The Welsh Baroque Orchestra (director, Andrew Wilson-Dickson) was formed in 1992 as a development of the amateur period group 'The Eighteenth-Century Singers and Players', which met for weekend courses in baroque playing, often under the guidance of Catherine Mackintosh. Since the early 90s, the Welsh Baroque Orchestra has given professional concerts from St David's in West Wales to Llandaf Cathedral to Bristol, making its first recording in 2000. In June 2003 it was relaunched to critical acclaim and, thanks to a grant from the Welsh Assembly Government, pursues a more intensive musical life across Wales and beyond. See our current concert plans.
The Welsh Baroque Orchestra is flexible, its size varying to fit the variety of earlier repertoire which is its speciality. From a few strings and continuo (harpsichord or organ and/or theorbo), the group can grow to 30 players, with wind and brass as needed. Its musical aim is vivid and exciting music-making through historical awareness, using period instruments alongside the stylistic techniques that go with them.
The WBO has worked with the finest
Simon Jones (leader, director and academic)
Continuity is provided by the consistent membership of Welsh Baroque Orchestra, by its section leaders (including Marc Elton, leader, and by the overall artistic direction and focus provided by the keyboard continuo playing of Andrew Wilson-Dickson).
The band's particular expertise in repertoire lies in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. This includes many classics which form the core: Handel Messiah and concerti grossi, JS Bach orchestral suites, Brandenburg concertos and passions, concertos by Vivaldi and Corelli, dramatic and dance music by Purcell. But there is a wealth of rich pickings from rarer names: dramatic music by Locke, Lawes and Blow; music from Italy, Germany and Austria - Monteverdi, Marini, Fontana, Castello, Muffat, Schmelzer, Schein, Buxtehude; French opera - Lully, Marais, Campra, Charpentier, Rameau - as well as British composers, some of whom have Welsh or near-Welsh connections - Chilcot of Bath, Jackson of Exeter, the Linleys, Michael Festing. The band's playing technique and instruments also allow selective ventures into the Classical era.
Unusually for a period instrument group, the WBO is keen to create opportunities for composers to write new music for it, and to provide workshops on the specific problems and possibilities of writing challenging but practical music for early instruments.
The WBO has a strong expertise in Education, many of its players holding music degrees and diplomas at postgraduate level, some teaching in Higher Education.
The Welsh Baroque Orchestra is a project of Early Music Wales which is also its administrator. EMW, a Company Limited by Guarantee (registered no. 3512903) exists to encourage interest and activity in early music. The orchestra receives funds from the Welsh Assembly Government and administered by the Arts Council of Wales under the scheme for the Promotion of Chamber Orchestras in Wales. The Orchestra is grateful to be receiving continuing financial support from the Robinson Trust.
Contact the orchestra's administration for more details and for the orchestra's pricing of concerts and educational projects.
If you wish to support the work of the Welsh Baroque Orchestra and be kept informed of its activities, the best way of doing so is to become a member of Early Music Wales, the organisation which handles the funding of the orchestra as well as providing its administration. By becoming a member you will have the satisfaction of being one of the growing audience for the orchestra, will benefit from special prices for concerts and other activities, receive information about the concert programmes and, if you take the opportunity, be able to help influence the direction of both the Welsh Baroque Orchestra and Early Music Wales. For details contact Jeremy Badcock on Jeremy@jbadcock.orangehome.co.uk or 07989 693734.
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