The 'programmes' - although that is probably too grand a term for something of this kind - are carefully tailored to the circumstances, conceived on an intimate scale to suit the surroundings. The ensemble is likely to consist of a singer and a violin accompanied by a lute. Most of the music we play and sing comes from a period that we as musicians love and are most familiar with - the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. That should not sound daunting - pieces are chosen with a general audience in mind, from a wealth of instantly appealing music, much of which has an almost folksong-like quality.

In addition to the odd genuine folksong, music which we have found to work very well in these circumstances includes Lute Songs and songs by Henry Purcell, violin 'divisions' - variations on popular tunes - and wonderfully atmospheric solos for the lute.

Because of the special circumstances, the group stays extremely flexible about what is performed, where, and for how long, and lets itself be guided in this by the team managing the hospice.

A theme

The name for this branch of our work is borrowed from the collection of fugues - the 'Musical Offering' - which Bach presented to Frederick the Great in response to a famous musical challenge. The details can be found here. This was the theme that the monarch challenged Bach to improvise upon:

musical offering theme

The challenge to us is utterly different, of course, but the name seems to suit the project well.