In 1991 a group of musicians was invited to put on chamber music concerts on board a ship cruising the Mediterranean, and after serenading the passengers every evening they decided to form a permanent ensemble.
Variety has always been a key feature of Harmoniemusik’s concerts, with the core group of six playing over a dozen instruments between them, including their own harpsichord. This means the music they present is hugely wide-ranging in style and era – from elegant baroque sonatas and romantic masterpieces to exciting new pieces written specially for the group. Each programme mixes instrumental textures, from duos to octets, while occasionally the group expands to become a mini orchestra to play piano concertos by Mozart or even Haydn symphonies.
Harmoniemusik has enjoyed playing to audiences in all sorts of venues, including the Pittville Pump Room in Cheltenham, the Regency Town House in Brighton, Oloron Cathedral in France, the Philharmonie in Cologne, the Barbican Centre, a hotel and a school in Sana’a (Republic of Yemen), as well as various stately homes, churches, barns, halls and arts centres. Wherever they have been during the year, each August the group returns to the Parish Church of St Columb Major in Cornwall, where for over 25 years it has promoted its own chamber music festival.
A feature of the group’s concerts is the way that the musicians take turns in introducing the various pieces of music – a direct and approachable style that always goes down well with audiences. This spirit of communication about music has led to Harmoniemusik also giving workshops in schools, often allowing children to have their first experience of hearing and seeing instruments played live.