Vespers of 1610
Saturday 1 April 2017 at 7:30pm
  Date:  Saturday 1 April 2017
  Time: 7:30pm
  Venue:  St Matthew’s Church, Kettering Road, Northampton, NN1 4RY
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Monteverdi’s Vespers is an iconic work in more ways than one. For the composer, who published it 400 years ago in 1610, it was a calculated summation of his skill as a writer of sacred music at a time when he most needed to advertise it. Aged 43, and largely known as a madrigalist, he wanted to escape the frustrations of working at the court of the Gonzaga dukes in Mantua and find a new job, ideally at the Papal chapel. In the event, the publication almost certainly helped him gain a prestigious alternative, the post of maestro di cappella at St Mark’s in Venice (where the Northampton Bach Choir will be singing at a Mass on the transferred Feast of the Ascension in May 2017), which he would keep until his death in 1643.

For us today, however, the work has become one of the great pillars of the Baroque vocal-and-orchestral repertoire, a staple of the living canon like Handel’s Messiah or Bach’s Mass in B minor. And this is in spite of the fact that its performance history is relatively short; the first full public performances were in the 1930s and the first recordings in the 1950s, making the Vespers an essentially modern presence. Indeed, its growing familiarity and reputation can be seen as iconic of something that Monteverdi himself would have had difficulty comprehending. For the story of the rise of the Monteverdi Vespers is the story of the post-war early music movement. This performance comes in 450th anniversary year of the birth of Monteverdi.

We are delighted to be joined once again by Dr Kah-Ming Ng and his period orchestra Charivari Agréable, and our experienced soloists (no fewer than six of them!) include members of both the Monteverdi Choir and The Sixteen. Together with the Northampton Bach Choir, under the inspired direction of our Musical Director, this is one concert not to miss, especially as it will utilise the various spatial possibilities of St Matthew’s Church, including the rarely used Minstrel’s Gallery, as well as the West Gallery, which featured so memorably in our recent performance of Verdi’s Requiem.


Northampton Bach Choir
Charivari Agréable
Soprano -
Kirsty Hopkins
Soprano - Charlotte Mobbs
Tenor - Gwilym Bowen
Tenor - Robert Anthony Gardiner
Bass - James Birchall
Bass - Robert Rice
The Chapel Choir of Malcolm Arnold Academy
Conductor - Lee Dunleavy

Monteverdi - Vespers of 1610

Kirsty Hopkins

Kirsty Hopkins read Music at Manchester University and then continued her post-graduate vocal training under Linda Hirst at Trinity College of Music in London (now Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance) where she won the Elizabeth Schumann Lieder Prize. She now enjoys a versatile career performing all over the world with some of today’s most exciting and renowned conductors and ensembles. Kirsty is a member of The Sixteen and features on a recording of Monteverdi Vespers with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

Charlotte Mobbs

Charlotte Mobbs enjoys a career as a soloist and ensemble singer performing with many of the UKs finest conductors all over the world. Charlotte graduated from the Welsh College of Music and Drama in 1997 and continued her studies at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. She now enjoys a career as a soloist and ensemble singer performing with many of the UK’s finest conductors all over the world. Charlotte recently sang solos in Monteverdi Vespers for both The Sixteen and the Monteverdi Choir.

Robert Anthony Gardiner

British tenor Robert Anthony Gardiner was born and educated in Birmingham. After gaining a BSc Honours in astrophysics at Durham University and a Certificate of Education at Manchester University, he studied at the Royal Northern College of Music, Frankfurt Opera School and the National Opera Studio and made his Royal Opera House debut as Egoldo Mathilde di Shabran.

Recent engagements include Eurimaco in Il Ritorno D’Ulisse for English Touring Opera, Don Ottavio for Diva Opera, a concert performance of Ywain Gawain with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Polidoro La Finta Semplice for Bampton Classical Opera, Lensky Onegin for Grange Park Opera, Siebel in Faust for Opera North/Tallinn Birgita Festival, Max Fantasio for Opera Rara, Belmonte in Die Entfürung aus dem Serail for Iford Festival, and Strážnik in Hubička by Smetana for Wexford Festival Opera.

He has given many solo recitals and has sung with choirs and choral societies all over the UK. Recent performances include Stravinsky’s Mavra with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under Sakari Oramo, Messiah in Gloucester Cathedral, St Matthew Passion with the Leicester Bach Choir, Britten’s Serenade for tenor, horn and strings with the Filarmonica Arturo Toscanini, and Britten’s Michelangelo Songs in Lugo.

Outside of singing, Robert is a keen cyclist, mountaineer, furniture restorer and enjoys tending to his allotment.

Gwilym Bowen

Gwilym Bowen was born in Hereford and held a choral scholarship at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated with double-First class honours in Music, subsequently studying at the Royal Academy of Music. He regularly works with Masaaki Suzuki and Bach Collegium Japan, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Holst Singers, Die Kölner Akademie and Orkiestra Historyczna. He most recently sang Montevedi Vespers with the Chelmsford Singers and Canzona.

James Birchall

James Birchall began his musical education as a chorister at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle and later studied at St John’s College, Cambridge, the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. He has sung many of the major oratorio roles, including performances with the CBSO and at the Three Choirs Festival. He is experienced on the opera stage, and has performed Monteverdi Vespers on numerous occasions.

Robert Rice

Robert Rice held a choral scholarship at King’s College, Cambridge, and later studied at the Royal Academy of Music. His repertoire is extensive and covers everything from Bach’s Passions, to modern works by Birtwistle and Maxwell Davies, right through to his own vocal arrangements, many for the King’s Singers and published by Novello & Co. Ltd. He teaches members of the National Youth Choir, Eton Choral Courses, and at both Oxford and Cambridge Universities. He most recently sang Monteverdi Vespers with the Royal Choral Society.