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Anthony Rooley

It can be said, after more than 130 recorded CDs of largely unexplored material, that Anthony Rooley (born 1944) is one of the most active, far-searching and fearless musical explorers alive today. This fund of applied musicology provides a legacy to benefit all who follow in his footsteps. Few professors and lecturers in music departments around the world who venture into pre-18th-century music will not have had recourse to some of this recorded legacy. But it is as a performer, live and vibrant, with his lute and his Consort of Musicke (made up of his closest friends and admired colleagues) that he would wish to be remembered. Since 1969 he and they have charmed the world (‘turning the hinges of revelation’, said one discerning critic after a performance in the Sydney Opera House. ‘Superlatives continue to rain down on Anthony Rooley and his Consort of Musicke, but what more can be said when there is such perfection?’ – an amazed reviewer in Berlin. At the beautiful Ueno Gakuen Hall in Tokyo, they were agog!) Biographies usually consist of lists, like hunting trophies – so here is a list of some of the memorable events and achievements, in no order of priority, and far, far from complete: The first modern performance of The Judgement of Paris – the Competition of 1701 re-run in the BBC Promenade Concerts (three different settings by John Eccles, Daniel Purcell and John Weldon). Incidentally, at four and a half hours, the longest live relay BBC Radio Three has done from the Royal Albert Hall in London. The first modern performance of A Hymn to Harmony, 1701, by John Eccles, in Basel, Switzerland in 2001, three hundred years to the day (St Cecilia’s Day, 22nd November). The first modern performance of Albion and Albanius by Lewis Grabu, the first modern performance of Shadwell and Locke’s Psyche, the first presentation of William Hayes’ magnificent and bold The Passions: an Ode to Music. The first sounding of the 1850s pre-Raphaelite madrigals of Robert Lucas Pearsall… and so it goes on – first this, first that. And now, a ‘mature Dowland’, revisiting works known and loved for more than 35 years.

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