Friday 13 September 2013

Passion in Brighton - BREMF

The theme of this year's Brighton Early Music Festival (BREMF) is passion in all its forms, whether erotic lust, sin or sacred. There is the opportunity to hear a wide range of groups from young artists in the ensembles which BREMF supports to established ones like Joglaresa, Red Priest, Emma Kirkby and Rachel Podger. A central feature of the festival is BREMF's ownensembles the BREMF Consort of Voices, BREMF Singers and BREMF Players. 

These are challenging times for financing the arts, and BREMF is no different. Last year the festival, its supporters and friends made heroic efforts to make good a significant funding gap. This year, the festival's Art Council funding leaves something of a short fall so that they are appealing for people to support their 2013 BREMF Passion Appeal.

The festival proper opens on 25 October with Joglaresa's Song of Sinne and Subversion, in which Joglaresa explore links between songs from the Crusades to the present day with more than a passing nod to Iron Maiden. You have been warned! Still in irreverent mood, the lively ensemble Red Priest will be giving us a whirlwind tour of Handel's best. (1/11). And L'Avventura will present passionate love songs from Portugal and Brazil, in a romantic candle-lit cabaret setting. (9/11)

Emma Kirkby (photo Bibi Basch)
Emma Kirkby, a figure who for many is the very essence of the British early music movement, makes a welcome appearance. She and lutenist Jacob Heringham are giving a masterclass lute songs (7/11) and a recital celebrating the composer's 450th anniversary in which she will be sharing the platform with the young duos she coached in the masterclass (8/11). Another major figure, violinist Rachel Podger is also giving a masterclass (9/11) as well as a Sunday morning coffee concert (10/11) performing Bach's Flute Partita and music by Biber, Matteis, Tartini and Pisendel.

Saturday 26 October sees a wide variety of young groups being given the opportunity to show us their best in an Early Music Club Night: Cool Passion, which runs from 8pm till late and features the Little Baroque Company, Il Nuovo Chiaroscuro, Borromini String Quartet, Flaugissimo and many more, on three stages with dramatic lighting.

Dramatic passion makes a strong showing. Members of the BREMF Consort of Voices will be performing alongside BREMF co-founder Deborah Roberts and Musica Secreta in a story of marriage, murder and madness at the court of Ferrara - Passion and the Princess (2/11). The following night there is an intriguing play about Carlo Gesualdo written by Clare Norburn (the other co-founder of BREMF) which will be performed by the Marian Consort and Celestial Sirens. (3/11)

The BREMF Consort is performing Tallis's Spem in Alium (27 October) as well as joining in with Musica Secreta (see above), and the BREMF Singers and BREMF Players join together for a performance of Bach's St John Passion with Andrew Griffiths as the Evangelist, George Humpherys as Christus, plus Mhairi Lawson, Esther Brazil, Nick Pritchard and Robert Davies (10/11). Before the festival starts you can get in the mood with a day of Subersive Singing with Joglaresa hosted by BREMF Community Choir (12/10)

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