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International Renaissance Course 2023




International Renaissance Course 2023

Located in the beautiful rolling countryside of Devon and nestled next to the River Exe, Bickleigh Castle is situated at the Devon and Somerset border on a 30-acre estate. Surrounding the 11th-century castle, the outer wall, gardens and fish ponds in front of the Keep Gatehouse were landscaped during the ownership of Sir Thomas Carew, Bt., in the 18th century. The ponds were created from the remnants of the Norman moat.


Within the moated grounds, Bickleighs’ 6th-century Chapel stands today as it did all those years ago. The Castle exudes a rich and intimate atmosphere, with its history echoed in its wonderful romantic heritage, regal great hall and elegant tudor bridal suite.


Bickleigh Castle

EX16 8RP

Tel: 01884 855 363


Friday, July 7 (5 pm check-in) - Friday, July 14 (10 am check-out). We may travel to another location to give a concert this evening. Hotel accommodations and dinner on July 14 are not included. Details TBA. 


To prepare a program of music by WIlliam Byrd and his contemporaries to be performed on July 14, 2023. We will also produce several video recordings of a few selections from the program.  

**COVID PRECAUTIONS** Subject to change based on local public health orders

All participants must bring their own rapid antigen tests in the event they start showing symptoms.

Masks are not required to be worn on the course (including when singing), but participants and guests are welcome to wear masks at their discretion. We ask all participants and guests to respect the masking choices made by others.

In the event of a positive case of Covid-19 while on the course, we will assist with arranging onsite quarantining and will determine further testing and masking protocols on a case-by-case basis.


WILLIAM BYRD O God, the proud are risen 

BYRD Quomodo cantabimus

PHILIPPE DE MONTE Super flumina Babylonis

BYRD Ad Dominum cum tribularer

THOMAS TALLIS Gaude gloriosa

THOMAS MORLEY Domine Dominus Noster

BYRD Tribue Domine

Repertoire is subject to change and will be finalized after the singers have been selected.


Through this concentrated week of rehearsing, recording, and performance, singers will refine the following skills required for professional, small-ensemble singing:

  • Intonation

  • Singing in time

  • Sight reading

  • One-on-a-part singing

  • Execution

  • Breathing


We are looking for 32 total singers—Sopranos, Altos, Tenors, and Basses, eight on each part. Experience singing Renaissance polyphony is preferred but not required.


We have a few guest spots available for those that would like to come and enjoy the same accommodations, food, and trips, without participating in the singing/course activities.


Course is currently FULL. 



Participants in shared rooms will share a room with one to three participant(s). Each participant in a shared room will have their own bed.

Application deadline:

We will review and accept applications on a first-come, first-served basis until filled.

If selected, a deposit of 50% of fees is due upon acceptance, and the remainder is due by May 1, 2023. If you would like to make alternate payment arrangements, please contact Markdavin at

All deposits are non-refundable


  • Accommodations for 7 nights

  • Breakfast and dinner (lunch on one's own)

  • Singing course

  • Day trip TBA

  • A video recording of the concert and produced videos of selections from the program.

DAILY SCHEDULE (subject to change)

  • 9 am -​ breakfast

  • 10 am - rehearsal

  • 1 pm - lunch

  • 2 pm - break 

  • 4 pm - rehearsal

  • 7 pm - small group sharing

  • 8:00 pm - dinner

  • 9:30 pm - bar


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Bickleigh Castle is a fortified manor house that stands on the banks of the River Exe at Bickleigh in Devon, England. Once considerably larger, Bickleigh now comprises a group of buildings from various periods which together formed a water castle.

The main building was destroyed during the English Civil War; however, other buildings, mostly arranged around a central courtyard survived. The castle is frequently open to the public by appointment, but it serves principally as a bespoke wedding venue. The River Exe runs through the grounds.


A Norman motte castle of the late 11th or early 12th century was dismantled in the mid 12th century. During this time a small stone chapel was built in the bailey. In the 15th century the Courtenay family built a mansion on the site and incorporated some of the earlier buildings. The Courtenay and Carew families then lived there until the English Civil War, and the Carews owned the estate until 1924.

Following the Restoration, a typical Devon farmhouse of cob and thatch was added. The Norman chapel and a 12th-century gatehouse still exist, as does the 15th-century courthouse and parts of the original Norman curtain wall. On a small hill behind the castle, encased amongst rhododendrons, are the remains of the Saxon 'motte' (watchtower).


ARTISTIC DIRECTOR MARKDAVIN OBENZA is a choral director, recording producer, singer, and composer. He holds a Master of Arts degree in Music Theory from the University of Washington.


Markdavin is the director and co-founder of two Seattle-based vocal groups: the internationally acclaimed Byrd Ensemble (founded in 2004) and Radiance (founded in 2019), professional ensembles specializing in the performance of Renaissance vocal music and American choral music, respectively. He is the artistic director of the Byrd International Singers, a select group of singers from around the world who participate in an annual Renaissance course offered by the Byrd Ensemble. He is also the Director of Choral Activities at Trinity Parish Church in Seattle, WA.

As a producer for independent record label Scribe Records, Markdavin has produced CD recordings for over 40 choirs (professional and amateur) and soloists, several of which have been reviewed in Gramophone, Early Music America, Early Music Review, and Fanfare. Scribe Records’ catalog contains Byrd Ensemble’s recording Arvo Pärt (2013), which appeared in the French drama film L'apparition (2018), and a number of world-premiere recordings.




Credit: Angela Sterling Photography

DOUG FULLINGTON is founder and director of the Tudor Choir, based in Seattle, Washington. As a countertenor, he has performed with the Tallis Scholars as well as the Tudor Choir, Byrd Ensemble, and Cappella Romana. Trained as a musicologist, Doug is also a dance historian, with a focus on 19th-century French and Russian ballet.

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