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Mutual enthusiasm

REX HARLEY meets Phoenix Rising


As I drive up through England's West Cotswolds, the trees are aflame with the most outrageous colour in living memory. The woods behind Nailsworth glow golden; even the most modest shrubs at the side of the motorway burn with a crimson fire; all in the process of their decay and dying. After the sleep of winter they will put out fresh life. It is trees which, year after year, offer us a symbol of glorious death and miraculous rebirth.

There is another, purely mythical parallel: the phoenix. Self-consumed, it rises from its own ashes. The end of my journey is Alcester, an odd place for a phoenix, but on a day like this, with the so-called real world all around me transformed and seemingly self-lit, nothing seems impossible. I am about to meet, not merely a phoenix, but a Phoenix Rising, for such is the name of a quartet of young musicians, specialising in the music of the late Renaissance and Baroque.

Phoenix Rising with singer Sophia Brumfitt (left)
Phoenix Rising with singer Sophia Brumfitt (left)

It's a good name, and like others who encounter it, I'm intrigued to find out the reason behind it. So, comfortably ensconced in her parents' kitchen, as the bustle of preparing for the evening's concert swirls around me, I ask Sarah Saunders, the group's recorder player. 'It's all in here,' she says, and drops a promotional leaflet on the table in front of me. But before I can cast my eye on it, Joakim, the harpsichordist breezes in, and I find myself pleasantly detoured into a discussion of how they all met. The Phoenix can wait for now.

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Copyright © 8 November 2003 Rex Harley, Cardiff UK


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