The Exeter Bach Choir (neé Society) was founded on 21 March 1995, the anniversary of J S Bach's birth, at a meeting in The Guildhall, Exeter by Alderman Ramon Yeo, an accomplished organist and admirer of J S Bach’s many compositions.Since its formation the choir has delved deep into J S Bach’s repertoire, hosting numerous performances of his cantatas, Lutheran masses and instrumental works. Our choral performances over the past few years have included J S Bach's Missa Brevis in F, Christmas Oratorio, St John Passion, St Matthew Passion, and his iconic Mass in B Minor. Major concerts and cantatas feature professional musicians and soloists from Devon and further afield.The choir continues to stay true to its Baroque tradition but frequently takes steps into the wider musical world including Ola Gjeilo's Sunrise Mass (Summer 2019), Britten's Saint Nicolas (Christmas 2018), Will Todd's Mass in Blue (Summer 2017) and Durufle's Requiem (Easter 2017).In addition to choral and orchestral concerts, the Exeter Bach Choir organises an annual public choral workshop, instrumental recitals and talks throughout the season, which runs from September to early June.
There are currently around 40 - 50 active members in the Exeter Bach Choir. We represent a broad spectrum of musical ability and experience, ranging from accomplished sight-readers to those who have had few prior opportunities to perform this type of music. What we all share is a passion for J S Bach’s music, an enthusiasm for performance, and a committee who ensure we have plenty of opportunity to do so. We are supported ably by our Honorary President and founder, Ramon Yeo.The Exeter Bach Choir's Honorary Patron is Jonathan Peter Kenny. Jonathan enjoyed a long and distinguished career as a counter-tenor and is currently one of the Musical Directors of English Touring Opera - one of the UK's leading opera companies and known for creating vivid new productions of the works of J S Bach which it brings to venues across the UK.The Exeter Bach Choir is lucky enough to have an expert selection of local professional instrumentalists on whom to call, led ably by Anna Cockroft, and they accompany many of our concerts and generously volunteer their time for free events, such as cantata services. Many of these musicians support us on a regular basis and provide the expertise to expand their ranks when required – as with the ambitious double Baroque orchestra needed to accompany the St Matthew Passion.If you are interested in joining the Exeter Bach Choir or would like to learn more, please have a look at our Join us or Contact us pages for more information.
Committee and Musical Staff
Jonathan Lucas Wood
Jonathan is increasingly in demand as a dynamic choral conductor, tenor soloist and vocal coach. In 2021/22, he studied on the prestigious MA Choral Conducting course at the University of Birmingham with Simon Halsey, Bob Chilcott and Julian Wilkins working closely with the CBSO Chorus.
He was instrumental in the creation and regeneration of numerous music ensembles at the University of Exeter as conductor of the Exeter University Singers, Musical Director of the Exeter University Gilbert & Sullivan Society and as a founding member of Semi-Toned – the award-winning a cappella group. Jonathan is currently a Tenor Lay Clerk at Buckfast Abbey, Deputy Lay Clerk at Exeter Cathedral and is regularly a soloist with choral societies around the South West.
Jonathan is also an alumnus of the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain and recently performed as part of their Fellowship Octet. This included working with esteemed conductors such as Marin Alsop, Daniel Barenboim, and Gustavo Dudamel performing at the BBC Proms on several occasions and collaborating with The King’s Singers in 2016.
He is also regularly involved with opera and musical theatre as both a performer and Musical Director earning rave reviews for his vocal coaching at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. His recent theatrical conducting credits include Princess Ida (Gilbert & Sullivan, Exeter Northcott; 2016), The Last Five Years (Jason Robert Brown, Poltimore House; 2015), Iolanthe (Gilbert & Sullivan, Exeter Northcott; 2014), and Merrily We Roll Along (Stephen Sondheim, Edinburgh Fringe Festival; 2013).
Away from performing, Jonathan is a Trustee of Sing Inside – a charity which provides group singing workshops in prisons across England and Wales to dismantle social barriers, develop musical skills, and encourage a greater sense of self-worth.
Jonathan first worked with the Exeter Bach Choir as a soloist in 2014 and in June 2016, was invited to take up the role of guest conductor for the choir’s tour to Finland. Following the success of this tour, he was delighted to be appointed Musical Director in September 2016 and has since led the choir from strength to strength.