Musician of the Month: The Amadè Players
How did your ensemble form?
I founded The Amadè Players in 2010 as a natural transition from a previous group, Situation Opera. We have a small core of players who have been involved almost every project since we started, and then we add new players, or recall old friends for each piece or concert as we need to. There’s an amazing feeling of family within the group, and I’ve repeatedly been left speechless by the dedication of our players and their focus on performance.
What drew you to baroque music, and how do you incorporate historical significances, such as Handel’s performances at the Foundling Hospital, into your work?
Actually, it was the historical significances that drew me to early music. My research specialism’s are 18th century Moravian and Bohemian music, and of course Handel. I delight in discovering new ways to make old music relevant to modern audiences, and try to incorporate something into every programme we perform that will be unknown, rarely performed or a modern premiere. Our programme for Handel House in December, for example, includes Handel’s wonderfully powerful ‘Lucretia’. Alongside this, we welcome young Czech virtuoso Michaela Ambrosi to give the British premiere of a Jiří Čart flute sonata. This programme is all music likely to have been familiar to the Foundlings (and perhaps their Moravian colleagues!).
Is partnering with The Foundling Museum an inspiring and enjoyable experience?
It’s been a wonderful few years – we’re entering our fourth season now, and we’ve had some incredible experiences. Getting to make the world premiere recordings of three Vivaldi violin sonatas found in the museum’s collection and then performing them live for BBC Radio 3; celebrating Handel’s birthday with special concerts and working with Katharine Hogg and Colin Coleman (the librarians of the Gerald Coke Handel Collection at the Foundling Hospital) to create exciting programmes that support and enrich the museum’s exhibitions.
What is your favourite baroque piece to perform?
That’s an incredible difficult question. I think my favourite piece of baroque music is probably Jan Václav Stamic’s (better known in the west as Stamitz) Sinfonia a 4 in D major. It has a raw power and passion that embodies all that I love from this period of music. To perform, however, my most enjoyable experience has been directing Handel’s ‘Messiah’ from the timpani – mainly conducting, occasionally hitting the drums!
Why do you feel that Handel’s Rehearsal and Performance room is such an inspiration for baroque musicians?
Most period instrument performers live for the experience, for the taste of the unvarnished – the analogy I use most often is that of unrefined, organic soft brown sugar vs the white granulated you get in the little paper packets… strip everything back, and enjoy things in their most unprocessed form. This is why I think historically significant venues, particularly Handel’s rehearsal and performance room have such a special role in our lives as performers. How can you fail to be inspired by a room once used by Handel to make music?