Concerts will see audience move at the interval

Scottish Ensemble is collaborating with harpsichordist Jonathan Cohen for Baroque: Take Two – a journey across two venues.

This will be a unique series of concerts, taking place from Wednesday 16- Monday 21 October in Edinburgh, Inverness, Glasgow, Perth and London.

Scottish Ensemble is the UK’s leading string orchestra, with a core of outstanding string players who perform together under artistic director Jonathan Morton.

Baroque: Take Two takes audiences on a journey across two venues, enjoying centuries-old music in settings closer to the ones it was written for, and offering an experience that plays with expectations of the conventional classical music concert.

Stemming from SE’s ongoing mission to create surprising new experiences for audiences, this project plays with the idea of how our surroundings might affect the way we listen. For these concerts, SE musicians will perform the first half of the concert in the first venue, before a short walk alongside audience members to a second venue where they will perform the second half.

With the majority of works in the Baroque era commissioned either to be performed in a smaller, private setting – a courtly chamber, for instance, or a room in a royal home – or the communal public space of the church, audience members will experience the rich music of important Baroque composers such as Vivaldi, Corelli, Locatelli and Biber in settings closer to the ones they would have been composed for.

Across Scotland (not London), SE will perform one half of the concert in a cosier and more intimate venue – including Glasgow Art Club, and The Station Hotel in Perth – and the other half in the grander, more ceremonial surrounds of churches and cathedrals. With two performance options in each city, the audience can choose whether to start their journey in the ‘chamber’ venue or the church.

SE is thrilled to welcome special guest Jonathan Cohen, performing on harpsichord and bringing his own energy and expertise to the experience. As Musical Director of acclaimed London-based Early music group Arcangelo, amongst many other accolades, Cohen is an exceptional chamber musician with an in-depth knowledge of and passion for Baroque chamber music performance.

The programme, carefully selected by Jonathan Cohen and Jonathan Morton, comprises a selection of concerti grossi and violin sonatas by key Baroque composers including Vivaldi, Locatelli, Corelli and Biber, with SE Artistic Director Jonathan Morton performing one of Biber’s haunting Rosary Sonatas.

Guest musician Jonathan Cohen said: ‘I have met and played with Jonathan Morton a few times before, both on chamber music concerts at the Plush Festival, and when Jonathan was guest-leading a chamber orchestra in Paris which I was conducting. We became good friends – and I admire his playing very much. When he invited me to come and play with Scottish Ensemble, I was very happy to continue and grow that collaboration.’

Baroque: Take Two is part of SE’s 50th Anniversary Season, a series of events exploring SE’s rich past at the same time as celebrating the distinctive adventurous spirit of the group today, a spirit which has endured since the early days.

SE started life as the Scottish Baroque Ensemble in 1969, when violinist Leonard Friedman and publisher and polymath John Calder co-founded a group to provide music primarily for Baroque operatic productions at Calder’s Kinross-shire multi-arts festival Ledlanet Nights.

Exploring the music of SE’s roots through a contemporary lens, Baroque: Take Two is indicative of the pioneering approach to how classical music can be presented that Scottish Ensemble is increasingly known for today.

Over the past six years, through similar events experimenting and playing with the traditional concert format, and offering experiences that defy conventional expectations, SE has had success in widening its audience. As well as broadening the range of people who might attend and enjoy classical-music-focused events, SE’s innovative approach to how classical music can be presented and experienced has encouraged fresh perspectives on the art form.