London Early Opera are leading exponents of baroque research as they work closely with musicologists, historians, editors and researchers finding new interesting programmes, unrecorded music which feature detailed historical performance practice.
LEO link dramatic music and singing with narration and art history to create magical performances in their oratorio and concert performances.
They have recently recorded discs of Handel at Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens and Handel in Italy with multi Grammy winning producer Chris Alder and singers Sophie, Mary and Ben Bevan, Eleanor Dennis, Greg Tassell, Kirsty Hopkins, Claire Bessent, Charles MacDougal.
The group is directed by harpsichordist, conductor and early music specialist Bridget Cunningham and they have performed to acclaim at several major venues including Southwark Cathedral, Grosvenor Chapel and St James’ Church, Piccadilly and across France.
London Early Opera offers concerts, operas, educational workshops, lecture recitals and recordings and collaborate on other projects such as their recent recording of George Butterworth.
Bridget Cunningham is a
musicologist and an international,
versatile conductor who trained at
the Royal College of Music where
she was awarded a Fellowship.
This celebratory recording is part of an important larger series of her albums with Signum Classics – many of which include world premiere recordings.
As Artistic Director of London Early Opera, Cunningham is a leading exponent of baroque music and created these outstanding recordings with many international singers such as Sophie Bevan, Lucy Crowe and Mary Bevan, baroque musicians and historians. Albums include Handel’s Eight Great Harpsichord Suites, Handel in Italy, Caio Fabbricio HWV A9 , Handel at Vauxhall, Handel in Ireland and Handel’s Queens which have been reviewed with international acclaim and shortlisted for a Gramophone Award nomination in 2020; “Handel has never sounded better” (Handel’s Queens) ★★★★★ BBC Music Magazine, 2019 “Bridget Cunningham is just such a player... Her feeling for dance rhythms is infectious and her ability to entertain unassailable” (Handel’s Eight Great Harpsichord Suites) ★★★★★ 5 stars BBC Music Magazine, 2022 Cunningham’s harpsichord performances include playing at the London Handel Festival, Maison Hine Cognac, Victoria International Festival, Gozo as well as for the Royal family at Buckingham Palace. She has performed at the Innsbruck Festival, Yale University, St John’s Smith Square, Teatro Petruzzelli Bari, Handel Hendrix Museum, St George’s Hanover Square, the Foundling Museum and St Martin-in-the-Fields. She regularly collaborates with baroque dance groups and has a passion for combining the artworld with music. Cunningham is a keen advocate for directing baroque music from the harpsichord. As well as her numerous performances including several of Handel’s operas, Bach’s Easter Oratorio, Vivaldi’s Gloria and a 400th anniversary performance of Monteverdi’s Vespers at Southwark Cathedral, she has also directed a world premiere for BBC Radio 4 with London Early Opera written by a BBC Inspire Young Composer of the Year, Grace Evangeline- Mason, for the 300th Anniversary of Handel’s Water Music.
She has appeared on several BBC Radio and TV broadcasts including BBC Radio 3 In Tune, BBC 2 Messiah, BBC 4 Vivaldi’s Women, Radio 4 Front Row and SkyArts, RTE, RTP and Radio Stephansdom.
Georg Frideric Handel was a composer from the Baroque period. Handel wrote primarily music-dramatic works: 42 operas, 29 oratorios, more than 120 cantatas, trios and duets, which comes to a total amount of almost 2000 arias! Furthermore, he composed English, Italian and Latin sacred music, serenades and odes. Among his instrumental music are several organ concertos, concerti grossi, overtures, oboe sonatas and violinsonates, along with many solo works for harpsichord and organ.
Together with Johann Sebastian Bach, who was born in the same year (1685), Handel is viewed as one of the greatest composers of his time. He was extremely prolific and wrote in total more than 610 works, many of which are still performed today.
Compared to his contemporaries Bach, Telemann and Scarlatti, Handel was by far the most cosmopolitan. When Handel was a child, his father, who was a surgeon at the court of Saxe-Weissenfels, imagined a juridical career for him. But his musical talents did not go unnoticed at the court, which forced the father to let him study music. In Hamburg, Handel befriended Mattheson. Together they visited Buxtehude, the greatest organ player of his time, in 1703 (two years before Bach did). At that time, Handel was already an excellent musician, but it wasn't until his stay in Italy - the land of opera - that his talents and skills truly started to flourish. Back in Germany, he received a position at the court of Hannover, where the noblemen had a connection to the British throne. Thanks to these connections, Handel decided to move to London, after which a puzzling history of intrigues and political games started. For example, it is unclear what the exact political message of his famous Water Music is, which was composed for a boat ride on the river Thames by King George. Initially, Handel focused on Italian opera during his stay in London, but from the 1730s onwards he started composing English spoken oratorios, with the celebrated Messiah at its peak.