Brighton Early Music Festival promises its most ambitious programme so far

The 17th Brighton Early Music Festival, Metamorphosis, will offer three weekends of “our most ambitious and eclectic programming to date, incorporating 100 acclaimed musicians from across the globe.”

Musica Secreta
Musica Secreta

BREMF chairman of trustees Simon Mathews is promising an enticing festival – and hoping to increase the funds coming in.

Simon said: “We will explore powerful transformations of music: Bach recoloured on synthesizers played by leading baroque specialists; Hildegard 'transfigured' with stunning light and projections; emerging artists; new commissions; music dramas; pub gigs; and plenty of social, family and community events including the topsy-turvy medieval Feast of Fools with local schoolchildren and street dancers from Streetfunk.

“Our fundraising successes, including generous support from Arts Council England, our family of individual supporters and grant-giving organisations, have given us great encouragement in these difficult and uncertain economic times, enabled us to attract the best and most promising artists in the early music world, and allowed us to continue to lead the way in artist development and audience engagement.

“We are now so close to our fundraising target and just need a last push to raise the final £10,000 which will make the 2019 Festival completely sustainable and will mean that we can save our vital reserves for future investment and to mitigate any further bumps in the fundraising landscape.

“Any contribution you are able to spare as we head into the Festival would be very welcome and make a real difference to this Festival and future years. Please visit the support page on our website or speak to BREMF staff throughout the Festival.

“We are grateful, as ever, to you all for your loyal support as audience members and donors and, together, we will continue to ensure that early music remains alive and demonstrate that through the past, we can learn about and better understand the themes and issues of the present.

“After a series of very successful pre-festival events, this weekend sees the first main Festival concerts of 2019, and we have four wonderful events coming up.

“On Friday 25 October, Musica Secreta will open the Festival with the first performance in modern times of a newly discovered renaissance masterpiece that was previously only known as a fragment - Antoine Brumel's Lamentations for Good Friday. The concert begins with a specially commissioned film about the discovery of this work by Laurie Stras, while she was in Florence researching a pair of intriguing manuscripts. As well as the Lamentations, Musica Secreta will be joined by Celestial Sirens to perform convent music from the second Florentine manuscript, originally commissioned by two nuns. Some of the music will be performed from a reconstructed choirbook stand of the sort renaissance singers would have used. An atmospheric and informative evening!

“On Saturday 26 October we have an exciting lunchtime concert by former BREMF Live! artists Dramma per Musica, who will be exploring the ways in which renaissance and early baroque composers brought the works of Ovid to musical life. With excerpts from Marco da Gagliano's La Dafne, Lully's Cadmus et Hermione, Giulio Caccini's L'Euridice and Monteverdi's L'Orfeo, this programme is a whirlwind tour through these 2,000 year old stories.

“The evening of Saturday 26 October sees visiting ensemble La Fonte Musica from Italy present music of the Italian Trecento alongside projections of fantastical images from medieval manuscripts.

“Rounding off the weekend on Sunday 27 October we have BREMF Consort of Voices looking at some of the ways in which 16th-century composers lovingly reworked and transformed the music of earlier composers: songs, motets, madrigals and masses. Repertoire featured includes music by Josquin des Prez, Cipriano de Rore, and Nicolas Gombert, as well as excerpts from Monteverdi's 1610 Missa in illo tempore, which is based on one of Gombert's motets. The programme will culminate in an arrangement of Tallis's iconic motet Spem in Alium - this time in 11 parts rather than Tallis's 40... It STILL thrills the senses!