Meet...Instruments of Time & Truth!
Double bassist Judith Evans tells Revoice! about exciting period ensemble Instruments of Time & Truth...
Instruments of Time and Truth was formed in 2014 by cellist Gabriel Amherst and double bassist, Judith Evans. The inspiration for founding the group was a mixture of pragmatism and vision.
On the pragmatic side, one of the catalysts for the formation of IT&T was Edward Higginbottom’s retirement as Director of New College Choir - a post he had held for 38 years. Both Judith and Gabriel felt a musician as profound as Edward should have an ‘instrument’ and as fixer for Collegium Novum - the orchestra with which the choir did its final recordings with Edward - Judith was aware of the wealth of excellent period-instrumentalists living in and around Oxford, but rarely working there.
Add to this a steady flow of musical imports to Oxford that these Oxford-based musicians were sometimes literally passing en route to London and the idea of forming IT&T was born. By providing a platform for world-class performing musicians in Oxford, here was an opportunity to embed local musicians in their own community, so improving on their otherwise itinerant lifestyle. At the same time, IT&T would celebrate what we have here in our city which also made most efficient use of available funds. For the audience, why look elsewhere for musical inspiration when you could have a group the calibre of Instruments of Time and Truth on your doorstep? A group with whom you can develop a connection and feel that your support is significant in shaping Oxford's musical landscape: so pragmatism meets vision-an approach which, in the light of Brexit seems even more timely.
In terms of musical inspiration for founding IT&T, the last twenty years has seen a huge change in early music and a reduction in the scope of repertoire. In the heyday of the 90s when early music became ‘mainstream’, an ‘authentic’ version of almost everything was recorded right up to twentieth century music. In the sparser landscape of today's economic climate the repertoire of early music groups, for the most part, has contracted to the baroque and earlier whilst ‘modern’ orchestras have reclaimed nineteenth century repertoire. So the musical impulse behind IT&T was a desire to perform those cornerstones of classical music that had gone from our domain, hence the 16/17 launch of our ‘Classical Masterpieces’ series. Alongside this, Edward had his personal passion for French music which finds an outlet in the concert entitled, ‘Le Coucher du Soleil’ to be performed in the Holywell Music Room on November 18th and in our London debut at King's Place on the 25th.
Just as the repertoire associated with early music groups has changed in the 21st century, so too, I think, has their approach to historical performance. Having been Principal bassist in the Academy of Ancient Music for over 20 years, I have witnessed a move away from slavish adherence to the sources of performance practice and the evolution of a more hybrid approach where the performance itself is the starting point, rather than the origin of the music. Musicians working in the field have digested the sources over many years and incorporated them into a new musical language where learning is worn more lightly and the experience of the music for the musicians and the audience is paramount. I suppose I like the term ‘historically-informed performance’ which evokes this sense of a fusion of the best of both worlds.