At only four years old, the Choir of Merton College, Oxford, has not only undertaken numerous international tours, but also performed many major choral works across the country, and released its highly acclaimed debut recording In the Beginning on Delphian Records last year.

Appearing at the Fringe as part of a celebration of 10 years of the record label, the choir performed a programme of music ranging from ancient to contemporary, exhibiting extraordinary versatility

The soaring polyphonic lines of Tallis's O salutaris hostia echoed from wall to wall, each part weaving in and out, filling the entire space with a resplendent sound, whilst the lush dissonances in Howells's Take Him, Earth, For Cherishing were sung with a beautifully sensitive tone.

Messe Solennelle, a brand new commission by English composer and organist David Briggs – written for "the Merton Choirbook", a collaboration of new choral work to celebrate Merton College's 750th anniversary – was fresh from its world premiere at St Paul's Cathedral in London on Sunday. This highly talented group of young singers brought out every element of light and shade in this complex choral work, from a terrific wall of sound in the Sanctus and Benedictus to some truly tender moments in the Angus Dei, impeccably secure under the baton of Benjamin Nicholas.


Formed earlier this year as new exponents of early music, Eboracum Baroque are making their Scottish debut with Purcell's opera Dido and Aeneas. Formed and directed by Chris Parsons, the group is made up of singers and instrumentalists studying at the University of York.

With an excellent chorus, their ensemble singing is very tightly together, with a lovely balance, spot-on intonation and strong delivery, although during certain solo passages the youthfulness of these voices became more evident.

Accompanied by string quartet and harpsichord, these are a group of very accomplished instrumentalists, but a quick re-tune between acts would be welcome given the somewhat cosy temperature of the venue.

Jessica Conway, in the role of Dido, sings with a warm and tender tone, beautifully evoking the poignant, tragic emotion in her last aria, Dido's Lament. Belinda, Dido's sister and handmaiden, is sung by Amelia Berridge, whose light, agile voice compliments Conway's perfectly during their duets.

Making innovative use of such a small space, the choreography is simple yet effective, with the evil sorceress's witches hissing amongst the audience. Zoe Buxton as the sorceress clearly relishes the role, singing with rich, low, honeyed hues.

Ends August 18

FOR their second collaboration, following The Okavango Macbeth, composer Tom Cunningham and the prolific Alexander McCall Smith, with his librettist's hat on, have created one of the most perfectly crafted shows to be found in Edinburgh this year. A song-cycle for soprano and baritone in the classical sense – but utterly accessible – it is also a superb piece of site-specific theatre, directed by Mark Hathaway, that explains and explores the history of the venue and its collection of tapestry works.

With video projected on a re-purposed loom, we are drawn into a narrative of the growth of a relationship – intellectual and philosophical as well as romantic – between a poet with his Apple laptop and a weaver with her threads and other elemental found art objects.

In six solo pieces each, six duets, and a single instrumental (for accompanists Jacqueline Norrie on violin and pianist Stuart Hope), Beth McKay and Andrew McTaggart reveal the story of the building and its transformation from a public baths to one of Edinburgh's loveliest gallery spaces (The mutable house); explain the technique of weaving and its parallels with a life well-lived (The lesson; There is the warp); introduce us to individual works in the collection (Eastern still life; Lord of the hunt; A man with cabbages); and gradually reveal details of their assumed characters.

The scope of the show is fantastic, and it succeeds on every level without ever seeming hard work from an audience point of view. McCall's Smith's lyrics are a model of clarity and purpose and Cunningham's music seamlessly embraces a palette of art song, saloon jazz ballad, musical theatre and traditional sources. They could not have wished for finer performers than McKay and McTaggart.

The final performance is this evening. Demand more.