Mar 15, 2021

Brescianello Op. 1 Vol. 1: editing underway!

Adrian Chandler directing Brescianello
Adrian Chandler directing Brescianello

Dear Supporter,

I'm thrilled to be able to write to you to let you know that thanks to the generosity of our crowd - and some very handy match-funding from GlobalGiving - we have reached our fundraising target for the post-production costs of the first volume of Brescianello's Opus 1. This album will be released on the Signum label in October 2021. 

This is particularly significant to La Serenissima because 2021 still looks to be a year where very little live performance work will be possible - promoters are still very much in uncertain waters when planning events and we are reliant on their confidence to return to the stage. This means that our recording work has never mattered so much when reaching audiences. The release of this album is doubly important because it will enable us to release something in the second half of this year, in place of our planned project which was scuppered by the UK's return to lockdown in January 2021. The lead times for recording releases are such that we couldn't have released a second album this year without the extra material we courageously gathered in October 2020 - the only project we have been able to pull off since Covid-19 halted the UK's progress in March last year.

Adrian is in the closing stages of the editing process and confirms 'it promises to be a very fine disc'. This looks like to be an understatement in print, given the enthusiasm and delight the first two edits have prompted in our house: we are hopeful this will represent some of our best work yet!

In getting this project signed off, we will be able to begin efforts in earnest to record and release the second album of Brescianello's vibrant orchestral works. You will see over the coming days that we will be editing our GlobalGiving project page to increase our funding target, in the hope that we can secure further donations to support the release costs for Volume 2 - more extraodinarily good music to lift the spirits. Watch this space, and thank you in advance for any further support you are able to give to the project.

Finally, don't miss La Serenissima's LIVE STREAM concert from Wigmore Hall on 31 March. A rare chance to see the group perform a wonderful one-off programme of Ariosti, Telemann, Valentini and Vivaldi with rising star, contralto Jess Dandy.

Thank you for your continued support. Everyone at La Serenissima is hugely grateful.

Camilla

Links:

Mar 10, 2021

An uncertain year ahead for our artists

Making Settecento - the last sessions before Covid
Making Settecento - the last sessions before Covid

Dear Supporter,

This is a short update on La Serenissima's 'roadmap' for 2021 and a reminder that your generosity has helped build confidence for our players during this barren time. Firstly, please accept our thanks for your support to the campaign - we have raised well over half of our target and thanks to continued donations, the fund continues to grow.

We have made a small number of modest grants to musicians, as well as one major grant to an artist who slipped through the Government support framework. These gifts have enabled players to plug the gaps in their financial lives at a time when it's been almost impossible to work in the industry they have spent years training for. Thank you for enabling us to help these valued artists. As we have explained before, as the SEISS scheme is withdrawn later in the year, we predict that the need for additional grant-making will increase as it's likely our return to the concert platform will limp into life gradually - of course, we HOPE this wont be the case!

Having prepared for a new recording to take place in February (Vivaldi's Women) and excitement that we'd get to perform the programme in Saffron Hall in the same month, the UK lockdown ended all hopes. We were unable to organise the work without local accommodation near the recording venue in Wells, and some key artists were unable to travel to the UK to make the album, thanks to restrictions on entering the country and quarantine regulations. This was a large chunk of work for a large group of musicians that had to be shelved at short notice - now postponed until the Autumn when we hope quarantine rules will have eased and the country will be more 'open' for business. 

We have also, sadly, seen the postponement to our April appearances for cultural tours operator Kirker Holidays due to the continuation of restrictions on gatherings. We are happy to say that new dates are being planned with the company, but of course we've been raring to get back to work and this looked so promising!

It remains to be seen whether La Serenissima will be able to go ahead with a performance at Beverley Festival in May. We await news from the promoter... 

On the positive front, we do have a LIVE STREAM set to go ahead as part of the WIGMORE HALL series on 31 March! Please watch and share the good news if you can! All info can be found on the links below. It's free to watch, but you do need to create an account on the Wigmore's site to view. The programme is really exciting - music by Ariosti, Telemann, Valentini and Vivaldi with rising star Jess Dandy (contralto). Adrian is working hard to prepare for this unexpected return to the stage at the end of the month.

We also have hope that a nunber of high profile concerts will go ahead from the summer, including work for Cheltenham Festival and Chipping Campden Festival, and also a collaboration (our first) with Longborough Festival Opera in a run of shows of Monteverdi's The Return of Ulysses. Needless to say, other events remain under question as promoters continue to grapple with the uncertainty of the Covid situation and the pressure on finances caused by social distancing. 

Adrian and I continue to feel that recording remains the only way that we can create work for our team AND remain connected to audiences whilst 2021 plays out. We have begun the process of trying to raise funding for projects later in the year, including a patch of work in June, August and October. We have applied to Round 2 of the Cultural Recovery Fund in the hope that we wont be overlooked a second time. We have also applied to a new fund, the Continuo Foundation, to enable us to make up the balance for the first recording / filming / podcasting project we hope to run (in June). This is a new trust set up during the pandemic to help support work creation for freelance groups and artists; their mission has never been more needed. We await news of these applications and hope to have good news for our band soon. We also continue to appeal for donations to our Serene Recovery Fund to enable La Serenissima to keep working in 2021 and beyond. The appeal got off to a promising start in January with a number of major gifts and pledges helping us get on track to raise a daunting target of £100,000.

You may have seen that new album Settecento was released on 12 February, entering the UK Specialist Classical Chart at Number 7 and being streamed more than half a million times in the first two weeks - an amazing achievement for an album of obscure chamber works. The recording was highlighted on BBC Radio 3's Record Review and Essential Classics and selected as John Brunning's Drive Discovery on Classic FM in its first week of release too.

Adrian is midway through the editing of our recording of Brescianello's Opus 1 Vol. 1 - due for release in the autumn on Signum. This was the first patch of work we could create for artists following the UK's first lockdown and the musical results are really wonderful. We're very excited to share such uplifting and beautiful works with our followers so please WATCH THIS SPACE!

Thank you for engaging with the life of our ensemble and for demonstrating your solidarity through support to this campaign. We are all so grateful.

With our thanks

Camilla

Links:

Nov 11, 2020

Artist Relief Fund: an update from La Serenissima

Our continuo team at work with 2m distancing
Our continuo team at work with 2m distancing

Dear Supporter,

The Covid-19 situation continues and the knock-on effect for the Arts and La Serenissima in particular continues to be felt. The group has now had all concerts cancelled or postponed up to the end of 2020. 

Some of you will have seen that La Serenissima was one of a number of organisations that were unsuccessful in their application to the Chancellor's Culture Recovery Fund. This means that we will not receive any grant to help continue running the organisation over the months of October-March 2021. The impact of this will be profound but Adrian and I are determined to keep La Serenissima going. 

The Artist Relief Fund is still growing. Thank you to everyone for keeping the campaign alive, especially our recurring donors. We have raised more than £10,000 online and offline for the ARF and it is a source of reassurance to our team to know the fund is there should they need it. We have made a small number of payments to players over the recent months, but in general our team are managing through the Government Self Employed Income Support Scheme. The situation is precarious though as SEISS is unlikely to outlive the period of damage to our industry, meaning the ARF will become more significant to players over the coming months.

Whilst we await news of a UK vaccine with eagerness, this is tinged with realism as we know that audience confidence may be damanged for many months, if not years to come. For La Serenissima, this is a serious obstacle because our business model depends on bookings from promoters in order to perform live in public. We are not yet sufficiently funded to give concerts without this income. 

On the positive front, we decided to launch a project in October to record the first disc of Brescianello's Opus 1. This is something that Adrian has longed to do for a while - the music is just so good. It was also important to us to create some work for our core of string players once restrictions were lifted enough for us to work behind closed doors. La Serenissima is massively grateful to the individuals who donated specifically to fund these sessions: it brought us back together again to play some fabulous music after more than 7 months without working together. 

The sessions took place in the Johnson Hall, Millfield School during October half term - just before the UK entered its second lockdown. We had a rigorous set of protocols in place to manage the risk of Covid-19 which included taking daily temperatures, sanitising everything (!) and observing 2m distance in our orchestral set-up. Face masks were worn when moving around the building or when not playing or eating. We organised accommodation for our players locally in bubbles and brought in locally-made food for the team to avoid the need for entering cafes and shops whilst on the project. We also had to handle all this without extra personnel present, so Adrian and I were responsible for all the logistics on site whilst also playing in the sessions. We were able to include two of our Emerging Artists in the week's recording sessions - for one of them it was their first ever experience of recording - which was a massive success. The week was a really happy one, with all the band pulling together to help with running things smoothly. Everyone said how positive it felt to be working again. We are extremely excited by the material gathered during the week - which also included some instrumental tracks for our next planned release Vivaldi's Women (you can see a picture of Adrian recording on our newly-commissioned Italian viola d'amore below). 

If you would be interested in donating to support any aspect of the Brescianello Opus 1 recordings, please write to camilla@laserenissima.co.uk - we have a small funding gap to bridge for the recent sessions and we are also keen to make the 2nd album during 2021. We increasingly feel that making recordings will be the only way to keep La Serenissima's music widely available whilst the Covid-19 situation lingers on. 

Do look out for our new website once it goes live - we're working on the changes to our homepage now. And please consider buying La Serenissima's CDs ahead of Christmas - they make very jolly presents. You can also raise free donations for us when you shop online using Amazon Smile and Give As You Live - it's a good time to try this if you're Christmas shopping. It all makes a difference to us - a little goes a long way with La Serenissima!

Thank you for your support in 2020. We are determined to keep La Serenissima's music alive in 2021.

With our gratitude,

Camilla

Adrian Chandler with the 'Crystal' viola d'amore
Adrian Chandler with the 'Crystal' viola d'amore
The General Manager serving cake in a break!
The General Manager serving cake in a break!
Bass player Peter McCarthy finding peace & quiet
Bass player Peter McCarthy finding peace & quiet
The viola bubble
The viola bubble

Links:

 
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