We'd like to take a moment to introduce you to our Founders and Directors -
Musical Director David Acres, and Executive Artistic Director Dr. Judith Acres
Meet our Music Director David Acres
David Acres joined the choir of Exeter Cathedral, England in September 1960 as a probationer, where he was instructed in music theory, piano and voice by Lionel Dakers, Director of Music at Exeter Cathedral and, then after, Director of the Royal School of Church Music at Addington Palace, Greater London. David was appointed Head Chorister of the Cathedral choir in 1965, and during his tenure became the primary soloist, taking part in multiple recordings and broadcasts (one of which, “Christmas Music”, is still available today!). He sat and gained his musical theory examinations up to grade 4 and piano up to grade 5.
From Exeter, David went on to Bethany in Kent and began acting as well as singing: he formed Kent Consort, a quartet of singers performing Renaissance and Early Music in chapels and churches in the region. In 1970, David began singing in London and the Home Counties for several different ensembles: St Clement Dane's in London, St Mark's and St Mary's in Reigate and St Paul's in Dorking. He became a member of the Brockham Ensemble, appearing around the UK and EU as both a standalone ensemble and as the featured guests of several orchestras and collegiate choirs.
In the 1970s David also began studying with Robin Gritton and he eventually returned to the Exeter area and joined the Loosemore Singers based out of Buckfastleigh in Devon, also singing as a deputy lay clerk at Exeter Cathedral and with The Torbay Singers - whom he directed for a short time. The Loosemore Singers was a Devon-based ensemble, giving concerts in St John's, Smith Square, London, Exeter Cathedral, Buckfast Abbey and Northern Brittany. During this time David also sang at The Royal Albert Hall.
In the 1980s David became involved with the Imperial Singers in Exeter, an a cappella choir of mixed voices, and ultimately founded his own choir, Counterpoint, the unique identity of which lay in its programming of concerts that would illuminate periods of history not only through music, but also by illustrating these periods through extensive use of program notes, illustrations, instrumentation and dialogue. Counterpoint has, since its inception, performed these multi-faceted programs in many parts of the UK and France. During this time he also founded and sang with The Kent's Consort and The Grandisson Consort, small ensembles of singers who performed in local churches, halls, venues and also at Buckfast Abbey.
Counterpoint rapidly gained recognition and swiftly became the premier choir in the South West of England. Over the ensuing years, the ensemble has recorded seven albums of sacred music, made multiple television and radio appearances, and took part in the televised sections of the BBC's 'Sainsbury's Choir of the Year' in 1994. Counterpoint continued to flourish into the new century, and was employed by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra to appear in Devon, Somerset or Cornwall. Additional recordings and appearances on radio and television were to follow, with Counterpoint often headlining events and concerts in Exeter Cathedral and Buckfast Abbey, Winchester Cathedral and Truro Cathedral. Their latest CD was released in November, 2012, and is a collection of Christmas carols spanning multiple centuries: David transcribed several of the works that were recorded, as well as having directed the ensemble and co-produced the disc.
David continued to perform as a professional singer during this period, as well, becoming a regular countertenor in Exeter Cathedral Choir and a Lay Clerk at Buckfast Abbey. He sang at the cathedrals of Wells, Winchester, Chichester and Gloucester and has also appeared extensively in the UK, Northern Ireland, France and Norway, performing with several ensembles and with Buckfast Abbey's Schola Choir. He appears on four Exeter Cathedral Choir recordings, including “Ascribe unto The Lord" on Herald Records and “The Psalms of David, Vol. 1" on Priory Records, and has recorded on the Alpha, Priory, Signum and Herald record labels.
In early 2011, David formed the new a cappella ensemble Antiphon based at Buckfast Abbey with Michael Vian Clark (Musical Director at Buckfast Abbey) and Matthew Cann (Decani Bass Lay Clerk at Exeter Cathedral). Members were drawn from professional ensembles and cathedral and chapel choirs throughout England, including singers from Wells Cathedral, Gloucester Cathedral, Winchester Cathedral and Exeter Cathedral. In addition to founding the ensemble, David also sang first alto and was involved with the preparation of music, funding, finances and publicity, including the design and content of the programs.
In 2012, David joined the choir of Trinity Cathedral, Cleveland, as a guest vocalist, singing the daily services with them on their visit to Wells Cathedral, Somerset, England. He swiftly became great friends with many members of the choir, including their director, Todd Wilson, which resulted in numerous requests to visit the US and sing with them in Cleveland.
David moved to Cleveland in the Fall of 2013 and became a member of the Trinity Cathedral Choir and the Trinity Cathedral Singers. He sang in a season of Christmas concerts with Quire Cleveland in 2013, and performed with several ensembles and choirs over the following nine months. Before moving to Charleston in May, 2014, David sang to a large audience in Cleveland Cathedral in a concert entitled 'The Three Countertenors' with John McElliott and Joe Schlesinger, to great critical acclaim.
David co-founded the ensemble Contrapunctus Early Music : A High Voices Ensemble in Cleveland, Ohio, in late 2013 with Dr. Judith Overcash Acres, and the choir has very quickly established itself on the music scene in Cleveland with critically acclaimed concerts at Trinity Cathedral and the Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist. The duo has recently co-founded another ensemble, The King's Counterpoint, located in Charleston, South Carolina. David is currently the Director of Music at Old St. Andrew's Parish Church in Charleston.
Meet our Executive Artistic Director Judith Acres
Praised for her "excellence of style and ease of expression," Charleston, SC, native and soprano Judith Acres (née Overcash) is at home with a repertoire ranging from medieval song to Baroque opera and oratorio to American musical theater. Her performances have taken her across North America and the UK, appearing as featured soloist with a number of leading period and modern ensembles and orchestras and as presenter, guest artist and faculty at a variety of international workshops and festivals.
As a concert soloist, Judith has established a reputation performing large oratorio and dramatic works, early opera, masses, and requiem settings from the Baroque through the 20th century, and has often been noted for bringing an "unexpected and interesting lightness" to such traditionally imposing pieces. She is, however, perhaps most well-known for her performances of Medieval compositions and more intimate and florid Early Music and chamber works, where her "lovely, clear-as-a-bell voice," paired with a style hailed as "wonderfully tasteful, understated and expressive," has proven to be a recipe for repeated critical acclaim.
Judith has been featured with ensembles across the US, including the Seattle Baroque Orchestra, Atlanta Baroque Orchestra, La Follia Austin Baroque, Apollo's Fire, Texas Early Music Project, Mansfield Symphony Orchestra, Istanpitta, CBE, and the Warren Philharmonic, to name a few, and has both taught and performed at such workshops as The Amherst Eearly Music International Festival, Lute Society of America, The Texas Toot, American Harp Society, and SEMA (Southeastern Medieval Association), as well as smaller workshops and conferences across the country.
Also an active choral vocalist and director, Judith makes frequent appearances as both chorister and soloist with a variety of professional ensembles, including The King's Counterpoint, Contrapunctus Early Music, Counterpoint (UK), Quire Cleveland, The Serlo Consort (UK), Apollo’s Fire, Acapella Vox, Cantores Ecclesiae, and the Trinity Chamber Singers. She has over twenty years of experience in directing and coaching both large and small vocal ensembles in a variety of styles and genres – from Early Music to barbershop to Broadway – and has served as Director of Music for a number of churches and various performing organizations throughout NE Ohio.
Noted for being "even stronger when she is allowed to act as well as sing," Judith is equally active in the theater, recently taking leading roles not only in Musical Theater but also a variety of dramatic and comedic productions. Her casting to date has exemplified a wide dramatic and vocal range: from soprano roles such as Lily in The Secret Garden, Marian Paroo in The Music Man, Kate in Kiss Me, Kate, Laurey in Oklahoma!, Sarah in Guys & Dolls, and Fiona in Brigadoon; to mezzo characters which include the title role in Mame, Adelaide in Guys & Dolls, and Janet Marley in The Christmas Carol Rag; and on to dramatic and comedic non-musical roles including Maggie in Cat in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Mary Smith in the British bedroom farce Run For Your Wife, Virginia in the apocalyptic comedy Early One Evening at the Rainbow Bar and Grill, and the role of acerbic Jessie Mae Watts in The Trip to Bountiful, for which she received an OCTA Excellence in Acting award.
Judith's passion for choral music led her found and to accept the position of Executive Artistic Director for the ensemble Contrapunctus Early Music : A High Voices Ensemble in late 2013, a group which is the “sister ensemble” to the UK vocal ensemble Counterpoint, founded and directed by David Acres, and which she Co-Manages. In 2014 they co-founded another 'sister' vocal ensemble, The King's Counterpoint, based in Charleston, SC.
Judith is also an accomplished instrumentalist, making apparances at a number of events and with a variety of early music ensembles across North America. She has been performing on shawms, recorders and hand drums for more than twenty years.
Judith holds both Masters and Doctoral degrees in Early Music Performance Practices from Case Western Reserve University, OH, as well as a Bachelor's degree in Vocal Performance from The College of Charleston, SC, with additional post-graduate work at the University of Texas at Austin and the Indiana University Institute of Early Music where she studied performance practices, music history, opera and theater. She is currently serving as Adjunct Faculty at The College of Charleston, South Carolia, and has held positions as lecturer and adjunct faculty in music history, vocal pedagogy, graduate research methodology and applied voice at both Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and Hiram College in Hiram, Ohio. She is ever-active as guest faculty and lecturer for workshops, special events, and continuing and community education forums.
Judith can be heard on recordings and broadcasts with Istanpitta, The King's Counterpoint, Quire Cleveland, Apollo's Fire, the Texas Early Music Project, Counterpoint, the Atlanta Baroque Orchestra, the Columbus Bach Ensemble, the Dayton Bach Society, the Warren Philharmonic, Amherst Early Music, Inc., and the Charleston Pro Musica.
For more information on Judith, please visit www.judithacres.com.