•    Exeter Festival Chorus, ready to sing together Open or Close
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    The photograph shows EFC in 2016, just before a concert at Dartington Hall – happy days! Despite the sad circumstances that prevail now, since April the choir members have maintained a series of weekly rehearsals from home, directed online by our Music Director, Nigel Perrin. We hope to resume limited ‘in-person’ rehearsals as soon as we are allowed by the evolving public health regulations for the coronavirus pandemic. Because of concern for the safety of singers and audience, we have regretfully postponed a concert that was planned for November 2020, but we are keeping our options open for some smaller events as we approach Christmas – details will be posted here on our website.

    We invite potential new singers to get in touch during the summer and autumn – please see the details under the ‘Join’ tab.

    We have definite plans (to be announced soon) for spring and summer 2021, when we hope to welcome our friends, patrons, and audience to sparkling choral programmes in Exeter and Devon.

    In the meantime, you may like to read Reviews of our recent concerts, or to consult 'What Was On', the archive list of all concerts since the Chorus was founded in 1993.

    Booking for our workshop has been suspended until we can announce a new date in 2021- we want to offer everyone the chance to sing the parts of 'Messiah' that other choral societies do not reach, to have fun with other singers and to learn about Handel's best-known work.

    Please keep in touch.
    Liz Carrey
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  •    Choral Workshop 2021: Handel Messiah POSTPONED Open or Close
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    Date to be confirmed
    Choral Workshop
    Handel: Messiah
    Belmont Chapel Exeter, 9.30am - 5.00pm

    Nigel Perrin director

    Peter Adcock accompanist

    Our annual choral workshop is an open invitation for singers from far and wide to join us in a day’s exploration and cameo performance of a masterwork in the choral repertoire. In 2021 we are tackling Handel's Messiah.

    We have never chosen Messiah for a choral workshop until now, partly because the work is so well-known; there are so many ‘scratch’ performances; and many, if not most, of the singers at the workshop will have it firmly in their repertoire. However, we aim to get right to the core of this celebrated piece of music in the 2021 workshop, working on some of the choruses which are less familiar or not often performed, together, of course, with the favourites. We will also all be having a crack at tackling the wonderful arias usually performed by soloists!

    The work is rightly considered to be one of the great masterpieces of choral composition, and is by far the most celebrated of Handel’s oratorios. The sheer physical pleasure of the music, together with its sense of joy combined with reverence, has truly stood the test of time. Come and explore its hidden depths with us!

    Price: registration fee £20 (£5 for children under 18 years and students)
    Score: New Novello Watkins Shaw edition
    Score hire is £3, payable at the time of booking.
    We ask for a £10 returnable deposit on the day.
    When booking online, please select the price for your voice part with or without score as appropriate.

    Bookings for this event will open when a revised date has been confirmed with Belmont Chapel.
    Tickets may also be booked by phone through TicketSource: 0333 666 3366. Lines are open 9am-7pm weekdays (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-5pm Saturdays. Calls are charged at national rate and are included in free minutes.
    There is a fee of £1.75 per transaction for this service.
    Tickets are also available in person or by phone from Exeter Tickets, Dix’s Field, Exeter: 01392 665 885.

    Venue: Belmont Chapel, Western Way, Exeter EX1 2DB

    About the day:

    09.30 Registration opens.
    10.00 We start the day with a selection of warm-ups before we turn to the work itself. The proceedings will be interspersed with practice of vocal technique and a plentiful supply of Nigel’s anecdotes.
    11.20 A break for complimentary refreshments, followed by further study.
    13.00 We break for lunch. You’re welcome to enjoy a packed lunch at the venue or forage in the many catering options in the nearby city centre.
    14.15 We resume our study.
    15.40 A break for further complimentary refreshments.
    16.00 Our cameo performance starts.
    17.00 Our day ends.

    Click to see a short video from our 2013 Choral Workshop.

    The Chapel is in the centre of the city. There is no parking at the Chapel itself, but paid public parking is available at Triangle Car Park EX1 2BL behind the Chapel or at Summerland Gate EX1 2LB opposite it. There are Park & Ride services; details are available here.

    Further details:
    t 0845 600 5441 (Calls cost 7p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge.)
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  •    Open Rehearsals Open or Close
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    EFC is currently not meeting for rehearsals due to Covid-19 restrictions and guidelines.

    EFC is an auditioning choir, but we invite interested singers to attend Open Rehearsals (or ordinary ones) to get an idea of how we work.

    Dates and details will be published here when rehearsals are resumed.

    For more information about our open rehearsals please see this page.

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Archived Concerts

The Commandant General’s Speech in Exeter Cathedral at the Eternal Voices concert on Saturday 20 November 2010

Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen, my name is Buster Howes and I have the great privilege of commanding the Royal Marines and of saying thank you to the many people who have made this remarkable evening possible.

As ever, one ... if not the star of the show is this sublime old Cathedral Church of St Peter – founded in 1050 ... An enduring, colossal, reassuring, presence in our very active military, operational lives. It marks our departures and celebrates our home-comings from across the globe. And on occasion watches over my Boys as they are carried carefully home, shoulder high, beneath the Union Flag ... or when – as tonight - we
celebrate their memory.

The tribal heart-land of the Corps is in the West Country. The vivid, red earth is deeply engrained in our uniforms. Six of the seven Commando Units of the Brigade, together with its Headquarters and the Centre of Amphibious Specialisation, are here. The crucible of the organisation – the Commando Training Centre is just up the road, on the Exe, at Lympstone, - where no opportunity is lost to go running in all that treacly, estuarine mud!
So Devon is our home and, like it or not, by dint of proximity, if not by blood, you too are part of the Corps Family ... We are your Marines.

Which is why your presence here and support, this evening, is so important.

The Boys … do care deeply that you - and the populace of Britain – care. That you are interested and want to understand what they do – particularly, currently in Afghanistan. They are sensitive to the knowledge that they are not just randomly ‘feasting with
panthers’ - engaged in some lethal but essentially irrelevant struggle, while a preoccupied nation watches the X-Factor on their televisions.

The Royal Marines pro rata have sustained two and a half times as many battlefield fatalities and injuries in Helmand province as any other organisation in Defence; principally because we have been committed to operations in Afghanistan more consistently than any other.

One month ago, 40 Commando, returned home to Taunton from their most recent tour, in Sangin - the most hostile district in the entire country. Twenty one of the Battle Group were killed and 92 were wounded. Those occupying certain outposts confronted a 95%
chance of encountering the enemy whenever they went out on patrol - and on average, they mounted 7 patrols per day. A Rifleman lived with a 1 in 5 chance of being killed or injured over the duration of his 6–month deployment.

Perhaps remarkably, they remain focused, resilient, clear in their purpose and undaunted. Proud of their long history and their Commando legacy, they – to a man – regard themselves as custodians of an heroic tradition and are bound by the brotherhood of a shared ideal and ordeal. They are as jaunty, mischievous, tough and keen to go out on ‘ops’ as ever they were …

And so to my ‘thank yous’; unsurprisingly, it’s quite a long list:

Thank you to:
The Dean of Exeter Cathedral – The Very Reverend Jonathan Meyrick - and the Chapter

Sir Trevor MacDonald – tonight’s compère and narrator

Thank you to Adam Gorb – the composer of Eternal Voices

And to Ben Kaye – the librettist

Thank you to Alison Kettlewell – the solo mezzo soprano in Eternal Voices

And to Guy Fenton – the solo treble – well done Guy!

And to the Exeter Festival Chorus and their conductor Nigel Perrin

And to the organising Committee from the Exeter Festival Chorus, especially the chairman Dr Alastair Logan, Rosalind Beetham and Val Arndt

I would also like to thank the many sponsors and donors whose generosity has underpinned this creative endeavour

And last but not least I would acknowledge:

The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Commando Training Centre, Lympstone, augmented by musicians from the Royal Marines Band Collingwood - conducted by Lieutenant Colonel Nick Grace, the principal Director of music of the Royal Marines.

40 members of this Band will deploy to Afghanistan with the Brigade in April, as ambulance drivers, radio operators and transport coordinators.

This has been a stirring and poignant concert.

There are families of fallen Marines here in the audience tonight. I hope that this musical tribute to your sons, brothers and loved-ones – particularly Eternal Voices, which you have been so closely engaged with - will have helped in the long sense making process associated with your loss and may, in some small way, have salved your grief.

We, in uniform, well recognize the risks and precariousness of our profession and the essentially ephemeral and transitory nature of life. And in consequence, day to day, we try to live with energy and glee, to live on, with a fiercer intensity, on behalf of our lost comrades too …

‘How thin the cloth, how fine the thread
That cloaks the living from the dead;
How narrowly, from breath to breath,
We plait our rendezvous with death.

How swift the tenant flees the gate;
The landlord’s writ, come soon or late,
Foreclosing slum or stately hall,
Hard bailiffs at His beck and call.

How feather-light the feeble spark
That shields us from the greedy dark;
Un-jessed our souls like falcons fly!
How weak the lure, how wide the sky!’

Felix Dennis crystallizes the thought.

Henri Maria Remarque wrote of the power of voices on the Western Front in the First World War:

‘These voices, these quiet words, these footsteps in the trench behind me recall me at a bound from the terrible loneliness and fear of death by which I had been almost destroyed. They are more to me than life, those voices, they are more than motherliness and more than fear, they are the strongest most comforting thing there is anywhere, they are the voices of my comrades.’

... ‘Eternal Voices’ ... Thank You.