‘Played with passion, precision and brilliance’ Early Music Review
Recent highlights in the consort's concert schedule have included playing their Simpson programme in the Netherlands, several performances of Dowland with Emma Kirkby and Jamie Akers, and programmes to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare, including a live Radio 3 broadcast from the RSC in Stratford alongside David Suchet and a New Orleans jazz band!
Chelys take their name from the ancient Greek word which referred to a bowed lyre, said to have been invented by the god Hermes. The word was borrowed by renowned English violist Christopher Simpson on the title page of his treatise 'The Division Viol' when he translated the work into Latin. It is perhaps particularly apt then that the group’s debut CD was the world premiere recording of Simpson's Airs for two trebles and two basses, a disc enthusiastically reviewed by early music publications and wider classical reviewers alike, including four stars in the Guardian.
The members of Chelys are leading exponents of the viol, particularly as a consort instrument, and their consort viols are strung entirely in gut (not strings overwound with metal) as would have been the case historically, which lends a particularly distinctive sound to the group. They frequently collaborate with other period instrumentalists and singers, and have also had music written for them by award winning composer Jill Jarman.
The members of Chelys are active in the wider Early Music world, playing with ensembles such as the Rose Consort of Viols, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and Fretwork. They are keen teachers and can be found on courses around the UK and abroad, including the Benslow Trust, NORVIS, Dartington, the Irish Recorder and Viol Summer School, the Easter Early Music Course, and coaching school, university and music college viol consorts.