Every summer we bring together a group of talented and experienced amateur choral singers for a week of intensive choral study involving a challenging a cappella repertoire. But it’s not just about hard work and performance; we enjoy a week of convivial company, good food and wine in the heat of the Provençal countryside where lovers of choral music, some accompanied by partners and friends, can share their passion with like-minded others.

Rehearsing in the chapel

Beginning in 2009, we have so far attracted singers from UK, US, Spain and France, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark and Sweden and have covered music from the Renaissance to the present day. The week is appropriate for experienced choral singers.

Errol chooses a repertoire for the week of works which are seldom performed due to neglect or their level of difficulty and with six hours rehearsing a day, and under his guiding hand, we always manage to deliver a creditable final concert to an enthusiastic audience.

2020. Like many arts events,  we have had to cancel our Summer Academy this year due to Covid-19. However, we’re preparing a short programme of virtual events to keep us all connected including a virtual aperitif and a recording of a short musical work. We’re looking forward to singing together again in 2021.

Relaxing over a glass of Rosé!

Here are some comments from the class of 2019:

The great thing about working with Errol is that it’s not “note-bashing” in the traditional sense. His expectations, which are mostly met, are that we know the notes already, and it is the interpretation, dynamic, pronunciation, emotion and message that he works on. That’s the difference that makes the difference.

I feel honored to have had the opportunity to sing under Errol’s direction. This was challenging repertoire for me and I know I grew musically as a result of being part of the Ristretto Summer Academy. Thank you, Errol, for your clear explanations, invaluable insight, and sense of humor … and easy-to-follow cues when we managed to get our heads out of our scores 🙂

I learnt a huge amount from Errol and it was great to see how the choir came together and performed so well at the concert. I really enjoyed working with him

This was for me a new experience in detailed rehearsal work. I felt that I had definitely moved up to the Premier League!

Wonderful: I always learn a lot about singing and about the music: even or perhaps especially when I know the piece well already. He has endless patience and good humour, and makes sure everything is as good as it can be.

Contact name : Kate Cobb
Email :

What our performers have to say!
Please convey our congratulations to one and all for such a memorable concert last evening. We were all bowled over by the exceptionally high quality of each of the pieces you performed. You must all be exhausted but equally pleased with your achievement. Bravo!
Errol is inspirational.  It is a privilege to work with him and learn from him.  He is a perfectionist and doesn't let anything go.  I like that.  He is also a great listener.  He is receptive to ideas and comments made by individuals and enjoys the exchange.  I have huge admiration for him and the constructive and encouraging way he works.  He is a real 'enabler'.
Inspiring, as always.  By far the finest musical director I have ever worked with.  It was a wonderful experience to work with such a musician as Errol.  His exacting requirements made us work hard to achieve perfection…  He set a high bar which I'm sure we all appreciate as musicians.
I did so enjoy the week at Lumieres.  It feels like such a family now, and it was particularly nice to have so many French singers there.  I thought the concert was excellent.  I do hope to see you all next year.  And wish it were sooner as I sit here (back home in England) with the rain pouring down and the skies battleship grey.
Thank you all for a wonderful week, and especially Kate, Jo and Cy for all their unseen and unobtrusive work in organizing everything and keeping everyone happy.  It's taken a week to get into real life again: I had a lovely holiday and some of the music is still going round and round -- also trying not to eat much for a while.  It was especially rewarding to meet so many French singers and I hope the entente cordiale was enhanced!  Best wishes and beaucoup d'amities to everyone, Cheers et Salut
Keith - TenorKeith - Tenor
"Singing with Errol, his choice of music, Provence, good wine and food, warmer weather than England, the high probability that I would enjoy the company of the singers you had invited. The week was good fun, musically challenging (but I expected that!) and it lived up to expectations."
Catherine - SopranoCatherine - Soprano
I loved it all. The Poulenc was one of the highlights of my musical life. Just to get from beginning to end of this piece was a massive achievement, so to perform it pretty well… I had an absolute ball.
John - BassJohn - Bass
"I think first and foremost is the chance to sing under Errol’s direction. In my mind he is one of the best choral directors not least because he is a singer himself.  I like the way Errol demands nothing less than the best we can offer but helps the choir enormously to find how to give their best and always with that winning smile".
Mary Ann - AltoMary Ann - Alto
 What a wonderful week!  It’s my second Ristretto summer and I hope there will be many more to come.  “Figure humaine” was an inspired choice.  It stretched us and, I’m sure I’m not speaking just for myself here, moved us deeply. I feel enriched and invigorated by the whole Ristretto experience!
Jenny - SopranoJenny - Soprano
The programs other years have always been great, combination of challenge and nourishment, beauty and fun. This year was another dimension again and I was grateful for both pieces; still living off them substantially!  I’m so glad to have been part of the Poulenc it absolutely was a transformative journey learning and performing, amazing piece; thank you Errol for everything you did - long haul as well as in the immediate - to get us to know it well enough..!! Thought Bach was perfect companion and enjoyed that so much too.