The UK was at the forefront of the historical performance movement which began in the 1960s and has been growing and gaining momentum over the decades since then. There is now a rich array of highly-acclaimed and musically outstanding ensembles in the UK performing repertoire from the Middle Ages to the early 1800s on original period instruments, or replicas made in the same way they would have been centuries ago.
Musical instruments have changed significantly over the centuries, so mastery of these instruments requires great skill and many years of training with experts. Almost all period instrumentalists work on a freelance basis and their careers depend upon being engaged by the ensembles and orchestras who create and promote performances and recordings.
These groups – ranging in size from trios to full orchestras – perform in leading music venues, festivals and music societies across the country and abroad, bringing a freshness of approach and variety to the classical music landscape.
Piero di Cosimo's Perseus Frees Andromeda, 1510-1515 (Uffizi)
Few groups have their own venue and rather than receiving a fee, often must pay to rent out the concert hall and take the financial risk on ticket sales. Despite these fragile economics, dozens of excellent ensembles have successfully funded themselves for decades through ticket sales, donations and grants from private individuals, trusts, foundations and businesses, with minimal support from public funds.