Ibert and Pujol. See The Ancora Duo website here


Despite the damp British summer weather, The Farrant Singers whisked their audience to warmer climes with a concert of Spanish-influenced choral music. It had all the oft-quoted essentials for a good story; touches of religion, royalty, romance and an element of mystery. Religion and Royalty? This was a programme of sacred music including works from the Spanish 16th Century composer Francisco Guerrero, who was well-respected in the court of King Philip II of Spain. An element of romance, even sensuousness, came with Guerrero’s setting in Latin of words from the Song of Songs. “I sat down under the shadow of him I desire and his fruit was sweet to my taste.”

If that wasn’t enough, we crossed to Mexico where sacred choral music was alive and well in the 17th century; Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla emigrated from Spain to be musical director for Puebla Cathedral Choir for nearly 40 years. We heard his lengthy Missa Ego Flos Campi. For the singers this was a demanding sing with some tricky syncopated rhythms and striking antiphonal effects; it’s a pity the choir didn’t separate to give the audience the full effect. Nonetheless, this was indeed a sonorous wash of unaccompanied singing in the resonant acoustic of St Martin’s, from a well-blended choir under the graceful direction of Daniel Cook who allowed the music to breathe, with sensible tempos and sensitive phrasing.

A very pleasant spicing of this musical paella came from the excellent Ancora Duo (flautist Anne Allen and guitarist Sarah Freestone) who played more modern works from Piazzolla and Pujol, both from Argentina. The combination of irregular rhythms, hint of a tango, and sheer Latin American colour and drive provided a very pleasant contrast to the sublime content of the rest of the concert.

And the mystery element in this concert? Whether the Flamenco dancer depicted in a piece played by the duo was male or female. A question left unresolved as we left in the pouring English rain.

Stuart Robinson

Ascension Day Eucharist
Thursday 2nd June 2011
Salisbury Cathedral

The choir sang at the Eucharist for Ascension Day. Music included Coelos Ascendit by Stanford, Padilla's Missa Ego flos campi, and Gowers' anthem for Ascension Day, Viri Galilaei.

Holy Week Devotion
Monday 18th April 2011
Salisbury Cathedral

Words and music for Holy Week, led by Bishop Martin Shaw. Crucifixus pro nobis by Leighton and Finzi's Lo, the full final sacrifice.

Coronation AnthemsCoronation Anthems
Saturday 12th March 2011
St Martin's Church, Salisbury

Purcell - My heart is inditing
Blow - The Lord God is a sun and a shield
Croft - The Lord is a sun and a shield
Boyce - The King shall rejoice,
Come Holy Ghost, Praise the Lord
Handel - Zadok the priest, My heart is inditing,
The King shall rejoice, Let thy hand be strengthened

A sparkling selection of anthems written for coronation services, from James II in 1685 to George III in 1761. Accompanied by The Farrant Orchestra.

Epiphany Eucharist
Thursday 6th January 2011
Salisbury Cathedral

The choir sang at the Eucharist for Epiphany. Music included Poulenc's Videntes Stellam, Vierne's Messe Solennelle, and Lully, lulla, thou little tiny child by Leighton.

Christmas concertChristmas Concert
Saturday 4th December 2010
St Paul's Church, Salisbury

A short concert of Advent and Christmas music from the 16th to 20th centuries, with a chance to join in with some favourite carols. No tickets required - just turn up! An ideal way to start the Christmas season.

In aid of The Trussell Trust.



Glorious June

The King and the Robin
Saturday 6th November 2010
St Martin's Church, Salisbury

Patrick Gowers - Viri Galilaei
Jonathan Harvey - Come, Holy Ghost
Philip Moore - Three Prayers of
Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Philip Moore - Lo! God is here!
Philip Moore - Salutatio Angelica
Philip Moore - The King and the Robin
Jonathan Dove - Into Thy Hands
Benjamin Britten - Rejoice in the Lamb
and other pieces for organ


The Farrant Singers, reinvigorated with some new members, sang an ambitious programme of English music that wove spells that not even a few stray fireworks could puncture.

Philip Moore, for 25 years Organist and Master of the Choristers at York Minster, is constantly being commissioned to write new music and with music of this quality and individuality it is not hard to see why. The Farrant Singers began with Lo! God is here, a piece written for the tercentenary of St Paul’s Cathedral. Immediately it was apparent that here was a choir on resurgent top form with well defined balance and flexibilty of tone to the fore. The interplay between the plainsong soprano solo and hymn was beautifully poised.

The Three Prayers of Dietrich Bonhoeffer are a masterpiece of unaccompanied choral writing. Conductor Daniel Cook directed the choir with calm assurance and a deep awareness of choral colour and musical phrasing. Under his guidance the choir brought an anguished tenderness and a poignancy to these pieces that was very touching.

The first half closed with a polished performance of Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb. Britten sets sections of Christopher Smart’s poem "Jubilate Agno". The eighteenth century poet was in an asylum for the insane when he wrote it, and it is not difficult to see his madness in the poem (although it would have been good to have the text in our programme). It is reported that his insanity led him to sudden compulsions to pray in public, at any time or place. So although he writes about his cat Jeffrey and a mouse praising God just through their very nature it is the religious character of the work that is the most striking. The music of the ten short sections brings Britten’s genius into sharp focus as each vignette in the poem is given a unique treatment. The choir brought beauty to the lilting Hallelujahs and more than enough vigour to the tricky rhythmic sections.

The concert was notable for the fourteen members of the choir who were given solo opportunities including a cameo from the conductor. The solos Britten writes here are amongst the finest in the repertory. Organist Timothy Hone who played two solos, a reflective Psalm Prelude by Howells and the ecstatic Alleluyas by Simon Preston, provided excellent support to the choir throughout the evening with clear articulation and a carefully judged palette of musical colour.

Viri Galilaei by Patrick Gowers is a dramatic depiction of the Ascension of Jesus to heaven. Utilising the two organs in St Martin’s Church and divided choral forces it opens with a shower of shimmering stars played on the chamber organ by Andrej Kousnetzov, the Cathedral Organ Scholar, accompanied by ethereal Alleluias from the choir. This texture leads to a triumphant hymn in which the double choir texture swirls in a most engaging style with the sure support of the main organ providing a rumbustuous accompaniment. Eventually the dense texture vanishes into nothing as Christ disappears from view. The choir relished this piece and combined a new richness of tone in all voice parts with a beautiful blend in the quieter opening section.

Come, Holy Ghost by Jonathan Harvey written in 1984 for the Southern Cathedrals Festival and premiered by Winchester Cathedral Choir (conducted by Martin Neary who championed Harvey’s music during his time in Winchester), was a groundbreaking piece which brought the soundworld of aleatoric music into the English choral scene for probably the first time. The composer presents the singers with a number of musical fragments which they must sing in an order of their own choosing and at their own pace. This wash of sound provides a dreamlike accompaniment to the ancient hymn. No two performances of this piece will ever be the same and it needs each member of the choir to sustain their ‘individual’ part and the soloists to soar above the texture, ignite the ‘celestial fire’ and reach the serene heights that the composer envisaged.

Two further unaccompanied pieces, Salutatio Angelica by Philip Moore and Into thy Hands by Jonathan Dove, written for the Edington Festival and Salisbury Cathedral Choir respectively, were expressively sung and although there were some moments of poor ensemble in the Philip Moore as the choir tired, the Jonathan Dove was a very moving performance in which the silences were as important as the notes.

The concert closed with a recent commission from Philip Moore for Westminster Abbey in 2005 in celebration of the 1000th anniversary of the birth of Saint Edward, King and Confessor and Founder of Westminster Abbey. It sets words by the then Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion: The King and the Robin. This beautiful piece with its touching dialogue between the King and the Robin and a wonderfully characterised organ part with flashes of bird song provided a very satisfying conclusion to a well crafted programme by Daniel Cook and The Farrant Singers.

Ian Wicks

Glorious June All the ends of the earth
Saturday 19th June 2010
Wilton Church

Hieronymus Praetorius - Gaudete Omnes
Orlande de Lassus - Missa Bell' Amfitrit' altera
Hieronymus Praetorius - O Vos Omnes,
Magnificat Quarti Toni
Judith Weir - All the Ends of the Earth
Roxanna Panufnik - Westminster Mass
William Walton - The Twelve

This programme of sacred music brought together old and new, beginning with works by Hieronymus Praetorius and Orlande de Lassus from the sixteenth century.

The choir was joined by harp and percussion in the second half for Judith Weir’s evocative All the Ends of the Earth, commissioned for the Millennium celebrations in 2000, and Roxanna Panufnik’s Westminster Mass. The concert closed with The Twelve by William Walton, accompanied on the organ.

Glorious JuneGlorious June
Saturday 26th June 2010
St Mary's Church, Fordingbridge

A joint concert with musicians from Burgate School, in aid of the Sarah Kinsley Fund. Featuring John Rutter's Gloria.





Salisbury International Arts Festival

Salisbury International Arts Festival
Friday 21st May 2010

Market Place, Salisbury

The choir took part in the spectacular opening night of the Festival in the Market Place, also featuring a crazy roving bandstand with party band, pyrotechnics and special effects.





Spring 2010 concert Spring Concert
Saturday 10th April 2010
St Martin's Church, Salisbury

Bach - Missa in F
Bach - Prelude and Fugue in G (organ)
Bach - Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied
Handel - Te Deum in D (Dettingen)




Performed to a packed St Martin’s Church on a glorious evening, the Farrant Singers and Orchestra gave a concert that fully met the anticipation that preceded it. Immediately apparent, in the Lutheran Mass of Bach, was the careful phrasing and heartfelt singing of the Kyrie. The Gloria showcased three of the four soloists, as well as displaying the expertise of the orchestra, achieving authenticity and style. It was especially good to see so many young players in the orchestra - many still at school, showing particular promise for the future. Robert Evans, fresh from our screens singing with The Sixteen in the BBC Sacred Music series (presented by the son of one of the tenors in The Farrant Singers), gave us a beautiful and musical rendition of the Domine Deus. Katherine Hawnt, a name unfamiliar to Salisbury audiences, but one I’d like to hear again, sang the Qui Tollis with touching grace and simplicity. Andrew Stewart, accompanied by leader Naomi Rump, gave the audience some amazingly beautiful musical acrobatics to remember.

Conductor Daniel Cook then played to us the Prelude and Fugue in G BWV 541 on the wonderful (yet notoriously difficult to play) Hill organ. His playing was miraculously fresh, despite the demands he had of conducting the whole concert, and was full of vibrancy and virtuosity. Above all though was the same sense of musicality that he also showed in his conducting.

To round off the first half the audience were greeted with the declamatory bass octave leaps of ‘Singet’ that open the fiendish choral writing of Bach’s Singet dem Herrn. This double choir showcase was given a fresh and uplifting performance with every word sung to its full musical potential. The second section - a conversation between the choirs - was filled with emotion and came over very well. The final section could have had more impact, but we were given this when the heroic fugue started and we ended, quite literally, on a high note.

The concert ended with a performance of Handel’s Dettingen Te Deum, written to celebrate a glorious victory by George II over the French in 1743. Beginning with a rousing and royal introduction we heard an enlarged orchestra with trumpets and timpani adding to the splendour. The choir took this piece in their stride. The work is not well known and credit should go to Daniel Cook for bringing it to the attention of a Salisbury audience. Ian Wicks (tenor) is finally heard in a bass aria and he sang it very naturally despite the range. The highlight of the performance was the trio which was a showcase of breath control as the word ‘glory’ echoed around the church for a stunningly long time. Alto, tenor and bass were perfectly blended and showed what can be achieved when three soloists sing often together. In a rare moment of respite for the choir we heard a hushed change of mood at the words ‘We therefore pray thee’ and their musical expression once again came through. This was a memorable evening and great credit should go to The Farrant Singers for bringing us such a splendid programme.

Joseph Wicks

Choral Evensong
Saturday 20th February 2010
Well Cathedral

The Farrant Singers visited Wells Cathedral to sing Evensong.

Lucas - Responses
Howells - Magnificat & Nunc Dimitis in B minor
Brahms - Schaffe in mir, Gott

In Dulci Jubilo

In Dulci Jubilo
Friday 11th December 2009
St Lawrence Church, Stratford-sub-Castle

A candlelit concert in aid of church funds. The programme is structured around the Advent Antiphons, with Christmas and Advent music by Praetorius, Leighton, Byrd, Vaughan Williams and others, making imaginative use of all parts of the building.



Voices, Vales and Voix Celeste

Voices, Valves and Voix Celeste
Saturday 14th November 2009
St Martin's Church, Salisbury

A vibrant programme of contemporary choral music recently commissioned by the John Armitage Memorial Trust, including pieces by Jonathan Dove, James Lark, Elizabeth Winters and Paul Patterson, as well as an arrangement of Langlais's Messe Solonnelle for choir, brass and organ.

With Salisbury Brass Ensemble, organist Simon Hogan, and guest soloists.

Find out more about John Armitage Memorial Trust here.


Choral Evensong
Sunday 9th August 2009
Weston Patrick Church, Hampshire

The Farrant Singers sang choral evensong in this delightful country church to celebrate its patronal festival, following an organ recital by Daniel Cook.

Bruckner - Locus iste
Tomkins - Responses
Alcock - Psalm 84
Gibbons - Second Evening Service
Parry - My soul, there is a country

Concert at Fonthill Gifford Summer concert
Sunday 28th June 2009
Holy Trinity Church, Fonthill Gifford
(in aid of church funds)

A concert featuring settings of words by Shakespeare





Salisbury Vespers Salisbury Vespers
Saturday 23rd May 2009
Salisbury Cathedral

The choir took part in a major collaboration in association with Salisbury International Arts Festival. Hundreds of singers from choirs based in Salisbury joined Salisbury Symphony Orchestra to sing Salisbury Vespers, a new work by Bob Chilcott created to exploit the acoustic world of the main space of Salisbury Cathedral, and drawing on the medieval Use of Sarum.

You can see some photographs of the event at

This video clip shows The Farrant Singers singing in the concert:

Crucifixus pro nobis Crucifixus pro nobis
Saturday 14th March 2009
St Martin's Church, Salisbury

A Lenten programme with organ, including:
James MacMillan - Te deum
Johannes Brahms - Schaffe in mir, Gott; Herzlich tut mich verlangen; O Traurigkeit, O Herzeleid; Warum ist das Licht gegeben?
Gerald Finzi - Lo, the full, final sacrifice
Kenneth Leighton - Crucifixus pro nobis
John Ireland - Greater love hath no man

St Andrew's Church, Bemerton Sunday Worship
Sunday 22nd February 2009

The Farrant Singers took part in a broadcast of BBC Radio 4's Sunday Worship, live from St Andrew's Church at Bemerton, about the life and work of George Herbert. Other participants were Canon Judy Rees, Philippe Honoré, Ronald Blythe and Vikram Seth.

Christmas concert poster Christmas Music and Party
Saturday 6th December 2008
St Martin's Church, Salisbury

A short programme of Christmas music accompanied by strings and organ, including Vaughan Williams' Fantasia on Christmas Carols, Corelli's Christmas Concerto, and more by Britten, Buxtehude, Sweelinck and Byrd. The concert was followed by drinks and a chance to say farewell to Colin Howard.



Anniversary Celebration Weekend
Mass in B Minor, J S Bach
Saturday 18th October 2008
Salisbury Cathedral Services and Recital
Sunday 19th October 2008

The Farrant Singers Collection
Salisbury International Arts Festival
Monday 2nd June 2008

The choir celebrated its 50th anniversary with the first performance of no less than seven new pieces that make up The Farrant Singers Collection, along with other favourites from the repertoire. The near-capacity audience at St Martin's Church included five of the composers, and we were especially pleased to welcome Richard Lloyd, founder of the choir.

The full programme can be downloaded here.

Canterbury Cathedral Services
Sat 29th - Sun 30th March 2008

The choir spent a very enjoyable weekend in Canterbury, singing Evensong on Saturday, and Eucharist and Evensong on Sunday. We stayed at Cathedral Lodge, a new conference facility in the Precincts, and enjoyed exploring the Cathedral, the town and its various hostelries.

The music for the services included an entirely "Farrant" Eucharist, with Richard Shephard's Mass, Richard Lloyd's View me Lord, and David Halls' Ave Verum Corpus. This last anthem was sung facing the entire length of the Cathedral, from beside the Archbishop's throne at the top of the steps - an uplifting and unique experience.

The staff and clergy at the Cathedral were extremely welcoming, and it was good to see old friends from Salisbury such as Robert Willis, now Dean of Canterbury, and Chris Crooks. The sermon even included the relating of a watery tale from "Singing on the River" many years ago!

Candlemas concert poster Music at Candlemas
Saturday 2nd February 2008
St Martin's Church, Salisbury

Handel – Dixit Dominus
Purcell – five anthems
Britten – Choral Dances from Gloriana

The Farrant Singers and Farrant Orchestra
Conductor: Colin Howard
Augusta Hebbert, Mary Chelu (soprano)
Pam Jackson, Andrew Stewart (alto)
Ian Wicks (tenor), Patrick Jordan (bass)
Tim Hone (continuo)

A full house greeted The Farrant Singers as they embarked on the first concert of their ambitious 50th anniversary year.  In store was an unashamedly popular but beautifully balanced programme, linked, as the informative programme notes made clear, by each composer having written music for his respective monarch.

The choir started with a lightness of touch in the dancing motifs of Purcell’s I was glad, moving on with intensity and depth of feeling to Hear my prayer and Jehovah quam multi sunt hostes – this moving music sung exquisitely by choir and soloists (Ian Wicks, tenor and Patrick Jordan, bass).

Britten’s Choral Dances brought a change of mood, and included the seldom performed ‘Spirit-Messenger’ linking interludes between each one, Ian Wicks' mellifluous tenor voice accurate and flexible in some demanding passages.

A return to Purcell brought in the excellent chamber ensemble for Rejoice in the Lord alway.  Led by Naomi Rump, they achieved an enviable period feel for this charming anthem.  The soloists, joined by counter-tenor Andrew Stewart, sang with style and exemplary blend.

Choir and ensemble settled into the pace of Handel’s Dixit Dominus, after a slightly shaky start. They demonstrated a grasp of the light and shade essential for this ‘concerto for voices’.  Each soloist rose magnificently to the challenges Handel set and particular mention should be made of Pam Jackson’s Virgam virtutis (stepping forward from the altos) and of the heart-rending duet, De torrente, between Augusta Hebbert and Mary Chelu, as well as of Tim Hone's sensitive continuo throughout the evening. 

Colin Howard, in his final year as the Farrant’s conductor, shaped and held together the concert with energy and intelligence, giving of his all to choir, ensemble and soloists - Bravo!

Salisbury Journal, 7 February 2008


George Herbert's Pastoral
5th October 2007
St Martin's Church, Salisbury

When The Farrant Singers rehearsed in St Martin's Church for their concert “George Herbert Pastoral” on 5th October, Vision News filmed and interviewed Colin Howard.  The concert was presented in association with Sarum College, as part of their weekend conference entitled “George Herbert's Pastoral: Poetry and Priesthood, Past and Future”.  Herbert was rector of Bemerton & Fuggleston from 1630, and much of his sacred poetry has been set to music by major composers: Britten, Vaughan Williams and Walton were all drawn to Herbert's ‘Antiphon' – Let all the world in ev'ry corner sing, My God and King! The programme included Vaughan Williams' magnificent setting of this poem as part of his Five Mystical Songs. Other settings include King of Glory, King of Peace by Sir William Harris, a favourite of Salisbury Cathedral Girls Choir. Contemporary composers Bob Chilcott, Barry Ferguson, Grayston Ives, Richard Lloyd (founder of The Farrant Singers) and Judith Weir were also represented, in a programme of wide-ranging musical styles.

Also performing his own set of five settings of Herbert poems was local composer/singer Simon McEnery, accompanied by pianist Elizabeth Sweetnam and cellist Rickman Godlee.

In this programme The Farrant Singers, under their conductor Colin Howard, proved again their credentials as one of Salisbury's finest and most innovative chamber choirs.

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The Farrant Singers