In 2011, Fretwork celebrated 25 years of performing music both old and new, and looks
forward to a challenging and exciting future as the world's leading consort of viols.
In these last two-and-a-half decades, Fretwork explored the core repertory of great
English consort music and made classic recordings against which others are judged. Its
series of discs include CDs by Virgin Classics devoted to William Lawes, Henry Purcell,
William Byrd, Matthew Locke, John Dowland, and Orlando Gibbons. With a major focus on works
by J. S. Bach, the ensemble has performed and recorded The Art of Fugue to
critical acclaim and has more recently released the album Alio Modo on harmonia
mundi that features many of Bach's keyboard works, including The Well-Tempered
Clavier and Clavier-Übung. Its arrangement of the Goldberg
Variations was released in November 2011.
Fretwork has also become known as a pioneer of contemporary music for viols, having
commissioned more than 30 new works by 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, and
Fretwork has visited Russia, Spain, France, and Ireland; and now tours the US every year.
The ensemble has also performed at the Edinburgh International, Lufthansa, Spitalfields,
and Aldeburgh festivals. Fretwork also took part in a Festival of Evensong at five
Cambridge colleges-King's, Trinity, St. John's, Gonville and Caius, and Sidney Sussex
colleges-as part of a residency at Sidney Sussex College that included teaching and
recording a CD of music by Thomas Tomkins.
In 2010, Fretwork curated a weeklong concert series at London's new Kings Place. The
series-which featured performances with Emma Kirkby, Michael Chance, and Clare
Wilkinson-culminated with the world premiere of Fretwork's latest commission: The World
Encompassed by Orlando Gough, a 70-minute piece that narrates in musical terms Francis
Drake's circumnavigation of the globe from 1577 to 1580.
In February 2011, BBC Radio 3's Early Music Show devoted a whole weekend to
Fretwork through interviews and performance broadcasts. Also in 2011, The National Centre
for Early Music, in collaboration with the BBC, hosted a competition for young composers to
compose a four-minute piece for Fretwork. The ensemble premiered the winning entry at Kings
Place in December.
In 2012, Fretwork will premiere a new piece written for The Hilliard Ensemble and Fretwork
by Nico Muhly in Wigmore Hall and tour Europe with the composition. The ensemble also looks
forward to playing a series of concerts at London's Wigmore Hall and Kings Place in 2013.
Fretwork will also be touring with tenor Ian Bostridge, celebrating the 450th anniversary
of John Dowland's birth.