“Preserving historical performance in the UK“
The Continuo Foundation was founded earlier this year, and was soon granted charitable status by the UK Charities Commission. Their Mission is “To support a flourishing historical performance sector, sustaining the careers of its virtuosic freelance musicians, creating opportunities for the next generation of artists entering the field and widening access to performances for communities across the UK“. They realised that, without support, the once-thriving UK historical performance sector could be permanently damaged by Covid restrictions. To that, I would add the devastating effect of a badly-negotiated Brexit deal that seems to have ignored the vital importance to musicians of easy travel within Europe. Their immediate aim was to help period instrument ensembles to remain active by developing Covid-safe projects as a way of creating employment for musicians. Their longer term aim is to “provide a new resource for connecting ensembles, musicians, audiences, and venues in order to grow the UK’s historical performance sector and preserve its celebrated tradition of excellence“.
Alongside the three Patrons, Dame Emma Kirkby, Sir Roger Norrington andRachel Podger, there is an Advisory Panel of four musicians and management support from a group of six Trustees, including their founder Tina Vadaneaux. All are experienced professionals from business, media, law, academia and classical music and are giving their time free, enabling all donations to go directly to benefit ensembles and musicians.
Grants are tailored to the evolving needs of period-instrument ensembles, and include creating a central resource for the sector and developing innovative ways of operating in a post-Covid environment. During the first round of grants, 23 ensembles shared grants totalling £150,000, supporting 377 individual musicians. An impressive calender of events demonstrates the result of the initial grant phase.
The second round is currently underway. An additional £100,000 is already available for grants for projects from October 2021 to March 2022. This will be increased by any additional donations received before 1st September, all of which will go directly to fund the second round of grants. A range of donation options are available, ranging from Founding Supporters, specific Project Supporters, and one-off or regular Donations, preferably by bank transfer or cheque. Current UK taxpayers can boost their donation by 25p for every £1 they donate through Gift Aid.
One of their next projects is in support of the free Bach for Good festival of Baroque music, this Saturday 21 August from 2pm at St Mary’s Tower in Hornsey. This is part of Music at the Tower, a project founded in the summer of 2020, as a way of giving much needed employment to freelance musicians based near London who had experienced their livelihoods disappearing because of Covid. Ten recipients of the ‘Continuo Foundation Award for Students of Historical Performance’, drawn from final year students of the London music colleges, will play in one or more of the Brandenburg Concertos alongside professionals and will also join chamber groups. This Music at the Tower project is also in need of financial help to fund the day.
UPDATE 21 September 2021
The 23 second round grant recipients are: Academy of Ancient Music, Amyas, Bach Club Soloists, The Brook Street Band, Chelys Consort of Viols, Concerto Caledonia, The Early Opera Company Ltd, The English Concert, Ensemble Augelletti, Ex Cathedra, Feinstein Ensemble, Florilegium, Fontanella, Fretwork, Gabrieli Consort & Players, Instruments of Time and Truth, Istante Collective, The Mozartists, Passacaglia Trio, Pocket Sinfonia, Rautio Piano Trio, Sounds Baroque and The Telling.