Last Friday, I travelled to Greenwich’s gorgeous Old Royal Naval College (designed by Mr Baroquetastic Sir Christopher Wren) for the Royal Greenwich Early Music Festival & Exhibition 2014. It was amazing! The festival took place from the 13th-15th of November and was filled with events and the exhibition comprised the ‘World’s Largest Early Music Fair’.
The Early Music Shop – one of the Festival partners – had a great selection of music albums, instruments, and sheet music. I was tempted to buy a lot of the albums they had for sale, but ended up choosing one album. That was some feat, I can tell you!
Some of the big events included:
- A Recorder masterclass by Pamela Thorby (I *love* her albums).
- A Vocal masterclass by Sir John Eliot Gardiner
- Trinity Laban Soloists & Baroque Orchestra (performing a ‘varied programme of baroque repetoire’).
- Fretwork (J S Bach: Art of Fugue concert).
- I Faglioni directed by Robert Hollingworth (playing ‘a sumptuous programme of solos and ensemble pieces from the first half of the 17th-century).
I was amazed by the amount of instruments that were available for sale. There were harpsichords near the entrance, virginals, clavichords, spinets (which, I believe, were from John Morley Early Keyboard Instruments).
There were some students from local colleges performing casually on some of the instruments and the whole of the hall had beautiful Renaissance and Baroque music from the various musicians. It was rather like my idea of heaven!
Having been a keen flautist when I was a teenager, I began to search for 17th-century flute music, but I found there was more 18th-century music, so I decided not to buy any of that. I did, however, find a wonderful array of vocal music from Green Man Press, and two works made either in honour of Queen Mary II or during her lifetime. I had a really good chat with the seller of these, and I told him how excited I was to have found them.
Oh yes, the photo above is on the wall of the Painted Hall and it depicts William III’s invasion of England in 1688. It is, as I mentioned to followers on Twitter and Facebook recently, full of overblown symbolism and totally exaggerates William’s entry in the country. But it is beautiful! (I had another good chat, this time with a warden at the Hall, who lamented how few people know of Thornhill – the artist who painted the Hall).
Those who know me, know how much I adore this ceiling. See that? William and Mary are in the middle of this glorious scene:
It was wonderful to be around like-minded people who have the same passion for this kind of music. When I was growing up, I was conscious of how unpopular my preferred genre of music was, but now I can see that a lot of people do love it, we just have really really good taste! 😉
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There was so much information available, so I took loads of leaflets and I hope to contact some of the people I met. I was fortunate to finally meet several people I’ve known on various social media sites. I’m packing my Seventeenth Century Lady calendar with loads of Baroque events! I also met with really nice ladies who told me about NEMA: (the) National Early Music Association UK and the Thames Valley Early Music Forum and the Southern Early Music Forum. One lady even suggested I join a local choir, which performs Early Music. We’ll see – I certainly love to sing!
Well, I had a blast at the festival and I am looking forward to next year’s!