Burghclere Baroque: Messiah

Handel: Messiah
Burghclere Baroque, Theresa Caudle
The Church of the Ascension, Burghclere. 22 December 2021
7 Revisions

However often professional musicians may appear on the national or international stage, for many of them, much of their musical activity is local, whether teaching or running their own musical events, concerts and festivals. One example is Burghclere Baroque, set up in 2020 by violinist/cornetist Theresa Caudle in her home village of Burghclere, on the Hampshire border just south of Newbury. Alongside Chamber Music and Orchestral Days, they also arrange concerts when current issues permit. Just about slipping in before the latest Covid stops such things, is this performance of Handel’s Messiah in the Church of the Ascension, Burghclere. Their invitation to the concert also invited people to attend their afternoon rehearsal, which is what I did. A formal review would not have been appropriate, so this is just a record of an event. And if you are local, and see this in time, you might manage to get to the 7pm start.

This performance also launched the Burghclere Baroque Ensemble, a small orchestra of mostly young performers starting out in their careers, several of whom either live or grew up in this area. For this Messiah, they consisted of a small chamber ensemble of a string quintet, baroque trumpets and timpani. They were joined by five professional soloists – Philippa Hyde & Janet Coxwell, sopranos, Tom Lilburn, alto, Ruairi Bowen, tenor, Stuart O’Hara, bass, and five additional local amateur singers for the choruses.

The programme noted that there would be no conductor, but “a collaborative approach will be taken and each and every one of the singers and players will take individual responsibility for their contribution”. This, of course, is pretty well how music was performed until well into the 19th-century, with direction coming from the keyboard player or, as in this case, the principal violinist, Theresa Caudle.

The section of the rehearsal that I heard boded very well for the evening concert. Without attempting to actually review, mention should be made of the continuo team of Jacob Garside, cello, and Sebastian Gillot, organ, and the two trumpeters Tamsin Cowell & Katie Hodges.