WHO: We are Gawain Glenton and Silas Wollston. We've been playing together for several years now as part of ensembles such as The English Cornett & Sackbut Ensemble, In Echo, The Bach Players and the Taverner Consort. Recently we started giving duo cornetto/keyboard recitals with the aim of pairing the cornetto with historical organs. The success of these recitals has made us want to do more, so we're thrilled that Delphian Records have agreed to record this new venture.
WHAT: For our first recording we want to focus on music from 16th-century Venice, specifically the period between Willaert's arrival in the city in 1527 and the end of the century. These decades were arguably the most vibrant of Venice's musical history, and it was then that the musical 'myth of Venice' was built in sound thanks to the compositions and virtuosic performances of composer/musicians such as Giovanni Bassano, Girolamo Dalla Casa, Gioseffo Guami, Andrea Gabrieli, Claudio Merulo and others.
We're based in England and are working within the restrictions of COVID-19, so we aren't able to easily hop on a plane to record in the Veneto. However, we do have access to two very special organs based here in the UK. One is the Goetze & Gwynn reconstruction of the Italian chamber organ that formerly belonged to Sheila Lawrence and now resides in the English Organ School in Milborne Port, Somerset. This compact but powerful instrument has the distinctive metal principale and range of stops typical of Italian renaissance organs. We are very lucky to have it in the UK.
The second organ is made by the Italian maker Walter Chinaglia, and features open wooden 8ft and 4ft registers in cypress: the particular wood praised by Italians in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries as being able to produce an 'organo suave', the sweet-sounding organ ideal for the accompaniment of the human voice. According to Dalla Casa and others, the cornetto famously had the ability to imitate the human voice better than any other instrument, and much of its repertoire is in fact vocal music. So, what better way to accompany a 'singing' cornetto than a cypress 'organo di legno'? (NB: If you want to know why we're going to the trouble of using these organs rather than the ubiquitous stopped box chamber organ, check out this explanation by the wonderful Elam Rotem at Early Music Sources).
HOW MUCH: We need £6,500 to make this project a reality.
We hope you share our passion for this music and for these instruments, and that you'll be willing to support us not just financially, but also by telling others about what we're trying to achieve. We know there's an audience for this music, but we need shares, likes and word-of-mouth to reach all the people that might be interested.
Gawain and Silas