Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Brighton Early Music Festival 2016 - Preview

BREMF enters its fifteenth year and this year’s programme is as eclectic and diverse as ever.  As well as over fifteen events in the main festival (28 October – 13 November), there are also nine pre-festival events, including workshops, masterclasses, talks, tasters, and even a concert specifically targeted at 2-5 year olds. So as well as hearing great performances from top class early music musicians, you can take part too.

This year’s theme is Nature and Science, and events look the interconnections between these, and how they run closely with the history of music.  So the festival looks at the lives of some well-known and lesser-known scientists, musicians, philosophers and thinkers, as well as exploring the influence of science and nature on music and composers in new and imaginative ways.

The Marian Consort

Co-director Clare Norburn has written another music drama, following on the success of previous projects about the lives of Gesualdo, Hildegard of Bingen and others, this time turning her attention to Galileo.  As well as being a famous astronomer, physicist & philosopher, he had a passion for music, and music played a huge part in his family life, as well as in his understanding of practical experiments.  Music is performed by The Marian Consort and the Monteverdi String Band.

English Cornett & Sackbut Ensemble
(credit: Hugh Beauchamp)
And Co-director Deborah Roberts presents an ambitious new production, Gaia, combining music and drama from the 16th and 17th centuries with 21st century effects including film, projections, lighting, mime, yoga and dance to tell the story of our Earth.  The music includes Brumel’s amazing ‘Earthquake’ Mass, and performers include the English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble, the BREMF Consort of Voices, the Lacock Scholars and the BREMF Community Choir – an event not to be missed!  Money is still being raised to support this ambitious venture – and until 13th September you can support it too.  See more here and at

The Telling
(© Robert Piwko)
Other events include L’Avventura London exploring the little-known 17th century musician, alchemist & polymath Athanasius Kirchner, the viol consort Fretwork performing Bach’s The Art of Fugue, and The Telling perform The Lily and the Rose, a programme of music from the 12th to 15th centuries inspired by these flowers, and their association with the Virgin Mary.  For ‘Fairest Isle and Foulest Weather’, a programme of music from The Tempest by Matthew Locke and King Arthur by Henry Purcell, the BREMF Players and BREMF Singers are directed by John Hancorn.  

Spiritato! present ‘Guts and Glory!’, with heroic music for strings, five natural trumpets and drums, baroque brass at its dazzling best.  And in a brand new family show, the recorder consort Palisander, a hit at last year’s festival, combine with puppets from Rust and Stardust to present Dr Dee’s Daughter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Details of all these concerts and more, as well as all the pre-festival events in September and October, can be found at or telephone 01273 709709.  Tickets on sale from 5 September.