Bristol Chamber Choir

under the auspices of Bristol  Madrigal Society

Choir Visit To Einsiedeln – 5-8th April 2013

Members of Bristol Chamber Choir had for some time been keen to visit and sing at the Swiss home and haunts where the choir's most famous founder Robert Pearsall spent the last years of his life.  Thanks to the initiative of musical director Gordon Pullin and Einsiedeln Abbey’s music librarian Fr Lukas Helg, we achieved this in April 2013 when choir members with some old musical friends of Gordon visited eastern Switzerland, giving well-attended concerts at Einsiedeln Abbey and St Gallen Cathedral. Demands for encores were met with further renditions of ‘In Dulce Jubilo’ which given the chill and still-lying snow evoked the Christmas spirit in spring!  Both audiences were most generous in the retiring collections which will be put to good use.

  Einsiedeln Abbey                                                                 Interior of St Gallen Cathedral


The party had a wonderful opportunity to see the manuscripts Pearsall bequeathed to the Abbey, including a hand-written first edition of his ‘In Dulce Jubilo’ arrangement. We also saw other works from Pearsall’s musical collection left to the monastery where he sometimes played the organ.  This was set out in the library for us by Lukas Helg, who took the party on a bespoke guided tour of this ancient monastery – the biggest in Switzerland.

The choir had ‘Sunday’ lunch at Schloss Wartensee, Pearsall's family home, which has splendid views over Lake Constance, though much of the interior has changed since the family left it nearly 150 years ago.  However during a brief tour of the Schloss – now a conference centre – we sang Wilbye’s ‘Weep, O Mine Eyes’ in the much-remodelled chapel, and Pearsall’s most famous composition 'Lay a Garland' at his grave by the chapel at nearby Willen Warteg to where his bones were moved in 1957.

The tour was greatly enriched by the careful arrangements – and smiling presence - of Fr Lukas Helg, who admits to being a great aficionado of Pearsall and has contributed significantly to the ‘rediscovery’ of his work.  The trip to St Gallen from our base in Einsiedeln on Sunday 7th April was rounded off by an impromptu stop and brief madrigal session in Fr Lukas’s home village church of Lütisberg for his family who gave our unrehearsed performance a rousing reception!

The money unexpectedly raised by the collections at the concerts will be used to promote Pearsall’s music, and will represent a splendid legacy of an historic – and delightful – trip.


Click here to see more photos of the trip.