Parnassus is collaborative flexible ensemble made up of 4 core members. They are committed to exploring a wide range of repertoire through the prism of historical informed performance with the values of chamber music at the heart of everything they do. They met as part of different young artists schemes in the UK and Europe including: the Monteverdi Apprenticeship Scheme with Sir John Eliot Gardiner and the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique (ORR); Collegium Vocale Gent Academy with Philippe Herreweghe and the Arcangelo New Ensemblists Programme with Jonathan Cohen. The extensive and frequent opportunities to perform together as part of these programmes lay the foundations for the formation of the ensemble. They have also received significant guidance from members of the Eroica Quartet and Chiaroscuro Quartet, groups which are the forefront of historically informed performance practice.
They were privileged to make their debut at the renowned St Martin-in-the-Fields in London in March 2022 and in August 2022 they participated in the prestigious International Young Artist’s Platform as part of the Laus Polyphoniae festival in Amuz, Antwerp, where they performed Schumann’s 3rd Quartet. Members of Parnassus have studied in some of the best music colleges in Europe, including the Royal Academy of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, Hochschule für Musik “Hans Eisler” and Universität dear Künste in Berlin and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow. They regularly perform alongside each other with leading European orchestras and ensembles specialising in historical performance; such as Balthasar Neumann Ensemble (Thomas Hengelbrock), Collegium Vocale Ghent (Philippe Herreweghe), Orchestre de Champs Elysees, Pygmalion (Raphaël Pichon) and Arcangelo (Jonathan Cohen) performing a wide range of repertoire from the early baroque to the late 19th century.
The ensemble provides the space in which to incorporate all the different perspectives and approaches they acquire from these varied engagements. As part of their performance practice they aim to inhabit the performative mindset of the musicians of the time through exploring sources which shed light on the particularities of string playing aesthetics and techniques. Initially a string quartet, they soon realised that they wanted collaboration and flexibility to be a defining feature of the group as way to explore a much wider range of music in terms of instrumentation, period and style and to explore more experimental programming. Programmes currently being developed include: ‚Lied reimagined’ Lied by Schumann and Schubert arranged for string quintet interspersed with quartet/quintet movements by both composers; an exploration of the German Baroque Cantata form ‚Buxtehude to Bach‘; ‚Madrigals without words‘ instrumental reinterpretations of Gesualdo/Marenzio Madrigals; ‚Così fan tutte in quartet arrangement from the time of Mozart‘ and Beethoven Symphonies in various chamber formations. Their goal is for this artistic venture to provide a platform and network for instrumentalists and vocalists to collaborate with them, with the aim of eventually having the capacity to perform not only small intimate chamber music but also large scale works such as symphonies, concertos and accompanied choral works.