In 2016, Fretwork celebrates its 30th anniversary. Over the past three
decades, the group has 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 has become known as a pioneer of contemporary music for
viols, having commissioned more than 40 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, Duncan Druce, and Nico Muhly.
The group now frequently presents programs that consist entirely of contemporary music. In
2007, it toured to Russia (twice), Spain, France, and Ireland, with visits to the
Edinburgh, Lufthansa, Spitalfields, and Aldeburgh music festivals. Fretwork also took part
in a Festival of Evensong at five Cambridge colleges as part of a residency at Sidney
Sussex College. The group now tours the US most years, and made its Carnegie Hall debut in
In 2010, Fretwork curated a weeklong concert series at the dynamic new London concert
hall, Kings Place. The series culminated with the world premiere of Orlando Gough's The
World Encompassed, a 70-minute piece that narrates in musical terms Francis Drake's
circumnavigation of the globe from 1577 to 1580.
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. The group
premiered the winning entries in Kings Place in December.
In 2012, the ensemble premiered My Days, composed by Nico Muhly for The Hilliard
Ensemble and Fretwork in Wigmore Hall. The following year was the group's busiest: It
played no fewer than 10 concerts in London's Wigmore Hall, Kings Place, Cadogan Hall, and
at the Royal College of Music.
In 2014, Fretwork performed the music of John Dowland on a major UK tour with tenorIan Bostridge, and this season, the ensemble premiered Nico
Muhly's Slow at Kings Place. It continues its association with Dartington
International Summer School in August and aims to record a reworking of The World
Encompassed later in the year that incorporates a spoken narrative drawn from
Next year, the group celebrates its 30th anniversary with further visits to Wigmore Hall
and Kings Place, in addition to commissioning more new works. In October 2016, Fretwork
embarks on another three-week tour of North America.