Ex Cathedra
Ex Cathedra is a British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

A choir, chorale or chorus is a musical ensemble of singers. Choral music, in turn, is the music written specifically for such an ensemble to perform.A body of singers who perform together as a group is called a choir or chorus...

 and early music
Early music
Early music is generally understood as comprising all music from the earliest times up to the Renaissance. However, today this term has come to include "any music for which a historically appropriate style of performance must be reconstructed on the basis of surviving scores, treatises,...

Musical ensemble
A musical ensemble is a group of people who perform instrumental or vocal music. In classical music, trios or quartets either blend the sounds of musical instrument families or group together instruments from the same instrument family, such as string ensembles or wind ensembles...

 based in Birmingham
Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands of England. It is the most populous British city outside the capital London, with a population of 1,036,900 , and lies at the heart of the West Midlands conurbation, the second most populous urban area in the United Kingdom with a...

 in the West Midlands
West Midlands (county)
The West Midlands is a metropolitan county in western central England with a 2009 estimated population of 2,638,700. It came into existence as a metropolitan county in 1974 after the passage of the Local Government Act 1972, formed from parts of Staffordshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire. The...

, England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

. It performs choral music spanning the 15th to 21st centuries, and regularly commissions new works.

Ex Cathedra was founded in Birmingham in 1969 by Jeffrey Skidmore
Jeffrey Skidmore
Jeffrey Skidmore is the conductor and artistic director of Ex Cathedra, a choir and early music ensemble based in Birmingham in the West Midlands, England...

, who is its artistic director
Artistic director (music)
An artistic director may refer to someone who directs a musical ensemble, and in this medium, is often abbreviated as simply Director. The typical jobs of a musical artistic director are to choose repertoire for the ensemble, come up with an artistic vision for the group and also a long-term...

 and conductor
Conducting is the art of directing a musical performance by way of visible gestures. The primary duties of the conductor are to unify performers, set the tempo, execute clear preparations and beats, and to listen critically and shape the sound of the ensemble...

. Originally conceived as a chamber choir
Chamber choir
A chamber choir or group of chamber singers is the choral equivalent of a chamber ensemble, using voices instead of instruments. This prestigious choir will usually consist of 20-40 elite and dedicated singers. Several chamber choir formats exist, ranging from barbershop groups to exclusively...

, it now comprises a full choir of about 20 to 40 singers, the Ex Cathedra Consort made up of ten young professional singers who feature regularly as soloists
Solo (music)
In music, a solo is a piece or a section of a piece played or sung by a single performer...

, and a Baroque
Baroque music
Baroque music describes a style of Western Classical music approximately extending from 1600 to 1760. This era follows the Renaissance and was followed in turn by the Classical era...

An orchestra is a sizable instrumental ensemble that contains sections of string, brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments. The term orchestra derives from the Greek ορχήστρα, the name for the area in front of an ancient Greek stage reserved for the Greek chorus...


Each year, the choir presents a season of eight diverse programmes in a variety of venues in and around Birmingham and London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

. It has also participated in concert series and festivals across the UK and in Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, including the BBC Proms
The Proms
The Proms, more formally known as The BBC Proms, or The Henry Wood Promenade Concerts presented by the BBC, is an eight-week summer season of daily orchestral classical music concerts and other events held annually, predominantly in the Royal Albert Hall in London...

, Brighton Early Music Festival, Kilkenny Festival, Lichfield Festival, Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music, Spitalfields Festival, Three Choirs Festival
Three Choirs Festival
The Three Choirs Festival is a music festival held each August alternately at the cathedrals of the Three Counties and originally featuring their three choirs, which remain central to the week-long programme...

 and York Early Music Festival
York Early Music Festival
The York Early Music Festival is an English arts festival devoted mainly to classical music from the 18th century and earlier. It was established in 1977, and takes place in York each July at various venues such as York Minster, the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall at the University of York and the...

. In 2008 it was invited to the Newbury Spring Festival, St. David's Cathedral
St David's Cathedral
St David's Cathedral is situated in St David's in the county of Pembrokeshire, on the most westerly point of Wales.-Early history:The monastic community was founded by Saint David, Abbot of Menevia, who died in AD589...

 Festival, Chelsea
Chelsea, London
Chelsea is an area of West London, England, bounded to the south by the River Thames, where its frontage runs from Chelsea Bridge along the Chelsea Embankment, Cheyne Walk, Lots Road and Chelsea Harbour. Its eastern boundary was once defined by the River Westbourne, which is now in a pipe above...

 Festival and Chichester Festivities
Chichester Cathedral
The Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity, otherwise called Chichester Cathedral, is the seat of the Anglican Bishop of Chichester. It is located in Chichester, in Sussex, England...

. The choir has also appeared at festivals in Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

, Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

, France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 and Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

. The ensemble collaborates regularly with other Birmingham-based arts organizations, including Birmingham Royal Ballet
Birmingham Royal Ballet
Birmingham Royal Ballet is one of the three major ballet companies of the United Kingdom, alongside the Royal Ballet and the English National Ballet....

 and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra is a British orchestra based in Birmingham, England. The Orchestra's current chief executive, appointed in 1999, is Stephen Maddock...

. It became an Associate Artist at the Birmingham Town Hall
Birmingham Town Hall
Birmingham Town Hall is a Grade I listed concert and meeting venue in Victoria Square, Birmingham, England. It was created as a home for the Birmingham Triennial Music Festival established in 1784, the purpose of which was to raise funds for the General Hospital, after St Philip's Church became...

 in 2007.
In 2009 Ex Cathedra was due to celebrate its 40th anniversary with a programme, XL Anniversary, that included a performance of Mendelssohn
Felix Mendelssohn
Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Barthóldy , use the form 'Mendelssohn' and not 'Mendelssohn Bartholdy'. The Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians gives ' Felix Mendelssohn' as the entry, with 'Mendelssohn' used in the body text...

's Elijah
Elijah (oratorio)
Elijah, in German: Elias, is an oratorio written by Felix Mendelssohn in 1846 for the Birmingham Festival. It depicts various events in the life of the Biblical prophet Elijah, taken from the books 1 Kings and 2 Kings in the Old Testament....

on 18 October 2008, and to feature Elgar
Edward Elgar
Sir Edward William Elgar, 1st Baronet OM, GCVO was an English composer, many of whose works have entered the British and international classical concert repertoire. Among his best-known compositions are orchestral works including the Enigma Variations, the Pomp and Circumstance Marches, concertos...

's The Dream of Gerontius
The Dream of Gerontius
The Dream of Gerontius, popularly called just Gerontius, is a work for voices and orchestra in two parts composed by Edward Elgar in 1900, to text from the poem by John Henry Newman. It relates the journey of a pious man's soul from his deathbed to his judgment before God and settling into Purgatory...

in November 2009 and commissions from James MacMillan
James MacMillan (musician)
James MacMillan CBE is a Scottish classical composer and conductor.-Early life:MacMillan was born at Kilwinning, in North Ayrshire, but lived in the East Ayrshire town of Cumnock until 1977....

 and Fyfe Hutchins
Fyfe Dangerfield
Fyfe Antony Dangerfield Hutchins is an English musician and songwriter, best known as the founding member of the indie rock band Guillemots.-Early life:...

. The choir also planned to make recordings of John Joubert
John Joubert (composer)
John Joubert is a British composer of South African descent, particularly of choral works. He has lived in Moseley, a suburb of Birmingham, England, for over 40 years. A music academic at the universities of Hull and Birmingham for 36 years, Joubert took early retirement in 1986 to concentrate on...

's oratorio
An oratorio is a large musical composition including an orchestra, a choir, and soloists. Like an opera, an oratorio includes the use of a choir, soloists, an ensemble, various distinguishable characters, and arias...

 Wings of Faith, and pieces from its annual Christmas Music by Candlelight concerts.

Ex Cathedra Baroque Orchestra

The first period instrument orchestra to be established in an English regional city, Ex Cathedra's Baroque Orchestra was founded as part of the choir's 1983–1984 season and made its début with a performance of Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer, organist, harpsichordist, violist, and violinist whose sacred and secular works for choir, orchestra, and solo instruments drew together the strands of the Baroque period and brought it to its ultimate maturity...

's Mass in B Minor. The orchestra's principals regularly give master class
Master class
A master class is a class given to students of a particular discipline by an expert of that discipline—usually music, but also painting, drama, or any of the arts....

es and coach students at the Birmingham Conservatoire as part of its early music programme.

Music education

Ex Cathedra has its own youth and children's choirs, the Academy of Vocal Music (for singers aged 16 years and upwards, trained by Jeffrey Skidmore) and the Junior Academy (6 to 16 years, trained by Rebecca Ledgard and Ex Cathedra vocal tutors), which meet on a project basis. In addition, since 1990 the choir has been involved in education programmes in schools and local communities. It runs Ring of Sound, an intergenerational choir for the Perry Common
Perry Common
Perry Common is an area of Kingstanding, in the constituency of Erdington, Birmingham, England.College High School is located in Perry Common as are the Hawthorn Shopping Centre on Hawthorn Road and Witton Lakes....

 Regeneration Project; the Singing Medicine project at five wards of the Birmingham Children's Hospital
Birmingham Children's Hospital
The Birmingham Children's Hospital is a children's hospital located in Birmingham, England.It provides general and emergency health care services to children in Birmingham, the West Midlands and beyond. It specialises in liver transplantation, cardiac, and neonatal surgery...

; and singing workshops for Key Stage 2
Key Stage 2
Key Stage 2 is the legal term for the four years of schooling in maintained schools in England and Wales normally known as Year 3, Year 4, Year 5 and Year 6, when pupils are aged between 7 and 11. The term is applied differently in Northern Ireland where it refers to pupils in Year 5, Year 6 and...

 boys at an inner-city
Inner city
The inner city is the central area of a major city or metropolis. In the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Ireland, the term is often applied to the lower-income residential districts in the city centre and nearby areas...

 Birmingham primary school
Primary education
A primary school is an institution in which children receive the first stage of compulsory education known as primary or elementary education. Primary school is the preferred term in the United Kingdom and many Commonwealth Nations, and in most publications of the United Nations Educational,...

; In the 2007–2008 academic year, Ex Cathedra conducted its Singing Playgrounds project in 24 schools in Birmingham, Coventry
Coventry is a city and metropolitan borough in the county of West Midlands in England. Coventry is the 9th largest city in England and the 11th largest in the United Kingdom. It is also the second largest city in the English Midlands, after Birmingham, with a population of 300,848, although...

, Derby
Derby , is a city and unitary authority in the East Midlands region of England. It lies upon the banks of the River Derwent and is located in the south of the ceremonial county of Derbyshire. In the 2001 census, the population of the city was 233,700, whilst that of the Derby Urban Area was 229,407...

 and London as part of the government's Sing Up
Sing Up
Sing Up is a UK Government funded national singing programme which aims to ensure that all primary school-aged children are able to access high-quality singing activities every day and that, over time, all primary schools should become 'singing schools'...

 initiative. It also introduced a project called Singing Mix, based on Singing Playgrounds, to help new Polish
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 immigrant children to integrate. In addition, Ex Cathedra conducts activities for the Birmingham City Council
Birmingham City Council
The Birmingham City Council is the body responsible for the governance of the City of Birmingham in England, which has been a metropolitan district since 1974. It is the most populated local authority in the United Kingdom with, following a reorganisation of boundaries in June 2004, 120 Birmingham...

's Arts Champions and Creative Futures schemes.


Ex Cathedra has made a number of critically acclaimed recordings for ASV Records
ASV Records
ASV Records is a London-based record label set up by Harley Usill, founder of Argo Records, Decca producer and former Argo General Manager, Kevin Daly, and producer Jack Boyce, after Argo's parent company Decca was bought by Polygram in 1980. ASV stands for "Academy Sound and Vision"...

 and Hyperion Records
Hyperion Records
Hyperion Records is an independent British classical record label.-History:The company was named after Hyperion, one of the Titans of Greek mythology. It was founded by George Edward Perry, widely known as "Ted", in 1980. Early LP releases included rarely recorded 20th century British music by...

, and on its own label. It is well known for its recordings of French
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and Latin America
Latin America
Latin America is a region of the Americas where Romance languages  – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² , almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area...

n Baroque music
Baroque music
Baroque music describes a style of Western Classical music approximately extending from 1600 to 1760. This era follows the Renaissance and was followed in turn by the Classical era...

Title and CD number Release date Performers
Antonio Vivaldi
Antonio Lucio Vivaldi , nicknamed because of his red hair, was an Italian Baroque composer, priest, and virtuoso violinist, born in Venice. Vivaldi is recognized as one of the greatest Baroque composers, and his influence during his lifetime was widespread over Europe...

: Vespers

1991 Ex Cathedra Chamber Choir and Baroque Orchestra
Jeffrey Skidmore
Michel-Richard de Lalande
Michel Richard Delalande
Michel Richard Delalande [de Lalande] was a French Baroque composer and organist who was in the service of King Louis XIV. He was one of the most important composers of grand motets. He also wrote orchestral suites known as "Simphonies pour les Soupers du Roy" and ballets...

: Regina Coeli; De Profundis; Cantate Domino

ASV Gaudeamus CD GAU 141
16 January 1995 Ex Cathedra Chamber Choir and Baroque Orchestra (leader Micaela Comberti)
Jeffrey Skidmore
Sanctus: Baroque Music for the Nativity
ASV Gaudeamus CD GAU 166
Ex Cathedra Chamber Choir and Baroque Orchestra
Jeffrey Skidmore
Claudio Monteverdi
Claudio Giovanni Antonio Monteverdi – 29 November 1643) was an Italian composer, gambist, and singer.Monteverdi's work, often regarded as revolutionary, marked the transition from the Renaissance style of music to that of the Baroque period. He developed two individual styles of composition – the...

: Madrigali Fatta Spirituale

ASV Gaudeamus CD GAU 174
[Unknown] Ex Cathedra
Jeffrey Skidmore
Sir Christèmas: Carols Old and New
ASV Gaudeamus CD DCA 912
21 February 1995 Ex Cathedra
Jeffrey Skidmore
Orlande de Lassus
Orlande de Lassus
Orlande de Lassus was a Franco-Flemish composer of the late Renaissance...

: Sacred Choral Music; Missa ad Imitationem Vinum Bonum

ASV Gaudeamus CD GAU 150
13 March 1996 Ex Cathedra
His Majesty's Sagbutts and Cornetts
Jeffrey Skidmore
A New Heaven: 1,000 Years of Sacred Choral Music
2000 Ex Cathedra
Jeffrey Skidmore
Christmas Music by Candlelight: Alleluya, a New Work
2001 Ex Cathedra
Jeffrey Skidmore
New World Symphonies: Baroque Music from Latin America
Hyperion Records
Hyperion Records is an independent British classical record label.-History:The company was named after Hyperion, one of the Titans of Greek mythology. It was founded by George Edward Perry, widely known as "Ted", in 1980. Early LP releases included rarely recorded 20th century British music by...

7 April 2003 Ex Cathedra
Jeffrey Skidmore
Marc-Antoine Charpentier
Marc-Antoine Charpentier, , was a French composer of the Baroque era.Exceptionally prolific and versatile, he produced compositions of the highest quality in several genres...

: Messe à Quatre Chœurs; Salve Regina à Trois Chœurs; Salut de la Veille des 'O'; Le Reniement de St Pierre

Hyperion CDA67435
5 January 2004 Ex Cathedra
Jeffrey Skidmore
Jean-Philippe Rameau
Jean-Philippe Rameau was one of the most important French composers and music theorists of the Baroque era. He replaced Jean-Baptiste Lully as the dominant composer of French opera and is also considered the leading French composer for the harpsichord of his time, alongside François...

: Règne Amour: Love Songs from the Operas

Hyperion CDA67447
3 May 2004 Carolyn Sampson
Ex Cathedra Choir and Baroque Orchestra
Jeffrey Skidmore
Martin Peerson
Martin Peerson was an English composer, organist and virginalist...

: Latin Motets

Hyperion CDA67490
3 January 2005 Ex Cathedra Consort
Jeffrey Skidmore
Moon, Sun & All Things: Baroque Music from Latin America – 2
Hyperion CDA67524
29 August 2005 Ex Cathedra
Jeffrey Skidmore
Fire Burning in Snow: Latin American Baroque 3
Hyperion CDA67600
28 January 2008 Ex Cathedra
Jeffrey Skidmore
J.S Bach
Bạch is a Vietnamese surname. The name is transliterated as Bai in Chinese and Baek, in Korean.Bach is the anglicized variation of the surname Bạch.-Notable people with the surname Bạch:* Bạch Liêu...

: St Matthew Passion

Orchid ORC100007
1 November 2009 Ex Cathedra
Jeffrey Skidmore
Grace Davidson - Soprano I
Mark Chambers - Alto I
Jeremy Budd - Tenor I & Evangelist
Eamonn Dougan - Bass I & Jesus
Greg Skidmore - Bass I & Pilate
Natalie Clifton-Griffith - Soprano II
Matthew Venner - Alto II
Christopher Watson - Tenor II
James Birchall - Bass II
Joy in the morning
Orchid ORC100008
1 November 2009 Ex Cathedra
Jeffrey Skidmore
Andrew Fletcher - organ
Orlande de Lassus
Orlande de Lassus
Orlande de Lassus was a Franco-Flemish composer of the late Renaissance...

: St Matthew Passion

1 April 2011 Ex Cathedra Consort
Jeffrey Skidmore
Nicholas Mulroy - Evangelist
Greg Skidmore - Jesus

Hyperion lawsuit

In 2001, Ex Cathedra recorded four sacred works by Michel-Richard de Lalande for Hyperion Records. The sessions used newly prepared editions made by scholar Lionel Sawkins. Sawkins went on to sue Hyperion for royalties arising from his claimed copyright
Copyright is a legal concept, enacted by most governments, giving the creator of an original work exclusive rights to it, usually for a limited time...

 in the editions. The recording was issued but subsequently withdrawn from the market after Sawkins won the lawsuit and subsequent appeal. In his judgment in the initial case, Mr Justice Patten was critical of Ex Cathedra, stating: "It was clear to me that Ex Cathedra really played both sides off to ensure that the recording did proceed." The criticism was regarded as unfair by Ex Cathedra's chairman John Pulford, who said: "We were not on trial and had no legal representation to cover our interests. We did our best, and I did not expect our reputation would be called into question." Simon Perry, the director of Hyperion, said he did not realize copyright in the de Lalande works was being claimed by Sawkins until shortly before the recording session. Cancelling the session would have been costly to Hyperion. Perry felt that the dispute between Hyperion and Sawkins had been contributed to by poor communication by Ex Cathedra, which was then in the process of changing general managers, although he said: "I think there was a series of errors, but I don't think there was any attempt to do anything wrong."

Upon Hyperion's appeal, the Court of Appeal
Court of Appeal of England and Wales
The Court of Appeal of England and Wales is the second most senior court in the English legal system, with only the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom above it...

 held on 19 May 2005 that Sawkins owned the copyright in his modern performing editions of the de Lalande music, even though de Lalande's music itself was out of copyright. The decision was not welcomed by all. Peter Phillips, the director of the Tallis Scholars
Tallis Scholars
The Tallis Scholars are a British vocal ensemble normally consisting of two singers per part, with a core group of ten singers.Formed in 1973 by their director Peter Phillips, they specialise in performing a cappella sacred vocal music written during the Renaissance by composers from all over Europe...

 and a music editor himself, said: "All the music I perform has to be edited, or we couldn't read it. But copyright should be there ... to reward creativity, not scholarship or diligence. How much an editor did or did not write should never be asked and judged upon during a million-pound lawsuit involving a small and innovative recording company."

See also

  • Arts in Birmingham – classical music
  • Jeffrey Skidmore
    Jeffrey Skidmore
    Jeffrey Skidmore is the conductor and artistic director of Ex Cathedra, a choir and early music ensemble based in Birmingham in the West Midlands, England...

  • List of early music ensembles

External links

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