Exmoor Explorations 4: Sunday 12 March 2017

Poulenc Mass in G Major

1400 – 2100 on Sunday 12 March 2017

An afternoon and evening exploring some classics of 20th-century French church repertoire:

PoulencMass in G major for unaccompanied choir
Duruflé – 4 motets on Gregorian themes
Messiaen – O sacrum convivium

NB: the principal work being explored this time is the Poulenc Mass (see Conductor’s notes below)

More about the Explorations series.


St Stephen’s Church, Gloucester Road, (entrance in Southwell Gardens) London SW7 4RL. Nearest tube Gloucester Road.


£15 cash on the door including free music hire, tea and coffee.

Provisional Timetable

1400 Rehearsal
1515 Short break and soprano solo jump-off (see below)
1545 Rehearsal
1645 Short break
1700 Rehearsal
1745 High tea (see below) and solo run-through
1845 Revision as required
1945 Informal performance of all items (friends are welcome to come and listen)
2030 Finish

Conductor’s Notes

The minutiae of the published score of Poulenc’s exquisite unaccompanied Mass in G (there’s a very serviceable recording here) are tantalising because they imply performance by a far larger choir than tends to perform it these days. I’ll explain this conundrum when I see you. Partly for that reason, but mainly because it is a wonderful piece, I’ve long wanted to programme it for the Tallis Festival; but have always fought shy because, whilst it is only 18 minutes long, I have learned through long and sometimes painful experience to allow 100 minutes’ rehearsal per minute of music when doing unaccompanied Poulenc to an objectively-excellent standard. So it would be high risk. But that makes it ideal material for an Exploration and, if it goes well, who knows where that might lead!

From the same tradition, but in subtly different styles, the easier and hence more familiar Duruflé and Messiaen numbers are there for comparison, enjoyment, and for light relief should it be needed. But the focus of the event is the Poulenc.


Tea and coffee will be provided at suitable intervals. Bring your own high tea, forage locally, or bring a larger dish (roughly 9-12 average portions) to share. Keep a note of all the ingredients, please!

Poulenc Solo

The Poulenc contains a short but technical sop/mezzo solo. Let us know if you’re interested and we’ll have an informal audition on the day. We’ll gladly send you the relevant pages in advance if you let me know in good time.

How to Apply

Contact alison.benbow@exmoorsingers.org to let us know you’re coming. That way we can make sure we have enough scores.