BREMF – New Horizons, Deborah Roberts (director)

The Brighton Early Music Festival is an inclusive celebration of the many kinds of early music. This afternoon’s event was a relaxed introduction to what this might mean. Deborah Roberts, Artistic Director and Cathy Boyes, Festival Producer got the ball rolling with a general discussion and reminiscences of BREMF successes, especially in bringing along new and developing ensembles and artists. This led smoothly into illustrated presentations by two young members of the Bellot Ensemble, Edmund Taylor (violin) and Hannah Blumsohn (oboe), Baroque specialists who will be participating in the BREMF LIVE! Showcase and Clubnight on Saturday 21st October. Their enthusiasm and ease with their subject made their scholarly material very approachable. The BREMF LIVE! project nurtures such talented up-and-coming young professionals with performance opportunities, mentoring and guidance.

After a tea break, Professor Laurie Stras spoke of her lucky adventures researching the music for ‘Mother, Sister, Daughter’ and ‘The Excellence of Women’, the two concerts she has provided the music for on 14th and 22nd October. She teased us with just enough Renaissance convent polyphony to make sure we turn up to hear the complete works. Doubtless she could have held us entranced for the rest of the afternoon but the schedule led on to an exploration of the 400 year old music legacy of Henry Playford presented by Dr Alexis Bennett, another academic and enthusiastic performer. He bravely attempted some classification of folk tunes and convincingly demonstrated the wonderful complexity of that task. Playford apparently changed his mind too about the details of folk tunes, as the example played by the ceilidh band merrily demonstrated. This whole event raised many more questions than it answered, sparked more ideas and tickled the imagination about early music, which no doubt is the whole point of adventurous festivals like BREMF.

Brighton Unitarian Church
7 October 2023
Rating: ★★★★☆
Andrew Connal

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