FESTIVAL OF CHICHESTER: Consort offers glories of the English baroque

Consort of Twelve
Consort of Twelve

Led by Julia Bishop, The Consort of Twelve are joined by Frances Kelly (triple harp) in a programme of music by Boyce, Purcell, Handel and Richard Mudge for this year’s Festival of Chichester (Holy Trinity Church, Bosham, July 10, 6pm).

The programme will include concertos for harp and oboe by Handel and Purcell’s music for The Fairy Queen – another happy chapter for the group.

Spokeswoman Lynden Cranham said: “The Consort of Twelve is remarkable. It was formed 35 years ago, in 1981, by Ian and Jean Graham-Jones and violinist Paul Denley, and it’s still going strong. It’s the only local historical instrument orchestra, and it’s partly the local aspect that makes the group so special. The committee, of which I’m a member, is made up almost entirely of people from this area, and the musical ensemble is a combination of local and invited players. The Consort enjoys a loyal and supportive group of Friends: it’s so pleasant for the musicians to look out at an audience containing so many familiar faces!

“I play cello with the Consort and enjoy it for a number of reasons. I am keen to support local music-making, and I love this particular orchestral repertoire. On top of this, though, the friendly atmosphere that always seems to be generated at concerts (encouraged, no doubt, by the free glass of wine in the interval), and the gorgeous venues in which they take place, are elements that can be missing when you play to large anonymous audiences in enormous concert halls.

“I also enjoy the sense of achievement at the end of a successful concert weekend (the Consort performs on Sundays, and will have rehearsed all day Saturday and on the afternoon prior to the concert).

“But to get to this point a sizeable amount of other work will have gone on behind the scenes: I didn’t realise the extent until I became involved in local music-making! For example, concert dates have had to be worked out by the committee and, now that the Consort has adopted a policy of inviting different violinists to direct/lead each concert, these extremely-busy musicians will have been approached and their availability investigated.

“Programmes must be decided upon, and then comes the arduous business of ‘fixing’ the orchestral players required for each concert, the putting together and the distribution of publicity. The concert is the culmination of all this work.”

Lynden added: “The Consort decided to give three concerts this year and opened its season in May at Boxgrove Priory, led for the first time by internationally-renowned violinist Elizabeth (Libby) Wallfisch. Julia Bishop (who plays with the group Red Priest) directed the Consort for a number of years, and will be making a welcome return at a concert in Bosham Church at on Sunday, July 10, an event that is part of this year’s Festival of Chichester.

“Bosham is a perfect spot on a summer evening: a marvellous venue for music summoning up The Glories of the English Baroque. Some of the pieces hint at the involvement of their respective composers with the theatre, such as Purcell’s Incidental Music for The Fairy Queen, based loosely on A Midsummer Night’s Dream and composed in 1692 to celebrate the fifteenth wedding anniversary of William and Mary.”

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