My goodness, it’s been a while. But for good reason – the Ensemble has been plotting, planning and rehearsing, so that we can (proudly) present…our 2011 season. Starting with:
Thursday, February 3rd, 6:30pm
If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of attending a concert at Handel House, I do urge you to give it a try (and not only for self-serving reasons). It’s an intimate venue (seating no more than thirty) and the warmth of the acoustic (as well as the significance of the site) adds something very special to the early music performed there. Plus – Jimi Hendrix!
25 Brook Street
As to the concert itself? Our mission as a group is to explore gender identity and ambiguity in vocal music. Part of that is the wonderful world of castrati singers, the cross-dressing tradition on stage and all the lovely blurring of boundaries between hetero and homosexual romance that are part and parcel of the early opera experience.
But another part of our mission? To bring to attention the works of forgotten female composers – musicians who by their very existence defied the constraints of traditional gender roles. We all remember being told as teenagers that there were no female composers worth mentioning. When I was attending open days for my BMus course in 2002 a lecturer in composition at one of the London universities told a room full of potential students that women couldn’t hope to compose as well as men because evolution had made it impossible for their brains to process music in the same way as the great leading lights of the Western classical tradition. In 2002. Think back to the 17th Century.
This could become all too academic all too easily. Except for one point: the music we’re highlighting in our Forgotten Voices series is stunning. Focusing on the works of Barbara Strozzi and Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre we’ve gathered together a collection of love duets, religious cantatas, arias and harpsichord solos. Let me make it clear – performing and listening to this music is not some kind of worthy act or obligation. It is sheer, unadulterated pleasure. Your ears, and your brain, will thank you.
So we do hope to see as many of you there as possible. And, if you wanted to stay for a drink and a geeky discussion afterwards, I will be making brownies.
All the best