Welcome to the Abbey Consort website

Abbey Consort is a small choir of around 24 members. We all live in the Scottish Borders and the choir is based in Kelso. Formed in 2002, Abbey Consort was under the musical direction of Colin Fox until December 2014. Jim Letham, one of our choir members, took over immediately thereafter as Musical Director.

We have performed many works from the baroque and classical choral repertoire. See the Works page for more details. On occasion we have performed with other choirs including the Roxburgh Singers, the Eildon Singers and the Berwick Arts Choir.

Our soloists are often drawn from within the choir itself but we have also invited many well-known soloists to sing with us. All of our concerts are accompanied by an orchestra composed of some of the many talented musicians who live in the Scottish Borders.

Abbey Consort is a non profit-making organisation and we have been happy to donate proceeds from our concerts to a range of very deserving causes.

We also perform as a smaller group at weddings, funerals and other occasions.

Photo Credit: Ian Topping

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Past Works

BachSt Matthew Passion
St Luke Passion
St John Passion
Mass in B minor
Christmas Oratorio
BerliozL'Enfance du Christ (with the Roxburgh Singers and the Eildon Singers)
BrahmsGerman Requiem
ElgarDream of Gerontius (with the Berwick Arts Choir)
Dettingen te deum
Coronation Anthems
Dixit Dominus
Missa Sancti Nicolai
Nelson Mass
HummelMass in D major
JenkinsThe Armed Man (with the Berwick Arts Choir)
MaunderOlivet to Calvary
MendelssohnPsalm 42
MozartMissa in C
Missa in C minor
Vesperae solennes de confessore
PoulencGloria (with the Berwick Arts Choir)
PurcellDido and Aeneas
SchubertMass in A flat major
StainerThe Crucifixion
TippettA Child of our Time
Vaughan WilliamsDona Nobis Pacem
Abbey Consort Posters

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Next Concert

Abbey Consort is marking the one hundredth anniversary of the end of the First World War with two concerts, to be performed in Kelso Old Parish Church on Saturday 10th November and in Melrose Parish Church on Sunday 11th November. Both concerts begin at 7.30pm.

Jim Letham, our musical director, has chosen two substantial pieces, Haydn’s Mass In Time of Warand Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem.


Haydn wrote his mass in 1796, at the height of Austria’s long conflict with Napoleonic France. The Austrian government had issued a decree that ” No Austrian should speak of Peace until our enemies are driven back to their original borders”. Haydn adheres to his remit, but audiences over the years have suspected that the unsettled nature of some of the music – military-like fanfares and ominous rumbles from timpani, quite unlike Haydn’s usual melodic style – may reflect an anti-war sentiment Haydn was not at liberty to express more openly. Despite the title there is much beautiful, joyful and ebullient music, the mass concluding in typical Haydn fashion with a demand, rather than a plea, for peace.


Not so Vaughan Williams, where the solo soprano repeatedly pleads “Dona Nobis Pacem”. This cantata was written in 1936, amidst growing fears of a Second World War. Vaughan Williams uses the poetry of Walt Whitman to starkly illustrate the horrors of war and death and there is no doubt he condemns the former. “Beat beat drums” is excitingly dramatic and a challenge to perform, but in stark contrast, “Dirge for Two Veterans” and “Reconciliation” are searingly beautiful and deeply moving. The piece ends with a further quiet plea for peace from chorus and soprano.


To compliment the works above, Jim has chosen Parry’s “My Soul there is a Country”, a setting of the poem Peace, by Henry Vaughan, which packs several styles and tempi into just a few minutes. The flavour of the work changes with almost every phrase, requiring sensitivity and precision from the choir, more of a challenge than might be anticipated. Our final offering is Mendelssohn’s Verleih uns Frieden – (Grant us Peace), a magical prayer for peace composed in 1831, which builds from the basses in the first section to the full choir, with a warmth of expression which carries hope that lasting peace may be achievable.


Tickets, priced £10, can be obtained in advance from Holmes of Melrose, Hector Innes in Kelso or on line at iandjmcgillivray@btinternet.comor at the door prior to performances.


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If you would like to contact Abbey Consort please use any of the methods below.

We are happy to hear from budding choristers, particularly basses at present. We would invite you along to a rehearsal with a short audition, more information will be given once we hear from you.

You can find us on Facebook: Abbey consort Facebook page
email: Ruth

Alternatively please complete the following details and click Submit.

Enquiry Form
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Abbey Consort Cartoon

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