Formed in 1988 by the Early Music Centre of Great Britain, the Orlando Consort is established as one of Britain's most important chamber music ensembles, performing to the highest standards and renowned for its imaginative and innovative programming. Working with leading academics on music that has often never been performed in modern times, they have set new standards of performance, particularly with regard to the pronunciation and tuning of this fascinating repertoire. In recent times the Consort has also attracted praise for their highly imaginative programming of contemporary music and jazz, and for their outstanding education projects that are specifically designed to involve amateur musicians of all ages (from 9 upwards) and abilities.
The group has made many commercial recordings with Saydisc, Metronome, Linn, Deutsche Grammophon and Harmonia Mundi USA. The Mystery of Notre Dame (works by Perotin and others) was nominated for an Edison award in the Netherlands, while Loyset Compere, 1445-1518, Popes and Antipopes (Papal music from the 14th and 15th Centuries), Passiontide (15th Century Flemish Easter music), the Missa De plus en plus by Ockeghem, The Saracen and the Dove (Music for the courts of Padua and Pavia), and Motets by Josquin Desprez have all been short-listed for Gramophone Awards. The Works of John Dunstaple was chosen as the 1996 Gramophone Early Music CD of the Year, a feat repeated by The Call of the Phoenix (English 15th century motets) in 2003. Their two CD/book collections, Food, Wine and Song and Medieval Gardens included outstanding feature articles from leading chefs and horticulturalists, including Clarissa Dickson Wright, Jean-Christophe Novelli and Sir Roy Strong. 2008 sees the release of a ground-breaking recording, pairing Machaut's extraordinary Messe de Notre Dame with Scattered Rhymes, a brilliant new work by the young British composer Tarik O'Regan and featuring the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir.
The Orlando Consort has made frequent appearances on the British and Dutch Early Music Networks. Regular performers at London's Wigmore Hall and the South Bank Centre, the Consort has also sung in festivals in Spain (Santander, Ourense, Seville, Granada, Valencia, Burgos, Segovia, Avila, Barcelona, Huelva, Las Palmas and Madrid), Belgium (Antwerp and Bruges), Germany (Regensburg, Frankfurt, Nurnberg, Heidelberg, Herne, Cologne, Rommersdorf, Leipzig and Berlin), Austria (Vienna, Graz, Feldkirchen and Melk), Greece (Athens and Thessaloniki), Estonia (Tallinn, Parnu and Tartu), France (Amiens, Avignon and Le Thoronnet), Poland (Krakow, Wroclaw, Jaroslaw and Warsaw), the Czech Republic (Plzen and Prague), Russia (St. Petersburg), Italy (Florence, Bologna, Venice, Trent, Rome and Padua), Portugal and Sweden (Skara), as well as the Spitalfields Festival, the Bury St. Edmunds, Aldeburgh, St. David's, Stour, Deal, Brinkburn, Hexham, Cheltenham and Chester Festivals, the Manchester Early Music Series, the City of London Festival, the St. Magnus Festival in Orkney, the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival and both the Beverley and York Early Music Festivals. The Consort has been featured at many events in North America, notably the American Musicological Society Meetings in Montreal and Toronto and at the Boston Early Music Festival. Even further from home, the Consort has made repeat visits to Japan and has also travelled on a six-concert tour to Peru, Bolivia and Colombia. The Consort made their debut at the BBC Proms in the 1997 season, returning in 2001, and at the Edinburgh International Festival in 1998, returning in 2007. The Consort is currently an Associate Ensemble at Southampton University.
The work of the Orlando Consort extends well beyond conventional early music presentation: they frequently perform with local amateur choirs and with actors of the calibre of Robert Hardy and Prunella Scales. They appear regularly with the brilliant Dutch ensemble, The Calefax Reed Quintet and their Extempore collaborations with the jazz quartet Perfect Houseplants have continued with the release of a second CD, Extempore II. The coming season includes visits to the USA, Spain and Poland and in 2009 they will be launching a new project with the brilliant tabla player Kuljit Bhamra that explores a radical musical dialogue developed in Portuguese Goa in the early 16th century.