The English Choral ExperienceThe English
 Choral Experience
“Making beautiful music in beautiful places”

with Paul Spicer
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Dore Abbey
1 – 1 January 1970
Dore Abbey is located in west Herefordshire in the beautiful Golden Valley, just a short distance from the Welsh border. Dating from 1147 it is a former Cistercian abbey that would once have rivalled many cathedrals for size. [More…]

Abbey Dore Week, 1 – 1 January 1970

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Mark Opstad – Accompanist

Mark Opstad is a British choral conductor based in France.  He founded and directs the choir La Maîtrise de Toulouse which has quickly established itself as one of the leading choir school model choirs in France, widely praised in the international music press.

Mark started his musical education as a chorister at Bristol Cathedral.  He studied Music at Oxford University where he was Organ Scholar of Balliol College and continued his studies at Cambridge University, where he was Assistant Organist of Clare College Choir.

In 2000 Mark Opstad was awarded an Entente Cordiale Scholarship by the British and French governments enabling him to continue studying the organ in France.  He subsequently became involved in the revival of choir schools in France, firstly in Caen, as organist and assistant to the Director of the Maîtrise de Caen and then in Toulouse where he was appointed ‘professeur de chant choral’ at the Toulouse Conservatoire in 2003.

In 2006 Mark created the Maîtrise de Toulouse, the first choir school in south west France. The choristers (aged 10-15) are educated in a school attached to the conservatoire and have adapted timetables enabling them to rehearse daily.  They are joined by the lower voices of the Maîtrise (students with some professional support) and give regular concerts in Toulouse (principally in the basilique Saint Sernin, the Temple du Salin, and the auditorium Saint Pierre des Cuisines), throughout the region and further afield (Germany, Spain, Italy, UK). The choir’s first CD, ‘Missa Brevis’ (Regent Records 340), recorded in 2010 was praised unanimously in the international musical press, including in France (5 Diapasons) and the UK.  The CD was chosen as an editor’s choice amongst the CDs reviewed in 2012 by the American Record Guide, whose reviewer stated that “there is probably nothing this choir couldn’t sing, and spectacularly well”.  In 2013 the choir released its second CD, ‘Motets français’ (Regent 420) which received similar international praise.  The choristers of the Maîtrise have also recorded a CD with the renowned Ensemble Gilles Binchois, directed by Dominique Vellard, which received a Diapason Découverte.  A new CD of French Christmas Music will come out in December 2015.