Mary-Jannet Leith - Recorders
Magdalena Loth-Hill - Baroque Violin
Florence Petit - Baroque Cello
Thomas Allery - Harpsichord
Ensemble Hesperi is a dynamic and innovative London-based period ensemble, with a passion for showcasing Early Music through intelligent, distinctive programming. The members of Ensemble Hesperi met during their studies at the Royal College of Music in London, and the varied talents of each member of the Hesperi constellation combine to produce an infectious energy, leading to joyful collaborations with singers, dancers, and actors. Whether performing as the core ensemble of recorder, baroque violin, baroque cello and harpsichord, or with friends for larger projects, Hesperi’s performances embody the spontaneity of true chamber music.
Since 2019, the ensemble has gained a strong reputation for championing rarely-heard music, bringing forgotten stories to life through original historical research. Funded by a Lottery grant from Arts Council England, its debut project, “The Pheasant’s Eye”, celebrated Scottish eighteenth-century music, featuring special choreography from Highland dancer Kathleen Gilbert. More recently, the ensemble embarked upon a new project, supported by the Continuo Foundation, “From Caledonia to the Capital”, which told the stories of Scottish composers who settled in eighteenth-century London. In early 2022, the ensemble received a second grant from the Continuo Foundation for its latest project, “Then I play’d upon the Harpsichord”, an immersive concert exploring the musical tastes and talents of Queen Charlotte, consort to George III.
In 2020, Hesperi was selected as Britten Pears Young Artists on the Chamber Music Residence scheme, and in November 2020, won first prize at the London International Festival of Early Music Young Ensemble Competition. In September 2021, the ensemble was delighted to win third prize at the prestigious International Van Wassenaer Competition in Utrecht, and released its debut album with EM Records, “Full of the Highland Humours”, later that year. In December, the ensemble was selected as City Music Foundation artists 2021. Hesperi has appeared regularly on Radio 3’s Early Music Show, recorded in studio for Classic FM, and has performed at leading festivals and venues across the United Kingdom and Europe, including Brighton Early Music Festival, LIFEM, Petworth Festival, Lichfield Festival, King’s Lynn Festival, St Martin-in-the-Fields, Snape Maltings, Festival Alte Musik Knechtsteden, and Festival Oude Muziek Utrecht Fringe.
Ensemble Hesperi strongly believes that Early Music should be enjoyed by all, and always seeks to communicate the joy of live music to new audiences through an energetic stage presence. Hesperi’s members have extensive experience in education and outreach, performing regularly for those who have no opportunity to hear live classical music. The ensemble has also developed a relationship with Chelsea and Westminster Hospital’s charity, CW+, and was honoured to be invited to perform at the celebration service for the Tercentenary of the hospital in May 2019 at Westminster Abbey. Since the global pandemic broke in March 2020, Hesperi has live-streamed regularly to an enthusiastic audience of friends and supporters around the world.
Mary-Jannet is a Scottish instrumentalist and cultural historian, specialising in eighteenth-century music. In 2019, Mary-Jannet was awarded an AHRC studentship, supported through the SWWDTP consortium, to undertake a PhD in Music at the University of Southampton. He research focuses on Scottish musicians and music-making in eighteenth-century London. Her work in this area led to Ensemble Hesperi's debut CD, "Full of the Highland Humours".
Mary-Jannet Leith was awarded 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, teaching, and musical outreach. Thomas is currently Director of Music at St Mary-le-Bow Church, Cheapside, a historic Wren church in the heart of the City of London; he is also Assistant Director of Music at London's Temple Church, where he is responsible for the education of the choristers.
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, studying under Carole Cerasi and James Johnstone.