Welcome to our second newsletter and the first one of 2018! We’ve been keeping busy with some great repertoire, and have plenty of exciting projects in the pipeline – hope you enjoy reading, and do come along to a concert!
Chamber Residency at Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh
In February we embarked on a chamber residency at Snape Maltings, and spent almost two weeks making music together in the extraordinary surroundings of Benjamin Britten’s Suffolk. We were really delighted to be part of the Aldeburgh Music chamber residency series, and very excited to have the opportunity of working intensively as a group and receiving coaching from Ashley Solomon.
We spent the first week working on a programme of seventeenth-century Spanish dances including our own improvised suite of dances that had been banned at various points in Spanish history: the Jácárás, Ciacona, and Sarabanda. At the end of the first week we gave a lunchtime concert to a wonderful and tangibly friendly audience at the Jubilee Hall in Aldeburgh (where Britten’s Midsummer Night’s Dream was premiered on 11 June 1960) before enjoying some excellent fish and chips at ‘The Upper Deck’ and walking along the bitterly cold beach.
The weekend of coaching with Ashley started with some French baroque chamber music and L’Espagnole from François Couperin’s Les Nations. This ordre (self-contained collection of pieces in the same key) is comprised of a seven-movement sonade en trio followed by 10 dances that culminate in a mighty Passacaille.
We spent Saturday working on this piece in the Holst Library, looking at specific aspects of French style such as ornaments, vibrato/flattement, and inégalité, as well as how to establish and communicate the essential character of each dance, and how to find a French goût or flavour within the sound we all make as an ensemble that is different to the sound world of, say, Bach or Telemann. On Sunday we continued with our Couperin immersion but also found time to work on the first of J.S. Bach’s Organ Trio Sonatas (BWV 525) and Jean-Marie Leclair’s Deuxième Récréation de Musique. We finished the week feeling exhausted but also inspired – not only to rehearse better and work harder but also to pay more attention to our on-going development as chamber musicians, creating time and space to get excited about music and keep exploring new repertories and interpretations.
We continued our second week by staying mainly in the eighteenth century, and left Snape feeling enthused and reinvigorated (and not just because of the freezing weather) - huge thanks to everyone who helped us to have such a wonderful residency!
Brighton Early Music Festival & Live Music Now
We’re really enjoyed being part of the BREMF Live! Scheme, and in March we visited some schools in Brighton as part of the festival’s outreach programme. We went to Elm Grove and Coombe Road Primary Schools, where we presented workshops that explored improvisation and included a Tambourin courtesy of Leclair. Some highlights included improvising a Romanesca with over 80 children across the day, and being asked whether you could eat gut strings (let us know if you’ve tried this). We’re also very much enjoying the variety of people we get to engage with on the Live Music Now scheme. Over the next 10 days, for example, we’re presenting concerts at a special needs secondary school, a residential care home, and a dementia-focused community centre.
1pm, Thursday May 10th
Lunchtime concert at St George the Martyr Church, Southwark (Borough High St, London SE1 1JA) Chamber music by François Couperin and J.S. Bach alongside improvisations - FREE ENTRANCE
3pm, Sunday May 10th
Improviso at the Foundling Museum (40 Brunswick Square, Bloomsbury, London WC1N 1AZ)
Inspired by Handel’s operas and the museum’s Giulio Cesare exhibition - FREE ENTRANCE WITH MUSEUM ADMISSION
1pm, Monday May 21st
Lunchtime concert at St Michael-at-the-Northgate Church (Cornmarket St, Oxford OX1 3EY)
Chamber music by François Couperin and J.S. Bach alongside improvisations - FREE ENTRANCE
4pm, Sunday May 27th
Plumstead Peculiars concert series (Ascension Church, Timbercroft Lane, London, SE18 2SG)
Chamber music from the 17-18th centuries alongside improvisations -FREE ENTRANCE