The London International Festival of Early Music takes place 9-12th November 2022 in Blackheath, London. From makers to performers, and recitals to competitions, come and revel in our four-day festival with a myriad of events designed to inspire, educate and entertain. Not only is it an opportunity to meet makers, try out instruments, and to hear some of the world’s most acclaimed performers in recital, but it is also a chance to network and meet with others in the early music field.
Music at LIFEM
2022 concert artists include The Brook Street Band, Solomon’s Knot, Piva – The Renaissance Collective, Madrid-based ensemble Taracea, as well as recorder player Charlotte Schneider, winner of the 2021 SRP/Moeck Solo Recorder Competition.
Adding to our roster of festival commissions, this year highly-acclaimed composer Nitin Sawhney will be writing a new work for The Brook Street Band. The ensemble has been inspired by the commission to draw on the Indian classical music tradition, with its programme being a focal lens on two different musical traditions, a bridge between East and West, past and present, traditional and contemporary.
Composer Nitin Sawhney says: “I’m very excited and honoured to be composing for the wonderful Brook Street Band, exploring connections between Eastern and Western classical ideas with particular reference to my love of Baroque music, Indian classical raga and mathematical interactions through the taal system, phrasing and diatonic expansion.”
Tatty Theo, cellist and director of The Brook Street Band, adds: “We're tremendously excited to have the opportunity to work with Nitin Sawhney and premiere his new commission. We're huge fans of his music, and relish the challenge of working on contemporary repertoire, exploring two different musical traditions. This gives us an opportunity to look at some of our favourite baroque works in a new light, using the idea of dark night, the keys and musical colours associated with it in both Western and Indian classical music, and the subsequent restorative dawn as our starting point."
Following the success of the first Festival Evensong in 2021, St Michael & All Angels church in Blackheath will once again be the venue for a special evensong service on Saturday 12th November 2022 at 3.00pm, directed by Thomas Allery, with organist William Whitehead and The Festival Choir.
LIFEM continues its media partnership with leading arts and culture streaming platform, Marquee Arts. All concerts will be filmed and made available after the festival via Marquee’s platform.
A three-day exhibition takes place from 10-12 November at Blackheath Halls, and is a vibrant market place featuring instrument makers from around the globe, as well as societies, publishers and shops. Additionally, the festival will play host to Makers’ Demonstration Recitals, Performers’ Platforms, giving young people from schools and colleges the opportunity to showcase their talents, and the final of the Young Ensemble Competition, this year judged by Laurence Cummings, Tatty Theo and Belén Nieto Galán, which takes place on Friday 11th November 2022.
Chris Butler, Festival Director, says:
“After the Covid-related challenges of the last two years we are thrilled and relieved to be presenting LIFEM at full tilt in 2022. This year’s concert line-up is as exciting as any that I can recall in recent years, and by every measure the range and diversity of all of our events is a cause for excitement and celebration. As a team we are looking forward to welcoming an international array of performers, exhibitors and enthusiasts to Blackheath in November. See you at LIFEM!”
Venues for the festival include:
Blackheath Halls, 23 Lee Road SE3 9RQ
St Michael & All Angels Church, Pond Road, Blackheath SE3 9JL
St Margaret’s Church, Lee Terrace, Blackheath SE13 5DL
The London International Festival of Early Music is one of the largest and most inclusive early music festivals in the world. The festival began in 1973 and was first hosted at the Royal College of Music. The event moved to the Royal Horticultural Halls, and Greenwich, before finally finding its home at Blackheath Halls, in London’s oldest surviving purpose-built cultural venue.
The festival attracts a network of vibrant artists, early music enthusiasts and supporters. After a digital festival in 2020, and a hybrid festival in 2021, both in-person and digital, this year’s full-blown event will welcome performers, exhibitors and visitors from the world over.
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Notes to Editors
Nitin Sawhney – festival commission
Nitin Sawhney CBE, recipient of the Ivor Novello 2017 Lifetime Achievement award, is one of the most distinctive and versatile musical voices around today.
Sawhney has recorded multiple albums, film soundtracks and compilations, encompassing over 60 film and TV scores and is established as a world-class producer, songwriter, touring artist, BBC Radio and club DJ, multi-instrumentalist, theatrical, dance, videogame and orchestral composer and cultural/political commentator. Holding seven honorary doctorates from UK universities along with three fellowships and works as an Ivor’s Academy Director as well as sitting on the boards of multiple charities. He has received more than 20 major national and international awards and is a member of Oscars, BAFTA and Grammys.
Sawhney is the Chair of the PRS Foundation, the UK’s funding body for new music and talent development. His last album, Immigrants for Sony Masterworks, was released in March 2021. Sawhney is currently working on a new album alongside several TV & film projects.
Chris Butler – Festival Director
Chris Butler is a career music publisher who holds multiple directorships including Wise Music Group and the Performing Right Society. He is a past chairman of the UK Music Publishers’ Association, MCPS and ICMP. He acquired The Early Music Shop, LIFEM’s principal supporter, in 2018 and created LIFEM as a CIO in 2020.
The Brook Street Band
The Brook Street Band is named after the London Street where George Frideric Handel lived from 1723–59. It was formed in 1997 by baroque cellist Tatty Theo, rapidly establishing itself amongst the UK’s leading Handel specialists, winning grants, awards, and broadcasting opportunities from organisations including Radio 3 and the Handel Institute. Violinist Rachel Harris and harpsichordist Carolyn Gibley have been core band members with Tatty for over 20 years, with Kathryn Parry joining more recently; this longevity has enabled them to develop a style of performing and music-making that is precise and spontaneous, musicians able to react instinctively to each other and play as one.
The Band currently performs and teaches throughout the UK and Europe, and has established love: Handel, its own critically-acclaimed biennial music festival. It regularly broadcasts for Radio 3 and Classic FM, and its extensive discography has been singled out for critical acclaim, accolades including Gramophone Magazine Editor’s Choice and inclusion in the chamber music/small ensemble selection category at the Grammy Awards.
Solomon’s Knot is an international, flexible collective of unconducted instrumentalists and singers who want to bring old music to new life by pushing the limits of what is possible on stage. Taking inspiration from innovative live theatre, their singers sing everything by heart, and combine scrupulous musical preparation with high-wire risk-taking and intense, direct delivery.
The ensemble collaborates with stage directors, visual artists, other ensembles, composers, and choreographers in order to challenge what they do and learn from others. These include Tim Carroll, Federay Holmes, John la Bouchardière, Sven Werner, Mira Calix, Spira mirabilis and Les Passions de l’Ame. Their performance of the 1725 version of JS Bach’s Johannes-Passion at the Bachfest Leipzig and Wigmore Hall in 2019 was acclaimed as ‘setting new standards’ by the Leipziger Volkszeitung. In the same summer, they made their debut at the BBC Proms in the Royal Albert Hall in London with Bach cantatas for St Michael-and-All-Angels.
Piva – The Renaissance Collective
Founded in 2002, PIVA – the Renaissance Collective has firmly established itself as one of this country’s leading early music ensembles. The group members are all multi- instrumentalists with backgrounds in renaissance, classical and traditional music; PIVA melds all these influences together to create music of the past played for today. Playing throughout the UK and Europe, they have gained a reputation for their lively performances and entertaining shows.
Taracea is a Madrid-based early music group formed in 2017. In their imaginative arrangements, they combine early tradition and contemporary sounds borrowed from Jazz and Mediterranean Music. Their first album Akoé - Nuevas Músicas Antiguas was released in 2020 by the Alpha Classics label and received excellent reviews from the European press (‘...for anyone interested in an innovative approach to early music, Akoé will surprise and delight.’ BBC Classical Music magazine).
On their recent second album Desvíos a Santiago (‘Side roads to Santiago’), Taracea focuses on medieval, renaissance and traditional pilgrim songs.
The group has played at some of the most important Spanish early music festivals such as FEMAG Gijón, Semana de Música Antigua de Logroño and Festival en el Camino de Santiago. LIFEM 2022 is Taracea’s UK performance debut, presenting pieces from their two albums.
The Swiss recorder and flute player Charlotte Schneider (1997) is active as a soloist and chamber musician in Switzerland and in Europe. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in performance on the baroque flute with Marc Hantaï at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, where in 2019 she received her Bachelor’s degree on the recorder in the class of Conrad Steinmann, and in 2021, her master’s degree in pedagogy in the class of Han Tol with honours.
Charlotte has been awarded several prizes in national and international competitions such as the Moeck solo recorder competition, Schweizerischer Jugendmusikwettbewerb or the International Van Wassenaer Competition. She has performed at numerous festivals, including Festival for Early Music Utrecht / MA Festival Brugge (Fringe), Entre ciel & garrigue (Lussan, FR).
Thomas Allery is a harpsichordist, organist and director based in London, active as a soloist and continuo player. Having initially studied music at Oxford University, and then at the Royal College of Music, Thomas was later awarded a scholarship to complete his studies as a harpsichordist on the Artist Diploma programme at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, studying with James Johnstone and Carole Cerasi. His teachers have included Stephen Farr, William Whitehead, Margaret Phillips and Terence Charlston.
Thomas is a founding member of the award winning period ensemble, Ensemble Hesperi, a group known for their pioneering approach to performing 18th-century Scottish Baroque repertoire. With this group he has performed at leading UK Festivals, in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, broadcasting on BBC radio 3, and on Dutch radio. He has recorded several CDs as organist, continuo player, and director.
Thomas is organist of the church of St Mary-le-Bow, Cheapside.