We are a Baroque Orchestra based in Wellington, New Zealand, performing with historically inspired practices, on period instruments and at a baroque pitch. We have a mixture of instruments including strings, woodwind, percussion, harpsichord and brass including fully natural trumpets. The inspiration for our music comes from the era of the Restoration of the English Monarchy between around 1660 and 1700. The opulence of The Queen’s Closet, emblematic of Restoration England, matches the wide ranging tonal colours and aural richness of our music, making this a fitting name for our ensemble.
Our players are a collaboration between full-time professional orchestral musicians, freelance musicians, musicologists and early music specialists based primarily in the Wellington area. Historically Inspired Performance of Baroque Music is an evolving area of practice worldwide and our members regularly study and perform with other baroque specialists in New Zealand and overseas. Our work with performers worldwide allows us to continue to innovate and develop how early music is brought to New Zealand audiences in the 21st century.
At the end of the English Civil War in in 1651 Oliver Cromwell’s tenure as Lord Protector commenced in 1653. The following 7 years, known as the Interegnum, were characterised by a puritan approach to the arts, and included the banning of theatre and aspects of music. After Cromwell’s death in 1658 the Interregnum ended in 1660. With the crowning of Charles II the period known as the Restoration began, and with it a new era.
With the Restoration of the monarchy, cultural life changed. The Theatre in London was rebuilt and the changes heralded a new era of Music composition and performance. It was a time of experimentation, and celebration of culture and the Arts. Music from this time is distinctive in its opulence and emphasis on enjoyment and entertainment. One particular example of this time is the artistic form, the Restoration Comedy, which is a particular (and often bawdy) product of the time.
The Queen’s Closet is a room in Ham House, a National Trust property near London. The Queen’s Closet was refurbished in 1670 in the extravagant style typical of Restoration design, with “ornate gilt carvings and walls hung with rich brocaded satin.”