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Thursday, 17 October 2019

Metamorphosis - Transformation and wonder through 700 years of Music at the Brighton Early Music Festival

BRIGHTON EARLY MUSIC FESTIVAL, BREMF 2018 .  Beauty, Love & Death @ The Old Market, Brighton .  IL BALLO DELLE INGRATE (1608) by Claudio Monteverdi .  VENUS AND ADONIS (1683) by John Blow .
BREMF 2018 - Beauty, Love & Death @ The Old Market, Brighton - Photo Robert Piwko
The Brighton Early Music Festival (BREMF) opens next week with two weeks of events from 25 October to 10 November 2019 under the theme of Metamorphosis - Transformation and wonder through 700 years of Music. For the opening weekend, there is the chance to hear Musica Secreta and Celestial Sirens in Darkness into Light exploring music written by and for nuns with the first performance in modern times of Lamentations by the French Renaissance composer Antoine Brumel (best known for his 12-part Earthquake Mass), and festival artistic director Deborah Roberts conducting the BREMF Consort of Voices (one of three different choirs which BREMF organises) in a programme which explores how composers re-worked and transformed the music of others, ending with a modern arrangement of Thomas Tallis' 40-part Spem in Alium for eleven voices.

There are two striking pieces of music theatre in the festival, Burying the Dead by Clare Norburn (former co-artistic director of the festival) which explores Henry Purcell's life and music, and Her Father's Voice which explores the life and music of the 17th century composer and singer Barbara Strozzi. Dance comes in too as Ensemble Hesperi perform Scottish Baroque music with Highland Dancer Kathleen Gilbert [see my interview with the group]

The support of young artists has been a thread which has always run through BREMF. Via its BREMF Live! the festival provides support and mentoring for groups of young artists. There are a trio of events, a masterclass, a showcase and a club night, which give the chance to hear the current emerging ensembles, the Renaissance vocal ensemble Scaramella, the Renaissance/baroque duo Melismata, and the Baroque groups Ensemble Theodora and Apollo's Cabinet. There are two further clubnights, one with a jazz group improvising on Baroque masters, and the other with BREMF Live! artists inviting others to come along and improvise!

Ovid features heavily during the festival, in a variety of guises, and on the final Saturday of the festival BREMF Singers and Players perform Handel's Ovid-based Apollo and Daphne alongside excerpts from Semele. The final event is an evocation of the Medieval Feast of Fools in which the BREMF Community Choir, BREMF Consort of Voices, Street Funk and children from local primary schools create a modern evocation of the much loved Medieval festival (eventually banned by the church) where society was inverted, the young were empowered and a child crowned Bishop and the noble ass revered!

Full details from the BREMF website.

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