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Continuo playing—two linked classes

Saturday 16th October 2021 (13:30) – Saturday 6th November 2021 (17:30)
St Mary-le-Bow Church, Cheapside, London EC2V 6AU

These two classes provide a rare opportunity to gain practical tuition in the art of continuo playing. Taught be expert continuo player Thomas Allery, they will be of great benefit to keyboard players who are already doing some continuo playing, as also to those who wish to begin to do so, including those preparing for the continuo playing option in RCO organ playing diplomas. Observer places are still available for the second class on 6 November.

Five playing places are available for advanced level keyboard players who have at least some familiarity with figured bass playing. Those booking these places must book for both classes. Anyone can attend as an observer and can book for either or both classes. Participants will perform on a copy of a 1667 anonymous French harpsichord built by Alan Gotto.

Class 1, 16 October
Thomas Allery introduces players to the essentials of continuo playing on the harpsichord. The class will explore harpsichord touch and technique, spreading chords, ideas of expression, creating dynamics, controlling and planning phrasing, and thinking about varying the pacing of movements and preparing for an improvised continuo accompaniment.

Class 2, 6 November - observer places still available
Players will work with solo recorder player Mary-Jannet Leith, building on the tuition received in the first class. Whether choosing to perform from a written out continuo part or improvising a realisation, players will have the opportunity to explore the nuanced details and spontaneous elements of live accompaniment. The class will encourage experimentation in how keyboard technique can contribute to the direction, flow and stylistic impression of a piece of music.

What to prepare
Player participants should prepare one slow movement and one fast movement of their choice taken from Handel's recorder sonatas in F major (HWV 369), C major (HWV 365), or A minor (HWV 362). You can choose to realise your own accompaniment from the figured bass part (which you may write out if you wish) or use a published realisation (which you can adapted if desired). The Bärenreiter edition comes with both a figured bass part and a separate realisation and so is ideal for the purposes of these classes.

The teacher
Thomas Allery is an organist, choral conductor and harpsichordist based in London. He enjoys a varied career spanning work as an organist and choral director in church music, continuo playing, research and teaching. As an experienced harpsichordist and continuo player, Thomas is currently undertaking research of historical continuo treatises from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and exploring how they can be used in keyboard education today. He enjoys performing regularly with his own period ensemble, Ensemble Hesperi. He is Organist of St Mary-Le-Bow in the City of London, and Assistant Director of Music at the Temple Church.

The venue
St Mary-le-Bow is on Cheapside not far from St Paul's Cathedral and St Paul's underground station.

If you need a bursary to attend these classes please visit The deadline for applications is 1 October. Those whose attendance as a player is conditional on receiving financial support are asked to email to discuss the booking process.

Covid safety arrangements
Click here to download information about the procedures we have in place to make the event as Covid-secure as possible.


Fee: RCO Member (player, both classes) £132; RCO Student Member (player, both classes) £72; full time student (player, both classes), £92; Non-member (player, both classes) £162. Observer rates per class in same order: £36, £21, £31, £48.

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