Armonico Consort began life in 2001, set up by Christopher Monks and a group of university colleagues with a shared passion for music from the Renaissance to Baroque, coupled with the imagination to find new and unusual ways to present concerts. Audiences seemed to love their engaging and imaginative approach, and most concerts in the first years sold out. The ideas kept flowing, and their horizons broadened to include more contemporary repertoire but at the heart remained Renaissance to Baroque music, including some rarely heard gems performed by some of the world’s finest singers and period instrumentalists.
An education programme was fundamental to Armonico Consort from the outset and now encompasses three AC Academy after-school choirs and an in-school choir creation programme which trains teachers as choir leaders. To date, almost 300 choirs and choir leaders have been created, reaching over 250,000 young people. Future developments for AC Academy include the overseas expansion of the Choir Creation programme in Kenya, and the beginning a major new partnership with Foundaçion Azteca in Mexico which will see them train new choir leaders across Mexico to create the first high level symphony orchestra and chorus in the country.
In 2016, in partnership with their sponsors Phillips 66, Armonico Consort created a major new initiative ‘The Voice Squad’ introducing a Phillips 66 workplace choir. This has had an incredibly positive impact on the well-being of the workforce, demonstrating the beneficial effects of singing on the human mind. The ‘Voice Squad’ has since been extended to workplaces and communities around the country and, following a new partnership with the Alzheimer’s Society, now includes care homes and Armonico’s first-ever ‘Memory Singers’ choir for those living with dementia.
To mark Armonico’s 20th birthday year, they celebrated as any reckless 20-year-old might. Celebrations included the restaging of some of their favourite concert programmes such as the 53-part Missa Salisburgensis by Heinrich Biber, a tour of Bach’s St Matthew Passion with Sir Willard White and Ian Bostridge, a tour and brand-new recording of 16-part works by Francesco Scarlatti, Carmina Burana in London and their biggest project to date, It Takes a City, a new commission for 2000 voices and orchestra as part of the cultural programme for Coventry UK City of Culture 2021, to a large audience at the Royal Albert Hall. In June 2022 they also celebrated with a unique project to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. Armonico Consort started the Autumn season with a charity 200 mile bike fundraising tour, raising over £10,000 for their Memory Singers project for those living with Dementia.
In 2023, Armonico have staged Big Byrd with the English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble to mark the 400th anniversary of William Byrd, J.S. Bach’s St Matthew Passion with Baroque Players, and look forward to their upcoming Monteverdi Vespers tour.
Armonico has also launched ‘The Encore Appeal’, a large-scale fundraising campaign to continue to develop and expand their vital community and education work with schoolchildren and young people with Special Educational Needs, and people living with dementia. Further information about the appeal is here