Fenton House to stage baroque battle of the bands

A BAROQUE battle of the bands will take place at Fenton House in Hampstead this summer as early keyboard ensembles compete for prizes worth more than £1,000. About 50 aspiring musicians from 16 groups will take part in elimination rounds to select up to s

A BAROQUE battle of the bands will take place at Fenton House in Hampstead this summer as early keyboard ensembles compete for prizes worth more than £1,000.

About 50 aspiring musicians from 16 groups will take part in elimination rounds to select up to six ensembles for the finals.

They are being held from 2pm to 5pm on May 7,8 and 9 when - for the price of the entrance fee - visitors to the house in Windmill Hill will be able to listen to the Baroque music and leave comments for the jury.

At the final on May 29, each group will play their audition piece in concert in front of a panel of eminent early music specialists, including David Own Norris, Linda Nicholson, Steven Devine and David Gordon.


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The winner will be awarded a first prize of £800 plus guaranteed dates to play concerts at Fenton House, The Cobbe Collection at Hatchlands and Finchcocks.

An additional prize of £200 will be handed out to the best group voted by the audience.

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Mimi Waitzman, musical events organiser at the 17th century National Trust house, said: "The collection was donated by someone passionate about music being played on instruments of the right period.

"He gave the instruments to the National Trust in the 1930s on the proviso that they be kept in playing condition.

"As well as bringing their own instruments, all the ensembles will use our 1770 Shudi and Broadwood harpshichord for their auditions. It is the largest, most elaborate type of this instrument made in this country."

Ms Waitzman explained that, while solo music competitions have been held in the house, they were always behind closed doors.

She hopes the Early Keyboard Ensemble Competition will become a regular event.

"This is the first time we have done an ensemble competition and we thought it would be nice to have this process going on in front of visitors, who can participate by leaving their comments and voting in the finals.

"It's a new kind of involvement in classical music. But I believe whatever door you come into music is a good door."

The winner's concert will be part of a gala at Fenton House on August 14 at 8pm. Tickets for the final cost £14 and for the prize winner's gala £22. They are available on 0871 5271887.

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