Orchestra 18/20 is an innovative and exciting new chamber orchestra which specialises in the performance of eighteenth and twentieth-century music. Our aim is originality, accessibility, challenge and excellence in our concert programming. The motto - 'Exploring Baroque and Modern Music' - says it all. Our concerts consist of music from three very different musical periods: the Baroque and modernist periods, and the present day. High Baroque music from Italy and Germany is heard in the context of neo-classical works from the first half of the twentieth century and music of the Second Viennese School. Commissions by contemporary British composers extend our concept and seek to unify the sometimes opposing streams of present-day performance practice: the avant-garde and the period-instrument approach. Our first commission by the composer Rachel Stott, entitled "Secret Follies" and premiered at St Martin-in-the-Fields in 1999, was a 15-minute work for solo violin, cello and harpsichord with string orchestra, inspired by and paired in the performance with Archangelo Corelli's setting of "La Folia" for violin and continuo. Some of the other composers featured in recent concerts include Albinoni, Bach, Bloch, Honegger, Telemann, Vivaldi, Walton and Webern.
Our basic formation consists of fourteen players - oboe, strings and harpsichord - which allows us to perform Baroque and 20th-century string orchestra repertoire, including oboe concertos. Depending on our programming, the Orchestra can expand to include a second oboist, a variety of woodwind and brass players, a pianist, a percussionist and a soprano soloist.
Orchestra 18/20 is available world-wide for concerts, tours and festival engagements. It is also available for choral society concerts, and for private bookings such as corporate events, society weddings, anniversary parties and private concerts. For functions, the orchestra can be scaled down if required to six players (oboe, string quartet and harpsichord) in order to reduce costs. The repertoire for functions would consist almost exclusively of 18th century (Baroque and Classical) music, unless the engager requested otherwise.
Orchestra 18/20 was founded by Althea Talbot-Howard in 1998 with three principal aims. The first was to join together with talented colleagues and friends to create an opportunity to explore a strong, common interest in Baroque and contemporary music. The second was to found an orchestra which would give greater attention to rehearsing than is common in the freelance profession, in order to achieve a high degree of artistic excellence. The third was to present original, innovative and exciting concert programmes which were full of contrasts, containing perennially-popular Baroque music to draw an audience in, combined with twentieth-century music to stretch and intrigue it. The soundness of this policy is made clear by the degree of attendance at Orchestra 18/20 concerts, which is usually high.