Accademia del Piacere (photo: Javier Diaz de Luna)

Chamber Music

Baroque Festival

Spanish Music with the Accademia del Piacere

Rediscovering Spain is the title of Accademia del Piacere’s programme, which makes the music of Baroque Spain come alive with virtuosity and excitement. Fantasias, diferencias and glosas were hits that moved and thrilled listeners in those days. A fresh, unconventional approach and a new perspective on this early music are typical of Accademia del Piacere and its director, gambist Fahmi Alqhai. Accademia del Piacere is rightly regarded as one of Spain’s best Baroque ensembles.

Accademia del Piacere

Fahmi Alqhai viol and direction

Rediscovering Spain

Works by Antonio de Cabezón, Heinrich Issac, Jacobus Arcadelt, Fahmi Alqhai, Santiago de Murcia, Hernando de Cabezón, Gaspar Sanz and other composers

Dates and Tickets

Sat 26 Feb 2022, 20:00

Chamber Music Hall

Series R


The Spanish-born, Syrian-Palestinian gambist Fahmi Alqhai has studied early texts from the Renaissance and Baroque periods thoroughly and takes their instructions on improvisation very seriously. He incorporates them into an individual and historically informed ornamentation practice; many nuances of intonation recall his connection to a culture that uses intervals smaller than semitones.

The fact that dances such as La Spagna by Heinrich Isaac or Santiago de Murcia’s Fandango are open to improvisation is not surprising – their simple harmonic structures were intended as the starting point for interpretations. In his programme, Alqhai also continues the tradition of the glosas, which were common in Spanish instrumental music of the 16th and 17th centuries. As in these musical “glosses”, he presents his own interpretations of existing works – either with embellishment and ornamentation or using the techniques of variation. In this way, for example, he adapts Josquin des Préz’s chanson Mille regretz, which was a “hit” during the 16th century. This practice is well documented in various treatises of that time, such as the Trattado de glosas by the Spanish composer and music theorist Diego Ortiz, in which he demonstrates how he glossed Jacob Arcadelt’s madrigal O felici occhi miei. Fahmi Alqhai will present his glosa of Diego Ortiz’s glosa of Jacob Arcadelt’s madrigal at today’s concert.

With a varied selection of dances and other arrangements of vocal works, Fahmi Alqhai and his Accademia del Piacere create a performance situation similar to that of the 16th and 17th centuries. They use the notated music as the basis for their arrangements and alternating ensembles and develop unique, spontaneous, improvised versions of the musical scores.


With innovative concepts, great spontaneity and technical perfection, the Accademia del Piacere is one of the leading original sound ensembles in Europe. Whether the musicians are playing the repertoire of the Italian and Spanish 17th century or chamber music from the time of Louis XIV – they always delight audiences with a lively and emotionally charged interpretation that has led to many awards. In 2011, the formation also surprised the music world with its sensational project to combine Baroque and flamenco. The Accademia del Piacere was founded in 2002 by Fahmi Alqhai, one of the most brilliant viola da gamba players of his generation: “At the beginning, I spent many hours every day becoming a virtuoso. Now I am starting to really concentrate on expression, on the pure emotionality of the music,” says Fahmi Alqhai. The Spanish musician with Arab roots, who “opens up a whole new realm of exhilarating possibilities for his instrument” (Grammophone), is a regular guest with the leading Early music ensembles. Fahmi Alqhai leads the Accademia del Piacere in the great concert halls of Europe, Japan, the USA and South America. Since 2009, he has also been artistic director of the Seville Early Music Festival, the oldest and most prestigious Early music festival in Spain.

Accademia del Piacere (photo: Javier Diaz de Luna)

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