Mary-Jannet Leith - Recorders
Magdalena Loth-Hill - Baroque Violin
Florence Petit - Baroque Cello
Thomas Allery - Harpsichord
Ensemble Hesperi is a dynamic and innovative Early Music ensemble based in London. It is dedicated to showcasing the infinite colours and possibilities of their instruments, presenting programmes through the lens of colourful characters from the musical past. They have a particular interest in promoting unpublished and previously undiscovered Scottish Baroque repertoire, and in exploring the fascinating links between Scotland, London, and the continent through Baroque music during the eighteenth century. In 2019, the ensemble will embark on a new project, ‘The Pheasant’s Eye’, supported by a Lottery grant from Arts Council England, exploring the lives of Scottish composers through Highland dance music. This project will also create educational resources based on Scottish composer James Oswald’s ‘Airs for the Seasons’, a collection of 96 airs, each named after a flower. This initiative hopes to introduce this wonderful Early Music to new audiences of every age and background. We will present performances and Highland dance workshops at several festivals and music societies throughout 2019, including at Lichfield Festival, Petworth Festival, Newcastle University Early Music series, Brighton Early Music Festival, and Totnes Early Music Club.
Thomas and Mary-Jannet formed Ensemble Hesperi (‘Evening Stars’) as a duo ensemble while studying on the Masters programme at the Royal College of Music, where they performed regularly as part of the Historical Performance Department. After several successful years as a duo, the ensemble expanded to welcome new members Magdalena Loth-Hill and Florence Petit. This year Hesperi's unique collaborative project, "The Pheasant's Eye", has been featured by Classical Music Magazine and by Classic FM, for whom they recorded in studio in February 2019. The ensemble was also selected as Britten Years Young Artists for 2020, on the "Chamber Music in Residence" scheme at Snape Maltings. Ensemble Hesperi also has an interest in musical outreach, and performs regularly for those who can't otherwise hear live music; they have developed a strong relationship with Chelsea and Westminster Hospital's charity, CW+, and were invited to perform at the Celebration service for the Tercentenary of the hospital at Westminster Abbey in May 2019.
Mary-Jannet is a Scottish instrumentalist, musicologist, historian, and teacher. She is fascinated by the potential which her instrument has for bridging artificial boundaries between musical ‘genres’. It is her strong belief that truly excellent music often eludes definition, and that it is the communication of emotion and feeling to an audience which should be the aim of a professional musician. Although Mary-Jannet’s formal musical training is primarily in Historical Performance, she is also an exponent of the vast contemporary and electronic repertoire for the recorder, and works regularly with emerging composers and other artists on cross-disciplinary projects.
Mary-Jannet Leith received a scholarship to study for a Master in Performance at the Royal College of Music, and moved to London to pursue a career in music. During her studies at the RCM, she was awarded the McKenna Prize for Baroque music, and subsequently the Earl of Dalhousie Prize. Since graduating from the RCM, Mary-Jannet has continued to perform widely throughout the UK and further afield, both as a soloist and a keen chamber musician. In 2014, she reached the Section Finals of the Royal Overseas League Competition, one of very few recorder players to do so. Mary-Jannet was also selected to compete in the live rounds of the International Schmelzer competition in Melk, Austria, in 2017; she was grateful to receive a grant from the Walter Bergmann Fund to support her travel and expenses throughout the competition. In November 2018, she won first prize in the ‘Solisten Instrumental’ category of the Internationaler Gebrüder-Graun-Wettbewerb, Bad Liebenwerda.
British-Polish violinist Magdalena Loth-Hill learned locally in Cumbria before accepting a place at Chetham’s School of Music to study with Jan Repko. She continued her studies at the Royal College of Music, London, with Itzhak Rashkovsky and Laura Samuel and later took up baroque violin with Adrian Butterfield and Lucy Russell. Magdalena graduated with first-class honours and went on to gain a Master’s degree with Distinction. She was awarded the 2015/16 Mills Williams Junior Fellowship at the RCM, a post she held while studying for an Artist Diploma in baroque violin. In March 2016, Magdalena was presented with the Mills Williams Medal. At the RCM, Magdalena performed as soloist in Bach’s E major concerto, Brandenburg Concertos 4 and 5 and the Bach Double Violin Concerto. She led the RCM Baroque and Classical Orchestras, under Christopher Hogwood and Vittorio Ghielmi among others, and performed live on BBC Radio 3 In Tune.
Magdalena has recorded with the Academy of Ancient Music and The English Concert. As soloist, she recorded works for the British Library’s ‘Georgians Revealed’ exhibition and exam pieces for the ABRSM syllabus. She joined Florilegium to record their 25th Anniversary CD, which was voted Gramophone Editor’s Choice for September 2016 and BBC Music Magazine Recording of the Month for October 2016. She performs with the Academy of Ancient Music, The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, The English Concert, La Serenissima, English Baroque Soloists, Florilegium, Ex Cathedra and The King’s Consort, working with such conductors as Bernard Haitink, Vladimir Jurowski, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Sir Mark Elder, and Christopher Hogwood. As an Orpheus Scholar at the RCM, Magdalena was supported by a Douglas and Hilda Simmonds Award, the Countess of Munster Trust, the Cumbria Cultural Fund, the Seary Trust, the Kathleen Trust, the Denne Gilkes Memorial Fund, the Else and Leonard Cross Trust and the Lynn Foundation. She plays an 1800 Betts violin, generously on loan from the Harrison Frank Family Foundation, and a late 17th-century Venetian instrument by an unknown maker, generously given to her by private donors.
Franco-British cellist Florence Petit is an innovative and exciting young musician. Achieving her Diploma in Musical Studies in 2008, Florence continued her cello studies with Philippe Müller in Paris before moving to London to complete her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the Royal College of Music (RCM), graduating with first class honours. The recipient of a diverse host of awards and prizes, Florence was generously supported by the Lynn Foundation, Saint Jude’s Trust, the Denne Gilkes Memorial Foundation and the Raphael Sommer Foundation during her studies, and participated in many European competitions, including the Concours des Zontas Clubs de France. Florence has taken part in numerous master classes with eminent musicians such as Johannes Goritzky and Jonathan Manson, Baroque cello.
As an orchestral musician, Florence has performed extensively with chamber and symphony orchestras across Europe, most recently with the Montpellier National Symphony Orchestra and with the English National Opera as part of their Evolve scheme. In demand as a soloist, Florence has a regular programme of recitals throughout the UK with the acclaimed Franco-Taiwanese pianist Lysianne Chen. Florence is a founding member of the Leben Quartet and is a keen practitioner of historical performance, playing across Europe and the UK with her quartet Ignis. Florence is passionate about discovering neglected chamber repertoire and exploring interesting instrumental pairings. With this in mind, Florence formed Duo Dekacord with guitarist Elias Sibley and the duo has developed an eclectic repertoire for their unusual paring of instruments, from arrangements and transcriptions of popular classics, to original works by 20th-century composers.
Thomas Allery is an organist, choral conductor and harpsichordist based in London and Oxford. He enjoys a varied career spanning work as an organist and choral director in church music, continuo playing, research and teaching. Thomas is the Director of Chapel Music at Worcester College, Oxford, where he is responsible for the musical development of the Chapel choirs and organ scholars. He directs and trains the two Chapel choirs, of mixed and boys’ voices, for regular chapel services and for a busy schedule of concerts, tours and recordings. Worcester College is unique in Oxford in maintaining two student chapel choirs, each of which maintains a separate and flourishing schedule including regular commissions, trips, and performance with period instruments. In addition to his role at Worcester College, Thomas is Director of Music at St Mary-le-Bow Church, Cheapside, a historic Wren church in the heart of the City of London.
Following his undergraduate studies as an organ scholar at Oxford University, Thomas spent a year as the organ scholar of Canterbury Cathedral before pursuing study at the RCM, simultaneously holding the position of organ scholar at St Paul’s Church, Knightsbridge. Thomas graduated with Distinction from the Masters programme at the Royal College of Music, London, in 2014, where he studied organ with Margaret Phillips and harpsichord with Terence Charlston. As an experienced harpsichordist and continuo player, Thomas has a particular interest in the instrumental music of the seventeenth century Stylus Phantasticus, and is currently undertaking research of historical continuo treatises from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and exploring how they can be used in keyboard education today. In 2014-15, Thomas was a Junior Fellows in Harpsichord/Continuo at the Royal College of Music, where he supported the work of the Historical Performance department, accompanying classes, recitals, and concerts. Thomas is currently a scholar at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where he is undertaking an Artist Diploma in Harpsichord.