Taverner Consort, Choir & Players
The Taverner Consort is a chameleon-like performing body with a worldwide reputation for marrying first-rate performance to adventurous and uncompromising scholarship. Founded by Andrew Parrott in 1973 (at the instigation of composer Michael Tippett) and with over 60 pioneering recordings to its name (from Machaut via Monteverdi to Bach) the group’s activities have encompassed repertoire from over seven centuries – from medieval to new music, from chamber to choral and orchestral works. Though broad in its reach, the Taverner enterprise chooses to remain small-scale in order to retain flexibility and freshness.
Taverner Consort – 50 Years On
Fifty years on, and following some seismic shifts in the musical landscape, I find that my original ‘Taverner Choir’ (instigated by composer Michael Tippett in 1973) has slowly evolved into a very different animal – a chameleon-like body capable of exploring music not only in performance (recorded or otherwise) but also as vivid history, through symposia (lively ones!) and even, most recently, in published form (witness The Pursuit of Musick with its rich gallery of images).
Music-making itself, naturally enough, remains at the heart of the enterprise. Certain past events stand out: the Salzburg Festival (its very first invitation to a period-instrument group), various BBC Proms (not least, the extravagant 1589 Florentine Intermedi), the process of recording EMI’s first ‘historically informed’ Mass in B minor, repeated experiences of Bavaria’s enchanted Herrenchiemsee Festspiele (L’Orfeo etc), taking the St John Passion to Moscow and St Petersburg (in 2018), and so on. The focus on ‘early’ music – a generous slice of musical history made up of multifarious traditions – has not only demanded all manner of vocal and/or instrumental configurations but has repeatedly led me to question major assumptions of performance practice. As a result, several of Taverner’s 60 or so recordings have dared to pioneer fresh thinking. In the same spirit two brief but intriguing works have been specially recorded for this 50th anniversary.
I am, of course, proud of everything that all this may have achieved, and truly grateful to the numerous accomplished musicians who have aided and abetted me along the way. Whatever further contribution may yet prove possible will happily continue on this somewhat unorthodox path.