Local group, Totnes Early Music Society (TEMS) announced its twentieth annual concert programme recently. Concert programmer Jill Tomalin, said: “Live performance is something special whatever the kind of music you enjoy. For us, whether it is a celebration of the music of Bach or lively 18th century Scottish music based on traditional Scottish songs and rhythms, when it is live, and beautifully performed, it is so much better than a CD or on the radio. We have some wonderful music and musicians to look forward to this year!”
The new TEMS programme for 2019/20 travels widely through time and place. It ranges from Arab/Andalusian ballads from 11th century Spain presented by the wonderful Joglaresa, to a programme to celebrate the solstice (and Norwegian festival of Lussinatten) from The Society of Strange and Ancient Instruments. The latter features the Norwegian singer and Hardanger fiddle player Benedicte Maursethe alongside Clare Salaman on nickelharpa and Jean Kelly on a Celtic harp – together they offer a wonderfully evocative and haunting programme of seasonal music. Both these outstanding sets of musicians make a welcome return to Totnes to help TEMS mark the 20th anniversary of its founding.
Other favourites include London Baroque who will perform vocal and instrumental music from 18th century London, Paris and Rome, and a programme of some glorious music of Bach from Continuum.
Finally, there is a focus on improvisation from an outstanding young group, Improviso, who play music by J C Bach, Handel and Vivaldi as well as demonstrating the art of improvisation in period style.
The season starts on Saturday 21st September with a lively programme of Scottish baroque music based on traditional tunes and rhythms. Ensemble Hesperi are a quartet of former students from the Royal College of Music who have caught the eye when playing at The Brighton Early Music Festival and live for Classic FM.
Their programme The Pheasant’s Eye features music by Scottish composers such as James Oswald and the Earl of Kellie, as well as a trio of Italian composers who delighted in traditional Scottish tunes. They will be joined by Scottish dancer, Kathleen Gilbert, who will add a visual flavour to this lovely music, which deserves to be better known.
The full Totnes Early Music Society 2019/20 programme comprises:
Saturday 21st September, St Mary’s Church Totnes, 7.30pm
Ensemble Hesperi: The Pheasant’s Eye
Visit 18th century Scotland through timeless folk tunes and infectious dance rhythms. in this engaging programme of Scottish Baroque music, much by Scottish-born composers. With top Scottish dancer Kathleen Gilbert. Supported by public lottery funding from Arts Council England.
Saturday 19th October, St Mary’s Church, Totnes, 7.30pm
Music from Vivaldi, Handel and C.P.E. Bach, alongside improvising in styles from the same period. Improviso have already appeared at the Wigmore Hall, Aldeburgh and the Brighton Early Music Festival. They are supported by the EEE project (Emerging European Ensembles).
Saturday 14th December, St Mary’s Church, Totnes, 7.30pm
Society of Strange and Ancient Instruments: The Longest Night
In Norway, the Lussinatten festival celebrates the solstice. Celebrate it now with devilish tunes, ancient Norwegian and English folk carols and other festive treats with Norwegian Hardanger fiddle player/singer, Benedicte Maurseth, SSAI’s director, Clare Salaman and Celtic harpist Jean Kelly. Not to be missed! .
Friday 31st January, 2020, United Free Church, Totnes, 7.30pm
London Baroque: Les Amours Baroque
Outstanding viol player Charles Medlam is joined by his daughter Hannah, a soprano, and theorbo player Alex McCartney for a programme of 17th century songs and instrumental music from London, Paris and Rome.
Saturday 29th February, St Mary’s Church, 7.30pm
Continuum: A Celebration of Bach
Some glorious music for flute, violin and harpsichord, from this most wonderful of Baroque composers! Includes the great Sonata in A major for violin and keyboard and a highlight from The Art of Fugue.
Saturday 18th April, St Mary’s Church, 7.30pm
Joglaresa: The Enchantress of Seville
A welcome return for one of our most popular ensembles! Joglaresa explore the roots of Iberian song – from the motets from the convent of Las Huelgas, and Arab-Andalusian ballads, to Judeo-Spanish Romanza. With medieval and traditional instruments from Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.
For more information, see www.totnesearlymusic.org.uk. Tickets for all concerts are available in advance via the Dartington website, www.dartington.org, and box office (01803 847070), or on the door. Advance tickets are £13, and £5 for under 18s. Tickets on the door are £14/£5
Philip R Buttall
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top image: Joglaresa
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