Brighton Early Music Festival prepares for its 15th outing this October, with tickets going on sale on September 5 – the latest chapter in a story of remarkable success.
Festival co-artistic director Clare Norburn said: “I think we have been successful because we take quite a different approach to other classical music festivals in the way that we work with artists, and that’s becoming clearer and clearer every year. We have now started calling ourselves a development agency for early music. We don’t just take off-the-peg programmes from artists. We do that, but what is so distinctive about what we do is that we are also about commissioning work.
“We have always commissioned works, right from the start, but in the first ten to 12 years, we commissioned works and they were performed at BREMF and that was it. But what is exciting now is that one of our 2013 productions is now on tour. We put together a tour of 13 promoters.”
The piece explores the life and music of the Renaissance composer Carlo Gesualdo and is being performed by The Marian Consort: “And it is great for them because it has really accelerated their development, which is great for everyone. I think that is the kind of model we want to be working on.
“Brighton is at the forefront of creating new work with artists that then goes on tour, and this year we are commissioning at least a couple of works that will definitely follow that model. For one of them (recorder consort Palisander, Saturday, November 12, 11.30am), we have already approached promoters, and their performance will be the first performance of a tour if they can get their Arts Council funding. We are increasingly helping artists in a much more holistic long term way rather than just giving them a platform in Brighton. Increasingly we have had promoters that have given engagements to artists, but now we are much more proactive in helping them be much more forward-thinking.
“We are aiming to put our energies more into things that go on to have another life. It is great that we get the premieres in Brighton, but we want to support the artists further. The fact is that it is incredibly difficult for young performers to get started.
It has never been harder for young groups to make headway.
“Young people coming out of college might know a lot about music, but they probably don’t have any administrative experience or contacts, and that makes it terribly difficult. We passionately believe that the arts should be a meritocracy, that you should have an audience, that it shouldn’t just be about who you know.”
This year’s Brighton Early Music Festival takes the theme Nature & Science and runs from October 28 to November 13, with flagship events including a new play with music about the life and work of Galileo (Oct 29 and 30). Set during his final days, the play will relive key moments in Galileo’s life including his trial and excommunication.
www.bremf.org.uk or 01273 709709.