CRMSS Pacific 2024 Course Description

CRMSS Pacific 2024: How to apply CRMSS Pacific 2024 Application Form

CRMSS Pacific 2024 Dates:

Sunday, August 4th


Sunday, August 11th



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CRMSS Pacific 2024 Theme

La Bella Italia: Music from the birthplace of the Renaissance

During the Renaissance, Italy was in many ways the centre of the entire European cultural world. In places like Venice, Florence, and Rome, thinkers and artists met and experimented throughout the period, supported by a powerful and wealthy aristocracy. Da vinci, Machiavelli, Gallileo. The power of the Catholic church, based at the Vatican and deeply integrated with and representative of broader Italian culture, was heavily engaged in fighting new Protestant threats from abroad, ushering in the modern world in response to the printing press (and sometimes dragging its feet), and encountering Humanism and other ideas that would eventually lead to the Enlightenment. For 150 years, many of the biggest and most profound ideas shaping the age were articulated in Italian. Historians call the Renaissance the 'Early Modern' period; the modern world as we know it was born in the 16th century, in the Italian sunshine.

Musically, Italian leadership was clear. Music printing itself came of age economically in Venice during the Renaissance and the Italian madrigal became the preeminent secular genre throughout the continent. It's important to remember that opera itself, which would become the dominant musical paradigm in the Baroque and beyond, had its birth in Florence during the Renaissance. The famously international nature of the careers of many "continent-trotting" musicians almost always involved significant time spent in Italy. While Protestant nations to the north experimented with simpler musical styles, the Italians doubled down on the sophistication and glory of their opulent cultural birthright!

Our focus on Italy at CRMSS Pacific 2024 will allow us to approach the works of so many different composers. Josquin des Prez, Tomas Luis de Victoria, and Orlande de Lassus were heavily involved in Italian music making, and we will of course revel in the glories of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Claudio Monteverdi, Luca Marenzio, and so many more. What a musical feast!

Come and join us as we sip espresso, wear impossibly cool sunglasses, and get very excited about soccer. After an amazing week of singing extraordinary music together, we'll all make a stylish getaway on our Vespas, driving off into the Tuscan sunset as the bells of the Duomo chime in the distance...

What types of singing will happen at CRMSS Pacific 2024?

Choral singing

A major focus of any CRMSS course is singing together as one large choir, preparing sacred a capella music from the Renaissance for our various public performances.

We will also divide the participants into two smaller chamber groups which work separately, and look at different repertoire from what is covered in the tutti group.

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 chose groups and assign them repertoire before the week begins, sending out scores and reference recordings so participants can prepare in advance and come with one or two pieces already learned.

It is in these small group settings that we can best explore secular repertoire from the Renaissance. We believe it is of particular importance that the secular music of this period be covered, as it provides a more vivid picture of the sorts of musical lives these musicians actually lived, be they composers or singers or both.

There will be opportunities to work on small ensemble music that participants bring themselves.

The pre-formed small groups will all be at least two-singers-per-part. There may also be time set aside for even smaller, one-per-part consorts to form and experiment with other repertoire, both on an ad hoc basis and under the direction of a member of staff.

Solo singing

While the majority of our time is 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.

Solo singing and good vocal technique are core parts of any CRMSS course and we will be offering individual vocal technique sessions to all participants.

We are very lucky have Lucas Harris, one of Canada's most prestigious lutenists, with us for the week. Lucas will be working with some lutenists as part of CRMSS Pacific 2024 Lute Day, but he will also be available to work with solo singers accompanying them on the lute.

Participants are enthusiastically encouraged to bring their own solo repertoire, and we suggest works written before 1650.

Tutor Team

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The tutor team for CRMSS Pacific 2024 will be:

Julian Gregory of The King's SingersGreg SkidmoreSharang SharmaChristina HuttenSarah Poon, and Lucas Harris.

Click on each name to be taken to the "Tutors" page on our website where you can read more about each person.


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The details of the performances we will give as part of CRMSS Pacific 2024 are still being finalised. Below are descriptions of the plans we have made so far. As the details of CRMSS Pacific 2024 firm up, we will post more information here.

Choral Evensong at St. James' Anglican Church, Vancouver

We will prepare repertoire for a service of Choral Evensong in the English cathedral style and travel to St. James' on Friday, August 9th to sing at this service. This beautiful liturgy, during which the choir provides the lion's share of the material, consists of a Magnificat and Nunc dimittis setting, an Anthem, some choral Responses, and a Psalm set to Anglican chant. While the service of Evensong was an English creation in the 16th-century, modern cathedral practice allows for a range of repertoire and we will find many appropriate pieces from within our Italy repertoire theme area. Precise timings are still to be confirmed. Please check back here for more information.

Internal 'sharing' concert for CRMSS participants

Everyone who participates in CRMSS Pacific 2024 will have a chance to perform any of the music they work on over the course of the week, be it in their pre-formed smaller groups or in groups they form themselves or the solo repertoire they work on or music they bring themselves... or anything else! This event will take place on Saturday, August 10th and will not be open to the public.

Mass at St Helen's Parish

On the final day of our weekend together last year, the participants of CRMSS Pacific 2023 provided the music at High Mass at St. Helen's Parish. This was the main public performance associated with the course and was our chance to share with our hosts what we had accomplished over the course of the weekend last year. At CRMSS Pacific 2024, we plan on repeating this, and the Sunday morning Mass on Sunday, August 11th will be one of our main public events.

Final course concert

The culmination of any CRMSS week is the final public concert given by the participants. It is during this concert that we showcase all the different sorts of music that have gone on over the course of the week, including all of our different ensembles: tutti, chamber choirs, small groups, and soloists. At CRMSS Pacific 2024, this concert will take place on Sunday, August 11th and will be at St Helen's Parish in Burnaby Heights.

Daily evening church services

Throughout the week, at the end of each day, we will sing Compline at St. Helen's. Our Compline service is simple, sung in English or Latin, and is largely
made up of plainsong, with a few simple motets for contrast. It 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 mainly serve as a
way for us to come together as a 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.

Private Concerts & Recitals

We are very excited to be including in our week's schedule a private concert, only attended by participants of CRMSS Pacific 2024, given by Vancouver's own Renaissance Brass ensemble Capella Borealis. This event will happen on Monday, August 5th and will be a rare chance for us to become familiar with this wonderful repertoire and these amazing instruments.

Later in the week, our staff team will present a private recital of repertoire related to the course theme La Bella Italia: Music from the birthplace of the Renaissance. Given that we have two tenors on board this year, (Julian and Sharang) expect quite a lot of "dueling" tenor repertoire and lots of Monteverdi...

CRMSS Pacific 2024 Keyboard Day

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At CRMSS Pacific 2024, Keyboard Day will take place on Tuesday, August 6th.

New this year, CRMSS Pacific 2024 will include the opportunity for keyboard players to explore Renaissance instruments, historical playing styles, and music of the period with Christina Hutten of the University of British Columbia as instructor. Some of the events we are planning for participants in Keyboard Day include:


We are very lucky to be able to offer the opportunity for keyboard players to hear and play the following instruments:


Students are welcome to bring Renaissance repertoire from all over Europe to work on in masterclasses. Here are a few composers to consider: Jehan Titelouze, Thomas Tallis, William Byrd, Orlando Gibbons, Peter Philips, Thomas Weelkes, Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, Arnolt Schlick, Conrad Paumann, Paul Hofhaimer, Elias Nikolaus Ammerbach, Marc Antonio Cavazzoni, Girolamo Cavazzoni, Andrea Gabrieli, Giovanni Gabrieli, Claudio Merulo, Giovanni de Macque, Giovanni Maria Trabaci, Antonio de Cabezon, or Girolamo Frescobaldi. There are also many anonymous compositions to be found in collections like the Faenza Codex or Buxheimer Orgelbuch, and the publications of Attaignant and others.

Possible extension

Additionally, advanced players of historical keyboard instruments will have the opportunity to extend their participation in CRMSS Pacific 2024, allowing for a deeper dive into Renaissance keyboard music and ensemble playing skills over the course of a few days.

Level of experience required

The activities of Keyboard Day are open to lovers of historical keyboard music of every level. All participants will have an opportunity to play the historical keyboard instruments and participate fully in workshops, but masterclass slots will be offered on the basis of audition, arranged after your application to attend CRMSS Pacific 2024 is successful. Students wishing to participate as a keyboard player beyond Keyboard Day should be professional-track students or professional players of organ or other keyboard instruments.

How to apply to come to Keyboard Day

All applicants to CRMSS Pacific 2024 use the same application form, be they a singer or an instrumentalist. Please go to our How to apply to attend CRMSS Pacific 2024 page for more information and a link to the online application form.

More information

It will be possible to combine taking part in Keyboard Day activities as a keyboard player with participating in the entire CRMSS Pacific 2024 week as a singer. If this interests you, please indicate your voice type on the application form (i.e. apply to come to CRMSS Pacific 2024 as a singer) and indicate in your Personal Statement that you would like to participate in Keyboard Day as a player as well.

If you have attended a CRMSS course before and therefore don't need to submit another Personal Statement, please apply as a singer and be in touch with Greg Skidmore about your interest in Keyboard Day.

CRMSS Pacific 2024 Lute Day

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Following up on 2023’s first Pacific Lute Day, we’ll be holding another one on Wednesday, August 7th from approximately 10:00am-6:00pm, led by CRMSS Pacific 2024 lute faculty member Lucas Harris.

Our special topic for August 7th will be the Elizabethan broken consort (also sometimes called a “mixed consort” or “consort-of-six” or “Morley consort”).

Lutenist/scholar Ray Nurse will be bringing some of his own reconstructions of broken consort instrumental repertoire, and Ray will be on hand to guide us through the material. We’ve also confirmed the participation of some special guest musicians to cover all six parts of a typical broken consort (treble viol, bass viol, and Renaissance flute in addition to the plucked instruments lute, cittern and bandora).

We’ll be creating accessible “ripieno” parts for standard lutes pitched in g’ so that all the participants can join in and experience the unique sonorities of the broken consort ̶ from the inside!

In the morning session, we’ll look at instrumental reconstructions, and in the afternoon session we’ll add a one-to-a-part vocal ensemble (made up of singers from CRMSS Pacific 2024’s vocal program) to explore some rarely-heard psalm arrangements by William Leighton and Richard Allison which combine voices with the instruments of the broken consort. The day will finish with a very informal presentation of a few pieces, the audience being the CRMSS vocal participants and faculty.

Parts will be distributed well ahead of our day together by cloud folder link. The pitch for the entire Lute Day will be a’=440, and we’ll be setting our frets to 1/6-comma meantone (we can help with that!).

You can use our contact page to ask any questions you like.

How to apply to come to Lute Day

All applicants to CRMSS Pacific 2024 use the same application form, be they a singer or an instrumentalist. Please go to our How to apply to attend CRMSS Pacific 2024 page for more information and a link to the online application form.

CRMSS Pacific 2024 Viol Weekend & "Viol Petting Zoo"

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Sarah Poon will lead a multi-day event for viol players, from Friday, August 9th to Sunday, August 11th concentrating on the viola da gamba in Italy, as well as working on consort skills with some of the best English repertoire for the instrument. Features of the viol course will include:

Players of all levels are welcome, with the more experienced players taking on the music for public performance.

How to apply to come to Viol Weekend

All applicants to CRMSS Pacific 2024 use the same application form, be they a singer or an instrumentalist. Please go to our How to apply to attend CRMSS Pacific 2024 page for more information and a link to the online application form.

Viol Petting Zoo

Over and above the course Sarah is planning for viol players, as part of her broader involvement with CRMSS Pacific 2024, she will be providing any CRMSS Pacific 2024 participant (regardless of whether they have any viol playing experience) the chance to try out viol playing in a "Viol Petting Zoo". Sarah is passionate about educating everyone about the glories of the viola da gamba and this aspect of CRMSS Pacific 2024 will be a unique treat for everyone!

The "Viol Petting Zoo" is an opportunity to meet the viola da gamba family, learn some basic tips on holding and bowing, and get a chance to make your own sounds on this beautiful instrument. Treble, tenor, and bass viols will be available for a delightful speed-dating experience!

The Viol Petting Zoo will take place on Thursday, August 8th, and will run throughout the day. Small groups of singers will "take their trip to the zoo" while ducking out of other sessions, and this will be planned so everyone who wants a chance will get one!

Lectures, Symposia, and Round Table discussions

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Our programme of talks and lectures at CRMSS Pacific 2024 isn't yet finalised. Below is what we are currently planning.

  • Greg Skidmore led a round-table discussion entitled "Renaissance Music Performance in Canada: Past, Present, and Future". On the panel were David Skulski, Christina Hutten, Gerald King, Sharang Sharma, and Jonathan Stuchbery. The discussion involved descriptions of early experiments at the beginning of the Early Music movement, topics related to the current state of post-secondary education in Renaissance music, how to programme Renaissance music for a modern audiences, and much more.
  • Our very special guest, Dr. Susan Lewis, Vice-Provost (Academic Programs) of Western University and Professor of Musicology in the Department of Research and Composition at the Don Wright Faculty of Music gave a talk on her research interests: Renaissance Garden Culture and the Madrigal in England
  • Dr. Kate Helsen, our Academic Lead at CRMSS Ontario 2023, gave a talk entitled William Byrd: Wanted dead, alive, or Catholic
  • Our CRMSS 2022 Guest Artist, Robert Hollingworth, gave a talk entitled Method to the Madness in which he outlined the history of his group I Fagiolini, as well as its performance philosophy.
  • Dr. Kate Helsen secured special access for us to rarely viewed manuscripts and prints from the Renaissance held in the archives of Western University.
  • Dr. Aaron James gave a talk about how musicians in the time of Josquin des Prez actually learned music as students, using a system known as the Guidonian Hand, and entitled A Helping Hand: Guido, Hexachords, Solmization, and Musicianship in the Renaissance.
  • Dr. Kate Helsen showed us how Josquin des Prez was actually a pretty slippery character to pin down - who was he, actually? How many 'Josquins' were there? Her talk was entitled Josquin: Choose your own adventure.
  • Dr. Patrick Murray took us through the process of preparing a piece of Renaissance polyphony for modern day performance in his talk entitled Anything but ‘Ordinary:’ Bringing a Renaissance mass to life in contemporary performance.
  • Sharang Sharma took us through an introduction to some practical methods we can use to help learn the required musical skills to sight-read Renaissance music and chant effectively.
  • Dr. Roseen Giles gave a paper entitled “‘Don't worry, this will sing itself', and other musical fictions" about the practice of musica ficta.
  • Andrew Pickett presented “‘Drop the beat’ - Introduction to the theory and practice of vocal ensemble intonation”.
  • Dr. Kate Helsen introduced us to some of her fascinating new research in “What's in a Riff - Chant DNA in modal polyphony”.
  • Greg Skidmore, Matt Long, and Emily Atkinson took part in a round table discussion led by Dr. Giles entitled “Being a Professional Singer in the UK”, taking questions on every aspect of their professional lives in the UK.
  • Lucas Harris gave a lecture entitled “Musica Transalpina: The madrigal in Italy & England, c1600”
  • Dr. Kate Helsen gave us a crash course in Renaissance musical notation with her workshop entitled “Partly Useful: Renaissance notation”
  • Dr. Troy Ducharme of the Don Wright Faculty of Music at Western University wrapped our heads around Gesualdo's wild sounds with “Beyond Rules: Counterpoint Technique, Musical Meaning, and Style in Selected Works of Gesualdo.”

A Typical Day

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We are always in the process of tweaking the daily schedule to get things just right, and pacing our time together is very important. At CRMSS Pacific 2024 we will follow the basic outline below, but the daily schedule is very much subject to change. Special events happening throughout the week will mean any given day's schedule may deviate 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!


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For Singers:


Full price for a singer


Student rate

Anyone who is or was enrolled in full or part-time education in one or both of the 2023-24 or 2024-25 academic years, studying any subject, qualifies as a current student.

For Instrumentalists:

Keyboard players


Viol players




More information about the cost of attending

If finances are a barrier to participation, please speak to us about it and we will try to assist, as we're able.

If you would like to support the tuition fees of others who need it, please get in touch with us about making a designated donation.

You will need to cover your travel to Burnaby and your accommodation, if required, during the week. While CRMSS doesn't bear these costs, we do try to help as much as we can with your logistics.


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CRMSS Pacific 2024 will be held at St. Helen's Parish in Burnaby, British Columbia.

The address is: 3860 Triumph Street, Burnaby BC, V5C 2A6

You can find directions to St Helen's Parish on our contact page.