The Spitalfields Winter Festival opened at Shoreditch Church with a programme by the combined Fretwork viol consort and Red Byrd vocal group that unexpectedly overlapped in theme with an otherwise starkly contrasting concert by the combined London Sinfonietta and Royal Academy of Music Manson Ensemble at the Royal Festival Hall. The link was the reclamation of demotic musical material by high art.
At Shoreditch, the items were imaginatively tied together to set off Orlando Gibbons’s remarkable achievement in uniting, in his Cries of London, copious sounds of the street with the recherché polyphony of five-part “In Nomine” writing for viols. Comparable, if less sophisticated, syntheses by Thomas Ravenscroft, William Cobbold and Richard Dering were offered — Dering’s Country Cries showing particularly well how this vivid raw stuff could lend new freedom to word-setting — but it was Gibbons’s genius in bringing together artistic extremes that told. His three freestanding five-part In Nomines for viols were threaded through the programme, and we were treated, too, to a vigorous treble-viol Duo.
Harmonia Mundi USA have just released a 4-CD compilation album of all our J.S.Bach arrangements: The Art of Fugue, Alio Modo and The Goldberg Variations. It looks very good, and I think it's at a very competitive price.
Simon Callow is to narrate The World Encompassed with Fretwork at this year's Dartington International Summer School on 2nd August. Following our collaboration with Simon for 'The Year's Midnight' at the Spitalfields Winter Festival last December, we're delighted that he has agreed to narrate the new version of The World Encompassed at this summer's premier.
It will be the world premier of Nico Muhly's new work 'Slow' at Kings Place, London next Thursday, 5th February. This concert will also feature music from 16th century England that employs similar techniques as more recent composers, such as Muhly, Nyman & Bryars. We also have an arrangement for viols of 'Balancing the Books' by Michael Nyman, performed for the first time here; and Gavin Bryars' 'In Nomine after Purcell'.
We're got two performances of The Year's Midnight in the coming week: on Thursday at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, and then on Monday at Shoreditch Church as part of the Spitalfields Festival, with the poems read by Simon Callow. It's a celebration of the Winter Solstice, winter, the cold, the dark, moonlight and the stars.
December 21st is the longest night of the year; the night we might fear that the sun won’t return and that the days will continue to become shorter and shorter, until we are left in a permanent darkness. Read More...
We're demonstrating the viol and its myriad potentials to composition students at the Royal College of Music on Wednesday 24th September 1400 - 1630. We'll be playing Barry Guy's 'Buzz', written in 1995; Henry Purcell's 'Fantazia Upon One Note' from 1680; Alexander Goehr's 'Fantasia' of 2000; John Woolrich's 'Three Fantasias for Five Viols' 2001; Orlando Gibbons's seventeenth century 'In Nomine'; Poul Ruders's 'Second Set of Variations on the Danish Folksong The Power of the Harp' 1995 and Picforth's only surviving work, his 'In Nomine' from the large table-book in the British Library Add. 31390.
Come and hear.