Michael East recording - Fieri Consort and Cheyls Consort of Viols - August 2018
Here is the original clip about the project.
The Michael East recording went ahead in August of 2018 in the beautiful acoustic of Girton College Chapel, Cambridge. We recorded the complete set of eight 5-part fantasias, eight vocal pieces, and a new commission written especially for this project by Jill Jarman.
The research and rehearsal process was enormously fruitful - trying to decide which vocal pieces would best compliment the instrumental ones, visiting Christ Church library to see the original publications, and of course getting underway with getting to know each other and the music together. Chelys found the instrumental fantasias to be every bit as engaging and rewarding as we first thought, and they were a great addition to our repertoire as a consort. The vocal pieces were more of an unknown quantity even for us, and it was with huge pleasure that we discovered the beauty of the pieces we had selected. A particular favourite for all of us was the gloriously emotional setting of When David Heard, which we’ve been introducing to other players and singers on workshops and courses at every opportunity ever since!
We are delighted that BIS records have agreed to take the disc on. We were amused and encouraged by the appreciative response from our initial contact there, who said ‘as I promised, I have done what I thought would be a short listen-in today. It wasn't - I sat through the whole thing - couldn't leave. It is good, that good.’ Despite their obvious enthusiasm for it, BIS unfortunately don’t have space in their release schedule until December 2020, meaning that pre-release copies would be available from October. We are hopeful that we might be able to bring this forward though, as we have everything ready should an earlier slot become available. We will also have pre-order flyers at the pre-release performances.
In terms of performances, it has been difficult to persuade promoters to take on a programme by such a little-known composer, however much we tell them that it’s great music! We have confirmed concerts at the Purbeck Arts Week and the Chester Music Society, and an expression of interest from Leamington Early Music to whom both groups are already known. We are hopeful that if reviews for the disc are as enthusiastic as BIS’s initial reaction then more performance bookings will be forthcoming, and more people will be pleasantly surprised by hearing a whole new repertoire, and because of BIS’s international distribution it may also make it easier for us to approach overseas festivals with proposals.
For Chelys it has been a wonderful opportunity to get to know the complete set of East’s fantasias, and to play a part in bringing them more widely to people’s attention. It has also been a joy to collaborate with Fieri and to build a relationship that both groups very much hope will lead to more future work together, on both this and other programmes.
For Fieri, it has been a pleasure to work with instruments so close to the sound of the human voice. It has also been a joy to explore the work of an English composer who has been sadly neglected, and a completely unique experience to record the new commission by Jill Jarman with Chelys.
The grant from Angel made an enormous difference to the funding for this large-scale project. We could not have considered going ahead without it, and are enormously grateful for the support both financially and in terms of encouragement - we really couldn’t have done it without you!