Just a quick post to let you know that Rachel Harris will be giving a masterclass on solo repertoire for baroque violin, focussing on works by composers including JS Bach and Biber. We’ve got some fabulous performers lined up for you to hear. Do sign up to observe the class, which takes place on Zoom on Saturday 6 March, 2.30-4.30pm GMT.
Handel’s 336th Birthday
Handel would have celebrated his 336th birthday on 23rd February 2021… and The Brook Street Band chose to help commemorate the day with a digital Birthday – Passacaille mash-up. Continuing lockdown in Germany and the UK meant we had to record tracks individually, which were later stitched together. This was a first for us, normally relying on eyesight, our collective ears and body language. Click tracks, computers and headphones are not normally part of our usual rehearsal equipment! Anyway, do take a look on our YouTube channel – a bit of birthday silliness!
Masterclasses in 2021
If you’d asked us at the start of 2020 whether we’d be delivering online masterclasses during the year, we might have looked at you with a puzzled expression. However 2020 and Covid-19 necessitated many changes and adaptations to usual working methods, and last Autumn we programmed the first of our online masterclasses.
What a joy these turned out to be! We had attendees from all over the world, and the online format allowed us a far greater reach, both for audience and performers. We were lucky enough to work with players from several European countries, as well as America.
We’ll be continuing these in 2021, with two more woodwind classes scheduled for 6 February and 13 March, and at least one violin class, date TBC. Keep checking our Brook Street Band at Home page for more information and links.
#Roots Baroque Orchestra moves online
We were scheduled to perform for Cambridge Early Music on 18 November 2020, including an appearance from the young student group we’ve been working with, #Roots Baroque Orchestra. This all had to be postponed due to Lockdown 2, but we’re delighted to have been able to move activities online. Working digitally presents many challenges, but one of the huge advantages is that students from further afield can sign up, who might not have been able to travel to a rehearsal in person. We’ve expanded our group, so that whilst the majority of students are part of our project partner Cambridgeshire Music, we’ve also been able to welcome students from all over the South East. We’re working on Christmas repertoire, including (naturally!) the Pastorale from Corelli’s Christmas Concerto, ready for a digital performance around Christmas. We hope to continue into the Spring term, with a mix of digital and face-to-face sessions, leading to a live concert in March 2021.
Covid and lockdown
It’s been a terrible year for live music-making, with all but one of our concerts cancelled or postponed since March 2020. There was a brief return to ‘normality’ (whatever that is…) in September 2020, when we performed for Assembly House Classical in Norwich, albeit to a socially-distanced audience, wearing masks. We have our final concert of the year scheduled for 20th December, our annual and much-loved Christmas concert at The Chapel, Norwich. Here’s hoping that circumstances don’t conspire against us again…
Cambridgeshire Music Live #2020
The Brook Street Band is delighted to be part of #MusicLive2020, for Cambridgeshire Music. This is the Band’s third year participating in the scheme, delivering concerts and workshops for young people across the county, many of whom have limited access to live music. We’re reaching large numbers of new audience members, often performing to whole school communities, hoping to inspire them with our passion for Handel and his music. We’re taking a family of recorders, a harpsichord, baroque flute, violin and cello on our travels throughout the county, helping students time travel back to Cambridgeshire in the 1720s.
The Brook Street Band is delighted to be part of an exciting new music outreach project, Roots. We’ll be working in collaboration with VOCES8, Cambridge Early Music, Anglia Ruskin University, Faculty of Music at the University of Cambridge and Cambridgeshire Music.
We’re delighted to be recording Arne’s “Judgment of Paris” which we performed at the London Handel Festival earlier this year, conducted by John Andrews.
John has been working for some time to secure this world premiere recording (for the label Dutton), featuring the stellar line up of soloists Mary Bevan (Venus), Susanna Fairbairn (Pallas), Anthony Gregory (Mercury), Gillian Ramm (Juno) and Ed Lyon (Paris).
It’s a stunning piece and deserves to be more widely known – which hopefully it will be, thanks to this new recording!
Sonatas for Violin and Basso Continuo
We’ve long wanted to record Handel’s wonderful sonatas for violin and basso continuo, and 2018 is the year we finally got around to it. We’ve been playing them together since 1995, so it seemed about the right time! The year started with 4 wonderful days of recording sessions in the Great Barn at Oxnead Hall in Norfolk. Editing took place in March, and we launched the disc on 4 and 5 June with two concerts.
The initial concert was back at Oxnead, in fact the first ever concert performance in the venue. What a superb concert venue it is, thanks to its acoustic, location and such wonderful hosts David and Beverley Aspinall. Then, the following day we performed in Handel’s own music room at 25 Brook Street, on a warm night, in an intimate, historically-charged space, much as Handel would have done when he played harpsichord in these pieces himself, perhaps joined by his cook on cello, and an esteemed colleague on violin.
It was fantastic to be surrounded by so many loyal friends and supporters at both occasions, so a huge thank you to our BSB family.
BSB in Hull
We’ve just returned from a fantastic three days in Hull, working with music students at the University, giving a concert with Lisete da Silva, and then rehearsing for our next CD recording. It was a great privilege to be in Hull in its year as City of Culture, and enjoy the splendid new facilities at the University. The Middleton Hall is a wonderful space to work in, complete with state-of-the-art facilities, and a great cafe (with amazing gluten-free chocolate brownies!) right next door. The project was set up by BSB trumpeter Simon Desbruslais, and marks the Band’s second visit to the University.
The old centre of Hull is lovely to wander around, with lots of contemporary art and references to the city’s port heritage dotted around. This was one of many characterful fish inset into the pavement.