08 February 2011

Report on Portsmouth Chant Days


(Chris Hodkinson leading a Chant workshop in Portsmouth Cathedral).

More than 100 different people have attended one of the current series of Chant Workshops organised at St John’s Cathedral in Portsmouth by the Schola Gregoriana Sancti Nicolai (chant choir in Portsmouth). The Workshops are part of a pioneering Course in Gregorian Chant which continues at the Cathedral until June 2011.


(Chris and Abbot Cuthbert Brogan with the singers.)

Each Workshop introduces a new theme. At the January Workshop, Abbot Cuthbert Brogan, the Benedictine Abbot of St Michael’s Abbey in Farnborough - who co-directs the Course with Christopher Hodkinson of the Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge - gave a fascinating introduction to the Divine Office (the daily prayer of the Church) and Vespers. This was followed by practical instruction in singing Vespers which the participants then sang together with Benediction in the Cathedral.

Up until now, participants have learned to sing the Chant without any accompaniment. At the next workshop on Saturday 19 February we will welcome the organist Neil Wright, who will introduce us to the organ and its use in conjunction with Gregorian chant. There will also be an opportunity for a small group of participants with keyboard skills to study chant accompaniment with Neil in more detail, beginning at this workshop and continuing in March (please contact me if you are interested).


(Some of the singers.)

The March workshop, on 19th, will see a further exploration of the use of instruments in plainchant performance, as we celebrate the feast of St Joseph. Players of melody instruments (strings, brass, woodwind etc.) are invited to bring their instruments to both February and March workshops to participate in this. Players of low-register instruments (cellos, trombones, bassoons etc.) are especially welcome. Instrumentalists are requested to bring a music stand. (Please contact me if you plan to bring an instrument or if you have any questions).

Every effort has been made to keep the Course fee as low as possible. For those who haven’t yet signed up, the individual Workshop fee is £15 and the course book (Parish Book of Chant) is available at discounted price of £10. Reductions on the Workshop fee are available for students, children and groups. Bursaries are also available on application.DSC04819_em

(Abbot Cuthbert presiding at Vespers in a cope.)

Please contact the organisers, the Schola Gregoriana Sancti Nicolai, as soon as possible, as follows:

E-mail: chantnetwork@gmail.com or Telephone: 023 92862384

Next Workshop is on Saturday 19 February, starts 1000.

Remaining Course dates are: 19 February, 19 March, 16 April and 11 June

There are a couple more photos here.


  1. Please also check out our wikispaces pages at Gregorian Chant Portsmouth

    Great news also from Southampton! Fr Des Connolly is setting up a Gregorian Chant Choir based in Holy Family parish but with a view to travelling around to various churches in the Southampton area for special feast days. Tonight was our first practise. We will meet on the first and third Thursdays of the month at Holy Family Church, Millbrook at 7.30pm from 5th and 19th May 2011, Deo Gratias! All are welcome to join.