I was asked by the Director of Communications at my favourite classical band, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, if I’d like to write a blog about a forthcoming concert featuring music from the second half of the seventeenth century. The concert is called Restoration Music and will take place at King’s Place on 13 October 2021. Under Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth public performances were banned because of the risk of licentious and lewd behaviour. So rather like the last 18 months, theatres were closed, actors and musicians had to look for alternative employment with no Ocado, Tesco or Amazon recruiting.
Over a delightful lunch at my favourite restaurant Yoshino with the director of the concert OAE’s Principal Keyboard Player Steven Devine I discovered lots about the context of the period and was able to go away and research material for a series of three blogs rather than just the one as the stories were so fascinating. With choristers being kidnapped, composers brought in from France and Italy to spice up the scene and a titanic battle to build a new organ for the Inner and Middle Temples and the birth of English opera, there was too much to contain in one piece.
But apart from the stories Steven introduced me to some very fine music for small groups and singers that I might never have come across otherwise. Four composers will feature in the concert: Louis Grabu who Charles invited over from France; Giovanni Battista Draghi an Italian composer at the court and the English musicians and composers John Blow and Henry Purcell.
The first of the three blogs Lockdown Minus One was published on 9 September and the others will follow in due course. I’ll add links here as they go public.