After the widespread concert cancellations since March 2020, former City director and classical music lover Tina Vadaneaux founded a new charity, Continuo Foundation (“Continuo”). It was established in October 2020 to give grants that create work for freelance musicians and draw upon innovative thinking and technology to help period-instrument ensembles improve long-term sustainability post-Covid.
Our vision for a flourishing UK historical performance sector is one of unity and collaboration, which has never been needed more than now.
Continuo has attracted the patronage of Dame Emma Kirkby, Sir Roger Norrington and Rachel Podger and recruited a team of professionals from music, business and media, all contributing their time to the organisation pro bono. Continuo recently reached its first fundraising milestones rasing £100,000 in just three months and is now open for grant applications from period-instrument ensembles across the UK.
This remarkable response reflects the widespread recognition of the urgent need to retain these musicians whose virtuosity and scholarship underpin the sector, and to provide hope of a career in music for the next generation of artists.
Broadcaster and Continuo Trustee Hannah French commented,
Without urgent action, the UK's established tradition of excellence in historical performance, the work of well over 50 years, could be permanently damaged. This would have a devastating impact on the musicians, all freelancers, who depend upon these groups.
Continuo's first round of grants will mobilise projects for freelance musicians who rely upon performances to maintain their skills and morale. Vitally, the grants also aim to restore confidence after nearly a year of cancelled engagements for most ensembles and to encourage groups to progress with projects despite uncertainty around audience restrictions and lost ticket revenues.
The Advisory Panel that will guide the grant-making decisions includes David Hill (Conductor and Director of The Bach Choir); Dr Berta Joncus (Member of Council, Handel Institute); Lindsay Kemp (Artistic Director of Baroque at the Edge Festival); and Joseph McHardy (Director of Music, HM Chapel Royal, St James's Palace).
Grants from Continuo Foundation are open to professional UK-based period-instrument ensembles. Full details on how to apply are available on the Continuo website: www.continuofoundation.co.uk/grants
The aim of Continuo – Vadaneaux explains – is to create a virtuous circle enabling nationwide touring of programmes to new venues and areas with a lack of provision in this genre of music. This in turn will also improve ensembles' financial sustainability as they rebuild from the devastating impact of the pandemic.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.