Nobody really knows when The Fitzhardinge Consort was founded – accounts differ! But probably around 20-odd years ago. It’s undergone a number of transformations and served a number of purposes. Now, its primary purpose is to bring international-standard, rarely-performed choral music to the South West of England and beyond. On top of this, though, the choir has an ambitious programme of charity, education and outreach work in the pipeline, designed to bring music to those that need it most but hear it least.
Notwithstanding the interruption at the hands of Covid-19, the choir sings regularly across the region to great critical acclaim, and has quickly become known for its exciting and original interpretations of Renaissance and Baroque music, as well as new works of living composers.
The choir consists of professional musicians from the across the West of England and South Wales. Current members have sung with the Tallis Scholars, the choirs of St Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey, and in lead roles on the stages of Covent Garden and Glyndebourne.
The size of the team varies according to the size of the venue, the nature of the event and the repertoire being performed, but come to a concert and you may expect to see between twelve and sixteen singers. Fitzhardinge is committed to encouraging young musicians, and a handful of university students are mentored by the more experienced members of the group. Many of these students go on to postgraduate vocal studies at conservatoires across the country and to perform with groups including Ex Cathedra, the Monteverdi Singers and The Sixteen.
While it performs in large venues such as Bristol Cathedral (the Consort’s home), Fitzhardinge believes in taking expert-calibre choral music beyond the bubbles of big cities and prestigious concert halls. To that end, it performs regularly to growing and enthusiastic audiences in small, rural venues around Somerset, Wiltshire and beyond.
Peter Wagstaff became Director of The Fitzhardinge Consort in September 2014. In 2020 the group undertook a substantial restructuring, including the appointment of a governing board and a team of staff to handle the increasing administrative demands.
If you are interested in singing with The Fitzhardinge Consort, head to the ‘join us’ page.