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<<  -- 2 --  Rex Harley    MUTUAL ENTHUSIASM


They met in Amsterdam, as postgraduates at the Hoogeschool voor der Kunsten. Joakim's Swedish; Sarah and Emma, the violinist, are English; and Ingrid, their cellist, comes from Spain. They've been performing together for two years, here and on the continent, and as each of them arrived in the kitchen, and we talked, it became quickly apparent why they decided to team up. Their enthusiasm, for both the playing and the research involved in bringing early music to contemporary audiences, was palpable. They do what they do because they love it. A good thing too: the world of classical music is as precarious, and even cut-throat, as any branch of the performing arts. And early music, despite the rise in interest and popularity over the past decade or so, is still a minority interest. You have to work at building audiences, and finding your place in an already busy market.

But there is another, simpler reason for their determination to stick together. It takes only a little while in their company to realise that the exchange of ideas, the thrashing out of musical problems, and all the vicissitudes of live performance and complex travel arrangements happen against a back-drop of mutual respect and affection. Above all else, they are friends. The following day, for example, they are taking part in a musical showcase with two other groups in nearby Stratford, and Emma can't be there: she has to dash off for a recording session with the Gabrieli Consort. So now they have to spend some time working out how best to adapt to the situation; what they'll play, and how.

These, then, are the three key ingredients of their working relationship and their success to date: mutual enthusiasm; friendship; and adaptability. Part of that adaptability involves working with a vocalist. This evening it is to be Sophia Brumfitt, whose period performances range over an ever wider span than their own, from medieval to early classical, but she is somewhere else in the house, involved in her own preparations, and I shan't meet her till after the concert. After a while the others politely excuse themselves, and I wander over the road to the Town Hall.

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Copyright © 8 November 2003 Rex Harley, Cardiff UK


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