On Saturday 20th August, we gave our first (hopefully of many!) performances of "Then I Play'd upon the Harpisichord", a project celebrating the musical life of Queen Charlotte, consort to George III. We were delighted to receive financial support from the Continuo Foundation, and from the Georgian Papers Programme, and so we were able to expand for the occasion, and to welcome our friends and colleagues Rowan Pierce (Soprano), Nathaniel Mander (Fortepiano), Elias Sibley (Theorbo, Guitar) and Miriam Kaczor (Baroque Flute). We were also honoured to work with actor Miranda Keeling, who brought the music to life with dramatic readings from Queen Charlotte's diaries and the memoirs of her Lady-in-Waiting, Charlotte Papendiek.
The day started extremely early for our recorder player and researcher Mary-Jannet, who rose at 6.30am to bake 50 Queen Cakes for the audience! While they cooled, the car was packed to within an inch of its life, and the first drop to the venue was successfully accomplished without a hitch. M-J and Tom then embarked upon an extra trip to fetch the harpsichord from its temporary central London home. In the meantime, the cakes, tables, tea-cups, etc, were well-guarded by our cellist, Florence, and guest guitarist Elias.
We were allowed into our gorgeous venue, Six, Fitzroy Square, at 12 noon, but time flew, and set up time (moving in the harpsichord and the fortepiano), tuning, and room set-up quickly morphed into rehearsal time and, of course, time for catering prep! Due to the train and tube strikes in the UK, and equivalent disruptions in Austria, it seemed a miracle that all the artists had made it safely to London in one piece, and we were all overjoyed to see other! We had all rehearsed in various combinations, but this was the first time we had all met to bring the long-awaited programme together. Here are a few shots from the rehearsals:
Before the concert, and in the interval, we served refreshments to the audience, to create an "immersive" tea-party atmosphere: two black teas and a green tea, all three varieties familiar to the sophisticated tea-drinkers of the 1760s! The audience (and, later, the musicians!) also enjoyed Queen Cakes and Madeleines, both of which were very popular at the time. The tea was served in vintage tea-cups and saucers, all sourced by M-J in various charity shops from London to Aberdeen (see above). Thank-you to our helpers, Gaby and Naima, who kept everyone topped up, and also to Derri, who generously gave his time to man the door, and help with keyboard moving...
To learn more about the music we played, head to our social media pages, where we have been posting about each piece and the reason it's in the programme! Our excellent filmographer Tom Mungall recorded the whole concert, and we'll be releasing it for online viewing in October - so watch this space!