Sunday 12th February 2023 in the Angel Centre at 3pm
The concert given by Worcester’s Musical and Amicable Society was performed in the round to great effect. It was well received by an appreciative audience whose feedback included the following:
“the in-the-round worked very well–a real collective experience…and I liked the poetry sorbets…..”
“a fabulous concert”,
“a wholly immersive experience” and “superb” .
The first half of the concert set the scene with two works employing fugal techniques written before J.S. Bach’s Art of Fugue; Paduan a 4 from Ludi Musici by Samuel Scheidt (1587-1654) and 3 Fantazias by Henry Purcell (1659-1695). The second half of the concert was given to J.S. Bach’s great work the Art of Fugue. Written towards the end of his life (1685-1750) this tour de force of counterpoint was interspersed with verses of a poem of the same title, by contemporary Canadian poet Jan Zwicky aptly describing a performance of Bach’s Art of Fugue. These two art forms complemented each other to enhance the musical performance, providing a thoughtful and contemplative experience.
Members of the Musical and Amicables rehearsing for the afternoon concert
“a table, four chairs, and the river of the human voice” (Zwicky)
Bach takes a brief melody as his plaything, pulling and pummelling it every which way to create a kaleidoscope of iterations. Written towards the end of his life and left unfinished, possibly as an instruction manual for how to write fugue, The Art of Fugue is a tour de force of counterpoint, delighting in the sheer virtuosity of the inventive possibilities he can conjure from a single theme. No performance instrument is specified and assigning it to a string quartet allows each strand to be embodied by an individual player, four voices weaving in and around each other – alternately arguing, agreeing, cajoling, conversing. Contemporary Canadian poet-violinist Jan Zwicky has written a poem describing such a performance, which works as the perfect companion piece. We play in the round, using instruments that Bach would have recognised, interspersing his music with Zwicky’s words, celebrating the intricacies of musical and human connection, across the room and across the centuries. Intimate seventeenth-century consort music by Scheidt and Purcell paves the way perfectly.
The original MUSICAL AND AMICABLE SOCIETY was founded in 1762 by James Kempson, who directed the choir at St Bartholomew’s Chapel, Birmingham. Together with fellow musicians from St Philip’s Church (now Birmingham Cathedral), Kempson and his singers gathered on a regular basis at Cooke’s tavern in the Cherry Orchard “for practice and recreation”! In 2003, Kate Fawcett and Martin Perkins decided to revive this historic society as a collective of professional period-instrument specialists, performing in combinations ranging from small ensembles to full orchestra. Our presiding ethos is one of chamber music – however large or small the formation – where each and every performer has a significant role to play.
As the new year begins we need to say a huge thank you to all those who have supported us and helped us stay afloat during the past couple of years.
To BMEMF and MEMF ….Thank you
To the Elmley Foundation and Worcester Arts Council…Thank you
To the Golsoncott Foundation, Marchus Trust and the Continuo Foundation……………Thank you
To Friends, Supporters and Patrons of WEM……Thank you
Our AGM in November was held online and I’m pleased to report that all the Committee members were standing for re-election, so we are up and running to ensure 2023 builds on the success of 2022……….thank you committee!
Looking ahead in 2023
Our season’s concerts are set to continue on Sunday February 12th at 3pm in the Angel Centre, when the Musical and Amicables will present a programme of music from Bach’s great work, The Art of Fugue, interspersed with poetry (see events page for more details)
Our April Concert will be on Sunday 16th and given by Ensemble La Notte, again at 3pm in the Angel Centre (see events page for details)
The final concert of the season is on Sunday June 11th when Chelys will perform a programme of early music and folk song with Gwen Martin, (see events page for details)
See you all soon…and please bring friends!
If you are not a Friend, Supporter or Patron already, look out for information at our concerts or alternatively email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
The Linarol Consort of Viols with Heloise Bernard (soprano) will perform music from the songbooks of Marguerite of Austria (1480-1530) on Sunday 6th November, including music by Obrecht, Ockeghem, Josquin and Pierre de la Rue.
Heloise Bernard graduated in 2018 from the Royal Glasgow Conservatoire of Music and she is described as “a light, sweet soprano” in Opera (Feb 2020). She specialises in music of the Renaissance and Baroque, so not to be missed here in Worcester!