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 began her baroque violin studies at the Welsh College of Music and Drama with Clare Salaman. After completing her studies with distinction, Rachel continued as a postgraduate student at the Royal College of Music in London with Alison Bury. She was awarded the prestigious Countess of Munster and German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) scholarships. Rachel’s postgraduate studies continued in Trossingen and Würzburg, Germany, where she concluded her soloist studies with Gottfried von der Goltz, leader of the Freiburger Barockorchester. Rachel also plays the viola and the bass viol, and would love to learn how to play the natural horn decently! Rachel has performed as a soloist with Cantus Cölln, the Balthasar-Neumann-Ensemble, Lautten Compagney Berlin and La Banda Augsburg, with whom she has made a DVD recording of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons in October 2013. Other ensembles Rachel has played with include the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Florilegium and St. James’s Baroque. She is the leader and director of Ensemble Schirokko Hamburg, with whom she has made numerous CDs. Her most recent disc is the complete recording of J.S. Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas together with J.P. von Westhoff Solo Suites. Rachel joined The Brook Street Band in 1997.
Kathryn Parry – Violin
Kathryn Parry has a rich and varied career as an orchestral and chamber musician, recitalist and teacher. She studied at Selwyn College, Cambridge and at the Royal Academy of Music. She has played with many of the UK’s leading orchestras, and was a member of the London Philharmonic and Scottish Chamber Orchestra, living in Edinburgh and performing with the Hebrides Ensemble, Scottish Ensemble and as guest leader of the Edinburgh Quartet. As a member of the Bell’Arte Ensemble she gave the inaugural chamber concert in Birmingham’s Symphony Hall playing piano quintets with Sir Simon Rattle, and as a recitalist she has performed for music clubs and festivals nationwide and abroad. Kathryn was a member of La Serenissima and string quartet The Revolutionary Drawing Room, and plays with the London Handel Orchestra, ETO, and the OAE. She has recorded numerous film soundtracks and is a named artist on Sting’s album Ten Summoners’ Tales and the Ship’s Fiddler in Alexander L’Estrange’s Ahoy!
Kathryn has worked as a primary school specialist music teacher and is much in demand as a chamber music coach, workshop leader and festival adjudicator. She is a celebrated teacher and was awarded an ARAM in recognition of her contribution to the music profession.
Tatty Theo – Cello
Tatty Theo comes from a family of cellists going back 3 generations, and her interest in baroque repertoire became apparent at a very young age. Tatty’s earliest experiences of the cello were playing duets with her grandfather William Pleeth, and listening to her uncle Anthony perform Geminiani cello sonatas on the baroque 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 award-winning period instrument group The Brook Street Band. As well as performing, Tatty writes for various publications about Handel and eighteenth-century music in general. Tatty is currently working on the first two chapters of a book about William Pleeth, having been awarded a Finzi scholarship to research William’s musical life in London pre-1930 and his studies in Leipzig from 1930–32. She is also researching material for an eventual book examining 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
Carolyn’s love for music of the baroque period began at a young age and she was lucky enough to learn both the harpsichord and the recorder whilst at Chetham’s School of Music. She went on to study at the University of East Anglia and as a post-graduate at Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Carolyn joined The Brook Street Band in 1999 and particularly relishes the small-scale ensemble playing that this brings. Alongside her performing role, she has transcribed Bach’s Organ Trio Sonatas for two violins and continuo and Handel’s recorder sonatas for cello. These have been recorded by The Brook Street Band on the AVIE label. Carolyn has also edited the songs of the 17th century Italian Luigi Rossi from manuscripts held in Christchurch College, Oxford. Among her work outside The Brook Street Band Carolyn has joined forces with fellow harpsichordist Robin Bigwood (Passacaglia) for some wonderfully noisy concerts of seventeenth and eighteenth century- music for 2 harpsichords. When not seated in the driving seat of the harpsichord, Carolyn can be found tending her large garden in rural Norfolk. She functions best on copious amounts of tea.
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.