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Cantores in Ecclesia, Mark Williams

Mark Williams was born in Lancashire in England and sang as a boy at Manchester Cathedral before going on to hold the Organ Scholarship and an academic scholarship at Trinity College Cambridge. In 2000, at the age of 21, he was appointed Assistant-Sub Organist of St Paul’s Cathedral in London and Director of Music at St Paul’s Cathedral School. He relinquished both posts in April of 2006 in order to pursue his rapidly growing freelance career.
Described as ‘the shooting star of the international organ scene’ by the international press, he has appeared in the UK, Europe and America with ensembles such as The Sixteen, The King’s Consort, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the City of London Sinfonia and the Gabrieli Consort and Players. He is the Principal Conductor of English Chamber Opera and has given solo recitals, appeared as harpsichordist and organist, and led
masterclasses in choral training, singing and organ performance in the UK, the USA, Asia and Africa.

Mark Williams appears on disc with the Choir of Trinity College Cambridge and Richard Marlow, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Cambridge Singers and John Rutter, The King’s Consort and The Sixteen, and has appeared on film soundtracks in addition to writing music for television. He has been a regular contributor to the International William Byrd Festival in Portland Oregon since the year 2000, and in September 2009, Mark Williams takes up the post of Director of Music at Jesus College Cambridge.

Dean Applegate holds degrees from Linfield College, Colgate-Rochester Divinity School and Oxford University. He also studied the art of Gregorian Chant with Dr. Mary Berry at Newnham College, Cambirdge. A professional choir director since 1973, his career has been dedicated to the liturgical preservation of Gregorian Chant and sacred polyphony.

In 1983, he founded Cantores in Ecclesia. He is also founding Director of the William Byrd Festival, an annual two-week event, which gathers musicians and musicologists from across the United States and Great Britain to celebrate the musical mastery of Renaissance England’s greatest composer. The two week event each August includes choral concerts, lectures and keyboard recitals, as well as liturgical performances of Byrd’s music for Anglican Evensong and the Catholic Mass. The Church Music Association of America recently published a book highlighting ten years of Festival scholarship. In addition to his work with Cantores in Ecclesia, Dean Applegate serves as organist and director of music for Portland’s Holy Rosary Church, where his Schola Cantorum sings the Gregorian Proper and Ordinary every Sunday morning.

Cantores in Ecclesia is a choir of children and adults, now in residence at St. Stephen’s Church in Portland, Oregon, where the choir provides liturgical music for a Solemn Latin Mass every Saturday evening. At Mass and in concert, the choir draws from a wide variety of music, including sacred works by 20th-century English and French composers. In November of 1997, the choir won gold medals in all categories in the Fifth International Palestrina Competition in Rome and subsequently released a CD of music sung during the tour. In January, 2002,

Cantores in Ecclesia travelled to Paris, where the choir sang the Duruflé Requiem in the Church of St. Etienne-du-Mont, the Fauré Requiem at the Madeleine and Langlais’ Messe Solennelle in the Church of Ste. Clotilde. All of these works were accompanied by organist Mark Williams.

In November of 2006, the choir made a pilgrimage of Spain and Portugal, singing the sacred music of Iberian composers in eleven cities, including performances in Montserrat, Santiago de Compostela and Fatima. Music for the tour included masterpieces by Casals, Guerreo, Victoria, Vivanco and other Portugese and Spanish composers. On this tour, the choir was accompanied by Richard Marlow of Trinity College, Cambridge.

In 2004, the first recording of Gregorian Chant by Cantores in Ecclesia was released by the Oregon Catholic Press. That CD, O Lux Beatissima, is an anthology of the simplest and most familiar pieces from the Gregorian repertoire. A second volume of Gregorian Chant, Inclina Domine, was just recently released by the Oregon Catholic Press. This OCP recording contains more elaborate pieces from the Gregorian Proper and music for the entire Mass according to the Novus Ordo of Paul VI.