Arcangelo Members Lounge

Spring 2024

Very musical Chairs

Following our announcement earlier in the year, Sir Nicholas Kenyon formally took up his duties as Chair at Arcangelo’s 2024 Annual General Meeting at the beginning of March. To open the Spring Members Lounge, Julian interviewed Nick and outgoing Chair Rosalyn Wilkinson, pictured here together at our ‘Theodora’ launch event in February.

Image by Nathan Giorgetti

Rosalyn, how did you come to be Arcangelo’s first Chair of Trustees?

RW: I knew Jonny from his days with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and he spoke to me of his plan to form an ensemble early on – I think perhaps on a winter evening in Paris a year or so before it came to fruitionI wasn’t free to join the new venture at its outset but was really pleased to be asked again two years later. Arcangelo was very much like many start-ups, full of energy, contagious enthusiasm and a little short on the back office organisation.(I think that was probably my main contribution, along with that of some diligent fellow trustees.)

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Nick, what sets Arcangelo apart for you?

NK: Arcangelo has a really distinctive character and style created by Jonny, who draws so much from his players. And above all it has an absolute commitment to quality and excellence in everything it does. It doesn’t do too much, it is not trying to record everything, just undertaking a small number of top-level projects that really match its aims.

Speaking of recordings, which are your Arcangelo favourites?

NK: I think back to those wonderful Christopher Purves recordings of bass arias, the discs with Anna Prohaska and Iestyn Davies: Arcangelo’s support of outstandingly talented singers has been one of its touchstones, and I hope that will go on being the case.

Rosalyn, which Arcangelo recordings and concerts stand out for you?

RW: Of the recordings, the Bach B minor Mass – I think released in 2014. Early days, but full of (well-placed) confidence. And the Vilde Frang Mozart Violin Concertos – I am so pleased that Arcangelo is going to be working with her again this coming season.

In concert, I think the Matthew Passion given at the Proms in 2021 was a high point – showing that what Arcangelo could do at the chamber level of intimacy could be scaled up to larger choral and instrumental forces and touch all who heard it…especially after the grim period of the pandemic. And how could anyone forget the collaboration with Hampton Court back in 2014, when Arcangelo performed Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks in the Privy Garden, followed by sort-of-Georgian ‘illuminations’? Period performance taken in a less than serious direction.

Period performance seems currently to be in need of new directions – we’ve rediscovered the ‘original sound’, we’ve [re]discovered much repertoire. Where next?

RW: I am going to duck that question, because my successor is so much better qualified to have a go at answering it! But I would always avoid a statement like your first…no one can ‘rediscover the original sound’, and Nick knows more than most the dangers of claiming a special authenticity in historical performance.

NK: This is the big question for the whole early music community. I think early music performers, who have always been so fresh and imaginative in approaching the past, can now lead the way in discovering new concert formats and new approaches to the repertory, drawing in new audiences who might never have thought of engaging with this music. But indeed, Rosalyn, I think we’ve only rediscovered one possible approach to the ‘original sound’ – there can be many others! I believe there will be still be a need for a powerhouse of research and development in the early music world – and that’s what the period-instrument movement can continue to provide.

Is the early music world still a place apart, or as per a recent Arcangelo review has early music “joined the mainstream”?

NK: This is a fascinating subject, because what started as a critical breakaway movement from the mainstream has now had a huge influence on that world. But is there any longer a mainstream? Or are there a large number of different creative streams which we the listeners are lucky enough to be able to choose from? The variety and diversity of approaches in today’s musical world are fantastic.

RW: I don’t find the categorisation  of ensembles as ‘baroque bands’ or ‘early music specialists’ very helpful. The understanding of historical performance practice has brought not only earlier composers back into the mainstream, but has brought a fresh approach to so many later composers. And it’s greatly to be celebrated that ‘mainstream’ orchestras and ensembles are now sensitive and responsive to this – I feel that all have gained from the impetus that originated in a niche movement.

Which composer (of any period) do you feel continues to be most under-rated?

NK: I don’t need to stray from the baroque to answer this one – undoubtedly Jean-Philippe Rameau, the Frenchman whose gloriously sensual music has for some reason never established a popular foothold here. Yet the colour and variety and appeal of his dance movements are unparalleled in the repertory.

RW: I’m probably supposed to put forward a neglected female composer at this point, but over the years of listening to neglected composers from the Baroque and early Romantic periods, enthusiastically dusted off to add spice to programmes, I usually feel – guiltily – that their neglect is justified!

Bach or Handel?

NK: Both of course, but for different things and with completely different expressive languages: Bach is the supreme contrapuntist, creating intricate lines and wonderfully moving textures: I couldn’t live without the B minor Mass and so many of the cantatas. Handel on the other hand strikes straight to the heart with his direct, elemental impact, those big choruses and achingly anguished arias and duets.

RW: Probably Bach, for the solo music. I came to opera relatively late, and would exchange most of it  – even Handel – for the Bach cello suites.

Rosalyn, to conclude, you met Arcangelo in its boisterous infant stages and have overseen its progress to teenagerdom. What’s changed, what’s endured?

RW: I am not sure I’d accept that description of where Arcangelo is now – I think there’s a great deal of experience packed into the 12 or so years the ensemble has been around, and the band is more like a poised young adult capable of justifying its place at the top table. What’s changed? Well, the organisation delivering the music has got better and better, meaning surer choices of what and where to play, and with whom to collaborate. But the constant is Jonny’s unique approach to building a performance with just those musicians he knows will be the right partners for the project. We’ve lost count of the times that individual musicians have come forward to say how special the experience has been – it’s a kind of alchemy.

 

In pictures: Theodora launch party

On Monday 5th February we were delighted to welcome very many of you to the Great Hall at Goodenough College to celebrate the launch of Arcangelo’s new recording of Handel’s ‘Theodora’ on Alpha Classics. Our in-house paparazzo Nat was there to document the occasion, and we hope you’ll enjoy the selection of his photographs offered below. ‘Theodora’ was officially released on 23rd February (Handel’s birthday) and has since been pulling in rave reviews from around the world – read the highlights here.

Video diary: Arcangelo New Ensemblists 2022-24

Our latest entry in the Arcangelo New Ensemblists video diary presents two days of intensive skills workshops held at the start of the year.

Cristina, Yaoré and Madeleine are shown working with guest mentors Carolyn Sampson on accompanying voice and Colin Scobie on improvisation and ornamentation.

The next and final entry in the ANE 2022-24 video diary will be a concert film of the New Ensemblists’ graduation recital at Wigmore Hall on 10 July.

Film by Thibault Blanchard for Europik Films

Jonny interviewed on Times Radio

Back in October, Jonny appeared on Times Radio’s Saturday ‘Culture’ spot, presented by Alexis Conran.

If like us you’re a little overwhelmed by today’s profileration of media outlets, this interview may have passed you by, so we hope you’ll enjoy listening to it from the familiar comfort of the Arcangelo Members Lounge.

At the time of the interview, we had just released our studio film of Telemann’s Paris Quartet No.6, but the conversation is wide-ranging and offers various insights into Jonny’s music-making and musical thinking. Enjoy!

Clip provided by Times Radio. 

Friends Events Update

There’s just two Friends events remaining this season but fear not, we’ve got a full programme lined up for 2024-25. Details will be announced in the summer and shared with you via our regular Friends E-News.

In the meantime, save the date for our 2024-25 Season Launch party, and make sure to reserve places for our final events of 2023-24. As ever, if you’ve got any queries about Friends events, please email Nathan: nathan@arcangelo.org.uk

Friday 24th May 2024

3pm | Fidelio Café, London | All Friends

“The Art of Improvisation”

INSIGHT SESSION

Ahead of our evening dinner concert at the charming Fidelio Café in Clerkenwell, Colin Scobie, Sergio Bucheli and Teodoro Bau will host an afternoon session offering insights into the art of improvisation. This event is free of charge to Arcangelo Friends; please note that places are limited, and awarded on a first come, first served basis. 

Friday 12th July 2024

12.30pm | Burgh House, Hampstead | All Friends

Arcangelo Friends Recital

LUNCHTIME CONCERT

This year’s Friends Recital is given by our graduating New Ensemblists. Come and listen to Cristina Prats-Costa, Yaoré Talibart and Madeleine Bouissou in the intimate Music Room at Burgh House, built in 1702. This event is free of charge to Arcangelo Friends; please note that places are limited, and awarded on a first come, first served basis. 

Monday 9th September 2024

Evening TBC | Central London TBA | All Friends

2024-25 Season Launch

LAUNCH PARTY

**Save the date** On Monday 9th September 2024 we’ll be hosting our annual Season Launch event. Following the format of previous seasons, this will be an evening event at a central London venue, with musical entertainment, a guest speaker, and a presentation of the season’s plans. Further information and a sign-up link will be shared in the summer.

Friends competition: ‘Frogtographs’

‘The frog’ is Arcangelo’s mascot, devised by designer Colin Christie as part of Arcangelo’s visual branding. He’s an original creation except for the flames licking at the soles of his kinky boots, which are copied from Botticelli’s illustrations to Dante’s ‘Inferno’.

In recent years, the frog and frogs generally have achieved minor cult status within Arcangelo, as witnessed by an increasing collection of photographs taken and shared by Arcangelo staff and musicians. We’d be delighted to further grow this important archive for the benefit of future generations – and we know that everyone loves a competition. So, simply send us your best photographs of a frog or frogs by email to info@arcangelo.org.uk – take a look at the ones below for inspiration. The best frogtographs will be revealed in the next Arcangelo Members Lounge, and rewarded with a copy of Arcangelo’s recording of ‘Theodora’.

Frog mute. Spotted by Cristina (Arcangelo New Ensemblist).

Frog cocktail. Spotted (and drunk) by Nathan.

J.S. Frach. Generated by AI.

The Arcangelo Members Lounge

The Arcangelo Members Lounge is updated quarterly and offered exclusively to Arcangelo’s Friends and closest supporters. For feedback or ideas about published or future content please email julian@arcangelo.org.uk