On Thursday 9th of March 2017, I was involved in delivering a Historically Informed Performance Class at the Royal Academy of Music in London. Four members of the period-instrument ensemble ‘Spiritato!’ talked about their recent ‘Guts & Glory’ project - which involved discussing many of the key aspects of being a Historically Informed performer. The class focused on the pros and cons of playing and playing with natural trumpets without finger holes and the various interpretations of the phrase ‘equal tension’ when it comes to the set-up and techniques involved in playing period string instruments.
The four players from Spiritato: Kinga Ujszászi (Violin), Joanne Miller (Viola), Russell Gilmour (Trumpet) and Will Russell (Trumpet), discussed many aspects of the project, from holes to bow-holds and from fundraising to fanfares. The group gave a balanced appraisal of the project and spoke pragmatically about the HIP music profession - offering an insight into what Spiritato has done to form its own following and approach and also balancing experimentation with the demands of the music profession.
In the second half of the class the students performed pieces by Bertali and Schmeltzer alongside the group members, using these perhaps unfamiliar ‘non-mainstream’ techniques. The HIP students raised many interesting points based on their own experience of playing using these techniques - they had clearly engaged with this topic - and there were fascinating discussions that came from the question and answer session. Illustrative musical examples were available from the instrumentalists of the Royal Academy of Music and from the four guest players from Spiritato. There was a great ethos within the class and the students seemed to depart with an added hint of inspiration.