“The ultimate raspberry to anyone who says baroque music is predictable”.
That’s how The Independent on Sunday described us just a few months ago – but AAM fans have been expecting the unexpected for over 35 years.
Back in 1973, most orchestras played old music in a modern style. Centuries of change had eroded the sound-worlds known to Bach, Handel, Haydn and Mozart: the instruments were different; the pitch was different; the number of players was different; the very essence and spirit of performances was different.
But change was in the air. Wouldn’t it be great, people asked, if we could turn the clock back; if we could find out more about composers’ original intentions and get closer to the style in which music was originally performed?
This was the spirit in which Christopher Hogwood founded the AAM. Unlike other orchestras, the AAM used violins, violas, cellos and double basses with strings made out of animal gut rather than steel. The trumpets and horns had no valves. The orchestra played at a lower pitch than its modern equivalents. And the sound was revolutionary. Centuries of convention were cut away as baroque and classical masterworks were heard anew. Music lovers worldwide were electrified. Ancient music got a thrilling new lease of life.
250 CDs later, after performances on every continent except Antarctica and under the leadership of our current Music Director Richard Egarr, we’re as passionate as we’ve ever been about breathing new life into the music we perform. We’ve recently performed concerts on four continents, and our latest CDs have won three of the biggest prizes in classical music, the MIDEM, Gramophone and Edison awards.
Welcome to the future of ancient music.