Festival 2023

55th Summer Festival
Thursday 27th – Sunday 30th July 2023
Tavistock Parish Church

Full details can be downloaded here.

Conductor & Artistic Director:   Joseph Judge
Festival Organist:                            Neil Taylor
Guest Recitalist:                              Iyad Sughayer


Tickets £15 (under 18s free)
A Festival Ticket, covering all evening concerts, costs £35


Thursday 27th July 7.30pm
A Sacred Space 
Exon Singers, Neil Taylor
A meditative recital featuring choral and organ music inspired by sacred texts, including works by Tallis, Rheinberger, James MacMillan, Roxanna Panufnik and Cecilia McDowall.

Friday 28th July 7.30pm
Piano Recital – Iyad Sughayer
The Young Concert Artists Trust and Classic FM Rising Star Artist performs Schumann’s Carnival Scenes from Vienna, works by Khachaturian and Sibelius, and 2 Sonatas by Mozart.

Saturday 29th July 7.30pm
Pascoe: A Secular Requiem 
Exon Singers, Exon Ensemble, Neil Taylor, Julianne Coates, Graham McCusker
Former Composer-in-Residence Russell Pascoe returns with his recently recorded Secular Requiem, in its version for Choir, Percussion and Organ, with soloists Julianne Coates and Graham McCusker. The concert’s commentary on humanity from many viewpoints also features Aaron Copland’s uplifting In the Beginning, and music by Eleanor Daley, Chen Yi, Kerensa Briggs and Jessica Curry.


Admission free, retiring collection


Thursday 27th July 1.10pm
Festival Organist Neil Taylor gives an organ recital including works by J S Bach and Dobrinka Tabakova.


Admission free, retiring collection


Thursday 27th July 9.00pm
Compline by Candlelight

Friday 28th July, 3.00pm
Choral Evensong – Recording for BBC Radio 3

Sunday 30th July 9.45am
Festival Eucharist


Graham McCusker – Bass

Graham was born in Glasgow, Scotland and raised in Paisley. Born into a musical family, he began singing at the age of five as a chorister in the Paisley Abbey Choir where he was Head Boy and later a Choral Scholar.

Graham attained his undergraduate and Postgraduate degrees at the Royal Northern College of Music, finishing his 7 years of study there with Distinction in his Masters (MMus). He studied singing with Peter Wilson and Nick Powell. In his second year he was chosen as one of the Apostles for performances and a recording of Elgar’s The Apostles. Performances included concerts at the Bridgewater Hall and a Prom at the Royal Albert Hall. The CD won Gramophone recording of the year, amongst other awards, and reached No. 4 in the classical charts.

Recent highlights as a soloist include performing Schubert’s Mass in G, Bach’s B Minor Mass, Handel’s Messiah, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, Brahms’ German Requiem, Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle. Graham regularly sings with the BBC Daily Service Singers on Radio 4 and was a Lay Clerk at Manchester Cathedral for over 10 years.

On the opera stage, Graham has sung with Scottish Opera, Buxton Festival Opera and Opera Bohemia.

When not singing, Graham works as a professional composer, and has recently worked for the BBC & HBO, on the series ‘His Dark Materials’ (based on the Philip Pullman books) as one of the Composers and Music Directors. Also recently working with Apple TV and Netflix productions in a similar capacity – the most recent film with his music in it reaching Number 1 in the Netflix charts. Other composition enjoyment comes from writing his own Jazz/Pop music and frequently for Oxford University Press and MacMillan Publishers.

Graham is thrilled to be back singing with the Exon Singers!


Julianne Coates – Mezzo-Soprano

Born in Scotland, Julianne grew up in Cape Town. She graduated from the South African College of Music with a first-class BMus (Hons) and continued her studies at the Royal College of Music.

Julianne has given recitals at the Wigmore Hall, The Royal Festival Hall, the Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Barbican, to name but a few. Her concert and oratorio work includes, most recently, Pascoe’s Secular Requiem with Leeds Choral Society, CPE Bach’s Magnificat with Ripon Choral Society and the St John Passion in Wakefield Cathedral. Past highlights include Handel’s Messiah, with David Willcocks in the Royal Albert Hall and Barcelona, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the London Festival Orchestra, and the English Chamber Orchestra, Britten’s Phaedra with Sir Jeffrey Tate and the RAI National Symphony Orchestra, Britten’s Praise We Great Men with Sakari Oramo and the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Elgar’s Sea Pictures, Bach’s St. Matthew Passion and the St. John Passion, the latter with Peter Schreier. She has sung numerous Mozart Requiem‘s, most notably at Glyndebourne with Vladimir Jurowski and with David Willcocks, again in the Albert Hall.

Julianne’s operatic roles include Waltraute Die Walküre at the Salzburg and Aix-en-Provence Festivals and the Berlin Philharmonie, with the Berlin Philharmonic and Sir Simon Rattle, Alcina Orlando furioso with the Ensemble Matheus in Turin and Bremen, the Sorceress Dido and Aeneas at La Fenice and La Scala, Lucretia The Rape of Lucretia in Florence, Reggio Emelia and Ravenna, Angelina La Cenerentola in Frankfurt and Cologne, and also for WNO, Polly Peachum The Beggar’s Opera in Bari, Idamante Idomeneo for Glyndebourne, Hänsel Hänsel und Gretel and Cherubino Le Nozze di Figaro for Opera North, Second Lady Die Zauberflöte for WNO and Glyndebourne, Edith Pirates of Penzance for ENO, Popova The Bear in the Linbury, Covent Garden, Tisbe La Cenerentola for the Liceu, Baba the Turk The Rake’s Progress in Palermo and Brussels and Mother Goose The Rake’s Progress, for La Monnaie, Lyon, Teatro Real and La Scala.

Julianne is now full-time at Gateways School in Harewood, Leeds, where she teaches peripatetic singing lessons and class music to the Preparatory School.

Iyad Sughayer – Guest Recitalist

Chosen as ‘One to Watch’ by International Piano Magazine, Iyad’s debut album – Khachaturian Piano Works for BIS Records was described by Gramophone as ‘exhilarating and delivered with perfect clarity’ and ‘an outstanding debut’ by BBC Music Magazine.

Nominated as a 2022 Rising Star Artist by Classic FM, Iyad was a prize-winner at the Young Classical Artists Trust (YCAT) International Auditions in 2021.

This autumn BIS release his second album recorded with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales conducted by Andrew Litton including Khachaturian’s Concerto and Masquerade Suite. During the 2022/23 season he returns to Wigmore Hall, as soloist and chamber musician, and gives recitals in the Royal Concert Hall Nottingham International Piano series, Leicester international Music Festival and Perth Concert Hall.  He collaborates with Nicholas Daniel, Jordan Bak and Armand Djikoloum in concerts across the UK, including the Lammermuir Festival, Kettles Yard Cambridge, St. David’s Hall Cardiff, and Leeds International concert series.

In 2022 Iyad co-founded and launched a new specialist music school  – the Mashrek Academy of Music, with the Mashrek International School in Amman. The Academy will welcome students from across Jordan, discovering and nurturing a new generation of creators and musicians.

As soloist Iyad has appeared with leading orchestras including the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Manchester Camerata, European Union Chamber Orchestra, the Cairo and Amman Symphony Orchestras.

Previous concert highlights include recitals at the Brighton Festival, Lake District Summer Music Festival, Bridgewater Hall & Stoller Hall in Manchester (broadcast by BBC Radio 3), Leeds Town Hall, the Laeiszhalle (Hamburg) and Festival Musique D’Abord (France). Further afield he has given recitals at Steinway Hall (New York), Castleton Festival (Virginia) and Dubai Opera House. In 2020 he contributed to a BBC Arabic documentary ‘London Lockdown’, in which he took part as a character and recorded the soundtrack for the music.

Born in Amman, the Jordanian-Palestinian pianist Iyad Sughayer studied at Chetham’s School of Music, the Royal Northern College of Music and Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance where he won the College’s prestigious Gold Medal.  He completed his International Artist Diploma at the RNCM in 2019 and in the same year became a City Music Foundation Artist. In 2021 he was made an Associate of the Royal Northern College of Music (ARNCM).

Iyad Sughayer is an inaugural YCAT Concordia Artist.


Neil Taylor – Festival Organist

Neil is a sought after and renowned choral director, organist, piano accompanist, teacher and coach, based in the North West of England.

After winning a Scholarship to the Royal College of Music, he held cathedral appointments in St Albans, Norwich, and Sheffield. During his time in Sheffield, the cathedral choir toured both at home and abroad (including Germany, Holland, France, Hungary, the Czech Republic and the USA) and broadcast frequently on BBC Radios 2, 3 & 4.  His recordings include Music for a Millennium, a Classic FM Magazine Disc of the Year Award Winner, and numerous releases as organist and conductor, all to high critical acclaim.

As solo organist, he has played at many of the major venues in the UK, and has worked with the Hallé, Northern Chamber Orchestra, Manchester Camerata, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Northern Sinfonia, the Orchestra of Opera North, the Orchestra of Welsh National Opera, Huddersfield Choral and John Rutter.

He is Music Director of St George’s Singers, Manchester, and Keele Bach Choir; he appears regularly with the BBC as Musical Director and accompanist on Songs of Praise, the BBC Young Chorister of the Year Competition, the Daily Service, and Sunday Worship.

In his spare time he enjoys reading and walking. A keen cook, he is also an enthusiast of real ales and good wines.

Joseph Judge

Conductor and Artistic Director


Highly versatile UK Conductor, Singer, and Producer, Joseph Judge is Chorus Master of the Leeds Philharmonic Chorus, Artistic Director of the Exon Festival, and a Hallé Associate Artist as Director of the Hallé Choral Academy.

A graduate of the RNCM, he studied with Clark Rundell and Mark Heron, conducted the Manchester Camerata, received masterclass tuition from renowned conductors such as Sir Mark Elder, David Hill, and Omer Meir Wellber, and assisted the BBC and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestras. He was awarded the Mortimer Furber prize and has a Masters with Distinction.

Joseph curates a varied and exciting programme of classical music for the Exon Festival each summer, which often features live on BBC Radio. He continues to prepare Leeds Philharmonic Chorus for concerts with professional orchestras such as the Hallé and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestras, also conducting them in performances, and has been Guest Chorus Master for RLPO Chorus and Chetham’s School of Music. As Director of the Hallé Choral Academy, he inspires mixed ability singers to develop their vocal technique and sight-reading abilities through the singing of core repertoire.

As a Countertenor he continues to perform regularly as an oratorio soloist. He was a member of the BBC Daily Service Singers, a Lay Clerk at Manchester Cathedral, and one of the inaugural Fellows of NYCGB, frequently involved with the organisation as Section Leader for NYC and their Training Choirs. He has recorded music for Sony PlayStation, recently worked with the Northern Film Orchestra, and produced the recordings for Northern Lights – an album of contemporary choral works with BBC Choir of the Year winners, Voices of Hope.


2023 Festival Programme


Thursday 27th July


Friday 28th July 


Saturday 29th July


Sunday 30th July