The Cape Consort is a Cape Town based ensemble dedicated to stylish and historically informed performances of Early Music. Part of a wider initiative to introduce HIPP to South African concert stages, the Consort collaborates with international practitioners and musicologists, and also strives to connect local musicians to the debate and research in the field of HIPP. The ensemble aims to establish a regular presence on the South African concert circuit, exploring and presenting early vocal repertoire (which rarely figures in local concerts) in vivid performances of composers such as Monteverdi, Strozzi, D'India, Caresana, Biber, Schütz, Buxtehude, Purcell, the Bach family, and many other less familiar names. In line with current trends in early music circles, the Consort translates and re-contextualises ancient musical expressions into vibrant and credibly contemporary articulations.
Conceived as a flexible group, the consort adapts its forces to the requirements of the repertoire. The singers are Lente Louw and Antoinette Blyth (sopranos), Nick de Jager, Lance Phillip, and Willem Bester (tenors), and Charles Ainslie (bass-baritone). Erik Dippenaar (harpsichord/organ) and Hans Huyssen (Baroque cello) form the core basso continuo group. Period instruments such as viols, violins, viols, lute, theorbo, and percussion join forces as the repertoire requires.
In 2011, the Cape Consort performed Monteverdi's six-part Vespers in a series of concerts, as well as an all Purcell programme in collaboration with the Cape Town Consort of Viols. Concerts with visiting artists, such as the renowned Dutch Baroque violinist Antoinette Lohmann and the soprano Mandie de Villiers-Schutte were also presented. The 2011 Oudtshoorn Klein Karoo Klassique hosted the Cape Consort with three different programmes of Early Music, which were enthusiastically received by festival audiences. The group also joined forces with Furor Musicus (Amsterdam) for a performance at the Odeion Music Fest in Bloemfontein.
In February 2012, the group launched the first part of its Monteverdi Project at the Fugard Theatre in Cape Town. The gripping renditions of Monteverdi madrigals (supported by synchronised and animated projections of text translations) ran for a series of sold-out performances, resulted in an invitation to establish a regular presence at the Fugard and is documented on the ensemble's first CD. Crowning the series of recent successes, the Consort's performance at the Stellenbosch Woordfees in early 2012 was awarded the WOORDtroFEE for Best Classical Music Production and lead to a KykNet Fiësta Award nomination.