Join us on Saturday 12th October 2019 for the first in a series of workshop days on the choral music of J S Bach. This is an opportunity to work through the stunning Magnificat in D, under the direction of Nick Houghton.

Bach’s Magnificat has five choruses all of which are for five voices SSATB, and one of which is a fugue, plus a lovely trio Susceptit Israel for SSA chorus. Half an hour long in performance, the Magnificat is a concentrated hit of Bach – glorious music, and a satisfying challenge for singers!

Our expert accompanist for the day is Howard Beach, and we’ll be joined by four members of The Lewes Singers – Liz Kelly, Briony Lambert, David Chapman and Reuben James –who will add support to their voice part as well as sing the solo arias in the performance which will end the day.

Coming in early 2020: Workshop days on all six of Bach’s Motets!

Workshop #1: Magnificat

J.S.Bach:  Magnificat in D,  BWV 243

In 1723 Bach landed the job of his dreams, Kantor of Thomaskirke in Leipzig, where he set about composing a new cantata every week, a feat he maintained for the next six years. In this period of time he also composed some of his greatest choral masterpieces.

The Magnificat was written very early in his time in Leipzig, in the key of E flat, possibly as early as June 1723 for performance on the festival of the Visitation on 2nd July that year. Bach also composed four extra movements, specifically Christmas interpolations, implying that it was used again that same year as part of his first Christmas at the Thomaskirke.

Ten years later, following a period of mourning after the death of the king and Elector of Saxony, Frederick Augustus II, Bach brought out a new version of the Magnificat, this time in D major to better suit the trumpets.  This was performed at the Festival of the Visitation on 2 July 1733.

Who’s who

Nick HoughtonNicholas Houghton: Director

Nick  is an experienced choral conductor, organist, accompanist and workshop leader.

He’s currently Music Director of the Lewes Singers, the East Sussex Community Choir and the Lewes Chamber Choir, and recently became Chorus Master of New Sussex Opera. In autumn 2019 he will be taking up the position of Music Director of the Brighton Singers. Nick also works with many other local groups including the Brighton Orpheus Choir and Eastbourne Choral Society.

In a conducting career spanning over forty years, including eight years with the Reading Haydn Choir and fifteen with the Downland Chorale in Surrey, Nick has been fortunate to work with many orchestras and fine musicians including Dame Emma Kirkby, Dame Felicity Lott, Sir John Tomlinson, Julia Bishop, James Bowman, Alison Bury, Anthony Halstead, Neil Jenkins and Judy Tarling.

Having been a chorister at Coventry Cathedral, Nick studied organ with David Lepine, Robert Weddle and Nicolas Kynaston, and music at Bristol University. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists. Now a full-time freelance musician, for 35 years Nick also held a variety of teaching roles in both the independent and state sector including five years as Head of the East Sussex Academy of Music (ESAM) in Lewes.

Nick is the organist at St Michael’s in Lewes where he founded the First Sunday Recitals Series. He also maintains a busy concert schedule as a continuo player, generally playing his own Goetze and Gwynn chamber organ (a beautiful 17th century-style instrument) and Bizzi harpsichord.

Howard BeachHoward Beach – Accompanist

Howard studied piano and harpsichord at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (GSMD) between 1984-1990. During this time he worked with many prizewinning singers, including Bryn Terfel, (with whom he played concerts and appeared on TV and radio broadcasts), Catrin Wyn Davies and Toby Spence. From 1991 until 2001 he was official accompanist to the Countess of Munster Musical Trust.

Howard has performed with the London Mozart Players, Les Arts Florissants and on opera projects for Channel 4 TV. He was an accompanist at the Dartington International Summer School between 1991 and 2004, working with many international instrumentalists and singers in classes and the concert platform.

From 2000-2011 Howard was the harpsichordist in Red Priest, and was featured regularly on Radio 3 and Classic FM and in 2005 was the subject of an ITV South Bank Show programme. They toured all over the world playing in most European countries, 40 states of the USA, Japan, Australia, the Caribbean and, of course, all over the UK and Ireland.

Since leaving Red Priest, Howard has been teaching piano, coaching singing and performing concerts with orchestras, chamber groups and singers in the Sussex area. He has also performed with the Shoreham based guitarist Richard Durrant, with the BBC Singers, and at Glyndebourne.
(Photo: Emma Bailey)

Members of the Lewes Singers

Nick Houghton’s flagship choir is the Lewes Singers which he began with his wife Robin over fifteen years ago. An invitation-only group, the choir specialises in singing services at cathedrals when the resident choirs are on holiday, and giving occasional concerts. In 2020 they will be returning for their fifth visit to Westminster Abbey in the summer, and at Christmas concert in Lewes.

Singing in our Magnificat workshop will be four members of the Lewes Singers who regularly perform as soloists: Liz Kelly (soprano), Briony Lambert (mezzo), David Chapman (tenor) and Reuben James (bass).

Details & Apply


Cost of participation in the Magnificat workshop on 12th October is £20, to include music hire and light refreshments in the tea breaks (but not lunch).


All Saints’ Church is about 15 minutes’ walk from Eastbourne Station, alternatively parking is free on most of the surrounding roads. The church is comfortable and has step-free access.

The seafront is a short walk away; you’re welcome to bring a packed lunch, or there are cafes and eateries within a few minutes’ walk.


10.30am Registration
11 – 1pm – Workshop
1 – 2pm – Lunch
2 – 4pm – Workshop
4pm – Tea
4.30pm – Informal performance
5pm – Day ends

How to Apply

Please email workshops@musicsussex.org.uk stating your voice part. To ensure a good balance, places will be allocated by Nick and it may not be possible to accommodate everyone who applies. When your place is confirmed we’ll send you details of how to pay.