Friday, 15 October 2010

Greenwich International Early Music Festival & Exhibition 2010

Greenwich International Early Music Festival & Exhibition 2010
12 – 14 November 2010
Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, London, SE10 9LF

From viols to vespers, the stunning baroque architecture of the Old Royal Naval College will resonate with the sounds of all things early music in November during the ninth Greenwich International Early Music Festival & Exhibition. Across three days, a diverse programme of performance featuring acclaimed musicians will run alongside the world’s largest and most prestigious early music exhibitors fair, featuring over 100 international instrument makers. Run by the Early Music Shop and Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music (Trinity Laban), this unique event has proved an essential fixture on the early music calendar.

Among the highlights of this year’s programme is Quartet New Generation (QNG), a female recorder collective juxtaposing contemporary and early music, hailed as ‘recorder virtuosos’ by The New York Times and ‘mind-blowing’ by the Los Angeles Times. Performing on over 30 different recorders of varying sizes and shapes during the course of a typical performance, QNG transports the listener into new sonic worlds (Fri 12 Nov, 5.45pm, St Alfege Church).

On Friday at 1pm head to St Alfege Church to hear the fascinating story of the Golden Lyre of Ur – dating from 2,550 years BC. The poignant discovery in 1929 of three lyres and a harp in a mass grave in Mesopotamia led to six years of investigation and the subsequent painstaking recreation of this remarkable instrument. Told through narrative and music, it is a tale of deaths, mass-suicides and royal court musicians who played to the bitter end.

One of the themes of this year’s festival is the work of Haydn. The renowned Café Mozart will be will be joined by Steven Devine (fortepiano) to perform Haydn a L’anglaise (Fri 12, 7.45pm, Old Royal Naval College Chapel). A mixture of songs by Haydn as found in English editions available in London when he arrived in 1791, instrumental music converted into “Ballads” and keyboard Rondos based on Haydn’s English Canzonettas will be performed alongside keyboard music by Haydn’s pupil Thomas Haigh. Steven Devine will also be performing a lunchtime recital of concerti by the Bach family with harpsichordist John Henry in St Alfege Church (Sat 13, 1pm).

Baroque flute player Rachel Brown, described by The Sunday Telegraph as ‘a performer of remarkable intensity and musicianship’, will be performing Telemann’s Fantasias on Saturday 13 (3pm, Old Royal Naval College Chapel). A leading authority on historical performance practice, Rachel is known for her moving and virtuosic performances on a wide range of flutes and recorders.

Significant anniversaries celebrated at this year’s festival include the 400th anniversary of the publication of Monteverdi’s Marian Vespers, which the Trinity Laban Early Music Ensemble and Choir will mark with a programme of early 17th century Italian sacred music (Sat 13, 7.45pm Old Royal Naval College Chapel). Also on Saturday, The Burney Players mark the 300th anniversary of Thomas Arne’s birth with a programme of his chamber music, also featuring the music and writings of Charles Burney (5.45pm St Alfege Church).

The last day of the festival opens at the Recital Room in Blackheath Halls as the Fitzwilliam String Quartet celebrate their 40th anniversary with a lively programme of Purcell, Bach, Mozart and Haydn (Sun 14, 10.30am).

Also performing at the festival: Trinity Laban Early Music Prize 2010 winners Due Corde – a violin and cello duo who specialise in performing 18th century violin sonatas with basso continuo realised on the cello alone; and a solo recital by Pernille Petersen, the talented winner of the 2009 Moeck Competition.

The Exhibition will be located in the magnificent Christopher Wren-designed Painted Hall on the Old Royal Naval College site for the duration of the festival. A diverse group of early instrument makers from around the globe, as well as shops, music publishers, societies, recording companies and early music forums will all gather under one roof. An array of superb instruments will be on display and for sale, including harpsichords, clavichords, spinets, organs, viols, baroque violins, mediaeval fiddles, lutes, harps, hurdy-gurdies, crumhorns, shawms, rebecs, pipes, sackbutts, trumpets, drums, tabors, and an extensive variety of recorders. Exhibitors will provide advice on all aspects of these instruments from basic servicing and string replacement to decoration and troubleshooting, and there will be free makers' demonstration recitals on the hour.

Performance programme tickets available via 020 8463 0100 or via Exhibition tickets should be purchased on the door. For more information see

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