The Bach Players

About the Bach Players

The Bach Players is a group of singers and players known for their engaging programmes of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century music. According to needs, the ensemble varies in size from three to twenty-five musicians. In their concerts The Bach Players make links between composers, national styles, and developments in music – to provide a wider context in which to present the famous composers of the time. They play on original instruments, and all vocal music is sung in its original language. When singers are involved they are part of the group and not ‘add ons’. They work without a conductor. Their concerts are lively, informal events in which the musicians engage actively with their audiences.

Founded in 1996 by Nicolette Moonen, the group’s artistic director, at first their main focus was on J.S. Bach’s sacred cantatas, performed with small forces. Gradually horizons were expanded to a broader picture of Bach’s time and the circumstances in which these pieces were composed. Experience has shown that old music comes alive when put in context, and when questions are posed.

A regular concert series was started in London in 1997. This series continues, now twinned with a venue in Norwich. The Bach Players appear in both venues three times a year. Aside from its own concert series, they have also toured widely in the UK, Ireland, and continental Europe.

In 2007 The Bach Players made their first recording, on the Hyphen Press Music label. The group has since issued a CD every year. Each recording is based on a concert programme, and it tells a musical story. The CDs have been met with critical acclaim both in the UK and abroad.

For our latest news, go here.

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One group that has always impressed me is The Bach Players, directed (if that is the right word) with commendable reticence by violinist Nicolette Moonen. Their concerts always strike me as a gathering of friends, on which the audience eavesdrops, an atmosphere that produces consistent outstandingly musical performances.

Andrew Benson-Wilson, Early Music Review, February 2008

... this quite magical disc. Intimate, infused with joy and overflowing with genuine affection, this is music-making which combines enthusiasm and craftsmanship to create something both rare and precious ... these are performances which stand out from the crowd for their freshness, vitality and sense of total commitment to the music.

Marc Rochester, International Record Review, November 2010

... simply the best rendering I have heard, soloists ideally matched, and constituting a full and sufficient demonstration of the rightness of one-voice-per-part. Never for a moment did one feel the need for more volume; there was never that weird disparity of scale between solo and choral numbers which can make conventional performances so subtly unsatisfying; and the most gifted conductor with the most virtuosic choir could never have elicited the variety and quick-fire interaction that these quartets of intelligent singers brought to bear.

Hugh Keyte, Early Music Review, December 2010

The selection and the ordering are very educational. You hear how much the young Bach was influenced by his older colleague. But ‘educational’ is not the only keyword, because these musicians are driven and inspired. The singing is expressive and the playing no less so. The combination of Sally Bruce-Payne’s alto voice with the rasping string sounds in ‘Widerstehe doch der Sünde’ is irresistible.

Gerard Scheltens, Luister, August 2012

This series of contextual explorations by The Bach Players has been consistently interesting and engaging.

Andrew McGregor, CD Review, BBC Radio 3, 20 April 2013

Regular members of The Bach Players

Regular members of the Bach Players

Matthew Brook, bass

Kinga Gáborjáni, cello

James Eastaway, oboe

Rachel Elliott, soprano

Nicolette Moonen, violin/viola, director

Rachel Isserlis, violin/viola

Pawel Siwczak, organ/harpsichord

Elizabeth Bradley, double bass

Marion Moonen, flute

Silas Wollston, harpsichord/organ

Sally Bruce-Payne, alto

Alastair Mitchell, bassoon

Anne Schumann, violin/viola

Stephen Pedder, violin

Rachel Stott, viola

For more about the players in our concerts: Players 2014

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