We have just had the privilege of spending the last five days at Hawkwood as artists in residence. Hawkwood is a beautiful estate set above Stroud in the Cotswolds, and is the most inspiring environment for creativity. Our residency was supported by Hawkwood and The Francis W Reckitt Arts Trust: we are extremely grateful to them for giving us the wonderful opportunity for uninterrupted musical exploration. The only interruption was for the delectable food; homemade cakes, cookies, salads, sauces ….. such exquisite flavours!
Our rehearsal space for the week was the Sitting Room with its Cotswolds’ view. We were very pleased that Héloïse Bernard joined us from Glasgow for the week so that we could rehearse for our Barber lunchtime concert, Birmingham, on Friday 4th February and develop a new programme ‘Epitaph for a Green Lover’- music from the Songbook of Marguerite of Austria.
We had an incredible afternoon and evening with the legendary Evelyn Tubb who generously gave Héloïse and us a masterclass in the performance of these incredibly powerful 16th century songs. We learnt so much from Evelyn who opened up an extra dimension to musical performance in just a few hours. Do come and see us in Birmingham on Friday to witness the results.
It is very exciting that Asako Morikawa is about to start a new job in Tokyo though sadly won’t be able to play in the consort regularly, however we are delighted that Tim Lin has joined the group. Tim is a PhD student at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and studied the gamba at RCM, London with Reiko Ichise.
It was been wonderful to have this week getting to know and play with Tim. Friday’s concert is developed from a programme we performed in our Josquin 500 festival supported by Continuo Foundation, but due to our new line up the parts have been reassigned and we really did need this week to rehearse together.
We spent time developing our new programme with Héloïse – ‘Epitaph for a Green Lover’- music from the Songbook of Marguerite of Austria. We did some rehearsing from facsimile so that really did take a bit of time but it is hopefully good for the old brain cells and certainly good for the musicologist in us. The book is beautifully illuminated.
Vray dieu qui me confortera by Antoine Bruhier (fl.1504-1517) from Chansonnier of Marguerite of Austria, MS 11239
We had a visit from our friend, the great photographer Anthony Pearson who took a series of portraits. They can be viewed on here on his flickr page – Album 1 Album 2. Thank you Mr P we love them. A few are screenshot below just to give you an idea.
We were very grateful that Michael Hamilton from the excellent Real Music Videos, paid a visit on Thursday morning and filmed us, with Héloïse singing Pierre de la Rue’s beautiful Soubz ce Tumbel, Epitaph for a Green Lover, and the virtuosic instrumental La Spagna. Look out for the videos coming soon on our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages. Please follow us so you don’t miss them.
We also had some very useful planning sessions aided by gin and tonic in front of the woodburner in the library. Such a lot can be achieved when you don’t have real life getting in the way. The Hawkwood residency programme is excellent and enables creativity in a highly supportive environment. The application process is very straightforward and we’d encourage you to apply.
It was very sad to pack up on Friday and leave, but happily Sarah Dixon, a visual artist in residence alongside us, had her open studio event after lunch. It was great to see how she had been inspired by Hawkwood through her beautiful paintings and objects.
Thank you to all the staff at Hawkwood for looking after us and making us so welcome.