Thursday, 20 October 2011

Brighton Early Music Festival

Brighton Early Music Festival (BREMF) kicks off at venues across the city on this Friday (21st October) and so the VisitBrighton blog guest spot is taken by Chloe Wennersten, a festival intern who has been getting involved behind the scenes as the final festival preparations take place. Chloe writes about her experiences at a rehearsal of the Festival’s own professional Orchestra, The BREMF Players.

The BREMF Players, directed by violinist Alison Bury and joined by soprano Julia Doyle, will be performing this Saturday 22nd October in St. George's Church, Brighton as part of the 2011 Brighton Early Music Festival. The first rehearsal for this eagerly anticipated concert took place yesterday in the beautiful setting of St. John's Church, Hampstead and, as one of this year's BREMF interns, I was fortunate enough to be involved in facilitating its smooth running. It was 9.30am: the biscuits, tea and coffee were at the ready, the music was out and the harpsichord was having its first tune of the day. We were ready for the orchestra! The musicians played and rehearsed with energy all day, no doubt helped by being bathed in the glorious autumnal sun that flowed through the church windows.

I had the opportunity to chat over lunch with the BREMF Players director, Alison Bury about the chosen programme for Saturday's concert. When asked what she was most looking forward to in the concert, she replied without hesitation that the orchestra was most excited about playing the Lully suite - she went on to explain that they rarely get to perform early French music such as this, yet it forms the basis of so much of what was to come in the 17th and 18th Centuries. To work with soprano Julia Doyle is also a privilege for Alison and the BREMF Players: "'Julia's vocal agility and flexibility make her the perfect singer for this programme. She makes the music dance." However, she went on to say that such a programme does present its own challenges when it comes to variety. To overcome this particular issue, Alison has included music that, even if not strictly for the dance, does have an incredible dance basis; "dance is one of the foundations of baroque music..." and the exploration of this is extremely satisfying for both musician and audience. St George’s Church in Kemp Town is the venue for Saturday's concert and that in itself is also something to look forward to. As Alison pointed out, although it is a 19th Century church, St George’s has an 18th Century feel and wonderful acoustics that are perfectly suited to dance music of the baroque.

The programme and vivacity and warmth evident in yesterday's rehearsal suggest that Saturday's concert is one not to be missed.

The BREMF Players perform at St George’s Church, St George’s Road, Kemp Town, Brighton on Saturday, 22nd October at 7.30pm. Brighton Early Music Festival runs until Sunday, 6th November, and includes 24 events covering 800 years of music, this year’s festival celebrates dance and its pervading influence on music over the centuries. For more information and tickets visit

By Chloe Wennersten

Images: BREMF Players wind: credit - Robert Piwko; Alison Bury: credit Lesley Aggar

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