Laudemus! tour: five weeks to go

In just over five weeks’ time, 30 singers will assemble in Blandford Forum ready for our 34th annual Choral Evensong tour of Dorset. As usual, the tour encompasses five different churches – Stalbridge, Swanage, Gussage All Saints, Symondsbury (a first visit) and Wimborne – offering services which combine Archbishop Cranmer’s beautiful prose with music spanning six centuries. For full details of what music we are singing in each church, please click 2024 Tour on the top menu bar.

We have a full complement of young choral scholars, funded through the generosity of the Michael James Music Trust, the Wimborne Minster Musical Heritage Trust, the Ann Jane Green Trust and donations from hundreds of well-wishers. All we need now is for the sun to continue to shine!

Composition competition

Hot on the heels of another very successful course comes news of a brand new initiative: a composition competition for composers under the age of thirty on 31 January 2024 (the closing date for receipt of entries). For full details, click About us from the top menu and select the competition tab. From there you will also be able to download the Terms & Conditions. Or click

Jigsaw complete!

We now have a full complement of choral scholars for this year’s course, and look forward tremendously to another week of glorious choral evensong music in beautiful Dorset churches.

If you are visiting Dorset in mid August, click 2023 Tour on the menu bar to see where we will be singing between 15th and 19th August, and what the music will be. Choral evensong is a uniquely wonderful experience, and not to be missed.

Dates for 2022

With fingers crossed that our plans will not be scuppered by further variants of the COVID-19 virus, we are delighted to announce our tour dates for this summer: 14–21 August 2022. As usual, Jeremy Jackman will direct and Sam Hanson will be our organist. Music and churches have yet to be chosen, but the music will doubtless include a tribute to the Emeritus Organist of York Minster, Francis Jackson, who died on Monday 10 January aged 104. A great musician and a wonderful man – RIP.

A numbers game …

… or a question of extensions. Plus two weeks and Laudemus! this summer goes ahead as planned. Plus three weeks, and our fate hangs in the balance, dependent on guidelines given by the DCMS and the Church of England. Plus four weeks and existing plans collapse; we go back to the diary and try and reschedule the whole thing for August instead. Some game!

Still in limbo

It now seems likely that ‘freedom day’ will be postponed for a fortnight, making 5 July the magic date. So, in theory, Laudemus can go ahead this summer, giving us the opportunity to sing properly together as a choir – something we all need so badly.

There remain a couple of potential difficulties. By back-tracking on allowing choirs to rehearse indoors from 17 May, and refusing to publish the science supposedly behind the u-turn, the DCMS has opened up the possibility that choir singing could remain restricted after lockdown ends. Plenty of high-level lobbying is going on to try to ensure this does not happen.

If restrictions are still recommended, we will be in the hands of the Church of England, and it remains to be seen whether or not individual incumbents will be allowed a degree of discretion as to what takes place in their church buildings. Certainly there was a lot of anger from March 2020 onwards at the C of E’s ‘one size fits all’ attitude, so we can hope that a more flexible approach to risk will be adopted. In the meantime, the Laudemus admin team continues to plan for a wonderful week’s singing.

All in place for July!

Not only do we now have singers, delighted at the thought of singing again, but we also have places to sing! This year we look forward to a welcome at churches in Sturminster Newton – an old favourite; Milton Abbey – a repeat visit; Cranborne – not visited for some years;  Puddletown – a new experience; and – as ever – Wimborne Minster, dedicated to St Cuthburga who is celebrated in that evening’s anthem. You can find full details on our Tour page. Fervent hopes for no stalling in the government’s roadmap out of lockdown.

So near and yet so far

The moves to ease restrictions on singing progress achingly slowly. On 30 June the C of E included this sentence in its guidelines for the resumption of public worship: ‘Singing, chanting and playing of brass or woodwind instruments are not recommended, but a further update will follow soon.’

Based on those guidelines, which also stipulate that the advice governing open-air services is exactly the same as for services inside the building (why???), Wimborne Minster has reluctantly decided that our al fresco evensong cannot go ahead within the current guidelines.

But ‘a further update will follow soon’: how soon is soon? From a memo circulated this morning to professional orchestras we learn that the restrictions governing singing and the playing of wind/brass instruments are being eased. What does this mean, and how long will it take the C of E to catch up?

In the meantime, Jeremy is exploring one further option at a ruined abbey in the south-east outskirts of London. We have narrowed the date down to Friday 24 July, and I promise to let you know by Friday 10 July what is happening. This is nail biting stuff:  if we cancel and the guidelines change two days later then it would be frustrating in the extreme.

2019 tour details confirmed

We are glad to report that all the details of churches and music for this year’s tour have finally fallen into place. As in previous years we will range widely across the county, from Weymouth on the south coast up to Fontmell Magna on the way to Shaftesbury. Click on the 2019 Tour tab above for details.

Another year over!

Another wonderful week over – all very successful apart from an uncharacteristic ‘blip’ on Friday. Over the course of five days we coped with ciphers, impossible sight-lines, interesting cantors and challenging organs: all in a day’s singing. Now back to the real world, with Howells’ St Paul’s Service and Wesley’s Ascribe unto the Lord still ringing in our ears from the final service in Wimborne Minster. Huge thanks to our wonderful professional team of Sam Hanson (organ) and Jeremy Jackman (inspirational musical director).