Historical performance in the UK could become a lost art
The UK has been at the forefront of the historical performance movement since the mid-20th century. Despite the challenges of finding sponsorship, historical performance in the UK was healthy and thriving until Covid-19 struck. Now, this sector faces devastation.
What will happen if we allow the artistry of period instrumentalists to disappear? Programming will wither, staggering gifts will atrophy, and next-generation musicians will lose access to unique expertise.
This once-flourishing ecosystem will be severely depleted.
These artists’ virtuosity, scholarship and exploration of reconstructed and restored instruments have revolutionised concert life. In addition to expanding the repertoire, these musicians have altered, and continue to refresh, the way we hear Western classical music, including the masterpieces of Bach, Handel, Mozart, and Beethoven.
ACADEMY OF ANCIENT MUSIC © Marco Borggreve
A sector-wide initiative is the most effective way to mobilise activity and retain musicians
Our research on Covid-19’s impact on period-instrument ensembles has shown that many are struggling to survive the 20/21 season without additional help. Until now, ensembles have funded their work with a mix of ticket sales, touring, private donations, and grants from trusts and foundations, with little or no public funding. Under Covid restrictions, this economic model is no longer viable. Surveys show between 34% and 64% of UK freelance musicians may leave the profession, and many players have already left the UK. Period instrumentalists have a highly specialised training, and UK ensembles of all sizes will be impoverished by the loss of their talent and scholarship.
AN INVALUABLE CONTRIBUTION
newly discovered masterpieces, found in archives and ‘translated’ into modern notation