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National Trust brings back live music to Cliveden’s historic Sounding Chamber

| June 25, 2024

In the first two weeks of July 2024, visitors to National Trust’s Cliveden estate can enjoy a series of mid-week mini concerts at the historic Sounding Chamber.

The Sounding Chamber Sessions presents classical chamber music performed by the Upstart Violyns; specialists in the 17th century Baroque period, when Cliveden House was first built. In addition, The Gershwin Gang will perform jazz classics, reminiscent Cliveden’s 1920s heyday as home of the Astor family.

All performances are free, and no booking is required, but standard admission charges apply.

The Baroque chamber music sessions have been organised in partnership with Maidenhead resident Paul Heywood, who said: ‘On a freezing January morning earlier this year [2024] I recorded classical violinist Naomi Burrell playing some Bach in the Sounding Chambers at Cliveden. Naomi and I were amazed by the acoustics in the Chambers. The heavy brick and plaster walls and marble floor reflect nearly all of the sound produced by the musician, resulting in very long reverberation times for such a small space.

I felt that this historic musical treasure needed to be celebrated, so I assembled a string ensemble from some of the country’s finest Baroque specialist musicians.

They play late 17th century English classical music on authentic 17th century instruments. The programme consists exclusively of pieces that might have been heard by the distinguished guests at Cliveden when the original house was built.

Curator, Ben Alsop, said: ‘Cliveden has been a place for performance and entertaining ever since the first house was built for George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham in the 1600s. The Sounding Chamber sits at the back of the house beneath the South Terrace and boasts far-reaching views over Cliveden’s iconic Parterre.

The Sounding Chamber is one of the oldest spaces on the estate. Its elliptical domed ceiling creates remarkable acoustics which supports the theory that rooms were built for musical performance.

We’re delighted that music will once again resonate from the Sounding Chamber as it did over 340 years ago.

Gavin Kibble, of the Upstart Violyns, says: ‘The second half of the 17th century was an extremely interesting time for musical life in England as Oliver Cromwell discouraged the playing of music in public places. This meant many of the nation’s foremost composers moved to live and work at the country homes of aristocrats. Cliveden’s George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, even had a piece written about him.(1) The music we will play incorporates both traditional and innovative elements, and is some of the most glorious music that has been written.

The Sounding Chamber Sessions run on:

Monday 1st, Tuesday 2nd, and Thursday 4th July 2024 (Baroque chamber music with the Upstart Violyns) and Tuesday 9th and Thursday 11th July 2024 (jazz classics with The Gershwin Gang.)

There will be four performances each day, at 10.30am, 12.00pm, 1.30pm and 3.00pm.

Each performance will last approximately 40 minutes.

It is a 20-minute walk from the main car park, accessible on hard paths meandering past some of Cliveden’s most beautiful gardens. A small detour to the rose garden brings the sweet scent and riot of colour provided by over 900 roses.

*Source of information : Press release from The National Trust.

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