Course Description


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CRMSS 2022 Theme

The theme of CRMSS 2022 is Camino: Polyphonic Journeys through Iberia and the New World.

In 2022, we focus on the music of Renaissance Spain and Portugal.

There is so much here! It would be possible to spend a week singing the music of Tómas Luis de Victoria alone. We will look further, of course, knowing that this area has long been a crossroads: a place of pilgrimage, and the seat of a global empire.

The "golden age" of Spanish polyphony is well-known today, with works by Victoria, Francisco Guerrero, Alonso Lobo, and Cristobal de Morales often performed around the world. Less well-known is the music of a school of composers all connected with the small cathedral town of Évora in Portugal: Duarte Lobo, Manuel Cardoso, and Filipe de Magalhães. These men wrote polyphonic music in the middle of the 17th-century, backward-looking at first glance, but with decidedly modern, sometimes audacious, and always intensely expressive flourishes.

As Iberian influence spread over the centuries, some Spanish and Portuguese composers found themselves living and working in the New World - in places such as Mexico, Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil. Chief among these was Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla, a Spaniard who enjoyed great fame while based in Puebla, Mexico. In time, polyphonic musical traditions took hold on these places as well, and eventually resulted in native born composers writing in a Renaissance counterpoint style.

There is so much to explore! Come and join us as we dive deep into this rich, passionate, and evocative style.

What types of singing happen at CRMSS?


A major focus of the week's work will be singing together as one choir, exploring larger scale, mainly sacred a capella music of the Renaissance. The specific repertoire chosen will depend on the distribution of voices amongst the course participants, and the repertoire selections will conform with the theme of this year's course.

We will also divide the participants into two smaller chamber groups which will work separately, on top of the tutti singing we will do together.


While the majority of our time will be spent preparing ensemble music in choral and small group contexts, good solo vocal technique is of course essential for good singing. This applies to music written in any style and from any time period.

Details of who will lead the solo singing side of CRMSS 2022 are still being determined. Solo singing and good vocal technique are core parts of CRMSS and this year will be no different.

We're very lucky to again have Lucas Harris, one of Canada's most prestigious lutenists, with us for the entire week in 2022. While not running Lute Day, Lucas will be available to work with solo singers in preparing solo repertoire to be accompanied on the lute or vihuela, a 16th-century guitar. Lucas will bring an array of instruments for the purpose! Singers interested in exploring this repertoire throughout the week will also benefit from a masterclass experience.

Participants are enthusiastically encouraged to bring their own solo repertoire, and we suggest works written before 1675. If you can bring music written by composers from Spain, Portugal, or the Spanish colonies of the New World during the Renaissance, to fit into the broader theme of CRMSS 2022, that would be great but we will of course work with you on any Renaissance music you have an interest in.

Consort singing: one and two per part vocal chamber music

Any serious amount of time spent getting to know the music of the Renaissance must include small-ensemble singing. The tutors will choose groups and assign them repertoire before the week begins, sending out scores and reference recordings so participants can prepare and come with at least one or two pieces already learned. Over the course of the week, it is hoped that other groups will also form ad hoc.

As with solo repertoire, there will be opportunities to work on small ensemble music you might bring yourself.

The pre-formed small groups will all be at least two-per-part. Everyone will be allocated into one of these small groups. There will be more time set aside for even smaller, one-per-part consorts to form and experiment with other repertoire, both on an ad hoc basis and also under the direction of the tutors.


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Final course concert

We are extraordinarily privileged to be giving our final course concert in the magnificent chapel of St Peter's Seminary. This concert will be open to the public and will take place at 2:30pm on Sunday, May 29. The concert will include a selection of the music we've learned over the course of the week, including chamber choir, tutti, small group, and solo selections.

Choral Vespers at St Peter's Seminary

At CRMSS 2019, a definite highlight for everyone was the special privilege of singing a Choral Vespers service in one of London Ontario's truly magnificent and rarely enjoyed liturgical spaces - the St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel at St Peter's Seminary. We are delighted to confirm that in 2022 we will again sing Choral Vespers at St Peter's Seminary, at 7:00pm on Saturday, May 28.

This church service will be open to the public.

Daily evening church services

Throughout the week, at the end of each day, we will sing Compline. These services will begin at 9pm each day. Our Compline service is simple and largely made up of plainsong, with a few simple motets for contrast, and is designed not as something pressured or necessarily to be worked towards, but rather as a way of bringing our day together to a peaceful close - precisely as the service was designed to do in its original monastic context. These services will mainly serve as a way for us to come together as as course and to experience the daily rhythm of liturgical music making that formed the wider context for most of the music we will be studying.

Internal 'sharing' concert for CRMSS participants

Everyone who participates in CRMSS 2022 will have a chance to perform any of the music they work on over the week that they wish to, be it in their preformed smaller groups or in groups they form themselves or the solo repertoire they've worked on or music they bring themselves... or anything else! Details are still being finalised, but it is likely this event will take place on Friday, May 27 in the early afternoon.

Conducting Masterclass

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Leading on from the success of our conducting masterclass at CRMSS 2021, we will be offering a slightly different, and more focussed conducting offering in 2022.

This year, we will be working with individual participants beforehand to determine how many would like to take part, and what each person's level of experience is.

The conducting session will be held toward the end of the week, once everyone has gotten to know one another(!), and those interested with significant experience in conducting and being in front of a choir will have the chance to work with a choir made up of their peers. We will discuss what specific requirements are needed and beneficial when conducting Renaissance counterpoint and how to pick apart a piece of polyphony from a conductor's perspective.

A Typical Day

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Here's the shape of how 'a typical' day will look at CRMSS 2022. We are always in the process of tweaking the daily schedule to get things just right, and pacing our time is very important to us. The below is very much subject to change, and individual events on given days will mean the schedule deviates from this significantly.

Full course warmup
Full course choral rehearsal - 2.5 hours, including a 20 minute tea break
Small group work and/or solo sessions, including a 10 minute break
Lecture / Symposium / Round Table / Masterclass, including a 10 minute break
Continued small group work, ad hoc, or solo sessions, including a 10 minute break
Full course choral rehearsal - 1 hour, including a 10 minute break
Full course choral rehearsal - 1 hour, including a 10 minute break
Compline rehearsal (approx. 45 min)
Compline (approx. 30-45 min)
Pub / Home / Sleep / Late night singing!

The right pace

We received some very positive feedback after CRMSS 2021 suggesting that the pace of the week was much improved relative to previous years. The week is a busy one and it's important that everyone gets enough down time.

Attendance at Compline each evening will not be compulsory, but is greatly encouraged! The feedback we've received from those who did attend every night in previous years has been that it is a wonderful way to bring each day to a close, but we also understand that some of you may need your sleep!

Attendance at the talks will also not be compulsory, but encouraged - if for no other reason than to give your voice a break and get your brain thinking about something other than all that sight reading.

Of course, if you feel at any time that you need a break, you are welcome to approach any tutor and ask.

Lectures, Symposia, and Round Table discussions

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The course will include some sessions in which we - don't - sing! These discussions will provide context for the practical music making which is the focus of the course, and highlight the importance of scholarship in performance, and, crucially, visa versa.

Our programme of speakers at CRMSS 2022 has not yet be finalised.

In the past at CRMSS, we've enjoyed the following:

Lute Day

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A mini-CRMSS just for lutenists!

Following on from the success of the first CRMSS Lute Day in 2021, we'll again be running a dedicated sub-event within CRMSS this year, CRMSS Lute Day. Lucas Harris will take charge of this event, and the precise shape of the event is still to be determined. If you are interested in taking part, please get in touch with CRMSS.

Lucas will be contacting potential participants individually and will create a bespoke experience once he has an idea of who will be coming. Here is a list of proposed activities:

We are very fortunate to welcome Terry McKenna back as a tutor at CRMSS 2022 Lute Day. He will be joining Lucas in planning and running this event.


The date of Lute Day this year will be:

Monday, May 23rd

The precise schedule of the day hasn't yet been decided, but the event will last for a 'full day'. Participants and tutors at CRMSS 2022 Lute Day will be welcome to attend our nightly Compline service, and perhaps play something during that as well!


The cost of attending Lute day is $125

Covid-19 Information

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Safety comes first

We at CRMSS acknowledge that there are still risks due to the coronavirus, and those risks may continue to have an impact on our activities in May 2022. Throughout our time together, we will act with respect and caution, and we expect all of our tutors and participants to do the same. Great music cannot be made by people who are uncomfortable in their surroundings.

We will follow the law to the letter in all that we do and will keep ourselves up to date when the law changes.

We will communicate clearly what the specific expectations are before and during the course.

Over the coming months, much may change. While it is our intention to run CRMSS 2022 in a very similar way to how we ran our courses before the pandemic, we of course understand that this may be impossible.

We don't have a complete and finalised list of precautions and protocols now, but we will keep everyone involved up to date as things change.

All of our decisions will be guided by respect: for the power of the virus, for one another, and for the music we are here to serve and enjoy.