Solomon’s Knot gives two final performances of their acclaimed B-minor Mass at St George’s Bristol and the Newbury Spring Festival before participating in the Barbican Bach Weekend with a new Motet programme as part of their 10th anniversary year.
What began a decade ago as a promise between friends never to lose the joy of performing, blow the dust off early music and break down the barriers to classical music in performance has evolved into Solomon’s Knot’s strong reputation today — known for its authenticity, adventurous and intelligent programming, and bold trademark performances from memory.
With the performance of Handel’s Messiah the collective started under the name Solomon Choir & Orchestra ten years ago in 2008. Spearheaded by musicologist James Halliday and baritone Jonathan Sells — who initially conducted himself — the ensemble nowadays has a flexible structure and a democratic approach to its artistic processes. By applying the principles of chamber music, performing without a conductor and with the greatest attention to detail, the players and singers seek to communicate the full power of music through the intensified interaction between themselves and the audience.
Featuring alongside the Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists and John Eliot Gardiner at the Barbican Bach Weekend in mid-June, Solomon’s Knot presents a new programme pairing motets by Johann Sebastian with motets by his father’s cousin Johann Christoph. Hardly known today, this member of the Bach family was highly respected by Johann Sebastian himself. Other world-class Bach interpreters performing that weekend are violinist Isabelle Faust, cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras and harpsichordist Jean Rondeau.
Bach’s setting of the full Latin Mass was first tackled by Solomon’s Knot at the 2016 Spitalfields Festival, presenting this towering masterpiece of the baroque era in an intimate setting with 10 singers and 20 instrumentalists. The ensemble then took the Mass in B minor to the Lake District, Nottingham and London’s St John’s Smith Square. The UK tour now draws to an end with the ensemble’s first visit to the South West – an appearance at St George’s Bristol on 23 May – as well as a sell-out date at the 40th Newbury Spring Festival.
Determined to communicate the full power of 17th and 18th century music as directly as possible, Solomon’s Knot was founded in London in 2008. Led by joint artistic directors James Halliday and Jonathan Sells, the collective performs without conductor and often from memory.
Its fascination for the relationship between ‘ancient’ music and ‘modern’ audiences has led to the creation of a madrigal sound garden inspired by Gesualdo and his Italian contemporaries, to Bach’s Mass in B minor with 10 singers and 20 instrumentalists, and to the rediscovery of the anonymous opera l’Ospedale, which had a highly successful run at Wilton’s Music Hall in 2015.
The ensemble’s flexible approach allows for the performance of a wide range of repertoire and creative partnerships with directors, composers, choreographers, visual artists and other ensembles. Recent collaborations included projects with Spira mirabilis, Sven Werner, James Hurley, Tim Carroll, Federay Holmes, Mira Calix, and Les Passions de l’Ame.
Hailed in the German press as “the discovery of the festival” on their debut at the Bachfest Leipzig in 2016, Solomon’s Knot have also appeared at the Aldeburgh Festival (‘The Discovery of Bomarzo’), Händel Festspiele Halle (Messiah), Thüringer Bachwochen (Bach’s St John Passion), Regensburger Tage Alter Musik (Linley’s Shakespeare Ode), Spitalfields Music Festival (Bach’s Christmas Oratorio and Mass in B minor), St John’s Smith Square Christmas Festival (Magnificats by Kuhnau and Bach and Mass in B minor) and London Handel Festival (Telemann Die Tageszeiten).
Future plans include the live recording of ‘Christmas in Leipzig’— Bach’s Eb Magnificat paired with works by Schelle and Kuhnau in Nottingham and London in December 2018, returns to the Bachfest Leipzig and Thüringer Bachwochen, and the highly anticipated debut of Solomon’s Knot at Wigmore Hall in April 2019.
“Known as much for vigour and risk-taking as for historical authenticity and intelligent programming”
“organic music-making at its most sophisticated”
“Of all the younger groups now making waves in the field of “early music”, Solomon’s Knot must be the boldest”