BREMF’s Artistic Director, Deborah Roberts, set up the Festival with Clare Norburn in 2002.
Deborah Roberts was born in Europe and graduated from Nottingham University with an MA in editing and interpreting renaissance and baroque music. She has remained fascinated by the discovery of new repertoire and performance styles ever since. As a long term former member of The Tallis Scholars, Deborah performed with them in over 1,200 concerts and in countless recordings. Highlights included singing the top line in the Allegri Miserere in the Sistine Chapel as part of the celebrations surrounding the restoration of the famous Michelangelo frescos. She also sang with many other early music ensembles as a soloist and consort singer.
She founded the female voice ensemble, Musica Secreta in the early 1990’s and with researcher and musicologist Laurie Stras, produced some fascinating programmes and recordings of unique and rare music for women’s voices, much of it discovered by Laurie in manuscripts and early prints.
In 2002 Deborah co-founded Brighton Early Music Festival with Clare Norburn, and is now sole Artistic Director. She loves devising the annual programme, and especially exploring new ways to make this massive repertoire, covering nearly 1,000 years of music, relevant to people now. Above all she has enormous pleasure in working with selected young artists through its BREMF Live! scheme.
She took up choral direction more than 20 years ago and has been very active running courses in the performance of polyphonic vocal music and early opera. She founded and also directs the Festival’s vocal consort (BREMF Consort of Voices) and has been involved in all of the Festival’s early opera productions working on specialist technical and ensemble skills.
The combination of academic research and imaginative programming, that brings in elements of contemporary arts and culture, is what fuels Brighton Early Festival, and Deborah feels very lucky to have the support of so many brilliant and talented people in this exciting venture. 2020, in the face of cancellation of the live festival, provided a great opportunity to develop new skills in working with digital media. This has provided much stimulation and she looks forward to being part of the creation of a new digital channel that can make enormous strides in bringing ancient music to a far wider audience through original and creative film
When she can she escapes to Italy where she also founded a summer programme of courses and performances, many of which trial ideas that later appear at BREMF.