2017 has been a year of important moments for our sister organisation Colston Hall as we joined in with the 150th anniversary celebrations by programming a range of unique learning and participation events.
One of those moments celebrated another significant milestone – the birth of the founder of opera, Claudio Monteverdi, who transformed the miniature form of the madrigal into a full-scale music drama. We’re delighted that all three performances in the operatic series Monteverdi 450 have been named the Guardian’s top classical event of 2017, and furthermore BPM’s education events curated to complement the series have also been nominated for Best Classical Music Education Initiative at the Music Teacher Awards for Excellence, the winner of which will be chosen by a public vote on www.classicfm.com during January.
In March, April and May, to coincide with the UK premiere of the landmark semi-staged presentation of Monteverdi’s three surviving operas – Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, L’incoronazione di Poppea and L’Orfeo – Bristol Plays Music, the Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra and the University of Bristol led a unique project for students across Bristol and the South West to meet and be inspired by some of the worlds leading early musicians.
In March we hosted an academic symposium examining Monteverdi’s music in more detail, where students enjoyed insightful, interactive talks and lectures from leading academics on Monteverdi and were then treated to performances of some of his best known choral and vocal works, performed by the University of Bristol Madringal Society and Baroque Ensemble.
At the beginning of May a large cohort from the Bristol Youth Choir, one of Colston Hall’s young companies in residence, and keen music students came to Colston Hall to experience the dress rehearsal of L’incoronazione di Poppea and enjoy a number of workshops with members of the Monteverdi Choir and Orchestras. They explored and sang a choral passage from the opera in detail, focusing on an emotionally authentic and linguistically accurate performance.
The end of May saw instrumentalists from the Bristol Youth Orchestra, another of Colston Hall’s companies in residence, and students from schools across Bristol and South Glos were treated to an amazing workshop of demonstrations from the Monteverdi Orchestra musicians. They were shown instruments such as the viola da gamba, the chittarone, a range of cornetti and a number of different lutes. The MCO musicians played as an ensemble before each speaking about their instrument and taking questions from the students. They were then welcomed by Sir John Eliot Gardiner before seeing the complete dress rehearsal performance of Orfeo in the main auditorium of the Hall which with its grandeur and amazing instrumentation was a fitting end to the project.
The Classic FM voting process is now OPEN so please vote for this once in a lifetime project HERE!
On Wednesday 23 September 2020 Colston Hall changed its name to Bristol Beacon, and this means we’re changing too.
Bristol Plays Music is run by Bristol Music Trust, the charity that also runs the venue formerly known as Colston Hall. These two organisations will soon unite under one name: Bristol Beacon.
Click below to find out more about how we’re changing, watch our name announcement, and discover how we want everyone to share in the joy of live music.