Sat 22Jun2024

Devon Baroque Chamber Ensemble

St John’s Church, Bridgetown Court, Totnes, TQ9 5AB


Tickets £20, Students £5, accompanied children free, from (Booking fee applies)

Devon Baroque Chamber Ensemble
Rebecca Ramsey (soprano) and Sarah Humphrys (recorder, oboe) with
Persephone Gibbs and Sharon Lindo (violins), Gabriel Amherst (cello), Andew Wilson-Dickson (harpsichord).

The programme will include works by Handel, Pepusch, Biber, James Oswald and William Jackson of Exeter.
Handel: Sinfonia in B flat HWV 339 (1709)
Pepusch: ‘Love frowns’ (from English Cantatas, book 2 no. 1)
William Williams: Trio Sonata no. 6 in F: In imitation of birds
Handel: Two German arias for soprano and obbligato instruments
Handel: ‘Sweet Bird’ from L’Allegro, Il Penseroso ed il Moderato
James Oswald: ‘Honeysuckle‘ and ‘Marvel of Peru’ (from Airs for the Seasons)
William Jackson: ‘Twas when the seas were roaring’, (from Twelve Songs, op. 1 no. 9)
Biber: Sonata Representativa for violin and continuo
Handel: ‘Hush, ye pretty warbling choir’ (aria from Acis and Galatea)
Handel: ‘Splende l’alba in oriente’ (from cantata HWV166)


Devon Baroque loves playing the classics of the Baroque era, pieces that were rediscovered in the 20th century and whose names that are now ubiquitous: JS Bach, Vivaldi, Albinoni, Scarlatti, Couperin. But to get a view of what the 18th-century English enjoyed, we need to turn our attention to composers who might now be considered minor figures, but nonetheless colourful and characteristic of their time.

This Midsummer concert casts light on these hidden corners of British music-making, using just five of the core members of Devon Baroque, with guest soprano Rebecca Ramsey. The one composer equally known to us today as he was in the 18th century is George Frederick Handel. A concert of British Baroque music without Handel is unthinkable, so here we make no apology for including his music at several points, nonetheless some of it less well known today. Thus the programme will open with his Sinfonia in B flat, a fully-fledged pre-cursor of the ‘Arrival of the Queen of Sheba’. Then, scattered through the concert Rebecca sings Handel arias (among them, from L’allegro, il penseroso ed il moderato and Acis and Galatea). Interlacing these are pieces by musicians from London (William Williams, Johann Pepusch), Edinburgh (James Oswald) and Exeter (William Jackson).

Alongside this British music is the celebration of Nature: music evoking birdsong (Handel, Williams) and inspired by plants (Oswald). Most striking of all is music entirely unknown to the British of his time, by Biber, the virtuoso violinist from Salzburg who, in his unique Sonata Representativa, conjures up, among others: a frog, a quail, hen and cat!

(NB: This concert is at St John’s Church, NOT St Mary’s in Totnes High Street, where Devon Baroque has recently performed.)

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