Many people ask why we call ourselves The Consort of Twelve, when in fact we are usually more than that number. Here's the explanation.
"The Consort of ..." was a title commonly given to bands that accompanied masques in the early years of the seventeenth century.
Since we originally formed with about twelve strings players, often with two oboes, we adopted this title for our first performance with Opera 70 in 1981.
The name was first used for Lord Hay's Masque, a lavish production which was given on twelfth night at Whitehall Palace in 1607, where "... a consort of twelve violins" with three lutes, and a consort of ten, which included other instruments and wind, was used to accompany the production. ("Violins", of course, means the violin family - as opposed to the viol family - of all the sizes).