Horsham Music Circle offers weekend of concerts

Fontanella Quartet - left to right, Louise, Sarah, Rebecca and AnnabelFontanella Quartet - left to right, Louise, Sarah, Rebecca and Annabel
Fontanella Quartet - left to right, Louise, Sarah, Rebecca and Annabel
Horsham Music Circle opens its 80th season with a double bill over one weekend featuring two contrasting quartets.

On Saturday, September 18 they hear the postponed Beethoven concert by the Sharpenhurst Quartet, a celebration for the composer’s 250th anniversary with a programme including two of his string quartet masterworks, Op 59 No1 Rasumovsky and the 3rd Movement of Op 135 No 16. The one-hour concerts at 4.30pm and 7pm will be held at St John’s Church, Broadbridge Heath.

And then comes the Fontanella recorder ensemble in their UK tour, a recorder ensemble featuring four of the UK’s leading players, Rebecca Austen-Brown, Louise Bradbury, Sarah Humphrys and Annabel Knight. They appear on Sunday, September 19 with their programme The Delightful Companion. There will be two one-hour performances at 4.30pm and 7pm at the Causeway Barn.

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For Louise – and indeed for all the players – it’s a lovely prospect. Louise, like her friends in the Sharpenhurst Quartet, is based in Horsham.

“It is great to be back. I think they are being very brave putting on concerts and festivals, but my experience from the past few months is that people are really keen to come back and to enjoy live music again. The pandemic has been incredibly difficult in many ways, but at least it has reminded us how much we love performing, just because of the time away, and that’s a good thing. It has made us realise how much we want to keep going with it. It has taken away any previous reticence or cynicism and made us realise just how much we need a live audience.

“We have done some recording work and we have done lots of Zooming, and none of it is remotely like playing to a live audience. It is the rapport. It is about being face to face with the other players and bouncing off them because with a one-off performance it is never ever going to be exactly the same. The spontaneity with the audience is wonderful, but it is also about the spontaneity with the other performers.

“I have always loved performing, but we were very fortunate with Fontanella that we had some lovely work coming in. We performed on Jimmy Carr’s 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown which meant that we were actually able to play together.

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“And we have worked very hard with new programmes and we also applied for a grant from a wonderful trust through the Continuo Foundation. They have funded our tour. We are doing five dates and they have paid our fees. We only have to ask the venues to do the publicity and the venues are also contributing towards travelling expenses. The funding has enabled venues to have concerts and audiences back. Concerts have been smaller (with social-distancing) and that has been a worry for everyone as to how to make them work financially, but because of the Foundation, the venues are able to book a group coming along with their fees paid already.

“There have been some bleak moments (during the pandemic) but for me personally I was very fortunate that a lot of private teaching work came along literally overnight. I did a lot of Zoom teaching and I also managed to secure some teaching in local schools which was on Zoom as well. So we were very fortunate still to be able to continue working in music, and it has been a lovely opportunity to get back to teaching perhaps earlier than we would have done.”

Audience attendance will be limited to between 40-50 per concert dependent on household booking numbers. You need to book in advance. No tickets will be on sale at the door. Book on phone 01403 252602 (answer machine), email [email protected] or online at wegottickets.com/HorshamMusicCircle.

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