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The angular, comic and red themes extended to the musicians' attire, with virtuoso baroque violinist Julia Bishop's pointed black boots -- she apparently owns two pairs -- forming a talking point in the Old Black Bear (reputedly Gloucestershire's oldest pub) after the concert. Amongst other prestigious positions, Julia is leader of the Gabrieli Consort, recording for Deutsche Grammophon, and she coaches and directs the baroque orchestra at London's Royal Academy of Music. We caught more than a glimpse of her performing intensity in Biber's Crucifixion Sonata (No 10 of the fifteen Rosary Sonatas which depict the story of Christ in allegory).

Julia Bishop
Julia Bishop

Howard Beach, at the harpsichord, possibly the most priest-like of the group, swapped his dark red shirt for one with red and black stripes during the interval. Also an experienced singer, violinist and pianist, Howard works as a soloist and continuo player with groups such as Les Arts Florissants and the London Mozart Players, and makes frequent broadcasts.

Howard Beach
Howard Beach

Angela East, the group's cellist (and secret weapon), wore a black outfit with large gold lightening bolts and stars, and boasted the wildest hairdo. She has appeared as soloist with many of Europe's leading baroque orchestras, and has played at La Scala, Sydney Opera House, Versailles and Glyndebourne. Her powerful performance of the Prelude from Bach's Fifth Cello Suite began the concert's second half, providing a taster to her 2001 recording of the complete Bach Cello Suites on Dorian.

Angela East
Angela East

Recorder player Piers Adams was dressed mostly in black, with a red waist band, leather trousers, and one red shoe, one black. Hailed recently by The Washington Post as the world's reigning living recorder virtuoso, his musical tastes are eclectic, and many major contemporary works have been written for him. He's probably the only recorder virtuoso to use vibrato to signify irony.

Piers Adams
Piers Adams

With various communications channel(s) to the audience already open and humming, there was no need for the usual tricks of the trade, the building of rapport by telling stories, playing whilst walking amongst the audience or using vocal sound effects such as cackling and shouting Olé during gaps in the music, but Red Priest used them anyway, including Adams' surprise appearance at the back of the auditorium, Pied Piper like, for a wonderfully fluid and singing performance of The English Nightingale by the blind Dutch composer and recorder virtuoso Jacob Van Eyck (1590-1657).

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Copyright © 1 June 2003 Keith Bramich, Worcestershire, UK

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