The Future Life of the Viola da Gamba: Historical Performance in the 21st century

Lead Research Organisation: Guildhall School of Music and Drama
Department Name: Research and Enterprise


This practice-led research project continues the work started by Liam Byrne during an Artist Residency at the V&A in Summer 2015, focusing on the viola da gamba, a string instrument widely used between 1500-1800 but now, apart from specialist historically informed performance, largely a museum-piece. This project will examine in detail the two most productive strands of what little viola da gamba performance does still take place - creating new music for an old instrument and experimenting with alternative performance contexts for historical repertoire. It offers a case study addressing not only the dormancy of the nation's major musical instrument collections but also broader questions surrounding the museum's emerging role as a performance space, the conservatoire's urgent need to relate to new audiences and performance contexts, classical music's role in public culture, the creation of widely communicative and genuinely 'performable' electronic music and the dissemination of music generally in the digital age.


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