Welcome from the artistic director
Welcome to Baroque Week 2019! The 2018 week went very well and I feel it continued in the spirit of discovery with which Walter Bergmann started the course forty-two years ago. Our theme “Welcome to all the Musicians” celebrated the influence of European musicians in 17th and 18th century England, exploring works by lesser-known figures such as Draghi and Grabu alongside more famous immigrant composers such as J C Bach and Handel. Back in the 1970s Bergmann was introducing hitherto little-known works by the likes of Telemann and Quantz to baroque enthusiasts – we are continuing to add to the library and to explore new pieces as well as revisiting old favourites. The course was much enhanced by the presence of Bryan White, Senior Lecturer in Music at Leeds University, who made an enormous contribution with his extensive knowledge of this repertoire, an excellent lecture on Grabu’s opera Albion and Albanius and his enthusiastic participation throughout the week. I am grateful too to all the tutors and to Roger Deats (a member of our Artistic Committee) for the extremely interesting, informative and complementary series of talks and workshops they also gave.I am keen to achieve a good balance between simply having fun playing and singing lots of music, and providing the context and opportunity for participants to improve their musical skills and to learn more about the vast and wonderful repertoire, some still unexplored, from the period between 1600 and 1800. It is a challenge to achieve this balance but I believe our present-day clientele appreciates the chance to work on a few pieces in detail over the course of the week as well as exploring a large amount of repertoire in “one-off” sessions, and people feel a real sense of achievement showing off the results of their endeavours in an informal performance to the other participants on the last evening.
To create fresh impetus we continue to present a new theme for each year’s course. For 2019 this will be “The Leipzig Legacy”. This broad-ranging theme will allow us to explore music by several great, and some lesser-known, composers connected to Leipzig by birth, education or employment. At the early end of our period there are works by Schein and Rosenmüller (whose birth date is a little vague but generally thought to be in or around 1619, making this a suitable time to mark the 400th anniversary of his birth); there will be sessions for our “specialist” singers to explore pieces by these two composers, some of which will also involve a small group of string players as well as continuo instruments. Running through several sessions throughout the week, I will direct an orchestral suite by Johann Friedrich Fasch, whose innovative instrumental writing will give plenty of scope for wind as well as string players to shine. But above all, our theme gives us the excuse to concentrate on the works of J S Bach! We will delve into several of his glorious cantatas, which will be a wonderful opportunity for both singers and players. We will explore several cantatas in organised, tutor-led sessions but of course you will have ample opportunity to arrange to sing and play individual arias of your own choice in the chamber-music sessions you arrange for yourselves. I am very grateful to the Right Reverend David Stancliffe for making this ambitious project possible by agreeing to lend us his extensive collection of scores and parts. The choral piece, directed by Steven Devine each evening will be Jesu Meine Freude. In addition, I hope that you will all throw yourselves into playing as much Bach instrumental music as possible and I know that Clare Beesley is planning to work on the B minor Suite with a group of flautists with strings and continuo. I am very pleased that we can keep the same wonderful team of tutors as last year – Ann Allen, Clare Beesley, Steven Devine, Satoko Doi-Luck, Jane Francis and Kate Semmens will all be joining us again - and that in addition the multi-talented Amanda Babington will be returning (I shall be interested to find out whether there will be any scope for her to air her musette this time). Depending on numbers, we very much hope to invite our lovely assistant tutors back – Zoë Cartlidge and Jacob Garside. And I’m very pleased that Mary Collins has promised to return to give another of her most enjoyable and informative dance workshops.With several very able singers who come principally as instrumentalists, we have decided to restrict the numbers of “specialist” singers to eight. This will mean that we will have enough singers to form two single-voice consorts but not so many as to make the ratio of singers to instrumentalists unworkable in chamber sessions. We will be offering at least two bursaries to young professional or student singers but there are also several full or part bursaries available for instrumentalists who would not otherwise be able to attend. Please do look at the Bursary section on the website if this applies to you, and remember that they are not only intended for young students! If, on the other hand, you are in a position to help support our bursaries in any way, small or large, please do get in touch – we are very grateful for any donations or for any ideas regarding money-raising. And please do continue to spread the word about Baroque Week – personal recommendation is the best way and although we are thriving, with numbers at a very healthy level, it would be possible to accommodate an extra handful of participants; we would especially welcome a few more string and keyboard players to create an optimum balance.I look forward to seeing you in August!