David Milsom (violins)
John Bryan (bass viol), Graham Cummings (chamber organ, harpsichord), Amanda Babington
Four’s Company was saddened by the death of one of its founder members, Duncan Druce, in 2015. The current Head of Music and Drama, Professor Rachel Cowgill, released the following statement upon this sad news:
We are deeply saddened by the loss of our friend and colleague Dr Duncan Druce, whose work in the music department stretches back many years. His kindness and generosity will be remembered by many of his students, as will his extraordinary versatility as a composer, performer and scholar. His was a rare talent as a teacher and musician, and he will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him.
We are very pleased to welcome Dr Amanda Babington, who now takes Duncan’s place, and gave her first performance with the ensemble in October 2015.
This chamber ensemble was formed in June 2011. Its members are present or past academic staff in the Department of Music at the University of Huddersfield. All are distinguished soloists in their own right, who have come together particularly to explore, as a research activity, the instrumental music of the 17th century. This was a period of great stylistic diversity, but also one that produced much experimental music; it was a period when musical languages were in a state of flux, when anything appeared possible. One of the principal aims of the ensemble is to rethink music that is familiar, and to ‘showcase’ the music of lesser known figures, being guided by the accepted principles of historically informed performance. The research outputs of this ensemble take the form of live concerts.
The initial research project has focused on the instrumental sonatas of Henry Purcell, published in two collections in 1683 and posthumously in 1697. In the concert programmes Orpheus Britannicus I – III (details below) various of these Purcell sonatas are placed within a context of music by his predecessors and contemporaries, partly to examine Christopher Hogwood’s contention that they ‘are the products of a felicitous synthesis, consolidating what remained of the older [English] consort idiom with the best features of the rival French and Italian manners’.
Orpheus Britannicus I: St. Paul’s Hall, University of Huddersfield, 7 March 2012. Two sonatas from Purcell’s Sonata’s of III Parts (1683), along with music by his predecessors, the English William Lawes and John Jenkins, and the Italians Giovanni Battista Vitali and Giovanni Maria Bononcini.
Orpheus Britannicus I: Lyons Concert Hall, University of York, 20 October 2012. This concert was part of a Royal Musical Association research day focusing on 17thcentury music.
Orpheus Britannicus II: St. Paul’s Hall, University of Huddersfield, 20 February 2013. This programme juxtaposed the music of two of the greatest figures in late 17th century music, Corelli (sonatas from his op. 2 and 3 sets) and Purcell (two further sonatas from his1683 collection), together with music by John Blow, Matthew Locke and Giovanni Legrenzi.
Orpheus Britannicus III: St.Paul’s Hall, University of Huddersfield, 10 October 2013. This concert contrasted three of Purcell’s Sonatas of Four Parts (1697), with early 17th century experimental music from Venice and Milan by Giovanni Paolo Cima, Biagio Marini, Dario Castello and Francesco Turini.