The Dunedin Consort is a Baroque ensemble based in Edinburgh, Scotland. It has won major recording awards and in 2010 was ranked 11th among the world’s choirs by an international jury assembled by Gramophone magazine. It was founded in 1995 by Susan Hamilton and Ben Parry, and named after Din Eidyn castle in Edinburgh. In 2003, after Parry’s departure, the group chose John Butt as its conductor. Under Butt’s musical direction, it has become known for performing and recording Baroque vocal music. Butt shared the title of co-artistic director of the Dunedin Consort until August 2012, when his title was changed to music director.
The Dunedin Consort has commissioned and performed works by composers including Sally Beamish, Harvey Brough, Corrina Hewat, Peter Nelson, William Sweeney, and Errollyn Wallen, as well as a number of others who contributed to “The People’s Mass” (see Recordings and awards). The group broadcasts frequently on the BBC and performs at many locations in the United Kingdom. It appears regularly at the Lammermuir Festival. It has also appeared at the Edinburgh International Festival and at music festivals in Canada, England (including the Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music), France (La Chaise-Dieu Festival), Germany (Thuringer Bachwoche and Handel Festival, Halle), Ireland, Israel, Italy and Spain.
Recordings and awards
The consort has made 17 recordings; 12 are on Linn Records. Other labels have included Delphian for …in Chains of Gold and The People’s Mass, Tob Records for Silhouettes and Crimson Productions for A Celtic Christmas.
- 1997: A Celtic Christmas: with William Jackson and the Scottish Orchestra of Music. Mairi MacInnes and Mae McKenna also contributed tracks
- 2000: In the Beginning: music of Samuel Barber and Aaron Copland; the Consort is directed by Ben Parry
- 2000: The Dunedin Consort Live: self-published; out of print
- 2003: … in Chains of Gold: music of Thomas Tallis and William Byrd (without conductor)
- 2003: The People’s Mass: a composite of texts from the Order of Mass and from English language poetry set to music by Malcolm Lindsey, Christine McCombe, Tommy Fowler, John Gormley, Anthea Haddow and Rebecca Rowe, as well as Gregorian chant; the Consort is accompanied by harp. The Consort commissioned the work and performed it in communities around Scotland.
- 2004: "Silhouettes" - a work composed for the consort by Corrina Hewat in 2003 based on poetry of E. E. Cummings and Judith Jardine; released on Tob Records.
- 2006: Handel's The Messiah. This was the first recording of a reconstruction of the work in its first performance, which took place in Dublin in 1742. The recording won the 2007 Gramophone Award for Best Baroque Vocal Recording and a 2008 Midem Award. This was the first Dunedin recording led by John Butt, who has conducted all the group’s subsequent recordings except The Wode Collection, which is performed without conductor.
- 2008: J.S. Bach's St Matthew Passion. This was the first recording of Bach’s final performing version of the work, also dated 1742. It was the second commercial recording of the work to use the one-voice-per-part vocal scoring proposed by Joshua Rifkin.
- 2008: Handel’s Acis and Galatea in the original performing version of 1718. The recording was nominated for a Gramophone Award.
- 2010: J.S. Bach's Mass in B Minor. This is the first recording to use the 2006 critical edition by Joshua Rifkin, which follows Bach's final version of the score from 1748-50 exclusively from beginning to end. (Other editions have included elements from Bach’s 1733 version of the "Kyrie" and "Gloria", and some edits made after his death by his son, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach). The performance uses one or two singers per vocal part in the choruses.
- 2011: The Wode Collection: a collaboration with the viola da gamba consort Fretwork, performed without conductor, featuring 16th-century music collected by the contemporaneous Scottish monk Thomas Wode.
- 2012: Handel's Esther in the first reconstructable version, from 1720.
- 2013: J.S. Bach's St. John Passion, in a liturgical reconstruction based on Good Friday Vespers services in Leipzig. In March, 2013, the disc was named "Record of the Month" by Gramophone and "Recording of the Month" by BBC Music magazine.
- September, 2013: J.S. Bach's Brandenburg Concertos with the Dunedin Consort. It was a Gramophone's "Choice" in October 2013. and was a finalist in the Baroque Instrumental category for the 2014 Gramophone Awards; it was also nominated for the International Classical Music Awards in the Baroque Instrumental category. In this recording, the ensemble used the pitch standard of A=392 or "tief-Cammerton", a whole tone below the modern standard pitch and associated with the French royal court at the time; John Butt notes that many German-speaking courts, including that at Cöthen where Bach wrote these concertos, "attempted to emulate French practice". He also mentions instruments from the time and place pitched to this standard. Still, he notes, "While Cöthen court pitch was likely to have been somewhere near this, it is unlikely that pitch was ever standardized as precisely as we might often assume or wish."
- March, 2014 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Requiem with the Dunedin Consort. This is the first recording of David Black's new critical edition, published in 2012, of the Franz Xaver Süssmayr completion of the Requiem. The recording seeks to re-create the forces used at the first complete performance in January 1793; it also includes a performance of Black's reconstruction of a December 1791 performance of the "Introit" and "Kyrie" sections. Also performed is Mozart's Misericordias Domini, K. 222. In May 2014, the disc was named "Recording of the Month" by Gramophone. and in August, 2014, it won the Gramophone Award for 2014 for Best Choral recording. In November, 2014, it was listed among the nominees in the choral category for the 2015 International Classical Music Awards. In December 2014, it was listed as one of the five nominees for "Best Choral Performance" in the Grammy Awards.
- October, 2015: A musical reconstruction (on Linn) of J. S. Bach's first Christmas service in Leipzig, including the Magnificat in E-flat major, BWV 243a, the cantata Christen, ätzet diesen Tag, BWV 63, organ works by Bach (played by Butt), a motet by Giovanni Gabrieli, and period chorales, recorded in July 2014;
- Forthcoming: Two albums for Linn, including: Bach's violin concertos with the group's first violinist, Cecilia Bernardini, as soloist; and Bach's Christmas Oratorio, recorded in September, 2015.
- "Dunedin Announces New Internal Structure"
- David Vickers, Record review, Gramophone, October 2013
- John Butt, liner notes to the Dunedin Consort recording of the Brandenburg Concertos, Linn Records CDK 430
- "Recording of the Month", Gramophone, May 2014, pp. 28–9
- Gramophone Awards 2014
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-11-27. Retrieved 2014-12-06.
- Grammy Awards nominees
- "Dunedin Consort: Approaching Classical Music with an Inquisitive Spirit". Creativescotland.com. Retrieved 20 January 2015.