Featured Instrument: The Viol Family

The X-Viols

Before the violin and cello, the most popular stringed instruments in Europe were the viols.  Similar to string quartets, these instruments would perform in ensembles with several different sizes of the same instrument.  This programme features the X-Viols: a viol consort which focusses on mixing lesser known consort music and contemporary music written for the ensemble with well known classics to create an exciting programme for audiences that know the viol repertoire and want to hear a programme with a difference, as well as for audiences who don’t know viol consorts and want to hear something new and exciting.

Featured Instrument: 19th Century Metal Cello

Under the Greenwood Tree

In 1872 Thomas Hardy wrote his famous book ‘Under the Greenwood Tree’ about rural musicians and the music he grew up with.  This programme is based on that music and the sheet music, copied by hand by his father, that still survives.  Performed by a small vocal ensemble and melody instrument, the group also features a metal cello copied from a surviving instrument from the time found in a museum.  These metal instruments were reasonably common at that time, as people from rural areas often couldn’t afford fine wooden instruments.  They would therefore ask the local blacksmith to build a cello made of metal for them.  Combined with readings from Thomas Hardy, this programme is a chance for audience members to hear scarcely heard music from the time, and enter the musical world of Thomas Hardy.

Featured Instrument: Pardessus & Viol

A French Lady's Guilty Pleasure

In 18th century France, the violin was becoming a popular instrument in higher society, especially music by Italian composers such as Vivaldi.  However, it was seen as inappropriate for women to play these instruments, so women adopted a new instrument: the 5 string pardessus, as a way to play the violin music designed for men, in a socially acceptable way.  This programme offers famous baroque violin music such as Vivaldi from a women’s perspective, as well as presenting lesser known music written specifically for the instrument. 

Featured Instrument: The 'Talbot' English Bass Violin

The Royal String Band

String Quartets are the most sort after ensemble for festivals and societies around the world.  However, little attention has been given to the ensemble music of one of England’s most important composer, Henry Purcell.  Featuring a bass violin (early cello) based on the Talbot Manuscript: the closest we can get to the instrument Purcell’s musicians might have played on; this programme explores Purcell’s string ensemble music, as well as music by his contemporaries.