The London-based period-instrument ensemble makes its Caramoor debut in a rare area appearance. The English Concert performs Baroque and Classical repertoire with the passion, sophistication and technical mastery established at its creation in 1972.
“Through it all, Bicket and The English Concert were nothing short of brilliant. Sporting perfectly tight ensemble, spacious and ringing tone, a variety of colors, gleaming strings and clean, forceful brass, they are the model of a period chamber orchestra in every sense.” — New York Classical Review
The English Concert
Harry Bicket, conductor
Alfonso Leal del Ojo, viola
Purcell Suite from The Fairy Queen Handel Concerto Grosso in G Minor, Op. 6, No. 6 Telemann Concerto for Viola and Strings in G Major, TWV 51:G9 — Intermission — Vivaldi Trio Sonata in D Minor, RV 63 (Variations on La Folia) Muffat Passacaglia from Armonico tributo: Sonata No. 5 Dall’Abaco Concerto à più istrumenti in D Major, Op. 5, No. 6
The English Concert maintains an unsurpassed reputation for inspiring performances — on original instruments — of music of the Baroque and Classical periods. With its international group of close-knit musicians, many of whom are soloists in their own right, the ensemble gets to the essential core of the music.
The English Concert’s enviable reputation is the result of tireless work at home, on the road, and in the studio since 1973, guided along the way by founder Trevor Pinnock; his successor, Andrew Manze; and current Artistic Director Harry Bicket. In its pursuit of excellence, the ensemble also regularly works with other gifted directors, including newly appointed Principal Guest Director and fortepianist Kristian Bezuidenhout.
The orchestra’s award-winning discography features masterworks from Bach to Purcell and Handel to Mozart, as well as some of the most renowned artists in recent history. The ensemble is always on the lookout for exciting new opportunities and new ways to tell a story, whether working with Tom Morris to stage Handel’s Messiah, bringing its emotional and dramatic essence to the fore, or interacting in a more intimate way in Shakespeare’s Globe Theater or the Wanamaker Playhouse.
Central to The English Concert’s activities is its flourishing series of Handel operas in concert. Starting with Radamisto in 2013, subsequent performances of Theodora, Alcina, Hercules, Orlando, Ariodante, and Rinaldo have seen the orchestra in major concert halls across Europe and the U.S., alongside Joyce DiDonato, David Daniels, Sarah Connolly and Iestyn Davies. This season, Brenda Rae appears in the title role of Semele.
Internationally renowned as an opera and concert conductor of distinction, Harry Bicket is especially noted for his interpretation of Baroque and Classical repertoire. In 2007, he became artistic director of The English Concert, one of the U.K.’s finest period orchestras. He became chief conductor of the Santa Fe Opera in 2013 and was recently appointed its music director, a post he will take up in October 2018. Born in Liverpool, Bicket studied at the Royal College of Music and Oxford University, and is an accomplished harpsichordist.
Highlights of the 2017–2018 season included return visits to the Metropolitan Opera (Le nozze di Figaro) and Lyric Opera of Chicago (Orphée et Eurydice), as well as a master class at The Juilliard School.
Recordings to date with The English Concert include releases for Virgin Classics, Chandos, and Harmonia Mundi featuring Elizabeth Watts, David Daniels, Lucy Crowe, Sarah Connolly, and Rosemary Joshua. Bicket’s discography also includes five recordings with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, collections of Handel arias with Renée Fleming (Decca) and Ian Bostridge (EMI), and selections from Handel’s Theodora, Serse, and the cantata La Lucrezia with Lorraine Hunt Lieberson (Avie), which was nominated for a Grammy Award. His Gramophone Award-nominated CDs also include Sento Amor with David Daniels featuring arias by Gluck, Handel, and Mozart (Virgin Veritas) and Il tenero momento with Susan Graham featuring arias by Mozart and Gluck (Erato).
Alfonso Leal del Ojo, viola
Alfonso Leal del Ojo grew up and received his initial training in Seville. In 1998 he moved to London where he studied at the Guildhall School of Music and the Royal Academy of Music where he specialized in period instrument performance. He has been principal viola of The English Concert since 2006 and tours extensively with them throughout Europe, East Asia and North America.
In addition to his work with The English Concert, del Ojo is much in demand with other European ensembles, frequently appearing as a soloist or guest principal. He appears on numerous recordings, many of them award-winning; his recording of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 with the Dunedin Consort was nominated for a Gramophone award and was Classic FM album of the week. Chamber music remains an important part of his life and often collaborates with Trevor Pinnock, Rachel Podger and many other fine musicians. He plays on a fine English viola by Edward Lewis (1687).
Alfonso Leal del Ojo has been principal viola of The English Concert since 2006 and his recent recording of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 was selected as Gramophone Editor’s Choice