Convivio - (L-R) Katie Cowling, Florence Petit, Gabriella Jones, and Claire Williams

Katie Cowling comes home with Convivio as part of Totnes Early Music Society concert series

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Totnes Early Music Society has teamed up with the Royal College of Music to bring their best students and former students to perform in Totnes as part of the TEMS annual concert series.

The inaugural concert takes place in St Mary’s Church, Totnes on 21st October at 7.30pm, when Convivio – Katie Cowling (recorder), Florence Petit (cello), Gabriella Jones (violin), and Claire Williams (harpsichord) – will be performing a programme of baroque music from the courts of Europe, including works by the Bach family, Handel and Telemann.

Tickets are £12 (under 18s £5) and are available in advance from the Dartington website., and Box Office (01803 847070) or on the door.

Formed in 2016, Convivio has already performed at various venues in London, including St George’s Hanover Square and Handel House, and as part of the Guildford Music Festival 2017.

The ensemble features four postgraduate students and former students from the RCM, including local girl Katie Cowling, who attended Marldon C of E Primary School and then King Edward VI Community College, KEVICC in Totnes, before going on to the Royal College of Music. In 2012 she co-founded her successful recorder quartet BLOCK4 which has won competitions in the UK and the USA.

Katie has appeared at the BBC Proms, and toured with the Globe since launching her professional career, and also performs regularly with other baroque orchestras.

TEMS chair Jill Tomalin said: “It has taken some time to set up the arrangement through the RCM, which was initially discussed with their head of Historical Performance, Ashley Solomon, a wonderful flautist and another past performer and favourite with TEMS. But it has undoubtedly made it particularly special to have Katie perform for us in this first concert in what I hope will be an ongoing and exciting collaboration.”

Katie said: “I could never have known that finding my mum’s old descant recorder one day in the loft, when I was 8 years old, would become such a defining discovery.

“Despite being desperate to play the cello; which I was told I was too small to hold, the old plastic recorder soon stopped the tears and I became very triumphant after learning Lord of the Dance from what my mum could remember from her school years.”

Among her inspirations, Katie remembers attending a concert in St Mary’s Church, where she heard Devon Baroque play alongside local recorder-player James Risdon. It was here, she said, that the seed of realisation of being able to make a career out of playing was sewn!

Moving on to KEVICC in Totnes, the then Head of Music, Richard Burdett, was extremely influential and supportive in the early stages of Katie’s career, encouraging regular performances in school concerts.

“I can still remember,” she continued, “the feeling waiting backstage at the Ariel Centre Theatre, listening to my classmates perform on electric guitars, basses and drum kits, while I clutched my descant recorder, preparing to perform a set of Jacob van Eyck variations – learning to combat the nerves really started at that point.

“I went on to study at the Royal College of Music in London, where I was extremely proud to have received a First-Class Honours Degree, a Masters in Performance with Distinction, as well as being awarded HRH Elizabeth the Queen Mother Rose Bowl at my final graduation ceremony this year.

“I am delighted and indeed humbled to be able to bring my music home to the place and the people who inspired it all in the beginning.”

Totnes Early Music Society – Convivio
St Mary’s Church, Totnes – Saturday October 21 at 7.30pm

Tickets are £12 (under 18s £5) and are available in advance from the Dartington website., and Box Office (01803 847070) or on the door.

(image: Convivio – (L-R) Katie Cowling, Florence Petit, Gabriella Jones, and Claire Williams)

Philip R Buttall

Philip Buttall

Philip Buttall

Philip R Buttall was the Classical Music Writer at Plymouth Herald from 1997-2017. He is a sought-after piano teacher, composer and arranger, and online concert and CD reviewer. Further information and contact details are available at
Philip Buttall