We are Ensemble Hesperi – a young early music ensemble based in London. Over the past few years, our Scottish roots have inspired us to research and promote Scottish Baroque music, and we want everyone to enjoy this amazing music, which is just as fresh and charming as it was when it was written 250 years ago!
'The Pheasant's Eye': bringing Scottish Baroque music to you!
Our latest project is a very exciting one. We have toured our duo programme, 'The Pheasant's Eye', to great acclaim throughout the UK and further afield, winning the Audience prize at the Utrecht Early Music Fringe Festival, and broadcasting the full programme on BBC Radio 3's Early Music Show in December 2017. Now, we've devised a brand new programme with an expanded ensemble (recorder, baroque violin, baroque cello and harpsichord), and we can't wait to perform it! We've already secured provisional dates from 7 UK festivals for performances in 2018/2019, so our plans are well under way - all we need is funding!
Although we'll be performing the works of several Scottish eighteenth century composers as part of our project, we're focusing on the life of the composer James Oswald, whose amazing career saw him rise from small beginnings in a village near St Andrews, to the position of Chamber composer to King George III. In a way, he was our 18th century counterpart, promoting Scottish music in London, to the delight of audiences and players alike! Undoubtedly one of his most incredible achievements was his collection of 96 short instrumental airs, each named after a different flower or plant - we'll be performing several of these as part of our programme.
Oswald was also a dancing master in his early career, and many of his 'Airs for the Seasons' are made up of marches, jigs and hornpipes - traditional Scottish dance movements which can't fail to get you tapping your feet! So, for this project, we're collaborating with a Highland dancer, who will choreograph solo dances to bring a new and dynamic visual element to our programme.
Education and Community
Scottish Baroque music has a true simplicity which appeals to everyone. You definitely don't need to be a classical music buff to appreciate the beautiful folk tunes which composers such as James Oswald and Francesco Barsanti set to Baroque accompaniment. Before many of our concerts, our Highland dance expert will be offering a dance workshop so that our audiences can join us on stage, and dance with us as part of our performance!
We're also planning to produce educational resources, based on James Oswald's airs, for use by school instrumental ensembles of every level. These editions will be available digitally for download - increasing access to Early Music is very important to us. We have already had great fun giving workshops based on Scottish music in schools, and we know that this wonderful music can capture the imaginations of young people while also providing an excellent basis for teaching rhythm, melody, and a life long love of music.
In order to bring our project to life, we need to raise £1,500 by the 17th March!
We are applying to Arts Council England for a grant towards our project, but they won't be able to fund it outright. When we submit our application form in late March, we must be able to prove to them that you - our potential audience members - love our project, and want to hear more. The clock is ticking...
So, please back our project! We have some wonderful rewards to offer, including...
- 2 tickets to a 'Pheasant's Eye' performance of your choice
- A demo CD showcasing selections from our 'Pheasant's Eye' duo programme
- A recording of a James Oswald air of your choice - pick your favourite flower!
- A private recorder or harpsichord lesson at our London studio
- A private concert at your home
Every donation counts, no matter how small. And please also help us by spreading the word to your friends, families, and colleagues, as well as on social media and through e-mail.