• Early Music ensemble The Brook Street Band will present a Festival of Handel’s music in Norwich 4–6 October 2019

• Dame Emma Kirkby will open the Festival with a vocal masterclass for local students

• Festival will include a concert performance of Handel’s Acis and Galatea starring soprano

Susanna Fairbairn (Galatea), tenor David de Winter (Acis) and bass Alex Ashworth (Polyphemus)

• Education will form a major part of the Festival and The Brook Street Band will work with both rural and inner-city primary and secondary schools across East Anglia

• The Brook Street Band has also formed a student Baroque Orchestra – #Roots Baroque Ensemble – in partnership with Cambridgeshire Music that will perform alongside the professional musicians as part of the Festival

• A special concert aimed at parents will also be given so that audiences can enjoy the finest music making without worrying if their children make a noise

• Some concerts will be filmed and relayed to audiences live, enabling close-ups of the musicians and removing barriers for the audience to see the musicians in action

4–6 October 2019 will see the return of the love: Handel Festival in Norwich. Building on the success of the 2017 pilot Festival, acclaimed early music ensemble The Brook Street Band will present a series of 10 events over the October weekend featuring evening concerts, lunchtime and coffee concerts, talks and a masterclass.

The love: Handel Festival 2019 will be launched by Dame Emma Kirkby with a vocal masterclass for local students accompanied by The Brook Street Band (Friday 4 October). Other highlights of the Festival include a concert performance of Handel’s Acis and Galatea with soprano Susanna Fairbairn, tenor David de Winter and bass Alex Ashworth (Sunday 6 October); and a concerto concert (Saturday 5 October) showcasing the individual talents of its members including Lisete da Silva Bull (flute), Rachel Harris (violin) and Carolyn Gibley (harpsichord). The programme will feature J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No.5 and Orchestral Suite No.2, and G.F. Handel’s Sonata a Cinque – the composer’s only violin concerto.

As part of this concert, the specially formed Cambridge-based student baroque group, #Roots Baroque Ensemble, made up from aspiring young musicians, will give a performance of two short works by Henry Purcell and Handel. Education forms a strong backbone to love: Handel 2019 and through this work, The Brook Street Band will be partnering with Norfolk Music Hub, Cambridgeshire Music, Cambridge Early Music, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge University and VOCES8 to bring baroque music to young people of both primary and secondary years across East Anglia.

Many of the concerts will include talks in the form of live programme notes in addition to a series of talks throughout the Festival including: looking at Handel as an innovator and entrepreneur; Benjamin Hebbert expert and dealer in fine violins, presenting instruments from Handel’s London, including one from the Duke of Chandos’s inventory at Cannons, where Acis and Galatea was composed and first performed; and Handel expert David Vickers expanding on how Handel responded to the challenges of writing music to suit different patrons, under different sets of circumstances, and in different locations.

Tatty Theo, founder of The Brook Street Band and director of love: Handel Festival said: ‘The Brook Street Band has worked extensively in East Anglia since its inception in 1996 and we have many close links within Norfolk. It’s a pleasure, therefore, to bring love: Handel Festival to our own community, strengthening ties and local connections and – most importantly for us – inspiring a new generation of young people to love baroque music.’

‘This year’s theme is Stories. Who doesn’t love a good story? Stories can distract, enlighten, entertain, baffle, and stimulate your senses. Stories transport you to another place, a welcome and necessary diversion from everyday life. Stories weave their way through love: Handel 2019, with stories about the musicians, the circumstances in which pieces of music came to be composed, and the stories that actual physical instruments can tell, as brought to life by Benjamin Hebbert. We’re really keen on bringing the music to life, bringing out a narrative as much as possible, and communicating our passion.’

‘We are thrilled to be performing Handel’s Acis and Galatea in Norwich once again, as it was the first staged work we ever performed as a group. Our current version will be an un-staged concert performance with the internationally acclaimed singers, soprano Susanna Fairbairn, tenor David de Winter and bass Alex Ashworth, but it’ll be wonderful to bring our interpretation of the work back to the city which was instrumental in giving The Brook Street Band some of its earliest concerts!’

‘The smaller-scale chamber concerts all connect with Handel, where we will take audiences on a literal timeline through the composer’s life touching on his early works, his time in Italy and rivalry amongst his English contemporaries which takes in a local Norfolk element.’

Tatty Theo continues: ‘Education is a huge part of love: Handel 2019 and we are delighted to be working with up to nine schools across both rural and inner-city Norfolk to bring baroque music to a new generation. In addition to this, our masterclass with Dame Emma Kirkby will allow local students the opportunity to work with one of the most talented early music interpreters of our time and give them an experience they will never forget!’

A major aim of the Festival is to make the events as accessible as possible through initiatives such as a special concert aimed at parents so that audiences can enjoy the finest music making without worrying if their children make a noise, and the live filming and relaying to audiences of several concerts in order to give close-ups of the musicians and removing barriers for the audience to see the musicians in action. Tickets available from www.brookstreetband.co.uk/love-handel-2019/

 

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