Wednesday 20 September 2023

The Academy of Ancient Music celebrates its 50th anniversary with a short film. Tony Cooper reports.

The very first meeting of the Academy of Ancient Music (AAM) took place on 17th September 1973 at All Saints’ Church, Petersham, in the London borough of Richmond-upon-Thames with founder/director, Christopher Hogwood, recording overtures by Thomas Arne, well known, of course, for his patriotic song Rule, Britannia! Therefore, to mark such an auspicious occasion as their Golden Jubilee, Dame Emma Kirkby, John McMunn and Laurence Cummings (AAM’s current music director) share their memories of the orchestra in a brand-new short film. 

'We are thrilled to celebrate 50 years of the Academy of Ancient Music' says Laurence Cummings. 'Our anniversary is an opportunity to look back at AAM’s impressive history and celebrate our continued commitment in using period-specific instruments and original sources thus enabling AAM to bring the music we love so dearly vividly to life in committed and vibrant performances.'

The season launches with a performance of Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks at the Barbican (18 October 2023) with AAM - a pioneering orchestra who simply redefined period-instrument performance - offering a fresh perspective and vigour to this iconic work which has been a mainstay of the orchestra’s repertoire since its inception.  

The celebrations continue off stage with the release of a new book by acclaimed journalist and former Hogwood Fellow, Richard Bratby (19 October 2023, Elliott & Thompson). The book charts AAM’s journey since its trailblazing first decades through the digital boom of the 1980s right up to the present day.  

The 50th anniversary season also sees AAM complete a landmark recording project with scholar-pianist, Robert Levin, 30 years after it first began. Levin and AAM will release the final recordings in their Mozart cycle this season. Upon completion (the last disc is due out in June 2024) the cycle becomes the first recording of Mozart’s complete works for keyboard and orchestra on either modern or historical instruments. 

Enjoying a worldwide reputation for excellence in baroque and classical music, AAM has released more than 300 albums to date while collecting countless accolades over the course of their musical journey including Classic BRIT, Gramophone and Edison awards. Now recording on their own label, AAM is immensely proud to be one of the most period-instrument orchestras to be heard online with over one million monthly listeners on streaming platforms.  

Beyond the concert hall, AAM is committed to nurturing the audiences, artists and arts managers of the future through their innovative education initiative AAMplify. Working with music colleges and universities across the UK, AAM engages with the next generation of period instrumentalists with side-by-side sessions, masterclasses and other opportunities designed to bridge the gap between the conservatoire and the profession, safeguarding the future of historical performance. 

Proudly holding positions of associate ensemble at London’s Barbican Centre and at Venice’s Teatro San Cassiano, AAM is also orchestra-in-residence at the University of Cambridge, The Apex, Bury St Edmunds and at Milton Abbey International Summer Music Festival in Dorset. 

Full details from the AAM website.

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