As the classical music world gears up for the Royal Philharmonic Society Awards on Wednesday 9th May, we have been looking back at our favourite moments from 2017 and celebrating the many reasons why Dunedin is shortlisted in the Ensemble category From Edinburgh to Leipzig, Waltershausen to London, we look back on an extraordinary year.
- Where else could we start but with our BBC Proms debut from 20 August 2017, a performance of Bach’s John Passion ‘that shed new light on the work by carefully contextualising it’ (Guardian).
- In June 2017 we performed in the magnificent Nikolaikirche as part of Leipzig Bachfest. What a venue – and what a spectacular occasion.
- On 5 August 2017 we had the honour of opening Edinburgh International Festival’s series at The Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh with a programme exploring connections between Schütz and Monteverdi. The Scotsman enjoyed it as much as we did! ‘Delivered with the Consort’s typical joie de vivre and flourish’ (Scotsman)
- In September 2017 we ticked a huge item off our bucket list when we traveled to Waltershausen,Germany with Iestyn Davies to perform a programme of Bach and Handel on an original Bach organ.
- In April 2017 we enjoyed our first collaboration with Kristian Bezuidenhout, who directed from the harpsichord in three Matthew Passion performances across Scotland. ‘The solo instrumental playing in this performance was unwaveringly stunning’ (Herald)
- September 2017 saw the release of our Monteverdi Vespers 1610 recording, which has earned a glut of 5 star reviews. ‘Stripped back performances that are fresh and luminous, lithe and alive’ (Herald – Top 20 Classical Albums of 2017)
- In April 2017 we were thrilled to be part of James Runcie’s BBC Radio 4 drama exploring how Bach’s Matthew Passion was written, composed, rehearsed and performed in the build-up to its first performance in Leipzig on Good Friday 1727.
7 days, 7 highlights from 2017, 7 reasons why we have been nominated for an RPS Ensemble Award.
Dunedin Consort has been shortlisted for an RPS award, one of the most prestigious in the UK music scene, in the Ensemble category.
Over 50 musicians, ensembles and organisations nationwide are in contention for this year’s awards, which celebrate outstanding music making in 2017. The shortlists reveal a kaleidoscope of musical talent, invention and imagination, whether in the concert hall or on the opera stage, in the community or online, in written word, film or for the first time, via virtual reality. From nearly 400 nominations in 13 categories, the 65 independent, expert jurors have chosen this year’s shortlisted nominations.
Today we learned that Dunedin Consort is to be restored to Creative Scotland’s Regular Funding programme, along with four other companies from the theatre sector. This follows a meeting on Friday, at which Creative Scotland’s board decided to invest 2.6 million from other targeted funds into the RFO programme. Having spoken strongly of our surprise and disappointment at being cut from the RFO network, we are delighted that the decision has now been taken to renew our funding for a further three years.
Since sharing the news that Dunedin Consort was to have its funding cut a fortnight ago, we have received an overwhelming swell of support both from the public and from our colleagues across the arts and cultural sectors. We would like to thank everyone that voiced their support and forwarded their concerns both to Creative Scotland and to Scotland’s Secretary for Culture. There is little doubt that this support played a significant role in Creative Scotland’s decision to increase investment in the RFO programme.
This funding will enable us to deliver our programme of performances and events across Scotland, including the planned expansion of our outreach programme within schools and with young performers. We firmly believe that Dunedin Consort occupies a unique place in the Scottish music landscape and look forward to another three years of exceptional music-making, buoyed by the backing of Creative Scotland.
Alfonso Leal del Ojo
Dunedin Consort’s application for Regular Funding from Creative Scotland has been unsuccessful. This decision is particularly unfortunate in the wake of the Scottish Government’s recent commitment towards Creative Scotland, offsetting the decline in Lottery funding. We presented an ambitious and wide-ranging programme of activity in our Business Plan for 2018-21, which was highly commended by Creative Scotland’s assessors. Despite being recommended for funding, our application was refused by the Music Team at portfolio level because ‘other organisations more fully met the strategic needs of the sector’.
As Scotland’s leading specialist period instrument ensemble, and the most decorated of any Scottish music company (with two Gramophone awards, a Grammy nomination and two Scottish Album of the Year nominations to our name), this comes as a significant disappointment. In the landscape of Scotland’s musical culture, no other organisation focuses on this vital area of the repertoire, uniting excellence in scholarship and performance to explore new ways of encouraging listener engagement. Dunedin Consort has achieved great success with very limited resources. Our artistic output, recognition in the industry and impact in the international and national music landscape in proportion to the level of funding and our turnover, cannot be matched by any other music company in Scotland.
Creative Scotland has in the past been very supportive of our work. Its funding currently accounts for 20% of our annual turnover (where other music organisations receive support between 46-74%) representing exceptional value for public money and without it, Dunedin Consort will be forced to capitalise more on its opportunities elsewhere. This, in turn, will reduce the performance opportunities for our Scottish audiences and supporters, including the valuable outreach work we undertake in schools and with young performers. After the enormous success of our recent performances at the BBC Proms and the Edinburgh International Festival, our national and international profile continues to develop apace – only yesterday we confirmed a further seven concerts in our residency at London’s Wigmore Hall, which sits alongside residencies at the Misteria Paschalia festival in Krakow and the Handel Halle Festpiele in Germany in 2018, and tours planned for Spain, France, Bolivia, Brazil, the USA and others over the next three years. Without support at home, this international impact – something vital to Scotland’s reputation – must be at risk. What is certainly clear, is that the lack of Creative Scotland commitment will mean that it will not be possible to match this international demand with performances on home soil.
We now have the option to apply for limited project funding through Creative Scotland, accessing a funding stream that is consistently oversubscribed and which brings with it the uncertainty of not being able to plan well into the future. Our board will need to consider how this will affect the future of the company as a whole, and whether – over the coming years – the impact of poor Scottish national support will ultimately deprive Scotland of one of its greatest cultural assets and ambassadors.
Alfonso Leal del Ojo
Fast developing a reputation as one of Europe’s leading Baroque festivals, Krakow’s Misteria Paschalia Festival has announced John Butt as its Residing Director for 2018.
The 2018 festival will focus on music from the British Isles, with the Dunedin Consort playing a central role in a series of concerts in March and April.
The Dunedin Consort will open the Festival with a performance of the London version of Handel’s Messiah on 26 March and return to give a performance of Handel’s Samson on 1 April, before closing the Festival with a programme of arias by Purcell with Ian Bostridge on 2 April.
Read The Herald article about John’s appointment here.
For more details about the festival and to view the full programme of events, visit the Festival website.
Are you coming to our PROM this coming Sunday, 20th of August 2017? We would love if as many people in the audience joined the musicians on stage in the congregational chorales that would have formed part of the Vespers liturgy. We extracted these chorales from the Vopelius 1685 Leipzig hymn book.
There will be a short rehearsal at 19.15 ahead of the performance. Looking forward to this enormously!
Click on the link below to download the songsheet.
If you still have not bought your tickets, here is the link!
We are delighted that no less than three of our recordings have made it into Gramophone Magazine’s Top 50 Bach recordings. Here’s what they had to say:
“Expertly stylish recordings of the six concertos Bach presented in neat copy to the Margrave of Brandenburg in March 1721 are two-a-penny but the Dunedin Consort offer more substantial style and bona fide expertise than most… the Dunedin players forge their own identity and capture what Butt praises as ‘carefree, joyous and spontaneous works’… Not withstanding the distinguished Brandenburg discography, this set is nothing short of sensational.”
David Vickers (Awards issue 2013)
“The Dunedin Consort and Players are never perfunctory or merely dogmatic. This performance demands to be heard. The first chords of the “Kyrie” are sung boldly by the 10 singers (five “principals” and another five “ripienists”), and the solemn fugue is performed with gentle ardency; every gesture, detail, suspension and arching line is judged and executed with transparency, flexibility and rhetorical potency.
Butt’s insightful direction and scholarship, integrated with the Dunedin’s extremely accomplished instrumental playing and consort singing, amount to an enthralling and revelatory collective interpretation of the Mass in B minor – perhaps the most probing since Andrew Parrott’s explosive 1985 version (Virgin, 8/86).”
David Vickers (August 2010)
“the increasingly impressive Nicholas Mulroy’s alert, lightly coloured Evangelist strikes a balance in which declamation and lyricism are equally ardent and equally touching, while Matthew Brook is a supple and authoritative Christus. Both singers also perform with great effectiveness in the arias, where they are joined by Joanne Lunn (her ‘Ich folge dir gleichfalls’ is a joyous and sure-footed gem) and Clare Wilkinson, whose distinctive alto, straightforward in expression and tellingly connected to her speaking voice, lends fragility to ‘Von den Stricken’.
The Dunedin Consort’s reliance on relatively young casts such as this has always brought their performances an uplifting freshness and immediacy in their recordings of Messiah, the B minor Mass and of course the St Matthew Passion, but in this harrowing piece it allows the sense of drama and personal identification to reach a higher level.” Lindsay Kemp (March 2013)
Today’s musicians continue to find new ways of interpreting Mozart’s music, of making it their own. The recordings on the linked article represent some of the finest Mozart recordings of the last two years, all of them were Editor’s Choice recommendations in Gramophone and many were shortlisted for Gramophone Awards.