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Baroque music from Purcell's Chapel Royal

Bechyně, Czech Republic, Saturday 21 - Sunday 29 July 2018

The programme

The historic monastery in Bechyně is the venue for an annual course of Early Music. This course has two aspects:

  • a joint programme in which all singers andinstrumentalists participate: Baroque Music from Purcell’s Chapel Royal
  • a programme of small chamber ensembles for singers and period instrument players

Jeroen van Bergeijk: "The ideal spending of a holiday : ten days of hard work in a monastery, immersed in music, with a fine group of music lovers"

Chamber music

The mornings are dedicated to small ensembles. Everyone is part of two different pre-arranged ensembles, both of which are equally covered with coaching. The ensembles work at least half of the time under intensive supervision of the teachers. The ensembles present themselves in an internal concert at the end of the course. This year the focus is on English music, but this is optional for chamber music. Feel free if you prefer to play or sing French, German or Italian music in the small ensemble program.

Frederiek Muller: "A delicious combination of beautiful surroundings, nice people, formidable musical coaching and outstanding players and singers!"

All formations from quartet upward are possible, with perhaps a few trios. The ensemble formations are already announced in April or May, so that you can prepare yourself at home. Within the possibilities of the course, wishes for works and formations are taken into account. The course is open to individual participants and existing ensembles. There is also time for occasional combinations in the evenings.

Lea Schuiling: "Nice of course, doing a piece like this for choir, soloists and orchestra. But the chamber music is really an asset! Singers and instrumentalists, one to a part, with coaching by all teachers ... Something you rarely get the opportunity to do! And when the teachers sometimes contradict each other, .. well, .. that gives space"

The Baroque Music from Purcell’s Chapel Royals concert

In his early period Purcell wrote mainly religious anthems, in which he displays astonishing virtuosity and emotional depth in his music. He experimented with numerous special effects, such as shifts of clefs and the word painting that is so typical of vocal music in the 16th and 17th centuries. For example, when a word like 'low' appears in the text, Purcell actually puts this on an extremely low note, and vice versa with words like 'high'. He is considered the most skilled English composer in this field. Important anthems by Purcell in his twenties are My Beloved Spake, in which he imitates birdsong, The Bell Anthem, with church clock imitations, Jehovah, quam multi sunt hostes mei, with which he proved to have mastered the old contrapuntal techniques of Thomas Tallis, and I was Glad, for the Coronation of William and Mary after the Glorious Revolution of 1689. These works and similar music will appear in the programme of the final concert in the monastery church, the culmination of the course in which participants will take part. Other composers of the Chapel Royal, like Orlando Gibbons, Pelham Humfrey and John Blow, will be represented in the programme as well. Since composers of the Chapel Royal had an instrumental ensemble at their disposal, Purcell and his colleagues took the opportunity to include instrumental overtures and ritornellos. The programme hasn't been finished yet, as we want to adapt it to the people who register and their capabilities. Hopefully we will have one or two countertenors as participants, who will enable us to do the many works with ATB soli. And if we get baroque trumpets, a whole new world of possibilities opens up. The central works to be performed by all are therefore these or similar:

  • Orlando Gibbons - O clap your hands
  • Pelham Humfrey - Magnificat and Nunc dimittis in E minor
  • Pelham Humfrey - O Lord, My God
  • Henry Purcell - Jehovah, quam multi sunt hostes mei
  • John Blow - An Ode, on the Death of Mr. Henry Purcell (with recorders and two countertenors)
  • Henry Purcell - Rejoice in the Lord Alway
  • Henry Purcell - O sing unto the Lord

You can read more about Purcell's church music , the other composers and the Chapel Royal here.

You may choose to take part in the small ensembles only or perform only in the Baroque Music from Purcell’s Chapel Royal concert and to 'have time off' during the remaining time.

Andrew Fyson: “Attending La Pellegrina and working with wonderful and enthusiastic musicians has been a life-changing experience for me”

The sheet music of commonly available repertoire is usually provided by the participants themselves. More uncommon repertoire and scores of the Baroque Music from Purcell’s Chapel Royal concert are provided by La Pellegrina, usually in the form of a PDF, which the participants can print out themselves and bring to the course.

For whom


There is room for up to 20 experienced singers. To qualify you must meet the following requirements:

rehearsal in the castle hall
the course is open to string and wind players


The maximum instrumental group size is 20. For instruments we can place baroque strings, viola da gamba, recorder, curtal/dulcian, trombone/sackbut, harpsichord/organ, theorbo; period instruments only, tuning pitch 415 Hz.

To qualify you must meet the following requirements:

Staffan Rudner: "I think it was great that the tutors also took part in the music as players. Marco Vitale in particular, who dared to play the baroque oboe despite not being professional on that instrument"

Week programme and daily schedule

Week programme

  • Saturday 21 July: arrival in Bechyně, course opening with dinner at 18:00 h, first rehearsal in the evening
  • Wednesday evening: tutors' concert in the refectory
  • Thursday evening: participants' chamber music concert
  • Saturday evening 28 July: performance of the Baroque Music from Purcell’s Chapel Royal concert at the monastery church
  • Sunday morning 29 July: departure after breakfast

Annelies Jans: "Each morning two rehearsals, each afternoon two rehearsals, and what we do on our free evenings? Right, make music as much as possible...!"

double reed quartet
double reed quartet

Daily Schedule

Staffan Rudner: "The tutors were able to adapt to the potential of all of us. After the course a new energy has come to our practicing and playing at home."

camp fire
after party at the camp fire


Read more about Bechyně, the place where the course will be held:

Roeland Gerritsen: "To make music on a high level (with qualified teachers AND students) at a unique location in Europe in a fantastic atmosphere, I can heartily recommend this to anyone"

With whom

tutors at a party
The tutors giving a toast to a successful concert

The tutors of this course are passionate specialists in their fields: Dirkjan Horringa, Enrique Gómez-Cabrero Fernández, Cassandra Luckhardt, Mitchell Sandler and Marco Vitale.

Register now

In order to register, please fill out this form and pay a deposit of EUR 250 (which is of course refundable in case you cannot be placed).

Frederiek Muller: "So wonderful that it is already music from the first moment!"




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