Spiritato - Guts & Glory - Brighton Early Music Festival 2016

Spiritato's tour of the 'Guts & Glory' programme continued on Friday 11th November 2016 at St. George’s Kemp Town, in Brighton. The performance was part of the Brighton Early Music Festival 2016.

Brighton Early Music Festival had chosen the theme of ‘Nature & Science’ for their 2016 festival, exploring observation, discovery, invention and creation. In the spirit of innovation, Spiritato was utilising uncompromised natural trumpets and demonstrating the natural harmonic series within exciting and rhetorical repertoire by Biber, Schmelzer, Vejvanovsky and Bertali. The string players in the group were all playing on pure-gut strings, using shorter, older-style bows and experimenting with historically-informed alternatives to their usual bow technique. The phenomenon of such pure, natural sounds along with a pioneering spirit hopefully complimented the themes and sentiments of the Brighton Early Music Festival.

On Saturday the 15th of October, BREMF had hosted their 'Festival introduction and preview day' with a talk entitled 'Trumpets, natural and unnatural' with Sabine Klaus - author of 'Trumpets and Other High Brass' and curator of the Joe and Joella Utley Brass Instrument collection in Spartanburg, South Carolina - part of the National Music Museum. Sadly, I was on tour in Versailles & Vienna in October, but I would have loved to have been at this talk. Fortunately, two of the trumpet players from Spiritato (Katie Hodges and Gareth Hoddinott) were able to attend and perform demonstrations at this event. Bravo to BREMF for putting on this kind of introduction event - a great idea - and it succeeded in sparking an interest, encouraging people to attend the performance.

The concert was very well received by the audience and the relaxed atmosphere, with seats arranged around tables in the church, added to the character and charm of the evening. The audience clearly enjoyed the performance and it was great to see several friends present - including BREMF trustee and former Artistic Director of Dartington International Summer School (DISS) Professor Gavin Henderson, CBE. This was particularly apt, as all five players in the trumpet section had met each other over the years at the wonderful Dartington International Summer School. I had also met the majority of the string players through attending DISS - so a huge thank you to Dartington!

The concert attracted a 4.5 star review Andrew Connal at thelatest.co.uk:

...“The trumpets and timpani naturally got the pulse racing (in a very good way) but the strings too, led by the amazing Kinga Ujszászi (violin), were pumping adrenalin in Biber’s scintillating Rosary Sonata ‘Annunciation’ and ‘Battalia’, which mimics the weird sounds of battle, including cannon and musket shots!” - Andrew Connal, thelatest.co.uk

It was a great pleasure for Spiritato to return to Brighton Early Music Festival as an established group, as the group had previously performed as part of 'BREMF Live!’ - a scheme supporting the development of young, emerging early music ensembles.

There is only one more chance to hear the ‘Guts & Glory' programme this year - at the National Centre for Early Music in York on Thursday 8th of December 2016.

Russell Gilmour
Russell Gilmour Blog
writing on music, photography, engraving, travel and life as a freelance professional musician.