Consort of Twelve will be a Festival of Chichester highlight this weekend

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The Consort of Twelve period orchestra welcomes the return of singer Ian Caddy in the amusing mini-opera The Music Master by Cimarosa for the Festival of Chichester.

Their concert will be in the University of Chichester chapel on July 14 at 7.30pm.

The opera shows the orchestra deliberately playing up the frustrated maestro.

Georgian composer John Marsh of Chichester is also featured in the programme, alongside Telemann and Handel – a fitting finale to the Festival of Chichester.

Consort founder and harpsichordist Ian Graham-Jones, who lives in Westbourne, said:” We have worked with Ian Caddy before, and we honed in on the mini-opera for this concert. It is one Act and lasts for about 20 minutes, about this maestro wanting to sing his arias and trying to get the best out of his orchestra, but they play him up and make deliberate wrong entries.

“Cimarosa was a well-known contemporary of Mozart who wrote primarily operas. There are a lot still in existence.

“Ian is a specialist in baroque gesture, which makes it interesting. He knows the gestures of the time. They were all written down in various treatises of the time, and he works with those gestures.”

As for Chichester’s John Marsh, The Consort celebrated Marsh’s 250th anniversary in 2002, and this year coincides with the publication of the second part of the John Marsh Journals, edited by Brian Robins.

“Marsh’s are very attractive works, but very little known. People think of Haydn and Mozart being the main composers of the era, and they ignore this country. It just happens. Anybody with an ordinary English name does not get a look in!”

The concert will be the Consort’s first appearance in the University of Chichester chapel: “We have been to lots of concerts there in the past, and the acoustics are always very good.”

Ian said he was delighted to be part of the new Festival: “We always did a concert in the old Festivities, and it just makes sense to be part of it.”

The Consort’s current series concludes on Sunday, September 8 in Bosham Church (6pm), where the Consort welcomes back Catherine Martin as guest leader in a programme of German Baroque music with woodwind, which will include two of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos.

Recalling the Consort’s early days, Ian said: “Basically, there were very few groups around performing on period instruments at that time, certainly nothing in the local area, apart from the odd professional orchestra up in London.

“We got together some players and we were fortunate enough to have an instrument-maker (Baroque violinist) Paul Denley who led us for the first 12 years before going on to do other things.

“There are six people with us who have stayed the course (from the start). We started off with about a dozen. That was the reason for the name. That was very current at the time in the 17th century for ensembles to call themselves the Consort of however many it was. But we grew, adding wind players, and we can be up to 18 if we import brass. Generally we are about 14.”

There have been times when it has been a bit of a struggle, but the point is that generally people want to do it: “We do three or four or four or five concerts a year, and it has always been at that level. We have occasionally done more, and on other occasions we have been invited out of the country, but generally we play in this particular area.”

Tickets £14; concessions £7 18 and under.