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Singing holidays run by singers for singers

Early Music Week in Ghent - 28 July to 4 August 2019

Directed by David Allinson


Mary, the Angels, and music of Mystic Adoration: Renaissance Music in Ghent


David Allinson writes "I am thrilled to be leading a week of Renaissance music in Ghent, the Jewel of Flanders, with its glorious architecture steeped in artistic and religious history - and its sprinkling of fine artisanal chocolatiers! 

"Inspired by the city’s greatest treasure, van Eyck’s ‘Adoration of the Mystic Lamb’ (the altarpiece in St Bavo’s Cathedral), our programme features angelic Renaissance music for the Virgin Mary and for her Son, the metaphorical lamb, in settings of the Agnus Dei. 

"For generations the flatlands of Flanders produced Europe’s most sought-after singers, instrumentalists and composers, who between them brought the practice of polyphony to new heights of sophistication and expressivity. Their doyen was Josquin des Prez, whose motets and masses set the model for generations to come.

"Besides exploring the peerless music of Josquin, we will sing scintillating works by his near-contemporaries Jacob Obrecht and Pierre de la Rue, who both spent time in Ghent, and music by other Franco-Flemish masters including Heinrich Isaac, Nicolas Gombert and Jean Mouton. And we will work on the two most substantial movements of the Requiem mass composed by Jean Richafort in honour of Josquin’s passing.

"This is in some ways the most ambitious set of music I have yet proposed for a Run by Singers week. We will need strength in all parts, with men capable of dividing, and it is essential that singers look at the music in advance. But I can guarantee that on this list is some of the most joyous, emotional and engrossing polyphony you will ever encounter. I cannot wait to explore it with you in Ghent."


Who is the course for?

Think of this as a Level 4+ week. Participants should be experienced and confident choral singers with good sight-reading ability and must be prepared to learn their part beforehand. There will be splits in upper and lower voices. In terms of physical exertion, singers should expect a reasonable amount of walking - much of it on cobbles -  and standing during rehearsal. Ghent, however, is fairly flat  and we will be rehearsing in one of the two group hotels in the cathedral square. As always, ring us to discuss any concerns or special requirements you may have before booking.

choral singing holidays

Musical Director

Dr David Allinson is a highly respected choral trainer specialising in the history and performance of Renaissance sacred music. He read Music at St Peter's College, Oxford (where he was a choral scholar) and took his Master's with Distinction at University College, Durham before completing a doctorate on the devotional context and meaning of early Tudor sacred music at Exeter University. Read more...


  • Music to include

    Josquin, Agnus Dei from Missa L’homme armé sexti toni a6 SSAATB
    Josquin, Agnus Dei from Missa Hercules Dux Ferrariae a4 SATB/a6 SSAATB
    J. Richafort, Requiem (in memoriam Josquin), Graduale and Offertory
    H. Isaac, Angeli, Archangeli a6 SMezATTB
    J. Obrecht, Salve Regina a6 SSATTB
    Josquin, Stabat mater a5 SAATB
    Josquin, Inviolata, integra et casta a5 SATTB
    Gombert, Lugebat David Absalom a8 SSAATTBB
    Mouton, Salva nos a6 SATTBB
    Mouton, Ave Maria, gemma Virginum a8 SSAATTBB

Where to stay?


We have chosen two hotels for this course - both are within 100 metres of the cathedral which houses the Sacred Lamb altarpiece. The Ibis Kathedraal is an RBS regular - rooms are small but modern, staff are super friendly - and there is a good-sized bar. Couples and room sharers may find it rather short of wardrobe space for a week-long stay. The nearby Novotel is a step up cost-wise but is a much swankier place with more facilities and larger rooms than the Ibis. It is also where we will be rehearsing as they have a large function room with an unusually decent acoustic. We recommend that couples and room-sharers choose this hotel. It is well worth the small extra cost for the extra comfort.

Getting there


This bit is up to you and is not included in the price. Ghent is easily accessible from Brussels and Antwerp but many may prefer the convenience and relative comfort of Eurostar. A Eurostar ticket to Brussels can be extended to any station in Belgium with minimal extra cost and Belgian train services are fast and frequent.

What does it cost?


The course fee is payable in two stages - £195 on registration and a balance of £795 which will be invoiced approximately eight weeks before arrival in Flanders. This covers tuition, four evening meals and seven nights three-star B&B accomodation in a the Ibis. This price is based on two sharing so there is a single occupancy supplement of £30 a night. Non-singing partners, sharing a singer's room, pay a reduced fee of £695 but this is subject to availability. Music - which can be kept - will cost £30.00 and will be sent to you six-eight weeks in advance. The Novotel option will require a balance of £895 and has a single occupancy supplement of £40.00. Non-singing partners, sharing a singer's room at the Novotel, pay a reduced fee of £745.

The course starts with dinner on Sunday evening and ends officially after our concert on Saturday . Most people will choose to go home the next day but if you wish to stay an extra day or, indeed, come a day early let us know in good time and we should be able to arrange it for you. 


Travel and health insurance

Insurance is not included so we strongly recommend that all singers take out their own cover. You should also bring an EHIC card with you.

Any questions?

If you have any questions at all please contact Nick Couchman ( or Emma Ford ( or ring Nick during office hours on 01462 893972.

The Belfort, Ghent
The Belfort, Ghent
St Bavo's Cathedral
St Bavo's Cathedral
Castle of the Counts
Castle of the Counts