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.
Hull, City of Culture 2017
We’re really excited about our visit to Hull on 1-2 November 2017. We’ll be working with students on the 1st, and then performing a Bach, Handel and Telemann programme in the stunning new Middleton Hall on the 2nd. We were last in Hull two years ago, and are really looking forward to seeing the city again and sharing 18th century enthusiasms (and some wine!) with the music students. Lisete da Silva Bull will be joining me, Rachel Harris and Carolyn Gibley, to perform our “Zimmerman’s Kaffeehaus” programme, an imagined slice of weekly concert life in 1730s Leipzig. Let the caffeine flow…
Website development with Intrada Innovations
The summer has been a productive time, making funding applications, renewing relationships with promoters, music festivals and music societies, and planning the Band’s next Handel CD. Some time was also spent mucking around in boats, with the next generation of Brook Street Band members!
A big focus however was generally getting the Band’s website in order.
The web development has been undertaken by David Price at Intrada Innovations, who has created a website similar in look and feel to the Band’s original one, but with far better functionality, much more detail, loads of images (not so big that they’ll slow down your computer) and a really great shop!
Do take the chance to visit and let us know what you think, and look out for occasional promotions and special offers.
May 2017 Handel
The Brook Street Band is delighted to have been chosen as one of the selected artists on the 2018-19 Making Music scheme.
‘A weekend dedicated to Handel in Norwich, was a fine tribute to both composer and musicians…playing was vibrant and expressive throughout…This inaugural Handel Festival was a high-quality event for both young and old, aficionado or beginner’ Martyn Harrison Seen and Heard-International
We’ve just about recovered from our first ever love: Handel festival, which took place last month at The Chapel in Norwich. This was the culmination of many years’ worth of dreaming and planning, and we thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. We presented 5 concerts, 2 workshops and 2 talks, with special guests Louis de Bernières and Handel specialist Julie Anne Sadie.
We had lovely supportive audiences throughout, with plenty of coffee, cake and a chance to really chat to everyone.
A special shout-out to harpsichordist Carolyn Gibley who also managed to produce this special birthday cake.
We look forward to presenting the next festival in 2019.
2-day event in Norwich, April 22-23 2017
The Brook Street Band launches its inaugural Handel Festival, a 2-day event in Norwich, April 22-23 2017
The Brook Street Band has long dreamed of presenting its own Festival, dedicated to the great love of its life, George Frideric Handel. love: Handel is a brand new festival, timed to coincide with and celebrate the end of the Band’s 20th Anniversary year, bringing Handel’s music to Norwich, an area currently lacking an early music Festival. The BSB has close connections with the area, several of its members having lived and worked there, and love: Handel enables the BSB to bring Handel’s music into the heart of this community. The Brook Street Band believes it is perfectly positioned to deliver a new Handel Festival, away from London and its saturation of cultural activity, but still within an active, supportive and vibrant musical community, which Norwich offers.
Tatty Theo, the group’s founder writes: ‘As a group, we are lucky enough to play in many of most prestigious concert venues, but we are also passionate about bringing the music we love to our local community, especially working with young people in education and involving them in our concerts. love: Handel unites these factors, with several Band-members living in East Anglia, and a wide-ranging music education programme in place across the region with links to Norfolk Music Service, Cambridgeshire Music Hub Live and Aldeburgh Young Musicians’.
Coupled with the love: Handel Festival is an extensive education programme, for junior and secondary schools in Norwich and the surrounding area, in association with the Norfolk Music Service. This aims to get more young people taking part in music and the arts and improve music and cultural education for children (key aims of the Department for Education), as well as encouraging young people to attend the Festival. The Brook Street Band will present whole-school music assemblies and work in detail with over 270 children.
The love: Handel festival is family-friendly, with young people encouraged to come and participate, with free tickets to concerts for Under 18s. Whilst this is a new festival, The Brook Street Band intends to develop it into a biennial event, which will grow towards a 4-day event within 6 years.
June 15, 2016
We are busy working towards our 20th Anniversary Concert at Wigmore Hall on 17th July. This is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate 20 years of friendship and music-making, with musical colleagues spanning the Band’s life, and we really hope to see you there. Do visit the Wigmore Hall Website for more information and to book tickets.
Since “Handel Trio Sonatas for Two Violins and Basso Continuo” was released in March, it has barely been out of the press. It achieved a place in the Classical Chart Top 30, featured as Classic FM Disc of the Week, and on Radio 3’s In Tune.
Here are a few of our review highlights:
‘The Brook Street Band bring some spectacularly fine playing…making this a Handel disc not to be missed.’The Classical Reviewer.
‘Vital and vivacious’The Guardian.
‘An exemplary recording’Music Web International.
‘Life-enhancing stuff’The Arts Desk.
‘The Brook Street Band were born to play Handel. Fresh, lively performances.’Big Issue.
‘An absolute cracker of a disc!’Early Music Review.
‘Neat and energetic birthday performances’The Strad.
‘Masterly performances’Gramophone Magazine.
We’ve also been featured as cover artists for Early Music Today magazine, with the article now available to view online
Most recently the Band enjoyed a photoshoot and re-style courtesy of Helen David, the founder of English Eccentrics. Classic FM came along to make a series of films about the Band, including a masterclass on the Passacaille from Handel’s Trio Sonata Op.5 No.4:
March 10, 2016
February saw the Band give sell-out concerts in Norwich and London, with the premiere of its new Margherita Durastanti programme. Durastanti’s connection with Handel extended for thirty years, in Italy and London. The Brook Street Band’s programme explores Handel’s music, first sung by Durastanti in Rome and later London, alongside instrumental works from the same period. The programme spans Handel’s informative early years in Rome to the height of his fame in 1730s London.
Huge thanks to Handel Hendrix London for rehearsal space, and costume inspiration.
There was lots of fun at the BBC too, with a live appearance on Radio 3’s In Tune programme. Thankfully, all the music managed to stay on stands, unlike the last time that Nicki performed O Qualis de coelo sonus there!
The Band is delighted to announce the release of its latest CD “Handel Trio Sonatas for Two Violins and Basso Continuo”. This is available in the UK from 11th March, and the addition of this ‘set’ of sonatas to the Band’s discography compliments its recordings of the Trio Sonatas Opus 2 and Opus 5.
The release is timed to coincide with the start of the Band’s celebrations during its 20th anniversary year. Throughout the coming season and into 2016/2017 The Band will celebrate Handel’s music with a variety of concerts, ranging from its chamber series at St. John’s Smith Square, to concerts at Wigmore Hall, favourite places such as Dartington, and a host of new European places for the Band. Do keep an eye on the website for full concert listings which are updated regularly.