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HIP hip
June 2011

If you want a happy ending, that depends,
of course,
on where you stop your story.

Orson Welles

Hello and welcome to Barokensemble De Swaen’s very last concert, marking the culmination of a ten-year project exploring oft-neglected aspects of Historically Informed/Inspired Performance (HIP) - and newly commissioned music - in our free-entrance concert series, open to all members of society. If it’s your first time and you’d like to know more about what you’ve been missing, you can visit the website. Tomorrow, De Swaen will be truly historic and exist only in the past, a bit like the 18th-century musicians we strive to emulate. To emulate their musical legacy, members plan to live on and flourish.

May’s concert was effectively the last of the "typical" De Swaen concerts, as we knew them: An hour long, one voice per part, a rare cantata unearthed and edited by Arwen or Piet, a new piece by a living composer and a Bach cantata. This month, we indulge in something a bit bigger to celebrate our grand finale.

Although J.S. Bach didn’t write anything even faintly mediocre, the B-Minor Mass is one of his undisputed masterpieces and a colossus of the Baroque canon. You could write a very long book of lists of books, articles and opinions about most aspects of this piece, the confusion, discussions and arguments from which would ensure that nobody would ever dare perform it again - an excellent example of the myriad of choices faced by all HIP ensembles. Decisions have been made: Because we have a conductor of Rob’s calibre and to mark this festive occasion, we have chosen to perform with an augmented ensemble of 45 performers, although this is fewer than those available at the Catholic Dresdener Hofkapelle in the 1730s/40s. Italian Latin pronunciation will be used.

Rob has chosen today’s programme. Rob has long been associated with De Swaen and it is fitting that he’s here for the climax of our project. He writes: "It’s always been a great experience for me to work together with de Swaen. Because they normally combine their collective knowledge and perform as a self-contained unit, this ensemble brings out fresh, sometimes surprising aspects of the music, which inspire me to whole new worlds of possibility."

So, this is it! Please sit back and enjoy De Swaen’s last performance. Although our work has been unique and influential, we are not subsidised. Today, a ticket for each seat would have cost about 34 Euros. Please give as generously as possible after the concert. Thank you!

Mike Diprose
June 2011