Jean-Philippe Rameau
Chamber music summer school
Patron: Trevor Pinnock CBE
Queen Anne’s School, Caversham, Berkshire 13–20 August 2017

What to expect at Baroque Week

Whether you are an amateur, student, semi-professional or an emerging young professional musician this course offers an wonderful opportunity to immerse yourself in baroque music for a week with guidance from knowledgeable, inspiring and encouraging tutors, all leading specialists in the performance of baroque music on period instruments.

The emphasis is on chamber music and thanks to the extensive Baroque Week library of nearly 3000 works there is always something interesting to play, whatever the line-up of your ensemble. On the first full day chamber music sessions are prearranged; for the remainder of the week participants organise most of their own groups and choose the music, although expert help is at hand from Peter Collier and the tutors to arrange groupings and suggest repertoire if you find empty places in your playing diary.

Each day begins with a talk or a practical workshop concentrating on various aspects of baroque performance, followed by the first main session, in which we offer a tutor-led project for all who wish to join in. This year we will be working on vocal and instrumental extracts from Rameau’s opera-ballet Les Indes Galantes which will involve a full orchestra of wind and strings, and singers in a range of solos and ensembles. This work will culminate in an informal performance on the last evening.

In the second session each day we separate the singers and instrumentalists so that the singers have a chance to work in small consorts or on solo music with basso continuo whilst players can concentrate on instrumental music. After lunch you are free to do what you like, whether it be playing, resting or exploring places of interest nearby, but on Wednesday afternoon be sure not to miss Mary Collins’ workshop on French Baroque Dance! In the fourth session, after tea, singers and players are encouraged to make up groups together to explore vocal and instrumental repertoire of their own choice.

Every day there is an informal concert before dinner, where participants can perform some of the music they have particularly enjoyed. After dinner all are invited to take part in the choir — this year Chris Bucknall will be directing sacred music by Charpentier and this will also be performed in Saturday’s concert.

On Thursday evening there will be a concert given by the tutors which will centre around this year’s theme, featuring French baroque music from Lully to Rameau.

Is Baroque Week for you?

Playing and singing is mostly one-to-a-part and you should be an able sight-reader and hold a part confidently in a small ensemble. A reasonably high level of musical ability and technical competence is needed in order to benefit from detailed coaching in stylistic matters even if you have just seen the music for the first time!

For singers the course offers a rare opportunity to sing solo music with instruments as well as working in a small consort of voices and we suggest that you prepare and bring any arias, cantatas or motets that you would like to work on with small groups of instrumentalists. In the weeks before the course we will send suggestions and links to suitable material linked to our theme “Rameau’s Revolution” for solos, duets and small ensembles of singers with instruments, in addition to allocating the solo parts in our main project piece Les Indes Galantes to appropriate singers. There will be some vocal opportunities for those who both sing and play, but we can only accept a maximum of ten specialist singers. In order to help us achieve a balanced distribution of voices and to allocate solo parts we ask new singers to provide a short recording when they apply. We encourage singers to book early but regret that we will not be able to confirm your place until 1st March. We will of course refund your deposit in full if we find we are unable to accommodate you.

For players, the course is principally for those with baroque instruments at A415. However we are also very happy to accept string players on modern instruments tuned down to A415 and using gut strings. If you do not own a baroque bow we may be able to loan you one for the course. Wind players will need at least one instrument at A415 although some music may be played at A440 or A392. Keyboard players will have opportunities to play from and be coached in either figured bass or realisations.

A typical day at Baroque Week...

8.45–9.30 Talks or practical workshops on various aspects of baroque performance
9.45–11.15 Session 1 — Tutor-led instrumental and vocal project focusing on Rameau’s Les Indes Galantes, or instrumental chamber music
11.45–1.15 Session 2 — Instrumental chamber music; singers work in small consorts or on solo music with basso continuo
2.15–3.45 Session 3 — Free time or untutored chamber music
4.15–5.45 Session 4 — Chamber music for singers and instrumentalists
6.15 Informal performances of some of the day’s music
8.15–9.30 Choir (Charpentier sacred works) or untutored chamber music
Tutors: Theresa Caudle (Artistic Director), Ann Allen, Amanda Babington, Christopher Bucknall, Satoko Doi-Luck, Jane Francis, Rachel Latham .
Registered Charity No. 1161774