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Lewes Baroquefest Performers 2023

The small county town of Lewes is blessed with a diverse and exceptionally large group of highly talented baroque artists. Both professional and amateur groups flourish in the area. Lewes Baroquefest will be showcasing top professional virtuoso instrumentalists and singers, alongside outstanding local choir the Baroque Collective Singers.

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Alison Bury

Alison Bury was a founder member and regular leader of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, appearing and recording with them as leader, soloist and director. As leader of the OAE she was usually to be found at Glyndebourne Festival Opera for performances of the operas of Handel and other baroque composers. In the 2007 season, she led the OAE in the Glyndebourne dramatisation of Bach’s St Matthew Passion and in 2009 she was there for Purcell The Fairy-Queen and Handel Julio Cesare. For the 2012 season, she played with the OAE in Purcell Fairy Queen and Mozart Nozze di Figaro. For over 20 years, Alison was the leader of the English Baroque Soloists and has taken part in numerous recordings and toured in Europe, Australia, the U.S.A. and the Far East, including the Millennium Tour of Bach’s Cantatas.

Alison Bury started playing the baroque violin while a student at the Royal College of Music. After completing her studies there she won a Boise Scholarship to study at the Salzburg Mozarteum with Sandor Vegh and Nikolaus Harnoncourt. While in Austria she performed and recorded with Concentus Musicus of Vienna. Alison also plays with the Raglan Baroque Players and accompanied them on their visit to the Baroque Music Festival in Australia. Recent chamber music activities include performances of the Beethoven Septet with other members of the OAE and recitals with harpsichordists Nicholas Parle, Maggie Cole and Malcolm Proud. She is highly regarded by singers with whom she has worked, including Andreas Scholl and Daniele de Niese, with whom she worked on a recording of Mozart arias.

Additional solo work includes performances and recordings with the Academy of Ancient Music, the Raglan Baroque Players and the Taverner Players

Baroque Alchemy

Piers Adams is widely regarded as one of the greatest recorder players of our age. He has recorded numerous CDs and given thousands of concerts and broadcasts across the world with his iconic ensemble Red Priest, attracting the highest acclaim for his bold and creative musicianship. His lifelong interest in alternative philosophies led to the creation of his ground-breaking recording ‘Bach Side of the Moon’ (which reached No. 5 in the international New Age charts) - and now to the arrival of Baroque Alchemy!

Lyndy Mayle was a multi-prizewinning harpsichord student at the Royal College of Music before becoming a music director at the National Theatre, and subsequently working for many years as a music therapist and highly respected piano teacher. She returns to the concert stage after a long hiatus, bringing a wealth of musical experience, passion and spirit to this joyful musical collaboration.

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Piers Adams (recorder)

Lyndy Mayle (keyboard)

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Baroque Collective

The Baroque Collective is a period instrument orchestra based in Lewes, East Sussex.

Directed by conductor and singer John Hancorn and violinist Alison Bury, The Baroque Collective offers an enticing and flexible range of programmes from Locke and Purcell to Mozart and from trios to major works with chorus. Performances include Handel’s Messiah with the East Sussex Bach Choir and Bach’s St John Passion with the Esterházy Chamber Choir in Lewes;  Purcell’s King Arthur with the Fletching Singers; ‘The Cares of Lovers’ at the Uckfield Festival and Handel’s Acis and Galatea at the Montpelier and Powis Festival, Brighton; and regular performances of major baroque choral works with the East Sussex Bach Choir and the Baroque Collective Singers.


Founded by conductor John Hancorn in 2013, The Baroque Collective Singers is a chamber choir made up of the very best singers from Lewes and the surrounding area. The choir aims to explore a wide range of repertoire, a cappella and with instruments, with a focus on baroque.

BCS will premiere Orlando Gough’s ‘Out Of My Head’ on Saturday 17 September 2022 in a series of outdoor, a cappella, flashmob-style performances on Saturday 17 September 2022 in Lewes and will sing Christmas music by Bach on Wednesday 21 December 2022.


Baroque Collective Singers
Catherine Rimer

Catherine Rimer was born and raised on Tyneside and studied the 'cello at the Royal

Northern College of Music, the Royal Academy of Music, with Steven Isserlis at Prussia Cove and with Steven Doane at the Eastman School, N.Y. She also had inspiring coaching from Eli Goren, William Pleeth and the Amadeus Quartet, among others. She has enjoyed a busy freelance career performing internationally with leading ensembles on both period and modern instruments, for over 20 years, as a member of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and with Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s English Baroque Soloists and Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique.

As guest principal, she has also played with Avison Ensemble, Cecelia Bartoli and Les Musiciens du Prince, Dunedin Consort, English Concert, English National Opera, Les Siècles, Royal Northern Sinfonia and Scottish Chamber Orchestra, in repertoire from Purcell to Stravinsky. Chamber music has always featured strongly, including touring Europe and the USA with the Skampa Quartet, Schubert Quintet with the Eroica Quartet and recording with the Florin Ensemble, with whom she commissioned Hugh Wood to write a string trio, Itháka. Catherine has taught at the Royal College of Music since 2003 and she was awarded the ARAM in 2009. 

Claire Williams


Julia Bishop

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Julia Bishop discovered her love of Early Music whilst studying at the Royal College of Music and is now recognised as one of the leading Baroque violinists of her generation. She has toured the world and made extensive recordings with many period instrument orchestras in the UK including the English Concert and as concertmaster for 5 years with the Gabrieli Consort and Players. In 1997 Julia co-founded the ensemble Red Priest with recorder Piers Adams and enjoyed 19 years of huge success touring Europe, America and the Far East, and making 6 highly acclaimed recordings.


Recently Julia has become increasingly popular for her lively and informative teaching on workshops and courses around the UK and abroad. She heads the Early Music department at Chichester University and has been a guest teacher at the Royal Academy and Royal College of Music.

Julia is currently enjoying developing repertoire and performing concerts with soprano Ana-Maria Rincon and keyboardist Howard Beach in their chamber ensemble Purcell’s Muse.


John Hancorn is music director of the BREMF Singers, Baroque Collective Singers, East Sussex Bach Choir and Eastbourne Choral Society and co-director of The Baroque Collective and the newly launched Lewes Baroquefest!. Performances for the Brighton Early Music Festival include Bach’s St John Passion and B Minor Mass, Monteverdi Vespers, Handel Semele, and a staged performance of Purcell The Fairy Queen.

John leads vocal workshops and masterclasses specializing in baroque repertoire including regular visits to Early Music Fora and ‘Sing and Discover’ days and online workshops with Richard Wigmore throughout the UK. He is Associate Lecturer in Choral Studies at the University of Chichester Conservatoire, Choral Director at East Sussex Academy of Music and is a specialist examiner for Trinity Laban. He directed chamber choir courses at Dartington for many years and was a tutor at AIMS Summer School.

John directed the Orlando Consort in Tarik O'Regan Scattered Rhymes; the world premiere of Orlando Gough's opera The Finnish Prisoner with singers from the Finnish Opera; a critically acclaimed professional recording of Ed Hughes's Buried Flame and Purcell’s King Arthur for New Sussex Opera. He was Artistic Advisor for a large-scale concert at Glyndebourne for Homelink in November 2019.

John Hancorn
Nicholas Houghton
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Conductor and organist Nicholas Houghton is a full-time freelance player, accompanist and choral director, with his own 17th century style chamber organ (built for him by Goetze and Gwynn in 1985) and Bizzi harpsichord.

Having begun his musical career at the age of seven as a chorister at Coventry Cathedral, Nick studied organ with David Lepine, Robert Weddle and Nicolas Kynaston, and music at Bristol University. He went on to hold a variety of teaching roles in both the independent and state education sector including five years as Head of the East Sussex Academy of Music (ESAM) in Lewes.

Nick has been conducting choirs and running choral workshops for over forty years, including eight years with the Reading Haydn Choir and fifteen with the Downland Chorale in Surrey. He is currently Music Director of the Lewes Singers, the East Sussex Community Choir, the Brighton Singers and Brighton Orpheus Choir. He is also Chorus Master for New Sussex Opera.

Since 2012 Nick has been the Director of Music and Organist at St Michael’s in Lewes, founding the Sunday Recitals series there a year later. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists.

Photo: Katie Vandyck

Sebastian Comberti

Photo: Robert Knights

Originally from Bath, Claire Williams studied piano, harpsichord, fortepiano and clavichord at the Royal College of Music in London. She subsequently completed a Master’s degree at Trinity College of Music, studying harpsichord and chamber organ with James Johnstone.

From 2016 she held the Fellowship in Harpsichord/Continuo at the Royal College of Music for three consecutive years – the first person ever to do so.


Claire is much in demand as a continuo player and accompanist, and can occasionally be persuaded to give a solo recital.  However, she feels most at home when playing as part of a group, and enjoys working with a wide and varied range of ensembles.  She has performed in venues ranging from the intimacy of the Handel & Hendrix Museum in London, to the expansive Royal Albert Hall, and everything in between. 


Claire has appeared in many major festivals, including Manchester, Bath, and Chelsea Festivals, East Cork Early Music Festival, Spitalfields Music, London Handel Festival, Montreux Jazz Festival, and Latitude.  She is a regular artist at Dartington International Summer School, Suffolk Villages Festival, and Brighton Early Music Festival.  Claire recently relocated to West Sussex, and is fully enjoying her new life on the South Coast!


incantati brings together three instrumental timbres which were used in the baroque period to represent enchantment or otherworldliness, whether it be the touch of the supernatural, the moment of falling in love or the departure into the next world.  The recorder’s sweet tone was associated with pastoral and amorous scenes, while the viola d’amore’s ethereal quality enhances moments of spirituality in both religious music and opera.  In the Passions by JS Bach, the viola da gamba’s delicate sound accompanies the departure of Christ from life on earth.  These three sonorities come together in incantati to create a uniquely charming sound, with each of the instruments clearly distinguishable, yet complementing each other.

Described by BBC Radio 3’s Sean Rafferty as “the Stirling Moss of the recorder world!" Emma Murphy enjoys a varied career. After graduating from Birmingham University with a First Class (Hons) degree in Music, she gained a Distinction in her Masters degree from London University/Trinity College of Music, where she studied with Philip Thorby and later, Ashley Solomon, gaining the Hanham Clarke Prize, Roland Gregory Prize and awards from Countess of Munster, and Foundation for Sport and the Arts along the way.

Emma has performed and recorded with both baroque and modern orchestras, including The King’s Consort, Gabrieli Consort & Players, Ex Cathedra, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and the CBSO under guest conductors Emmanuelle Haim and Giovanni Antonini. Emma gives solo recitals of early and contemporary music, including pieces written for her, as well as her own compositions, and plays in chamber groups, such as Da Camera and incantati.


Rachel Stott’s career has been divided between performing wet ink manuscripts on modern instruments, interpreting faded manuscripts on period instruments, and creating entirely new manuscripts for both kinds of instruments.  She is a long-standing member of the Bach Players and the Revolutionary Drawing Room, lively and spontaneous ensembles which eshew the hazards of a sedentary lifestyle by performing on two feet.  She also performs music from 18th – 21st centuries with Trio Incantato, (recorder, viola d’amore and viola da gamba,) and early 19th century repertoire wiih Trio Notturno (flute, viola, guitar).

Rachel’s compositions include four string quartets, song cycles to poems by Thomas Campion and Stevie Smith, and an opera for children, The Cuckoo Tree, based on the novel by Joan Aiken.  Less conventional works include a tone poem, Odysseus in Ogygia, for six viola d’amores, Dark Arts in a Stony Place, an evocation of occult practices in a 16th century convent, for four trumpet marines, and Several World, a fugal piece for a hundred gleaming saxophones.

Aside from writing and performing music, Rachel enjoys walking, reading, baking and acquiring new skills.  She has studied Ancient Greek in an adult education class and learned to pluck a goose in Western Canada.

Ibrahim Aziz specialises in the performance of renaissance, baroque and contemporary music for the viola da gamba, having studied with Alison Crum at Trinity College of Music, London. He became a member of the Rose Consort of Viols and now works with other consorts and ensembles worldwide. He has recorded two CDs for First Hand Records as a solo artist and has appeared on classical labels BIS, Delphian, Resonus Classics and others with other groups. Ibrahim’s playing has been praised by Gramophone, BBC Music Magazine, The Independent and the American Record Guide. He has worked for many distinguished musicians and concert venues worldwide.                         

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Emma Murphy (recorder)

Rachel Stott (viola d’amore)


Ibrahim Aziz (viola da gamba)

Photo: Beth Mercer

Trio ZAC

Trio ZAC is formed of exceptionally mellow-toned instruments, to create a unique timbre with which to present our favourite baroque repertoire in dark-hued colours.   Each member has a long and varied experience of performing with chamber-ensembles and established period instrument orchestras in the UK, Europe, USA and Asia, broadcasting and recording extensively. These include The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, The English Baroque Soloists, The English Concert, The Gabrieli Consort , The Academy of Ancient Music and the Dunedin Consort.

Zoe Shevlin fell in love with the sound of the bassoon as a small child and had to wait until she was ten to be tall enough to start playing it. She studied at Guildhall School of Music and drama where she won a Wolfson Foundation Award. Zoe is principal bassoon of Gabrieli Consort and Players and a regular principal player with Early Opera Company, The Academy of Ancient Music, The Orchestra of the Sixteen, The Mozartists, Music For Awhile and Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment where she is also a member of the education team. As a concerto soloist she has worked with La Serenissima, The English Concert and Florilegium. She has given historical bassoon classes at the Royal College of Music and Junior RCM and is a visiting examiner at RCM and the Royal Academy of Music. 

Zoe gave the world premiere of Graham Sheen’s piece “Goodbye Mr Galliard” which was written for her. She has performed in plays at the Globe Theatre and played in many unusual places including in the Brighton Sewers where the acoustics are very fine.

In her spare time Zoe enjoys swimming outside, especially in winter, and quilting. She is a founder member of Extinction Rebellion’s Baroque orchestra.

Annette Isserlis studied at the Royal College of Music, where she was introduced to historically informed performance by Francis Baines and Catherine Mackintosh.


She was a founder-member of both Trevor Pinnock's enlarged English Concert and A Parley of Instruments, as well as regular appearances with the Academy of Ancient Music, the London Classical Players and Andrew Parrott's Taverner Consort and Players, of which she later became principal viola. For over two decades she was also principal viola of John Eliot Gardiner's English Baroque Soloists, with whom she still appears as guest principal on occasions.


She was invited to join the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment at its inception in 1986, and continues to be a regular member, with residencies at Glyndebourne and the South Bank Centre, as well as participating in its thriving educational department. In January 2014 she was invited by Sir Andras Schiff to become a member of his own ensemble 'Cappella Andrea Barca', and she participates annually in Open Chamber Music at IMS Prussia Cove.


Annette is a permanent member of staff at the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal Northern College of Music. She also does musical arrangements, which are published by Fountayne Editions, and has an OAE podcast called ’Tea with Netty’.

Cecelia Bruggemeyer found herself unexpectedly taking up the double bass aged 11, on discovering that there was no room for new flute pupils, and hasn’t regretted it for a single moment.


After an exciting musical education at the Centre for Young Musicians (London) she was studying double bass at the Royal Academy of Music with her ambitions firmly directed towards a position in  a big symphony orchestra, when she found herself well and truly sidetracked by the arrival of Roy Goodman as the head of the Baroque Department. She went along out of curiosity, to see if he had any suggestions for making bass parts of endless quavers more interesting, and he had plenty! Becoming totally seduced by the mellow sounds of the gut strings and the warm colours of the old wind instruments she now enjoys a busy career, touring and performing with many of Britain’s ‘HIP’ orchestras. Cecelia is a member of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE), English Baroque Soloists, the London Handel Orchestra, the Mozartists and The Baroque Collective.


She also finds herself with the opportunity to support and encourage new generations through her teaching at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and through the acclaimed education programme run by the OAE, in which Cecelia can, amongst other roles, often be seen presenting the popular OAE TOTs concerts. 

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Zoe Shevlin (bassoon)


Annette Isserlis (viola)


Cecelia Bruggemeyer (double bass)

Sebastian Comberti was born in London and studied in Italy with Amedeo Baldovino and later with Derek Simpson and Sidney Griller at the Royal Academy of Music. He was a founder member of the Bochmann Quartet until 1983 when he became principal cello with the London Mozart Players, a position he continues to hold. 


A keen interest in historically informed performance has resulted in participation with a great many of London’s period instrument groups, appearing as principal cello and soloist with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and the Hanover Band. 


As a member of several chamber groups, including Trio Goya and Divertimenti Ensemble he has recorded for CRD, EMI, Harmonia Mundi, Hyperion, Meridian, Phoenix, RCA, CPO and Chandos. 


In April 2001 Sebastian founded the Cd label Cello Classics, devoted to recordings of rare repertoire and historical recordings, himself releasing several CDs of sonatas by Boccherini, Stephen Paxton, early 19th Century works with fortepiano, and concertos by Haydn and Zumsteeg with the OAE.

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Photo: Giorgia Bertazzi

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