Above: students and staff talk about studying Historical Performance at Guildhall
Encompassing all historical wind, string, keyboard instruments and voice ranging from medieval to post-classical periods (c.1830)
Exploring a broad range of historical repertoire, the Historical Performance Department is headed by Jane Booth. It provides a variety of performance opportunities, ensembles and specific performance craft sessions, often in collaboration with other departments. Features of this Principal Study area include our thriving partnership with the Academy of Ancient Music (providing masterclasses, audition experience and side-by-side rehearsals and performances), and our continuing partnership with The Sixteen through the Guildhall Vocal Consort.
At BMus level the Early Instruments Principal Study pathway is for students wishing to approach their studies from a historically-informed perspective. If you choose this Principal Study, you will explore a broad range of repertoire from medieval times to the present day through detailed investigation of the ever-changing aesthetics and contexts of the performance of western classical music. This includes sacred, secular and some popular genres. It also explores the distinct approaches to improvisation that inhabit all periods and styles. The performer-as-creator dimension is applied thoughtfully, drawing on texts and source material from each successive period of musical history.
As you progress through the four years, the focus of the programme changes to embrace and build on the knowledge and skills acquired through your study. You can choose to specialise exclusively in period instruments or to mix period and modern. Collaboration is also encouraged and you can work with other departments to push boundaries and explore new possibilities. You will receive specialist individual and group tuition on historical playing and/or singing styles and develop bespoke research skills (for example, accessing and using specialist archival sources and organological approaches).
Provision for second study and ensemble experience is also available.
Read more about the BMus course structure.
MMus/MPerf in Performance
Read more about our Masters in Performance. The Historical Performance specialism is described below.
Read more about our research programmes.
Study at this level is aimed at graduates (both university and conservatoire) with an interest in exploring the creative potential of specialised performing techniques. Students focus on the music, instruments and documentary sources of the Middle Ages, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical and Early Romantic periods. The postgraduate programmes are also suitable for those modern instrumentalists with an interest in diversifying their command of period playing styles.
The combination of specialist tuition and detailed guidance in research techniques enables you to approach period music in a historically-informed manner. It also allows you to underpin your high-level performance skills with in-depth academic knowledge. You will be given unique opportunities to explore the contrasting sound worlds of different musical periods and develop expertise in diverse playing styles and apply them creatively.
Activities and ensembles
- Guildhall Consort – Eamonn Dougan
- Guildhall Baroque Orchestra – Pavlo Beznosiuk
- Guildhall Cantata Project – James Johnstone
- Baroque Opera Scenes
- Guildhall Cornett & Sackbutt Ensemble – Jeremy West/Emily White
- Guildhall Classical Winds – Jane Booth
- Guildhall Double Reeds – Gail Hennessy
- Guildhall Recorder Consort – Ian Wilson
- Guildhall Viol Consort – Liam Byrne
- Guildhall Lutes & Voices
- Guildhall Renaissance Band
- Guildhall Medieval Ensemble
- Masterclasses with international artists
- Specialist source classes in Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque and Classical period performance practice and historical techniques
- Research skills, repertoire exploration, notational principles, tunings and temperaments, performance skills, baroque gesture and movement
Our new association with the Academy of Ancient Music (AAM, Associate Ensemble at the Barbican Centre) offers students an enticing package of activities including masterclasses with AAM principal players, audition preparation and side-by-side ensemble workshops. The partnership also allows access to major artists working with the AAM, to AAM open rehearsals and to Q&A sessions and networking opportunities. Read more about our partnership with the AAM.
Guildhall Consort is the School’s elite vocal ensemble, and has performed at St Martin-in-the-Fields, BBC Radio 3, Southbank Centre and the Barbican, is directed by Eamonn Dougan, Assistant Conductor for The Sixteen and offers unrivalled opportunities for refining vocal ensemble techniques, performing music from Victoria, Palestrina and Schütz through Bach, Schumann, Stravinsky and Arvo Pärt. Regular Baroque Cantata Projects are directed by James Johnstone.