Amavi: works by Michael East

Amavi
Fantasias, verse anthems and vocal works by Michael East
Chelys Consort of Viols and Fieri Consort
St Gabriel’s Church, Pimlico. 17 March 2022

With the financial support of the Continuo Foundation, the Chelys Consort of Viols and Fieri Consort gave a concert of music by the little-known English composer, Michael East (c1580–1648, aka, Easte, Est, Este). This was part of a short UK tour of the programme, and was preceded by a reception for Continuo Foundation supporters during which members of the two groups explained the programme and described the instruments. After a Cambridge Univesity music degree and a few years in the choir of Ely Cathedral, East moved west to spend the rest of his career as choirmaster at Lichfield Cathedral. He published seven groups of compositions, including the Fantasias for five viols performed here. They are unusual in that each of them has a name, ranging from Desperavi (I despaired) to Amavi (I loved) via Vixi (I lived) and Triumphavi (I triumphed). For this concert, they were interspersed with vocal pieces by East that reflected the mood of each Fantasia.

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Continuo Foundation: 2021 projects

Continuo Foundation
A video resume of eight of the 2021 grant-aided projects

Ensemble Hesperi perform with Soprano Angela Hicks

The Continuo Foundation (reviewed here) has published a whistle-stop video tour of eight of the 37 projects that were supported by their 2021 grants, with short extracts from the full concerts all of which were live-streamed on the OnJam platform. Tickets to watch the full films can be purchased until the end of January 2022 (links below). The ensembles featured are Joglaresa, The Mozartists, Ensemble Hesperi (pictured above), Boxwood & Brass, Consone Quartet, Palisander, Spiritato Baroque & The Marian Consort, and La Nuova Musica.

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Continuo Foundation – update

Continuo Foundation
“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“. 

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Ensemble Hesperi: From Caledonia to the Capital!

From Caledonia to the Capital!
Chamber music and song by Scottish eighteenth-century composers
Ensemble Hesperi, Angela Hicks, Rory Carver
St Mary Le Bow Church, 17 September 2021

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Financial support from the Continuo Foundation allowed Ensemble Hesperi to increase their usual line up of four instrumentalists for this concert of music by 18th-century Scottish composers. Their funding also allowed the concert to be filmed for later release. Their programme was based on the composer James Oswald, known as the “Scottish Orpheus”. He was born in Fife in 1710 and was a musician and dancing master in Dunfermline before spending time in Edinburgh. He left Scotland for London in 1741 where he published several collections of Scottish tunes. He become Chamber Composer to George III and spent the last few years his life in Knebworth House, having married the widow of the Lytton owner.

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Music at the Tower: Bach for Good

Bach for Good
Music at the Tower
St Mary’s Tower, Hornsey
21 August 2021

Music at the Tower was founded in the summer of 2020 by soprano Mary Bevan MBE and cellist Jonny Byers to provide much needed employment for freelance musicians in and around London whose livelihoods had evaporated during the Covid-19 pandemic. During the summer of 2020, they employed 128 musicians and other performers in a total of 11 outdoor performances at St Mary’s Tower in Hornsey. Their most recent project was the free Bach for Good festival of Baroque music, held on Saturday 21 August at St Mary’s Tower.

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