The Brook Street Band takes its name from the London street where composer George Frideric Handel lived from 1723-1759. The Band was formed in 1996 by baroque cellist Tatty Theo and rapidly established itself as one of the UK’s leading Handel specialists, winning grants, awards and broadcasting opportunities from various organisations including BBC Radio 3 and the Handel Institute. Eighteenth-century chamber repertoire has always been the Band’s driving passion, focusing particularly on Handel’s music. However, in recent years the Band’s activities have also expanded to include regular collaborations with conductors, choirs and venues on larger-scale Handel vocal works.
The past 20 years have seen The Brook Street Band perform and teach extensively at many of the most prestigious British and European Festivals, including Dartington International Summer School, Barcelona Early Music Festival and Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival. As The Band looks to its next decade, The Band’s regular British concert venues continue to include Wigmore Hall, St. John’s Smith Square and The Maltings, Snape. It has recently set up its own music festival in Norfolk, love: Handel, working with young people in schools, and extending its concert links within this community. The inaugural festival took place in April 2017.
In addition to performing 18th-century music, The Brook Street Band is committed to developing new repertoire. It has an ongoing Handelian collaboration with several authors and librettists including Louis de Bernières and Alasdair Middleton, fusing newly-commissioned prose with Handel’s music. The wide-ranging educational work of The Band is supported through The Brook Street Band Trust (Registered Charity No.1122890), focusing in particular on Handel’s life and music, linking this to wide areas of the national curriculum and working with schools across the UK. The Band’s recent flagship education project ‘Getting a Handle on Handel’ resulted in the commission of a new community oratorio, Il Pastorale, L’Urbino e Il Suburbano by composer Matthew King, in response to Handel’s L’Allegro, Il Penseroso ed Il Moderato.
The Brook Street Band regularly broadcasts for BBC Radio 3 and its extensive discography for AVIE has been singled out to critical acclaim with accolades including Gramophone Magazine Editor’s Choice, as well as CD features on both BBC Radio and Classic FM.
Rachel Harris – Violin
Swedish born Rachel Harris studied at the Welsh College of Music and Drama with Clare Salaman and at the Royal College of Music with Alison Bury. She was awarded the prestigious Countess of Munster and German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) scholarships for her postgraduate studies in England and Germany. In Germany she concluded her studies (Solistendiplom) with Gottfried von der Goltz, the leader of the Freiburger Barockorchester.
She has performed in England with ensembles such as the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Florilegium and St. James’s Baroque. Apart from playing and recording regularly with ensembles such as Cantus Cölln and Berliner Lautten Compagney, she also leads the Balthasar-Neumann-Ensemble under the direction of Thomas Hengelbrock. She is the director of the dynamic young group formed in 2007, Ensemble Schirokko Hamburg.
Karin Björk – Violin
Karin is an experienced string teacher specialising in working with young people. After undergrad music studies in Sweden and Birmingham Conservatoire, Karin completed her postgrad studies in baroque violin at the Royal Academy of Music. Karin is much sought after as an orchestral player and can regularly be seen on the concert platform with UK and international groups including The OAE, St James’ Baroque, Ex Cathedra, Gabrieli Consort and Players, English Concert, King’s Consort, Early Opera Company and the Classical Opera Company. Smaller-scale chamber music has become increasingly important to Karin, including membership of a string quartet.
She joined BSB in 2018, relishing the opportunities it provides for high-level chamber music making, as well as an advanced teaching programme at schools and Music hubs around the UK. Karin is a passionate educator, working both in schools and within a home-education setting.
Tatty Theo – Cello
After reading music at The Queen’s College, Oxford, Tatty continued her studies at postgraduate level at the Royal College of Music where she won many of the Early Music prizes. She has performed as a soloist at Festivals throughout Britain and Europe, with live broadcasts for BBC and various European radio stations. A lifelong passion for Handel and a love of performing chamber music are two of Tatty’s driving forces and this was instrumental in her founding The Brook Street Band. Tatty is currently preparing performing editions of several unpublished works by Handel and undertaking further research into Handel’s use of the cello.
Tim Homfray of The Strad magazine, wrote of The Brook Street Band: “a riveting performance, which varied between affecting simplicity and visceral excitement…all the playing was high quality, but particular praise must go to the cellist Tatty Theo, the group’s founder, for her beautifully subtle underpinning and shading of the melodic lines above.”
Carolyn Gibley – Harpsichord
Having studied at Chethams School of Music, the University of East Anglia and as a post-graduate at Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Carolyn has established her career as a soloist and chamber musician, as she particularly relishes working in a closely knit small ensemble. This choice has taken her around the world from California to Japan. Carolyn also works as an accompanist and has been regularly employed by the Royal Academy of Music and Guildhall School.
Carolyn has edited the songs of Luigi Rossi from a manuscript in Oxford, and has transcribed Bach’s Organ Trio Sonatas for two violins and continuo for The Brook Street Band. Carolyn has, until recently, taught an enthusiastic adult harpsichord class at Morley College, London.
Lisete da Silva Bull
Portuguese born Lisete studied at the Royal Academy of music in London and has worked extensively in Europe and Brazil, playing and teaching at some of the most prestigious concert houses and educational venues. Lisete has published educational material for Starshine Music and more recently a manual on how to play the recorder for DK publishing with world-wide distribution. She has recorded as a performer for Naxos, Somme, Quartz and AVIE records. Lisete is currently Head of Historical Performance at the Blackheath Conservatoire, Artistic Academic Advisor for the International Rameau Ensemble and Artistic Director of Enter Baroque in Slovenia. She has had a keen interest in French Baroque music since she was a teenager, having worked extensively in the field with some of the world’s foremost authorities both academically and as a performer. Lisete started PhD research into the woodwind writing of Jean Phillipe Rameau with Graham Sadler and Shirley Thompson at the Birmingham Conservatoire.
Nicki Kennedy – Soprano
She is well known as a specialist in the baroque and classical repertoire and has performed at the major festivals throughout Europe, the U.S.A and Japan. She has collaborated in concerts and recordings with many of Europe’s most prestigious orchestras as soloist, including among others, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the English Chamber Orchestra, the Philharmonia, Modo Antiquo, the Lautten Compagney of Berlin, the Orchestre des Champs-Élysées, Les Musiciens du Louvre and Le Parlement de Musique.
On stage amongst her roles are Handel’s Semele, (title role) and Oriana in Amadigi, and she has performed and recorded numerous roles by Vivaldi including Vagaus (Juditha Triumphans), Angelica (Orlando Furioso), Lucio (Tito Manlio) and Barzane (Arsilda, Regina di Ponto) with Modo Antiquo. She has performed numerous Handel works with The Brook Street Band including La Lucrezia at the Wigmore Hall.