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‘Figure’ return for a season of Reflection & Remembrance

12 November 2022 to 12 November 2022 Union Chapel

Image: @www.figureensemble.co.uk/ Frederick Waxman
As we enter the season of remembrance in early November (including All Souls' Day, Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday), Figure invites you to pause and take stock as you are guided by the sacred music of Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924) and Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1643-1704) on a musical, spoken and, at times, silent journey of reflection and remembrance.

Following their sell out performances of Bach’s St John Passion and Handel’s late operatic masterpiece Serse at Opera Holland Park last summer, Figure’s new concert will feature requiems by two enchanting French composers, Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924) and Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1643-1704). Led by a fantastic guest speaker, Reflection and Remembrance will be an evening of stillness, solemnity, and poignancy. The ‘requiem’ presented in the concert sees Charpentier’s Messe pour les trépassés (Mass for the Departed) paired with his Prose des morts (a setting of the Dies Irae). Together they form a powerful musical journey, ranging from the fiery wrath of the Dies Irae at its centre, to the plaintive lamentations which open and close the mass. Charpentier will be followed by Fauré’s 1893 Requiem. These beautiful pieces were originally intended to be performed broken up and interspersed by formal words or personal reflections, as part of church services.

Formed in the wake of the pandemic, Figure has been shaped by the desire to bring music back to live audiences. Prioritising intimacy in their performances and the human connection which lends music so much of its meaning, Figure aims to marry the two by using space and light to bring audiences as close to their work as possible. Founded by conductor and harpsichordist Frederick Waxman, Figure is a forward-thinking historical performance ensemble, performing music of the past using the instruments and techniques from the era of the music's creation. The company aim to offer more than just concerts, but full experiences, as well as improving access to classical music by taking it out of traditional venues and offering reduced-price tickets. Although this performance is being held in a church, it is not an act of worship. However, the hope is to capture some of the stillness, solemnity, and poignancy of a church service by allowing the music space to breathe through moments of spoken and silent reflection and remembrance led by a special guest speaker. Figure will also be joined two leading soloists, soprano Rowan Pierce and bass-baritone Ashley Riches.

Figure presents music from both the 17th and 19th centuries. In the Charpentier (composed in the 1670s) you can expect to see a ‘serpent’ (an ancestor of the tuba in the shape of a snake); whilst in Fauré’s Requiem (the 1893 chamber version), the string players will adopt the expressive playing style of late 19th-century France.

It’s a vibrant, thoroughly entertaining production, thanks to Figure’s founder, young conductor, Frederick Waxman. He assembles a superb ensemble of singers, actors and orchestral players and offers an intelligent and intimate re-examination of Handel’s opera … Waxman conducts with warmth and energy, always attentive to change of pace and dynamics. (★★★★★ The Reviews Hub on Serse at Opera Holland Park).

Further Information: Figure | Historical Performance Ensemble | Orchestral & Choral (figureensemble.co.uk)

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