The Christ Church Concerts series continues this month with what promises to be a charming concert focussed on the French baroque period. The programme features little-heard music from the court of Versailles, played on viola da gamba and baroque musette, the smallest, rarest, and most charming member of the bagpipe family.

Ensemble Pompadour is made up of Laura Vaughan and Simon Rickard, two of Australia’s leading exponents of baroque music. They share a particular love for the French baroque, and for weird and wonderful historical instruments – the more exotic the better. The baroque musette has only been played in Australia twice before (by Simon) – once in Sydney and once in Melbourne. So this is a Daylesford exclusive!

The Concert

The grand operas of Jean-Philippe Rameau and virtuosic keyboard works of Francois Couperin are often heard on the concert platform today. Less familiar is the day-to-day music which was the aural backdrop to the Palace of Versailles glittering interiors and rambling gardens.

In this programme of music by Joseph-Bodin de Boismortier, Michel Corrette and others, Simon and Laura explore charming French baroque repertoire which is little-heard and routinely overlooked today, because it was domestic music, played by highly skilled amateurs in their private apartments or the gardens of the Palace of Versailles. In the eighteenth century, if you wanted to hear music, you didn’t simply stream it on your phone, you had to actually play the music for yourself. Two of the instruments which it was considered particularly appropriate for women to play were the viola da gamba – treble viols (especially the so-called pardessus de viole and quinton) and baroque musette, a tiny, bijou bagpipe made for playing indoors.

This concert is a rare opportunity to hear these rare instruments playing this rarely-heard repertoire. Don’t expect musical fireworks; this is music for the enjoyment of a few selected friends to enjoy in private. At this concert, we invite you into our inner circle to be charmed by these intimate strains.

The Performers

Simon Rickard is primarily a specialist in historical bassoons, from the 16th to the 18th centuries. He studied at the Dutch Royal Conservatorium in the Hague, thereafter spending several years playing with European ensembles such as Les Arts Florissants in Paris and the Gabrieli Consort and Players in London, before returning to Australia. In addition to historical bassoons, Simon is a leading exponent of a bizarre renaissance woodwind instrument called the rackett, and the baroque musette, the smallest and poshest member of the bagpipe family.

Laura Vaughan’s story is remarkably similar, having also studied at the Dutch Royal Conservatorium in the Hague. She is a specialist in the viola da gamba, performing mostly on the seven-string French baroque bass viol, occasionally branching out to play consort music on the smaller treble viol, or the great bass member of the family, the violone. Laura is one of a handful of musicians who play the 13-stringed lira da gamba, an exquisite, bowed, chord playing instrument, used for accompanying early Italian opera, as well as being Australia’s only exponent of the baryton, a unique hybrid of the viola da gamba and the bandora, for which Haydn composed music to be played by his patron, Prince Nikolaus Esterházy.

Simon and Laura have played together for two decades in Australia’s premier period instrument ensembles. They have toured and recorded together with Pinchgut Opera/Orchestra of the Antipodes and the Australian Haydn Ensemble, where they delight in performing together as part of the basso continuo bloc, as well as in chamber ensembles such as Unholy Rackett and La Compañia, and Laura’s internationally acclaimed baroque trio, Latitude 37. This is the first time Simon and Laura have appeared together in public in the intimate context of a duet of musical friends.

The Ensemble Pompadour concert promises to be unique, special and charming, ideally suited to the intimate and beautiful setting found at Christ Church Daylesford.

Date: Saturday, July 29
Time: 2:30 pm
Venue: Christ Church, 54 Central Springs Road, Daylesford.

All enquiries to Frank Page: or 0417 010 817.