The last few months

It’s been some time since I’ve written a blog, so it probably seems like not much has been going on with Oxford Baroque. Nothing could be further from the truth. A number of things have been occupying my time, as we work on “back end” developments to get together a sustainable infrastructure that will let us go forward and start doing more frequent concerts.

A lot of my time has been spent planning (along with Kate Ashby of Stile Antico fame) the first Oxford Early Music Festival. Starting on Saturday 4th May (i.e. next week), we’ve got a fantastic programme of concerts. It’s really exciting: we have some some superlative musicians, including the indefatigable James Bowman and Catherine Bott alongisde top young soloists Nick Mulroy and James Birchall in Bach’s B-minor Mass with Ensemble 45 and the International Baroque Players, plus recitals by Bojan Cicic, Susanne Heinrich and of course appearances from our own groups, Stile Antico and OB. If you happen to be around, please come along and support us. We’ve received no funding at all and have put blood (mainly from the fingertips, through copious amounts of email correspondence), sweat and tears into it, in the hope that some people will turn up and we can make it an annual fixture.

The other work has been in planning various concerts. Aside from collaborating again with the wonderful choir of Magdalen College, Oxford and Daniel Hyde again, in a brilliant St John Passion (including John Mark Ainsley as Evangelist!), we’ve recently received an award from the AHRC through Humanitas at Oxford, to present a programme on Friday 7 June in the chapel of New College, Oxford, based around Bach’s Cantata Christ lag in Todes banden (BWV 4). I’m delighted to say that John Butt, my doctoral supervisor at the University of Glasgow and a noted Bach scholar and performer (check out his work with the Dunedin Consort, particularly the recent St John Passion recording), will be coming to direct this. It’s tied in with an academic event, based on shared identities in post-Reformation communities. We’ll supply you with more details shortly, but do set aside the date in your diary – it’ll be one not to miss!

The other thing that’s been taking up my time is planning our Christmas programmes. At the moment, dates are confirmed as December 13th at St John the Evangelist, Oxford, and the 14th, as we make a return to the St John’s, Smith Square Christmas Festival. The project is currently top secret (as I finalise my research), but as a teaser, it involves Bach (and not the Christmas Oratorio).

Looking further ahead, we’re currently planning a proper ‘Friends’ scheme to help support the group in its future endeavours. Up to this point, I’ve put a lot of my own money into the group, as I really have faith in the music and feel comfortable that we’ve got a group of talented, committed and passionate musicians together, who are capable of producing something slightly different and incredibly exciting. Clearly, as a graduate student and freelance musician, this is far from sustainable. So, with the help of some very generous and intelligent friends, we’re in the process of creating a network to try and allow us to expand and work on ambitious new projects. There’s no need to worry – we’ll be making it very obvious about how you can get involved in due course.

So, though it seems like things might have been a bit static, if you’ve been refreshing the homepage every other day. However, as I hope this blog clarifies, there’s lots going on and lots for us to look forward to. I hope you’re looking forward to it too.