artistry beyond the notes

DeNOTE is one of the UK’s leading period-instrument chamber groups. Its interpretations of the chamber music of Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn are universally praised for their musical intelligence, beauty of sound, exhilarating improvisational flair and evident joy of music-making.
  • Recipient of Arts Council funding for its innovative stageshow, The Mozart Project Live!
  • Featured artists in the 2017 Hull UK City of Culture
  • Making Music Selected Artists twice over (2015-16 and 2019-20,
  • 5* and 4* reviews for its Beethoven and Mozart recordings


We will sometimes include an arrangement: ‘familiar music as you’ve never heard it before’



We will certainly be including improvisation: ‘the Music is not the Score’


We introduce what we play  giving you added insights into the composers and their music – a musical conversation


We will encourage you to get involved in our conversation afterwards on social media (@denote2)

Period instruments

And yes, we play on period instruments (but that’s no big deal…)


For DeNOTE as we return to the roots of eighteenth-century performance style we find the Music is so much more than the Score!

DeNOTE is committed to spreading its enthusiasm for period instruments and chamber music from Bach to Brahms through its educational outreach work, in schools and education hubs; higher education institutions; and the adult education sector. Regular visitors to Benslow Music, their chamber music courses have become firm favourites in the annual programme.

Whether through themed projects or one-off masterclasses, we aim to transmit a broad range of musical skills and imaginative approaches.

Our dual belief is in the provisionality of the text and its power to trigger startling performance creativity

Our thought-provoking performances, workshops and staged presentations have been admired nationwide at venues such as the Greenwich International Early Music Festival; King’s Place; Milton Court, Barbican Centre; LSO St Lukes; St John’s, Smith Square; Brighton Early Music Festival; Turner Sims Concert Hall, Southampton; St Cecilia’s Hall, Edinburgh; Wimbledon International Music Festival; Victoria Rooms, Bristol; King’s Hall, Newcastle; Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester; Manoel Theatre, Valletta.

DeNOTE’s core musicians

Ensemble DeNOTE was founded by in 2010 as a resident ensemble at London University’s The Institute of Musical Research (IMR) by John Irving, then Director of the IMR.

JOHN IRVING (piano and co-founder)

Recently described as ‘One of the foremost exponents of the period piano in the UK’, John specializes in music of the later 18th century. International Piano has described his Beethoven playing as ‘Excellent…played with historical awareness and humour’. His most recent solo CD is Josef Haydn Piano Sonatas (Devine Music DMCD005). His Mozart and Beethoven chamber music CDs with Ensemble DeNOTE have garnered 5* and 4* reviews in The Observer, Guardian Classical and Early Music Review – the Mozart playing praised for its lyricism, inventive ornamentation and ‘gorgeously subtle colouring.’

John is Professor at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, and previously taught at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. His academic career embraced Bristol University (where he was Professor of Music) and London University (Director of The Institute of Musical Research. An internationally recognized Mozart scholar, he has published six books on Mozart, including an international best-selling biography, The Treasures of Mozart (André Deutsch, 2010) and contributions to the internationally-acclaimed The Mozart Project (a digital book for iPad).

JANE BOOTH (clarinet and co-founder)

Jane is a specialist in the early clarinet and chalumeau. Previously Head of Historical Performance at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London, Jane now leads their successful Coaching and Mentoring Department within Guildhall Innovation. In addition to regular masterclasses and international adjudicating, she has pursued a busy international career, playing all over the world with many renowned ensembles including the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Tafelmusik and The Academy of Ancient Music.Her repertoire is vast and extends from the works of Handel, Telemann and Vivaldi through to Wagner, Mahler and Debussy – all on historically appropriate instruments. Jane has recorded for Analekta (Canada), ATMA (Canada) and sfz music (UK) and Devine Music (UK) performing Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet, solo repertoire for the Basset Horn, wind music by Gossec and Méhul and Lieder by Schubert. Her chamber music discs, Mozart Chamber Music Vols.1 & 2 (Devine Music 2017, 18), and Beethoven and the art of Arrangement with Ensemble DeNOTE (Omnibus Classics, 2015) gained 4* and 5* reviews in The Observer, The Guardian and Early Music Review.



Marcus is co-leader of the Britten Sinfonia, Principal 2nd Violin of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and a member of the Fitzwilliam String Quartet. He has broadcast as a soloist on BBC Radio 3, played with the Nash Ensemble at the Wigmore Hall, and performed chamber music with Freddy Kempf, Peter Donohoe, Paul Lewis, Alina Ibragimova, Leon McCawley,  Paul Watkins, and with Thomas Adès as pianist in music by Adès.

Period performance includes playing with  Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s orchestras ORR/EBS, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Jonathan Cohen’s ensemble Arcangelo, as well as Ensemble DeNOTE. Marcus is also a composer: “Dhyana” for soprano and ensemble was described by George Hall (the Guardian, 2011) as “hugely impressive”.



After reading Classics at Clare College, Cambridge, Oliver studied the viola with Bjorn Sjogren in Stockholm. Since then Oliver has pursued a diverse musical life performing a wide range of repertoire on modern and period instruments. Working with groups such as the Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and English Concert, Oliver has performed repertoire ranging from Purcell to Debussy on period instruments with conductors including William Christie, Simon Rattle and Mark Elder. He has also been guest Principal with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and has recorded with Classical Opera Company and Arcangelo, as well as with Ensemble DeNOTE. As the viola player of the Welsh chamber collective Ensemble Cymru Oliver has performed widely across the Principality.



Ruth thrives on a broad musical diet from Baroque toContemporary, and from solo and chamber music, through to full-scale operatic and symphonic repertoire. Educated in Middlesbrough, Manchester University and the Royal Academy of Music, where she was awarded various prizes for solo and chamber music, she became a principal player in English Baroque Soloists, Orchestre Revolutionaire et Romantique and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment as well as working with BBC Symphony Orchestra.

As a member of Ensemble DeNOTE and period quartet, The Revolutionary Drawing Room she has made several acclaimed CD recordings.

‘an exciting performance…we listened in rapt silence’

Early Music Performer, Early Music Performer

‘Demonstrates just how flexible in colour and weight clarinet playing can be’

Edward Higginbottom, Review 'Beethoven and the Art of Arrangement' CD

‘Ensemble DeNOTE capture the mood of the young Beethoven perfectly.’

Andrew Benson-Wilson, Review 'Beethoven and the Art of Arrangement' CD

‘For lovers of historical instruments and performance practices, this is a real treat…superb, and nobody will wish for a modern instrument in their stead’

MUSIC WEB, Review of Vanhal Clarinet Sonatas CD, 2014

‘Excellent performance…played with historical awareness and humour’


‘A WONDERFUL concert: Absolutely stunning and gorgeous’


An astonishingly fine concert, and a great inspiration for our students. Bravo!

DAVID ALLINSON, Director of Music, St. Gregory’s Centre for Music, Canterbury