Rare performaance of music

If the shelves of our newsagents seem to be full of magazines featuring pictures of extravagant celebrity weddings, then it appears that things haven’t changed all that much since the 16th century, says Clare Norburn, co-artistic director of the Brighton Early Music Festival.

“Take the Medicis: A listers, powerful and rich. Some 420 years after the wedding of Christina of Lorraine and Ferdinando I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany in 1589, we may not have any wedding photos but we do know who attended and what the soundtrack of the wedding sounded like.

“The wedding festivities were one of the most extravagant of all time and cost multi-millions in today’s money. They lasted three weeks during which the celebrities of the day attended a special performance in the glorious setting of the Uffizi Palace in Florence The music, known as the Florentine Intermedi, was written by leading composers of the day. The performance was a visual and aural spectacular. It included musicians performing on moving clouds – not without its technical challenges in 1589!

“It is hardly surprising therefore that a rare performance of the music, directed by Deborah Roberts and coupled with stunning aerial dance from Brighton based troupe Zu Aerial will be the centrepiece of this year’s Brighton Early Music Festival. There will be two performances of the Florentine Intermedi at 5pm and 9pm on Saturday, November 3 at St Bartholomew’s Church.”

Clare added: “Today, the Florentine Intermedi is rarely performed and difficult to find on CD. BREMF co-artistic director Deborah Roberts will take the spirit of the original performance and update the visual context. It will replace the creaking deus ex machina machinery of the original 1589 performance with stunning aerial dance and theatrical lighting and more than a whiff of the circus in the setting of St Bartholomew’s Church, Europe’s tallest church.

“The performance will involve leading early-music performers (nine soloists, an orchestra of usual and unusual instruments including the regal, an early keyboard instrument and a lirone, a bowed string instrument alongside cornetts, sackbuts, violins, viols, recorders, curtals, shawms, harps and lutes) alongside BREMF’s own leading chamber choir, BREMF Consort of Voices and the Renaissance Singers.”

Tickets on 01273 709709.