Ex Cathedra is one of the UK 's finest choirs, and the flagship Early Music ensemble for Birmingham and the West Midlands. Best known for its critically acclaimed performances of Early Music, and with a burgeoning reputation for its recordings of the French and Latin American Baroque, Ex Cathedra performs a broad spectrum of choral music spanning the fifteenth to twenty-first centuries, and regularly commissions new works.
Founded in Birmingham over 30 years ago by Jeffrey Skidmore, Ex Cathedra has become much more than the chamber choir it originally set out to be, now comprising choir (30-40 singers), consort (8-10 singers), Baroque ensemble/orchestra (leader Nicolette Moonen) and a trailblazing education programme in schools and local communities.
Ex Cathedra presents its own season of eight diverse programmes in a variety of venues in and around Birmingham and London, and has appeared in concert series and festivals across the UK and in Europe, including the BBC Proms, Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music, Spitalfields Festival, Three Choirs Festival, York Early Music Festival, Festival d'Art Sacré in Paris, Lyon Early Music Festival, Lourdes International Festival of Sacred Music, Bruges Early Music Festival and festivals in Italy, Finland and Israel.
The ensemble collaborates regularly with other Birmingham-based arts organisations, including the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra for performances of Berlioz's Roméo et Juliette in Symphony Hall, and Birmingham Royal Ballet on David Bintley's production of Carmina Burana in Birmingham and Edinburgh , which was also recorded for BBC Television. Ex Cathedra has made a dozen critically acclaimed recordings for Hyperion and ASV, and on its own label.
The Ex Cathedra Consort is made up of between eight and ten young professional singers, many of whom also feature regularly as soloists with Ex Cathedra and all of whom sing regularly in the Ex Cathedra chamber choir. The Consort has performed at the Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music, the Turku Festival in Finland , the York Early Music Festival and the Warwick Festival, and last year made its début at the Dartington International Summer School, appearing in concerts during the week, and acting as tutors on the Vocal Chamber Music course. Featuring prominently in Ex Cathedra 's latest CD New World Symphonies, the consort made its début recording for Hyperion in January 2004 of Latin Motets by Martin Peerson.
Celebrating its 20th Anniversary in the 2003-2004 Season, Ex Cathedra's Baroque Orchestra was founded as part of Ex Cathedra 's 1983-1984 Season and made its début with a performance of J.S. Bach's Mass in B Minor (BWV 232). It was the first period instrument orchestra to be established in an English regional city. Led by renowned Baroque violinist Nicolette Moonen, the orchestra is a flexible ensemble combining many of Europe 's top period instrumentalists with promising young newcomers.
Ex Cathedra's commitment to developing young players is an extension of our approach to the development of young singers. Principals from the orchestra, including the leader Nicolette Moonen, regularly give master-classes and coach students at the Birmingham Conservatoire as part of its Early Music programme.