In early March I travelled excitedly down to Hobart for the Hobart Baroque Workshop, for three days of intense coaching from Australian baroque experts, lectures and performances in and around the village of Fern Tree, tucked in amongst giant trees in the shadow of Mt Wellington. I went specifically to work with a harpist friend and to meet and work with a lutenist from Melbourne on various beautiful 17th century Italian pieces. We were asked for a ‘working title’ for our trio and in the end settled for “Socks and Sandals”. (It was WAY too cold down there to even attempt to live up to our name, alas.)
As luck would have it, I was struck down with a filthy cold just as we were gearing up for the workshop, so I was glad in the end that I spent the first night in Hobart proper, as massive winds brought down trees up the mountain and my dear “pluckers” – installed at the AMAZING farmstay where I was to join them 24 hours later – were left without heat or power. Early music nerds that they are, bless them, they apparently revelled in practising by candlelight whilst I was unconscious and slept through the worst of the weather.
Despite having to drag my fevered, be-lozenged carcass around for most of the three days and really feeling rather wretched, it was an incredible chance for me to get some specialised input, finally read some treatises (which I had been resisting) and talk to various early music specialists about the ideas behind the music. We even had a class in French baroque dance! (How did we fit all this in??!) And, as the only vocalist on the course, I got to sing an aria with the full workshop orchestra (including 2 harpsichords) in our cumulative public performance on the Sunday afternoon.