Fretwork

Monday 19 July 2021

“Fretwork is the finest viol consort on the planet” The London Evening Standard

Early music group Fretwork

In 2021, Fretwork celebrates its 35th anniversary. In these last three  and a half decades, they have explored the core repertory of great English consort music, from Taverner to Purcell, and made classic recordings against which others are judged. 

In addition to this, Fretwork have become known as pioneers of contemporary music for viols, having commissioned over 40 new works. The list of composers is like the role call of the most prominent writers of our time: George Benjamin, Michael Nyman, Sir John Tavener, Gavin Bryars, Elvis Costello, Alexander Goehr, John Woolrich, Orlando Gough, Fabrice Fitch, Peter Sculthorpe, Sally Beamish, Tan Dun, Barry Guy, Andrew Keeling, Thea Musgrave, Simon Bainbridge, Poul Ruders, John Joubert, Duncan Druce & Nico Muhly.

The group now frequently presents programmes consisting entirely of contemporary music.

They made their Carnegie Hall debut in February of 2010, and now tour the United States most years.

In that year, they also curated a week-long concert series of concerts at Kings Place. The culmination of this week was the world premier of ‘The World Encompassed’ by Orlando Gough, a 70-minute piece describing in musical terms Drake’s circumnavigation of the globe in 1577-80. 

In 2011, The National Centre for Early Music, in collaboration with the BBC, hosted a competition for young composers to create a four-minute piece for Fretwork. They workshopped the shortlisted pieces at the NCEM in York in October, and then the winning entries were premiered in Kings Place in December 2011.