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It is increasingly important for all musicians to be aware of the issues surrounding historically informed performance as these are embraced by the classical music world at large. Since the early 1990s we have maintained a strong commitment to performance practice and Early Music through an innovative programme of cross-departmental activities. All of our students have the opportunity to study a period instrument or to have stylistic awareness lessons with specialist visiting tutors, and advanced performers can audition for Birmingham’s renowned Ex Cathedra Choir and Orchestra.
Two Corton-Hyde Early Music Scholarships support talented students wishing to further their studies in Early Music at undergraduate or postgraduate level. Awards are available for continuo students (keyboards, bowed and plucked strings) and for instrumental/vocal students.
Regular workshops and rehearsals are taken by leading specialists in the field of period performance. Recent visits by Anneke Boeke, Trevor Pinnock, Dan Laurin, Andrew Parrott, Jeremy West, Piers Adams, Emily Van Evera and other leading musicians have enabled students to experience first-hand issues currently being explored by professional orchestras on both modern and period instruments.
Our full period instrument Baroque orchestra performs on average once a term, exploring a rich variety of music, from large-scale works such as Charpentier’s Actéon and JS Bach’s Christmas Oratorio to smaller repertoire including Handel and Corelli concerti grossi, Purcell theatre music and Bach cantatas. Every two years Capelle joins forces with the Vocal & Operatic Department to produce one or two fully staged Baroque operas. Recent productions have included Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and Fairy Queen and Cavalli’s La Calisto.
Run by Gail Hennessey, our oboe band is one of the only ‘all-student’ ensembles in the country. Repertoire stretches from the Baroque era to the 20th century and the band performs frequently within the Conservatoire and at external engagements. Members have the opportunity to perform on the different period instruments including oboe da caccia, tenor oboe, Baroque oboe and bassoon and Jingling Jonnys.
Offered as a weekly elective to all students, Early Music Studies explores a wide range of music and performance-practice issues from Mediaeval to Classical periods, in practical and theoretical classes. Recent topics have included Baroque dance, keyboard temperament, rhetoric and Renaissance ornamentation. Visiting specialists have included Rebecca Austen-Brown, Andrew Parrott, Jeremy West and Oliver Webber.
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