Creative Scotland restores Regular Funding to Dunedin Consort

Today we learned that Dunedin Consort is to be restored to Creative Scotland’s Regular Funding programme, along with four other companies from the theatre sector. This follows a meeting on Friday, at which Creative Scotland’s board decided to invest 2.6 million from other targeted funds into the RFO programme. Having spoken strongly of our surprise and disappointment at being cut from the RFO network, we are delighted that the decision has now been taken to renew our funding for a further three years.

Since sharing the news that Dunedin Consort was to have its funding cut a fortnight ago, we have received an overwhelming swell of support both from the public and from our colleagues across the arts and cultural sectors. We would like to thank everyone that voiced their support and forwarded their concerns both to Creative Scotland and to Scotland’s Secretary for Culture. There is little doubt that this support played a significant role in Creative Scotland’s decision to increase investment in the RFO programme.

This funding will enable us to deliver our programme of performances and events across Scotland, including the planned expansion of our outreach programme within schools and with young performers. We firmly believe that Dunedin Consort occupies a unique place in the Scottish music landscape and look forward to another three years of exceptional music-making, buoyed by the backing of Creative Scotland.

Alfonso Leal del Ojo
Chief Executive

Points made in representations to CEO, Creative Scotland

Public statements of support for Dunedin Consort

Statement from Dunedin Consort on Creative Scotland funding

Dunedin Consort’s application for Regular Funding from Creative Scotland has been unsuccessful. This decision is particularly unfortunate in the wake of the Scottish Government’s recent commitment towards Creative Scotland, offsetting the decline in Lottery funding. We presented an ambitious and wide-ranging programme of activity in our Business Plan for 2018-21, which was highly commended by Creative Scotland’s assessors. Despite being recommended for funding, our application was refused by the Music Team at portfolio level because ‘other organisations more fully met the strategic needs of the sector’.

As Scotland’s leading specialist period instrument ensemble, and the most decorated of any Scottish music company (with two Gramophone awards, a Grammy nomination and two Scottish Album of the Year nominations to our name), this comes as a significant disappointment. In the landscape of Scotland’s musical culture, no other organisation focuses on this vital area of the repertoire, uniting excellence in scholarship and performance to explore new ways of encouraging listener engagement. Dunedin Consort has achieved great success with very limited resources. Our artistic output, recognition in the industry and impact in the international and national music landscape in proportion to the level of funding and our turnover, cannot be matched by any other music company in Scotland.

Creative Scotland has in the past been very supportive of our work. Its funding currently accounts for 20% of our annual turnover (where other music organisations receive support between 46-74%) representing exceptional value for public money and without it, Dunedin Consort will be forced to capitalise more on its opportunities elsewhere. This, in turn, will reduce the performance opportunities for our Scottish audiences and supporters, including the valuable outreach work we undertake in schools and with young performers. After the enormous success of our recent performances at the BBC Proms and the Edinburgh International Festival, our national and international profile continues to develop apace – only yesterday we confirmed a further seven concerts in our residency at London’s Wigmore Hall, which sits alongside residencies at the Misteria Paschalia festival in Krakow and the Handel Halle Festpiele in Germany in 2018, and tours planned for Spain, France, Bolivia, Brazil, the USA and others over the next three years. Without support at home, this international impact – something vital to Scotland’s reputation – must be at risk. What is certainly clear, is that the lack of Creative Scotland commitment will mean that it will not be possible to match this international demand with performances on home soil.

We now have the option to apply for limited project funding through Creative Scotland, accessing a funding stream that is consistently oversubscribed and which brings with it the uncertainty of not being able to plan well into the future. Our board will need to consider how this will affect the future of the company as a whole, and whether – over the coming years – the impact of poor Scottish national support will ultimately deprive Scotland of one of its greatest cultural assets and ambassadors.

Alfonso Leal del Ojo
Chief Executive

John Butt announced as Residing Director of Krakow’s Misteria Paschalia Festival 2018

Fast developing a reputation as one of Europe’s leading Baroque festivals, Krakow’s Misteria Paschalia Festival has announced John Butt as its Residing Director for 2018.

The 2018 festival will focus on music from the British Isles, with the Dunedin Consort playing a central role in a series of concerts in March and April.

The Dunedin Consort will open the Festival with a performance of the London version of Handel’s Messiah on 26 March and return to give a performance of Handel’s Samson on 1 April, before closing the Festival with a programme of arias by Purcell with Ian Bostridge on 2 April.

Read The Herald article about John’s appointment here.

For more details about the festival and to view the full programme of events, visit the Festival website.

PROM 49 – Congregational Chorales

Are you coming to our PROM this coming Sunday, 20th of August 2017? We would love if as many people in the audience joined the musicians on stage in the congregational chorales that would have formed part of the Vespers liturgy. We extracted these chorales from the Vopelius 1685 Leipzig hymn book.

There will be a short rehearsal at 19.15 ahead of the performance. Looking forward to this enormously!

Click on the link below to download the songsheet.

If you still have not bought your tickets, here is the link!


Our recordings make the top 50 Bach recordings

We are delighted that no less than three of our recordings have made it into Gramophone Magazine’s Top 50 Bach recordings. Here’s what they had to say:

Bach Brandenburg Concertos

“Expertly stylish recordings of the six concertos Bach presented in neat copy to the Margrave of Brandenburg in March 1721 are two-a-penny but the Dunedin Consort offer more substantial style and bona fide expertise than most… the Dunedin players forge their own identity and capture what Butt praises as ‘carefree, joyous and spontaneous works’… Not withstanding the distinguished Brandenburg discography, this set is nothing short of sensational.”
David Vickers (Awards issue 2013)

Bach Mass in B Minor

“The Dunedin Consort and Players are never perfunctory or merely dogmatic. This performance demands to be heard. The first chords of the “Kyrie” are sung boldly by the 10 singers (five “principals” and another five “ripienists”), and the solemn fugue is performed with gentle ardency; every gesture, detail, suspension and arching line is judged and executed with transparency, flexibility and rhetorical potency.
Butt’s insightful direction and scholarship, integrated with the Dunedin’s extremely accomplished instrumental playing and consort singing, amount to an enthralling and revelatory collective interpretation of the Mass in B minor – perhaps the most probing since Andrew Parrott’s explosive 1985 version (Virgin, 8/86).”
David Vickers (August 2010)

Bach St John Passion

“the increasingly impressive Nicholas Mulroy’s alert, lightly coloured Evangelist strikes a balance in which declamation and lyricism are equally ardent and equally touching, while Matthew Brook is a supple and authoritative Christus. Both singers also perform with great effectiveness in the arias, where they are joined by Joanne Lunn (her ‘Ich folge dir gleichfalls’ is a joyous and sure-footed gem) and Clare Wilkinson, whose distinctive alto, straightforward in expression and tellingly connected to her speaking voice, lends fragility to ‘Von den Stricken’.
The Dunedin Consort’s reliance on relatively young casts such as this has always brought their performances an uplifting freshness and immediacy in their recordings of Messiah, the B minor Mass and of course the St Matthew Passion, but in this harrowing piece it allows the sense of drama and personal identification to reach a higher level.” Lindsay Kemp (March 2013)

Read the full article here >>

Administrator Position

NCEM young composers award 2015 winners announced

Gramophone’s top recent Mozart recordings

Today’s musicians continue to find new ways of interpreting Mozart’s music, of making it their own. The recordings on the linked article represent some of the finest Mozart recordings of the last two years, all of them were Editor’s Choice recommendations in Gramophone and many were shortlisted for Gramophone Awards.

Meet Simon Frith – Why we should be frightened by Bach (and why we are not)

We speak with Simon Frith who will be introducing the discussion at our first coffee concert series! John Butt will join him to discuss along with the audience and musicians some of the issues raised.

Please could you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.   I’m the (semi-retired) Tovey Professor of Music at the University of Edinburgh.  My main academic duties now are supervising PhD students and running a popular music research seminar.  I’m also at work on the second volume of a three volume history of live music in Britain since 1950.

It’s fair to say that you’ve had quite an unconventional career for a ‘musicologist’. Please might you tell us a bit about your background and how it informs your current research?   I’m a sociologist rather than a musicologist, so my interest has always been in the meaning of music as a social and cultural practice, rather than the analysis of musical forms (though the distinction between text and context is also something that can be examined and understood sociologically!)

In the past, you’ve written extensively and perceptively on a wide range of socio-cultural issues relating to popular music. How far does this relate to classical music’s role in contemporary society?   From a sociological perspective, all musical practices are open to the same kind of analysis and, indeed, one interesting question is why and how the distinction between ‘high’ and ‘low’ music in contemporary Western societies was first established and is now maintained.

Do you have (or have you had) any particular personal reactions or connections to Bach’s music?   Other than that I’ve always liked listening to it…. no

This project is boldly entitled Why we should be frightened by Bach (And why we’re not). Can you outline some of the reasons why Bach has become such a significant cultural figure, since the ‘rediscovery’ of his music in the nineteenth century?   What interest me here is a kind of double process in which, first, a music which has a religious function became a form of entertainment (people listening to Bach for pleasure; Bach concerts and recordings commodities for sale) and, second, that such entertainment came to be seen as offering a quasi-religious experience — a kind of transcendent uplift — which differentiated it from other forms of commercial musical entertainment (this is true for classical musical ideology generally — see below — but Bach’s music became particualrly important for this from the mid-19th century onwards).

To a significant extent in your writings — as both an academic and journalist — you’ve engaged with academia and ‘high’ culture’s difficulties in taking popular music seriously. How do you think that this might relate to some of the assumptions of earlier classical repertories?   An important strand of the thinking which created the high cultural ideology of the 19th century (the ideas of individual genius, the canon, silent listening, etc, etc) was the need to differentiate aesthetic experiences along class lines while also suggesting that the meaning of real art somehow transcended its social circumstances. To suggest that what we now call classical music (and its audience) was ‘serious’ in this new way necessarily implied that other kinds of music practice (and audience) could not be taken seriously.

Do you think it’s helpful for an audience to try and understand the creative contexts for historically distant repertories – for example, in this case, in relation to Bach?    I don’t think it’s necessary to have particular musicological or historical knowledge of Bach’s creative practice in order to enjoy listening to his music, but I think it’s helpful to have such knowledge when discussing why and how we enjoy listening to it (just as such knowledge is important for the musicians who have to make — and justify if only to themselves — performing decisions).

What do you think is particularly helpful or special about approaching Bach’s music in this format?   This format would be great for any kind of musical performance–we still know remarkably little about how people actually listen to and make sense of music–but it’s particularly interesting for Bach, partly because his music obviously raises interesting questions about the relationship of religious and aesthetic experience and partly because the music itself was first composed and heard when such questions about the nature of individual belief were of wide public concern.

Meet Simon Frith and join the discussion with John Butt at our concerts exploring JS Bach’s in early February 2015!
4th of February @ 6pm Greyfriars Kirk – Edinburgh Book Now

5th of February @ 6pm Glad Cafe – Glasgow Book Now

Best of 2014 – Herald Scotland

Dunedin Consort featured in many reviewers’ favourites of 2014. Here are Kate Molleson‘s choices for 2014.

The Dunedin Consort went from strength to strength with superlative recordings and performances

St Matthew Passion at Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh. The Dunedin Consort sounded colourful, lithe and gracefully spacious in Bach’s masterpiece; John Butt conducted with typically fresh, fascinating insight.

Full Article

Grammy Award nomination 2015

We are thrilled to report that – in addition to the coveted Gramophone award we received in September – our recording of Mozart: Requiem has been nominated in the category of ‘Best Choral Performance’ for the 57th Annual GRAMMY® Awards.

Messiah – Scottish Tour 2014

Ever since it first appeared on the stage of Dublin’s Musick Hall in 1742, Handel’s Messiah has become a firm favourite with audiences all over the world. Some 272 years on, Christmas in Scotland just wouldn’t be Christmas without Dunedin Consort’s annual performances of Handel’s most famous work. Opening with the mystery of the nativity, it unfolds a uniquely dramatic and powerful narrative. These performances, given by some of the finest soloists and specialist instrumentalists active today, are sure to help you get into the festive spirit!

“The Dunedin Consort’s celebrated Messiah seems to get better every year” The Guardian

John Butt – Director Mhairi Lawson — Soprano Rowan Hellier — Alto Thomas Walker — Tenor  David Shipley — Bass

Perth Fri 19th December, 7pm St John’s Kirk Further details and online booking TEL 01738 621 031   Glasgow

Sat 20th December, 8pm  Kelvingrove Museum Further details and online booking TEL 0141 353 8000   Edinburgh

Sun 21st December, 7pm Queen’s Hall Further details and online booking TEL 0131 668 2019

The Guardian — John Butt: a rightful Gramophone award winner

Philip Clark

The Guardian

He may be an unlikely podium hero, but his recording of Mozart’s Requiem with the Dunedin Consort, complete with echoes of a 1920s jazz band, is a delight