Introduction

Music at Buckfast Abbey

Music plays a fundamental role in the life of the Abbey, whether it be Gregorian Chant sung by the Monastic Community at the Daily Office, or choral music sung by the Abbey Choir at Solemn Mass & Vespers. The Abbey is a vibrant centre of musical activity in Devon that hosts a diverse and popular series of concerts and organ recitals.

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Music Lists

Music Lists

A current music list is available to download here.

An archive of previous music lists is available to view below:

Lent Term 2022
Advent Term 2021
Trinity Term 2021
Lent Term 2020
Advent Term 2019
Trinity Term 2019
Lent Term 2019
Advent Term 2018
Trinity Term 2018

Abbey Musicians

Matthew Searles — Master of the Music

Matthew Searles is Master of the Music at Buckfast Abbey. He is responsible for all aspects of the musical life of the Abbey, including the daily Mass and Office, direction of the Abbey Choir, and is Executive Producer of the in-house record Label, Ad Fontes. Matthew joined the Abbey in 2018 as Assistant Master of the Music, during which time he helped to re-establish a treble line of choristers, and played for Midnight Mass, televised live on BBC One. Prior to moving to Buckfast, Matthew was Sub-Organist of Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral. He is a prizewinning graduate of Royal Holloway, University of London, where he received First Class Honours and the Driver Prize for ‘outstanding musical performance’. Matthew continued his studies at the Conservatoire à Rayonnement Régional de Poitiers, France. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists.


Vacant — Assistant Master of the Music

For details of this role, which is currently vacant, visit the careers page.


David Davies — Organist

David Davies is Organist of Buckfast Abbey and Organist at the University of Exeter. He trained as an organist, pianist and conductor at Eton College, Magdalen College, Oxford, and the Institute of Sacred Music, Yale University. David held church and cathedral appointments both in the USA and the UK, most recently as Assistant Director of Music at Exeter Cathedral and Sub-Organist and Director of the Girls’ Choir at Guildford Cathedral. He has given concerts across the USA, Japan, South Africa and in several European countries. He also tutors on organ academy courses and lectures frequently on the intersection of the arts and liturgy.

Abbey Choir

The Abbey Choir

The Abbey Choir in its present form was founded in 2009. The choir has since developed a wide repertoire, specialising in the early polyphonic music of the sixteenth century – ranging from the English school of composers such as Taverner, Byrd, and Tallis, as well as composers of the continental schools such as Palestrina, Victoria and Philips. Complimenting this early music, the choir also sings a repertoire from the French romantic tradition by such composers as Widor, Vierne, Langlais and Duruflé. In addition, the choir enjoys the challenge of performing the contemporary music of the modern Roman Catholic composers James MacMillian, Roxana Panufnik, and our composer in residence, Dom Sebastian Wolff OSB.

The choir has continued to develop and attracts semi-professional singers from across the region and beyond. The choir recorded its first commercial disc in 2014 on the Priory label, singing the beautiful and ancient Gregorian chant office hymns in use by the Monastic Community at Buckfast. In 2018, at the conclusion of Buckfast’s millennium year, the choir sang Midnight Mass, which was televised live on BBC One. In addition to singing at weekly Solemn Mass & Vespers, and on feast days, the choir gives several concert performances per year. The choir is composed of eight sopranos, four altos, four tenors and four basses. Prospective applicants for the choir should contact Matthew Searles (Master of the Music). 

Choristers

Choristers

In 2018, Buckfast Abbey celebrated 1000 years since its foundation. As a lasting legacy, the Abbey now offers the opportunity for boys and girls aged between 7 and 14 to be part of our choral foundation in partnership with St Mary’s Catholic Primary School.

The choristers rehearse before school three mornings per week and after school on a Thursday, in preparation for singing the 17:00 Conventual Mass in the Abbey Church. The choristers also join the Abbey Choir from time-to-time to sing for Sunday Solemn Mass/Vespers, and for other liturgies and concerts throughout the year.

Each chorister receives a scholarship from the Abbey for individual vocal and piano tuition, and works towards exams in singing and piano for the Associated  Board of the Royal School of Music.

For more information about choristerships at Buckfast Abbey, or to make an informal inquiry, in the first instance parents of children who attend St Mary’s School are encouraged to contact Matthew Searles (Master of the Music), who is always happy to receive enquiries from parents of potential choristers.

Concerts

Concerts

The Abbey is a centre for the arts (and particularly sacred music) in the South West, hosting a busy and successful Saturday evening concert series. As well as the Abbey Choir, which gives several concerts annually, the Abbey is used as a base by a number of local choirs. The Abbey has sublime acoustics and is an inspiring building in which to make music.

Our Concerts & Organ Recitals 2022 brochure is available to download here.


Forthcoming concerts:

Bank Holiday Recital: Geoffrey Morgan

Monday 29th August 2022, 13:30 | Free Entry

First prize winner of the London Organ Week, former Assistant Organist of Westminster Abbey and Visiting Professor of Music at Yale, Geoffrey Morgan performs a kaleidoscopic programme of music to demonstrate the full spectrum of colour available on the Abbey organ.

Geof...

 

Grand-Orgue Recital: Simon Johnson

Saturday 17th September 2022, 19:30 | £15.00

The newly appointed Master of Music at Westminster Cathedral, Simon Johnson, explores masterworks of the German school in his debut recital at Buckfast Abbey.

Simon Johnson organ

 

For a full list of concerts at Buckfast Abbey, please click here.

Ad Fontes

Ad Fontes

Ad Fontes is a record label founded by Buckfast Abbey dedicated to presenting recordings of the finest sacred music. Given its roots within the Roman Catholic Benedictine tradition, the label specialises in choral and organ music drawn from that rich heritage, with a focus on the Choir of Buckfast Abbey and the new Ruffatti organ. The name of the label is taken from the Abbey’s motto, Psalm 41: Sicut cervus desiderat ad fontes aquarum ita desiderat anima mea ad te, Deus (Like the deer that yearns for running streams, so my soul is yearning for you, my God). For more information, visit www.adfontes.org.uk.