Exmoor Explorations 6: Saturday 6 May 2017

Modern Madrigals

1100 – 1800 on SATURDAY 6 May 2017

Joby Talbot – The Wishing Tree
John RutterFive birthday madrigals

PLUS John Wilbye – Draw on, sweet Night

You can find more details of the main works being explored this time in the Conductor’s notes below.

More about Exmoor Explorations.


St Stephen’s Church Hall, 48 Emperor’s Gate, London SW7 4HJ. Nearest tube Gloucester Road. The hall is under another ex-church, now a medical practice, and this view shows the passage to the entrance; Gloucester Road is off to the right.


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

Provisional Timetable

1100 Rehearsal
1215 Short break
1230 Rehearsal
1345 Lunch break
1430 Rehearsal
1530 Short break
1545 Revision as required
1645 Informal performance of all items (friends are welcome to come and listen)
1800 Finish

How to Apply

Simply fill in this short form. Please apply by Bank Holiday Monday, 1 May so we know how many scores we need.

Conductor’s Notes

This is an unashamedly (and, some may think, unexpectedly) challenging selection of songs that suit early summer and will be new to many.

Many of you will be acquainted with León from Joby Talbot’s sequence The path of miracles. His 8-part setting of The Wishing Tree by Kathleen Jamie is largely homophonic; the rhythms look complex on the page but I’ve worked out a way to teach them so fear not. The best recording freely available online is here and I am quietly proud of it; this beautiful and oddly moving piece is surprisingly slow-burn (given its 4 minutes’ span) so stay with it, please. I really want to introduce this unique work to you all.

John Rutter made his set of five Birthday madrigals for choir and piano to celebrate the 75th birthday in 1994 of jazz legend George Shearing. Rutter is outwith his commercial comfort zone here and these exquisitely-constructed pieces will challenge his sceptics (though I’m a huge fan of his more commercial output too). Here’s an engaging and detailed amateur rendition of the first one. Leave your preconceptions at the door and come in!


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


Watch ‘It was a lover and his lass‘ from Rutter’s Birthday madrigals
Listen to Exmoor Singers performing Talbot’s The Wishing Tree
Read Kathleen Jamie’s poem The Wishing Tree
Listen to Wilbye’s Draw on, sweet Night