The Ensemble Cordial is a choir and orchestra, consisting of French, British, German and Swiss musicians and singers, both professional and amateur. This year, in addition to many good amateurs of all ages, we have attracted several talented young musicians and are also honoured to have amongst us some experienced internationally-renowned artists. Some of them are leading sections of the orchestra or are also performing solo and in quartets in concerts built around the rehearsal programme of the Ensemble during Musique-Cordiale events in Britain and France.
Recently, the Ensemble has performed high quality concerts in Provence and in England. Its activities culminate in the Musique-Cordiale Summer Music Festival in the Var, with a rehearsal base in Seillans, a lovely medieval "village perché" in the hills to the NW of Nice and a short drive to the Mediterranean. The Ensemble operates under the musical direction of Errol Girdlestone. Participants become involved in several days of rehearsal (for some after months of practice in smaller groups) and public concert performances, along with much enjoyment of local food, wine, other musical offerings and good company in a spirit of multi-lingual entente cordiale.
In 2005, following the success of 2004 performances of works by Frank Martin, J.S. Bach & Tavener, Ensemble Cordial sang and played J.S. Bach's Mass in B Minor (BWV 232) to the exacting standard that is becoming its hallmark. In 2006, the Ensemble's repertoire will be the J.S. Bach's Magnificat (BWV 243) & W.A. Mozart's Great C Minor Mass.
Though the Ensemble is ad hoc, coming together to rehearse and perform only a few times each year, it has many long-standing and enthusiastic members, most of whom also sing or play in other choirs and orchestras. Early each year, we invite capable new singers and players to share in its annual musical holiday experience and in future shorter encounters in Europe. We are already reviewing choral and orchestral pieces for the Ensemble to sing and play in 2006 and beyond. Because the best acoustic venues in the historic localities where the Ensemble has performed and rehearsed tend to be lovely old churches and cathedrals, this predisposes us towards a selection from the great sacred musical repertoire. But other exciting and challenging pieces, especially from contemporary composers, are also on the short-list. The repertoire includes a capella pieces, music for orchestra alone and some of the great choral works that involve both orchestra and choir.
Under the artistic direction of Pippa Pawlik, Ensemble Cordial performances provide the musical centre-piece to the emerging Musique-Cordiale summer Festival in the Var and its autumn music weekend, which takes place the umbrella of the Canterbury Festival, in England.