Who are we?

The Saraband Consort posing on the steps

The Saraband Consort brings together a core of dynamic musicians, committed to bringing music alive through period instrument performance.

This UK-based ensemble comprises a core of eight musicians who share in a collective musical consciousness that has developed out of a diversity of cultural backgrounds. Saraband Consort reflects a wealth of experience gathered from the instrumentalists’ respective portfolio careers as young artists, and from individual conservatoire training gained in the UK, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Poland and Norway, as well as through studies at Oxford, Cambridge and Manchester Universities. Central to this group is the desire for musical expression without compromise.

At the heart of the ensemble’s sound world is the unusual employment of two individual viola voices, juxtaposed with two violins. This concept was inspired by the rich textures favoured by composers of the seventeenth century, such as Muffat and Biber, making this repertoire a particular staple for Saraband Consort. However, this style of counterpoint has also planted the seed for a number of arrangements of four and five part works by J.S. Bach, conceived originally for organ, which have become a defining part of the ensemble’s programming. In addition to violin and viola parts, the other core instruments are cello, bass, harpsichord and theorbo.

The members of The Saraband Consort are busy freelance musicians in their own right, playing in ensembles such as The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, The Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists, The English Concert, The Sixteen, The Gabrieli Consort, Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, The King’s Consort and The Academy of Ancient Music. The Consort’s instrumentation offers flexibility in expanding to accommodate projects demanding larger forces, making music of the high Baroque and Classical era another facet of the ensemble’s work. This is reflected by the fact that the name ‘Saraband Consort’ was first coined in 1998 by Benjamin Bayl for programmes predominantly constructed around vocal music. Past performances in augmented form have included Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610, Bach’s St Matthew Passion and Handel’s Dixit Dominus.

Most recently the Saraband Consort has appeared at the York Early Music Festival, as finalists in the 2007 Early Music Network International Young Artists’ Competition, where two programmes ‘Sacro-profanum’ and ‘Metamorphosis: Georg Muffat and J.S. Bach’ were showcased for audiences at the National Centre for Early Music.

Future performances by Saraband Consort include a recital in Bilbao, as well as appearing in London’s City Music Society series, and in numerous other venues throughout the UK.