Dunedin Consort is Scotland's leading baroque ensemble based in Edinburgh, Scotland, recognised for its vivid and insightful performances and recordings. Formed in 1995 and named after Din Eidyn, the ancient Brittonic Celtic name of Edinburgh Castle, Dunedin Consort’s ambition is to make early music newly relevant to the present day. Performing on period instruments, with choruses often numbering just one to a part, the group presents concerts that are both intimate and invigorating, often aiming to recreate the music as it was originally intended. Under the direction of John Butt, this has seen the ensemble earn two coveted Gramophone Awards – for the 2007 recording of Handel’s Messiah and the 2014 recording of Mozart’s Requiem – and a Grammy nomination. In 2018 it was shortlisted for a Royal Philharmonic Society Award in the Ensemble category.
Dunedin Consort performs regularly at major festivals and venues across the UK, giving its BBC Proms debut in 2017 with a performance of Bach’s John Passion. In the same year, Dunedin Consort announced its first residency at London’s Wigmore Hall, complementing its regular series of events in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Perth. In Scotland, Dunedin Consort has appeared at the Edinburgh International, Lammermuir and East Neuk Festivals, while also touring widely to the most prestigious international festivals and venues throughout Europe and beyond. It broadcasts frequently on BBC Radio 3, Classic FM and BBC Scotland, and its growing discography on Linn Records includes Handel’s Acis and Galatea and Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, both nominated for Gramophone Awards. Other Bach recordings include Mass in B Minor, Violin Concertos, Magnificat, Christmas Oratorio, Matthew Passion and John Passion, which was nominated for a Recording of the Year award in both Gramophone and BBC Music Magazine. In its Handel series, Dunedin Consort has recorded Messiah in its original Dublin version, Esther (Handel’s first oratorio in English), and in 2018 it will record Samson in its first version of 1743, and the Ode for St Cecilia’s Day. In 2017 Dunedin Consort released its recording of Monteverdi's Vespro della Beata Vergine 1610 to wide critical acclaim.
While Dunedin Consort is committed to performing repertoire from the baroque and early classical periods, and researching specific historical performance projects, the ensemble has also commissioned and premiered new works by composers including Sally Beamish, Harvey Brough, Corrina Hewat, Peter Nelson, William Sweeney, and Errollyn Wallen.
The group was founded by Susan Hamilton and Ben Parry. In 2003, the group chose John Butt as its conductor. Under Butt’s musical direction, it has become known as one of the leading exponents of early music in the UK. Butt shared the title of co-artistic director of the Dunedin Consort until August 2012, when his title was changed to music director.
Recordings and awards
The consort has made 15 recordings 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. 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;
- 2015: Bach's violin concertos with Cecilia Bernardini, Huw Daniel and Alfredo Bernardini as soloists
- 2016: Bach's Christmas Oratorio, recorded in September, 2015.
- 2017: Monteverdi's Vespers 1610
- Forthcoming: Handel's Ode for St Cecilia's Day, for release in October 2018 and Handel's Samson in its 1743 version, for release in 2019.
- "About us - Dunedin Consort". dunedin-consort.org.uk. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
- ""Dunedin Announces New Internal Structure"". dunedin-consort.org.uk. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
- "The People's Mass - Dunedin Consort - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
- "Bach - John Passion - Dunedin Consort". dunedin-consort.org.uk. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
- David Vickers, Record review, Gramophone, October 2013
- "Nominations" (PDF). Icma-info.org. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
- John Butt, liner notes to the Dunedin Consort recording of the Brandenburg Concertos, Linn Records CDK 430
- "Mozart's Requiem - 9781139533744 - Cambridge University Press". upbo.com. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
- "Linn Records - Mozart: Requiem (Reconstruction of first performance)". Linnrecords.com. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
- "Recording of the Month", Gramophone, May 2014, pp. 28–9
- Gramophone (18 July 2014). "Choral". Gramophone.co.uk. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-11-27. Retrieved 2014-12-06.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Awards". Grammy.com. 30 April 2017. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
- "Dunedin Consort: Approaching Classical Music with an Inquisitive Spirit". Creativescotland.com. Retrieved 20 January 2015.