Academy of Ancient Music has unveiled plans for its new Cambridge series, following the success of its inaugural season under music director Laurence Cummings.
The orchestra will present a year-long exploration of the environment and our place in it, titled “The Voice of Nature”.
“The wonderful thing is that even last year, my first year in the job, John McMahon and I were able to put together exactly the season we wanted,” Laurence says.
“Normally, when you take on an organization, you inherit a series of concerts that have already been planned because that’s the nature of planning. But of course, because everything was so uncertain with the pandemic, we were able to put together whatever we wanted. So we feel like we’ve already established a consistent season.
“After the pandemic, we realized that we musicians had missed the audience as much, if not more, than the audience had missed the musicians. It’s so symbiotic and this wonderful convection current that you get in the concert hall.
“We performed several concerts online at the West Road Concert Hall without an audience and were thrilled to play, but it was also quite scary.
“There’s something about having someone pretty close to you, absorbing what you’re playing. It’s a gift from us to the public, and their gift to us is their presence. So it’s nice to have that and to remember how important that communication and that relationship is.
He explains that he’s noticed the music has a “healing” effect on listeners during the pandemic and he wants everyone to have access to it and be able to enjoy this series – even if they’ve never heard the music previously.
“I don’t want to organize a series of concerts that people need to know about before coming to listen. I want people to be able to come to a concert without knowing anything about the repertoire, or even about the orchestra.
“This concert is for them as much as it is someone who has heard six different recordings of the musical offering and has opinions about it. They are also welcome of course, but so often I think classical music can be off-putting to the newcomer and I want that not to be the case. I want to welcome people, because for each repertoire – no matter how intellectual the composition – it must be accessible and enjoyable.
He hopes people will be inspired to get interested in classical music after attending one of the concerts, just like he suddenly got into music in his youth.
“My light bulb moment as a teenager was when I was listening to Handel’s Messiah on an LP. I remember going to the record store in Birmingham, where I’m from, and then having it bought it and been blown away. And of course all those wonderful previous recordings were produced so well and you had the wonderful booklet with so much information and then I kind of soaked it all up like a sponge.
2022-23 season of the Academy of Early Music at Cambridge
Wednesday, November 9, 2022
Laurence Cummings conducts a Baroque celebration of nature and music and begins with arguably the most astonishing natural wonder in all of Baroque music: the chaos with which Jean-Féry Rebel opens his Les Élémens suite.
Thursday, February 2, 2023
JS Bach wrote his Musical Offering for King Frederick the Great of Prussia. It was a collection of pieces designed to put the nature of music itself to the ultimate technical, intellectual and emotional test. Dazzling with imagination and infinite richness, this masterpiece has fascinated interpreters and scholars for centuries. AAM tells its story and unveils its secrets.
Wednesday, March 8, 2023
AAM takes Henry Purcell’s Ode to Saint Cecilia, patroness of music, as the starting point for a musical journey through all of creation. Purcell’s music has a special place in the history of the Academy: conducted by Laurence Cummings, it will sound more lively and joyful than ever.
Thursday April 20, 2023, 7:30 p.m.
Bojan Čičić opens the book of musical jokes from the Baroque era for an evening of novelties, parodies and flights. Humanity is also part of nature. For composers like Biber, Schmelzer, Farina and Schedt, there was nothing that was not musical: a fencing school, a bustling street, a city steeple or the chaos and clamor of a battle. You’ll hear them all in this flamboyant sonic extravaganza from six Baroque masters letting their imaginations run wild.
Wednesday, May 10, 2023, 7:30 p.m.
Laurence Cummings rediscovers the eternal truths (and true delights) of Handel’s spectacular Italian oratorio, The Triumph of Time and Disillusion. Still relatively unknown in the English-speaking world, it is flamboyant, expressive and contains some of Handel’s greatest melodies.