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  • Writer's pictureContinuo Foundation






August was an active month for recently-formed ensembles. Our grants supported eight live concerts in as many different locations nationwide, including a tour across Scotland by the Spinacino Consort. This group received a grant in early 2022, when we created this new eligibility category to level the playing field for emerging artists. Spinacino Consort has continued to build on this success and will make their Wigmore Hall debut in December with vocal group Siglo de Oro.

Following the Musica Antica Rotherhithe concert in Letheringham, we received this wonderful feedback from the concert organiser, who was thrilled with the audience response to the concert of music by Barbara Strozzi, Antonia Bembo and Isabella Leonarda:

"Letheringham is one of the smallest villages in Suffolk, and without the support of the Continuo Foundation, it would not have been possible for Musica Antica to have brought to the 12th century Priory Church of St Mary their beautiful programme 'Rittrati.' At the end of the concert I can only say that I was inundated by people enthused by the music they had just heard with comments such as "this a was a real jewel" and "I was not expecting something so utterly beautiful."

Continuo Foundation's impact since the first round of grants in 2021:

£560,000 awarded to 77 different ensembles

898 individual freelance musician beneficiaries

27,114 live audience members

61,736 online audience members

10 CD recordings released so far



Continuo received 58 applications, of which 20 were from recently-formed ensembles (created since 2020). We were overwhelmed by the quality and creativity of the proposals. In fact, so many projects were falling into the top category that our Advisory Panel felt the need to create a new ranking for the 'extra-good.' Grant requests were £323k, of which £228k was for projects in these top categories. Choosing how best to allocate the £100k available is going to be challenging.

As we approach Continuo's three-year anniversary, we are thrilled to see the early music scene in the UK bursting with creativity, and musicians bringing high quality, imaginative projects to locations across the country. Thanks to your generosity, Continuo has played a vital role in funding this flourishing by supporting 122 projects with over 340 performances since 2021.

The Round 6 grant awards are expected to be announced by 21 September. Please contact Tina Vadaneaux if you would like to learn more about Continuo's work and plans for the future.



with William Russell

Will Russell plays the natural trumpet with leading groups in the UK and internationally. He is a founding member of Continuo grantee ensemble Spiritato. The group presents a new programme of odes dedicated to Queen Anne - the last Stuart - in collaboration with lutenist Elizabeth Kenny and a stellar cast of soloists on Sunday, 10 September in London. Click here for details.

How has Continuo impacted you personally? Having the financial backing and prestige of a Continuo grant has made all the difference. The Continuo Foundation team has such a wealth of expertise in our field, that to receive support for the projects I dream up has been incredibly energising and uplifting. Working creatively is difficult when the obstacles we must negotiate as artists grow ever larger. Continuo Foundation support has encouraged me to stay ambitious in my approach and to deliver projects that are meaningful to me and my creative practice. Which doors have opened since receiving our Grant? Spiritato has been fortunate to have received grants for several projects over the last few years. These have taken us to leading venues and festivals across the UK. Our 2022 'Inspiring Bach' project was a landmark for us. Following this success, we have found many leading artists keen to collaborate. For our next project (10th September), featuring celebratory music by Purcell, Eccles and Handel, we are joined by lutenist Elizabeth Kenny and an amazing line-up of soloists. Continuo support has given these new collaborators the confidence to dive straight in with us and we can’t wait to start rehearsing! What do you love about being a musician? I am very lucky to travel a great deal with my work. I’m a huge champion of rarely performed repertoire and in recent years I’ve had a lot of fun discovering new (old) music and working with wonderful musicians all around the UK and Europe. It’s great to sit in an orchestra made up of people from all over the world and to listen to how it all comes together for a performance. Where did you encounter the most receptive audience? When Spiritato toured 'Inspiring Bach' last year, we were using natural trumpets without valves or finger holes to temper our notes. The sound these instruments make is incredible. In using them, we were working quite contrary to modern convention, instead being as true to the existing original trumpets as we could be. Each of our six concert audiences (London, Stour, Lammermuir, Brighton, Wiltshire and York) were utterly enthralled and so inquisitive - I was surrounded by eager members of the public at the intervals and after every concert! No.1 listening recommendation? I really enjoy listening to the radio - generally I listen to a mix of classical and jazz, mainly on BBC Radio 3 and France Musique. It can be very freeing to devolve the choice of music to someone else! That way, you encounter so much more variety than following a playlist on a streaming service. More about Will Russell is available on his musician profile on Continuo Connect.




Spinacino Consort - The Decorum of Voice

Spinacino Consort toured Scotland with stops in Edinburgh, Crossmichael, Bearsden, Glasgow and Montrose to perform 'The Decorum of Voice - Music for a Renaissance Princess,' a reference to Isabella d’Este. Isabella received singing and lute tuition from some of the finest Franco-Flemish musicians of the time, yet her passion for the native Italian forms of sung improvised poetry led to her patronage of Italian artists and the development of frottola, the precursor to the madrigal. This programme explored the connections between Franco-Flemish chanson and frottola, written and oral traditions, and the introduction of printing. Click below to view a video clip from a rehearsal.


The Vauxhall Band - Basset Horn Trio

Recently formed ensemble The Vauxhall Band have put together a Basset Horn Trio to celebrate the unique timbre of this rarely heard instrument. The ensemble toured a programme with works by Mozart, Georg Druschetzky and Vojtěch Nudera to Richmond, Lewes and Edinburgh. The trio also had the opportunity to try out the original Griesbacher basset horn from the 'Sir Nicholas Shackleton Collection' of the Museum at St Cecilia's Hall, and to play the instrument in their concert there. The final stop in the tour, celebrating the unique timbre of the instruments and performances that took place at Vauxhall Gardens in 1791, will be on Saturday 9th September at the Tea House Theatre in Vauxhall, London. Click here for details.



Irlandiani Players - Smock Alley

Another recently formed ensemble, Irlandiani, will soon release their album 'Smock Alley' on First Hand Records. The recording was made in 2022, supported by a Continuo grant. The programme explores connections between Italian and Irish musicians working at Dublin's Smock Alley Theatre and in the neighbourhood in the 18th century. Available now to pre-order directly from the ensemble. Click the video below for a bittersweet lament featuring in Irlandiani's launch tour starting in London on 14 September. Click here for details.




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