Between 2016 and 2019 Devon Baroque performed a roller-coaster ride through six of the most complex pieces to emerge from the 18th century – Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos. Devon Baroque now embarks on a series of Handel’s eighteen Concerti Grossi.

Next Concerts

Saturday 22nd June, St John’s Church, Totnes, TQ9 5AB, 7.30pm: Music for Midsummer. (click for details)

Saturday 6th July, Exeter Cathedral, 7.30pm: Bach: Mass in B Minor. (click for details)

Saturday 21st September – St Peter’s Church, Tiverton, EX16 6RP, 7.30pm
A programme of German music with wind, to include music by
Bach, Telemann, Zelenka and Fasch

Sunday 22nd September, St Mary’s Church, Totnes, 4pm

Sunday 8th December – Exeter Cathedral, EX1 1HS, 2.30pm
Handel: Messiah with Exeter Cathedral Choir
Details to follow.

MUSIC FOR MIDSUMMER: Birds, Beasts and Flowers

Saturday 22nd June – St John’s Church, Bridgetown Court, Totnes, TQ9 5AB, 7.30pm
MUSIC FOR MIDSUMMER: Birds, Beasts and Flowers
Devon Baroque Chamber Ensemble
Rebecca Ramsey (soprano) and Sarah Humphrys (recorder, oboe) with
Persephone Gibbs and Sharon Lindo (violins), Gabriel Amherst (cello), Andew Wilson-Dickson (harpsichord).

The programme will include works by Handel, Pepusch, Biber, James Oswald and William Jackson of Exeter.
Handel: Sinfonia in B flat HWV 339 (1709)
Pepusch: ‘Love frowns’ (from English Cantatas, book 2 no. 1)
William Williams: Trio Sonata no. 6 in F: In imitation of birds
Handel: Two German arias for soprano and obbligato instruments
Handel: ‘Sweet Bird’ from L’Allegro, Il Penseroso ed il Moderato
James Oswald: ‘Honeysuckle‘ and ‘Marvel of Peru’ (from Airs for the Seasons)
William Jackson: ‘Twas when the seas were roaring’, (from Twelve Songs, op. 1 no. 9)
Biber: Sonata Representativa for violin and continuo
Handel: ‘Hush, ye pretty warbling choir’ (aria from Acis and Galatea)
Handel: ‘Splende l’alba in oriente’ (from cantata HWV166)

Tickets £20, Students £5, accompanied children free, from (Booking fee applies)

Devon Baroque loves playing the classics of the Baroque era, pieces that were rediscovered in the 20th century and whose names that are now ubiquitous: JS Bach, Vivaldi, Albinoni, Scarlatti, Couperin. But to get a view of what the 18th-century English enjoyed, we need to turn our attention to composers who might now be considered minor figures, but nonetheless colourful and characteristic of their time.

This Midsummer concert casts light on these hidden corners of British music-making, using just five of the core members of Devon Baroque, with guest soprano Rebecca Ramsey. The one composer equally known to us today as he was in the 18th century is George Frederick Handel. A concert of British Baroque music without Handel is unthinkable, so here we make no apology for including his music at several points, nonetheless some of it less well known today. Thus the programme will open with his Sinfonia in B flat, a fully-fledged pre-cursor of the ‘Arrival of the Queen of Sheba’. Then, scattered through the concert Rebecca sings Handel arias (among them, from L’allegro, il penseroso ed il moderato and Acis and Galatea). Interlacing these are pieces by musicians from London (William Williams, Johann Pepusch), Edinburgh (James Oswald) and Exeter (William Jackson).

Alongside this British music is the celebration of Nature: music evoking birdsong (Handel, Williams) and inspired by plants (Oswald). Most striking of all is music entirely unknown to the British of his time, by Biber, the virtuoso violinist from Salzburg who, in his unique Sonata Representativa, conjures up, among others: a frog, a quail, hen and cat!

(NB: This concert is at St John’s Church, NOT St Mary’s in Totnes High Street, where Devon Baroque has recently performed.)

Bach: Mass in B Minor

Saturday 6 July – Exeter Cathedral, EX1 1HS, 7.30pm
Bach: Mass in B Minor with Exeter Festival Chorus, conductor Andrea Brown, with
Bethany Partridge, Elizabeth Drury, Benjamin Irvine-Capel, John Upperton, Timothy Dickinson
Tickets: £15 – £30, from Exeter Festival Chorus event tickets from TicketSource.  (Booking fee applies)

JS Bach’s masterpiece was described by the work’s first publisher in 1812 as ‘the greatest musical work of art of all ages and all peoples’. Its first complete performance did not take place until 1859 in Leipzig. The work is compilation of the first two sections (Kyrie and Gloria), composed in 1733 with the remaining sections added at various later dates. Unlike his cantatas, Bach never intended a performance of the work, for he never gave it a title. Its demands on choir, soloists and large orchestra are complex. Although several movements derive from earlier works of the composer, it can only be described, like The Art of Fugue, as his ‘opus summus’.

Devon Baroque Orchestra
Devon Baroque Orchestra
Devon Baroque Orchestra

Photographs by Johnny Fenn