Medieval Music in the Dales – Time to Book Your Ticket!

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We are about to launch our Crowdfunding Campaign – which mean it is time for you to book your tickets! This blog gives the full programme for the event and tells you how to go about booking your tickets – or otherwise supporting MMITD – through this Campaign.

The Campaign is at www.crowdfunder.co.uk/medieval-music-in-the-dales. Please note that the site does not go live until the official launch at noon on Monday 15th February. But if you would like a sneak preview of the site, here it is.

You might not know how crowdfunding works, but it’s basically pretty simple. It’s a way of funding an project by attracting supporters who Pledge particular amounts of money in return for a Reward of some kind. So in its simplest sense, it’s a way of advance selling tickets for MMITD – the supporters Pledge the ticket price and in return you’ll get the Reward of a ticket.

But of course, it’s a bit more than that. As you will see when you take a look at the ‘Rewards’, it’s not just tickets. We offer everything from simple thanks (expressed via a rather fancy e-Scroll sent as a PDF!) for the smallest Pledged donations right up to a package of goodies for the maximum Pledge amounts. And the Rewards are all to some extent unique to the campaign – meaning it is a distinct advantage to you as well as to us to join in as a supporter. Some Rewards are purely and simply only available through the Crowdfunding Campaign. These are:

  • the Performer Pass for those who want to play on the Open Stages, and
  • all the Camping tickets

All the other Ticket Rewards offer tickets at a cheaper price than they will be available after the campaign – in other words, they are like Early Bird Tickets.

We can’t emphasise enough that it’s vital to reach our goal, or we simply don’t get the money! We need to know that we have our sound financial footing secured, and we have the six weeks of the Crowdfunding Campaign to do it. Please sign up early, and also spread the word – and it’ll be plain sailing!

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Different Kinds of Rewards

Basically, there are four kinds of rewards

  • A Festival Pass. This is the ticket for those who want to come to MMITD just like any other festival, to enjoy the music and the vibe, and perhaps join in on a few workshops if they want.  Some Festival Passes include lots of extras like workshops, Concerts, the Feast, and others simply give access to the Castle for the Instrument Exhibition, the Medieval Market, the Luthiers’ Demonstrations and the Open Stages. Some also include Camping on site, and some are specifically for Groups. So you can take your pick (our flow chart might help you here!)
  • A Performer Pass. This is the ticket for those who want to come to MMITD for all the same reasons as above, but also want to join in with the music by performing on our Open Stages. The deal is that Performer Pass holders get discounted tickets and other benefits in return for doing at least four half-hour sets over the weekend. All Performer Passes come with workshops built in and there are options to include Camping, and the evening Concert and Friday Feast.
  • The Evening Events. If you want to book just for the Saturday evening Concert or for the Friday evening Feast, then there are specific Pledges for these.
  • Other Ways to Help. You might not be able to get to MMITD in person but still want to help, or you may wish to lend us extra support on top of your tickets – very lovely in either case! There are a range of Pledges offering rewards like the CD of the event or our remarkable medieval-style Tile by the Company of Artisans, or our PDF E-Scroll of Thanks… Or you could be a Programme Sponsor and take an advert for your band or business in our programme… Or you could be a Luthier, Concert or Artist Sponsor. These last three offer great ticket packages but we are happy to discuss alternative benefits if you can’t come in person – just get in touch.

There are a lot of possible Pledges, and hopefully these categories might help you wade through them and choose what’s best for you!

But you may well be thinking, wow, I need a flow chart to work this out… Panic not – take a look here at our Online Charts that might help guide you through the options.

And if you’re stuck, just drop me a line saying what you want to do and I’ll sort out the best options for you.

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The Programme

Friday September 2nd
1pm
Opening of the Luthiers’ Exhibition and the Medieval Market (to 5pm)

2pm
Trouvere Workshop: ‘Instrumentarium – a Hands-on Tour of Medieval Musical Instruments’ in the Great Chamber (DE)
Open stages (every 45 minutes until 4.15pm): various locations

3.30pm
Beginners’ Bagpipe Workshop with Tom Hughes in Lord Scrope’s Chamber (1 hour) (DE)
Luthiers’ Demonstrations / Trouvere in the Great Chamber

7.30pm
Grand Medieval Feast in the Great Chamber
Saturday September 3rd
10am
Luthiers’ Exhibition and Medieval Market ( to 5pm)

10.30pm

  • Reed-making Workshop One with Lizzie Gutteridge in Lord Scrope’s Chamber (DE)
  •  Fifteenth-Century Dance Workshop with Cait Webb and Gaita in the Great Chamber (DE)
  • Open stages (every 45 minutes through to 4.30pm): various locations

12 noon

  • Hurdy-gurdy workshop (intermediate to advanced) with Steve Tyler in Lord Scope’s Chamber (DE)
  • Luthiers’ Demonstrations / Informal band performances in the Great Chamber – to 1.30pm

12.30pm
Blondel in concert in St Oswald’s Church (DE)

1.30pm
– Thirteenth-Century Dance Workshop with Charlotte Ewart in the Great Chamber (DE)
– Bagpipes Workshop (Intermediate-Advanced) with Paul Martin in Lord Scrope’s Chamber (1 hour) (DE)

2pm
Leah Stuttard in concert in St Oswald’s Church (DE)

2.30pm
Recorder Maintenance Workshop with Philippe Bolton in Lord Scrope’s Chamber (2 hours) (DE)

3pm
Luthiers’ Demonstrations / Informal band performances in the Great Chamber (to 4.00pm)

4pm

  • Gaita in concert in St Oswald’s Church (DE)
  • Informal group playing in the Great Chamber – All welcome, any instrument, come and bash through some medieval tunes (1 hour)

7.30pm
Evening concert in St Oswald’s Church with Blondel, Leah Stuttard, Steve Tyler & Katy Marchant, and Trouvere

Sunday September 4th
10am
Luthiers’ Exhibition and Medieval Market (to 4.30pm)

10.30pm

  • Thirteenth-Century Dance Workshop with Charlotte Ewart in the Great Chamber (DE)
  • Working with Medieval Sources Workshop with Gill Page in Lord Scrope’s Chamber (DE)
  • Open stages (every 45 minutes through to 4.30pm): various locations

12 noon

  • Singing Workshop with Richard de Winter in Lord Scrope’s Chamber (DE)
  • Luthiers’ Demonstrations / Informal band performances in the Great Chamber (to 2pm)

1.30pm

  • Medieval Bowed Strings Workshop with Paul Martin in Lord Scrope’s Chamber (1 hour) (DE)
  • Steve Tyler & Katy Marchant in concert in St Oswald’s Church (DE)

2 pm
Fifteenth-century Dance Workshop with Cait Webb and Gaita in the Great Chamber (DE)

2.30pm
Reed-Making Workshop Two with Lizzie Gutteridge in Lord Scrope’s Chamber (DE)

3.00pm
Trouvere in concert in St Oswald’s Church (DE)

3.30pm
Informal group playing in the Great Chamber – All welcome, any instrument, come and bash through some medieval tunes (1 hour)

4.30pm
Grand Finale in the Courtyard! Fanfares, singing and group playing, and general good cheer…

Daytime Extras

DE indicates that this is a Daytime Extra – you will need a Reward that includes Daytime Extras to be able to go to these. 

When you Pledge for a Reward that includes Daytime Extras you will be sent a registration form inviting you to state your preferences for Daytime Extras, in order of preference. As far as possible, and on a first-come-first-served basis, you will get your top choices.

If workshops are over-subscribed we will do our best to arrange a second session of that workshop and if you miss out first time around we will put you on the reserve list for a second session. 

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More Information on the Daytime Extras

Friday 2nd September

  • Trouvere – Instrumentarium Workshop: A hands-on introduction to the principal familes of instruments in the middle ages. Taking a chronological approach, this gives a good idea of what kind of instruments were when, and their development over the centuries. 2pm in the Great Chamber. 90 minutes.
  • Tom Hughes – Introduction to Medieval Bagpipes: Exploring the history and folklore of bagpipes, different forms, evidence in medieval records and iconography. How the instrument works with a chance to have a try, using pipes loaned by the Bagpipe Society.  3.30pm in Lord Scrope’s Chamber. 1 hour.

Saturday 3rd September

  • Lizzie Gutteridge: Reed-making Workshop One: Participants will make one or two reeds over the course of two 90-minute sessions (please note this counts as two workshops) with advice on reed and instrument adjustments. 10.30am in the Great Chamber, 90 minutes.
  • Cait Webb and Gaita – Fifteenth Century English Dance: Recreating the dances described in the late fifteenth-century Gresley manuscript. 10.30am in the Great Chamber. 90 minutes. Music from Gaita.
  • Steve Tyler – Hurdy-Gurdy Workshop: The workshop will look at monophonic and polyphonic music along with some work on trompette rhythm and technique. Suitable for intermediate players upward, 12 noon in Lord Scope’s Chamber. 90 minutes
  • Blondel in Concert: Zephyrus With His Swete Breathe: Music from the 14th and 15th centuries on recorders, bagpipes and shawms. 12.30pm in St Oswald’s Church. 1 hour.
  • Paul Martin – Bagpipe Workshop: A look at medieval tunes with ideas on ornamentation. Suitable for any except complete beginners, G pipes. 1.30pm in Lord Scrope’s Chamber. 1 hour.
  • Charlotte Ewart – Thirteenth-Century Dance: Historically informed interpretations of the high medieval estampie. No choroegraphy survives from this early but this workshop explores the possiblity of recreating a convincing estampie based on the music, the literature and the iconography. 1.30 pm in the Great Chamber. 90 minutes. Music from Trouvere.
  • Leah Stuttard in Concert: The Wool Merchant and the Harp: Fifteenth century music for dancing and singing based on the records of George Cely, a wool merchant apprentice now preserved in the National Archive. 2pm in St Oswald’s Church, 1 hour.
  • Philippe Bolton: Recorder Maintenance: Looking at (a) how to safely remove the block from the recorder, check the condition of the windway and remove any dirt or fungus, (b) how to replace leaking joints and (c) some techniques for tuning adjustments. It will also be a surgery if you have any particular problems with your own instruments. 2.30pm, Lord Scrope’s Chamber. 2 hours.
  • Gaita in Concert: Music from the Courts of France and Italy in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. 4pm in St Oswald’s Church. 1 hour.

Sunday 4th September

  • Charlotte Ewart – Thirteenth-Century Dance: Historically informed interpretations of the high medieval estampie. No choroegraphy survives from this early but this workshop explores the possiblity of recreating a convincing estampie based on the music, the literature and the iconography. 10.30am in the Great Chamber. 90 minutes. Music from Trouvere.
  • Gill Page – Working with Medieval Sources: An introduction to sourcing medieval manuscripts online and how to begin using them in your music, leading onto the basics of the palaeography of musical notation and written script. 10.30am, Lord Scrope’s Chamber. 90 minutes.
  • Richard de Winter – Medieval Song: The workshop is in three parts: (1) introduction to plainchant and learning a simple piece of melismatic chant, (2) secular song – the challenges of performing in medieval language to a modern audience and in particular story-telling in medieval song, and (3) trying out some magnificent medieval polyphony. 12 noon, Lord Scrope’s Chamber, 75 minutes.
  • Paul Martin – Bowed Strings: Looking at some medieval tunes with a focus on the use of drones, and also bowing rhythms and emphasis. Suitable for vielle, rebec, crwth and also for modern violins retuned to an open G chord. 1.30pm, Lord Scrope’s Chamber. 1 hour.
  • Steve Tyler and Katy Marchant in Concert: Medieval music on hurdy-gurdy, bagpipes, shawm, psalterio, gothic harp and recorder, with an emphasis on the 14th century. 1.30pm in St Oswald’s Church. 1 hour.
  • Cait Webb and Gaita – Fifteenth Century English Dance: Recreating the dances described in the late fifteenth-century Gresley manuscript. 2pm in the Great Chamber. 90 minutes. Music from Gaita.
  • Lizzie Gutteridge: Reed-making Workshop Two: Participants will make one or two reeds over the course of two 90-minute sessions (please note this counts as two workshops) with advice on reed and instrument adjustments. 2.30pm in the Great Chamber, 90 minutes.
  • Trouvère in Concert: The Revel & the Melodye: Music from medieval England, with Richard de Winter; songs from five centuries of English history. 3pm in St Oswald’s Church, 1 hour.

Last but very much not least, there is the Exhibition by instrument makers. We can at last confirm the line-up in full:

From the UK we have:

  • George Stevens with soundbox instruments including gittern, lute and harps
  • Jim Parr with bagpipes and shawms
  • Terry Mann with pipes and recorders
  • Helen Leaf with wind instruments in wood and horn, drums and jangling medieval triangles
  • The Early Music Shop with their wide range of historical instruments
  • Phil Bleazey with flutes, whistles and recorders
  • Eric Moulder with reed woodwinds
  • Erik Martens & Lizzie Gutteridge with shawms, rommelpots, reeds and more
  • and Kalum Hewitt of Alberic’s Workshop with his early medieval soundboxes

From France we have

  • Jean-Daniel Talma (Atelier Elbock) with wind instruments in wood, bone and horn
  • Ben Margotton (Margotton Lutherie) with soundbox instruments including lyres, citoles and rebecs
  • Philippe Bolton with medieval and other recorders
  • Benjamin Simao (Atelier Tri Nox Samoni) with wind instruments in wood, bone and horn and soundbox instruments including lyres and early guitars
  • Ugo Casalonga with sound box instruments including gittern, citole and vielle

And last but not least from Italy we have Danilo Turchetti with his magnificent bagpipes.

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Anyway, I hope all this has been helpful and please get in touch if you have any questions. And please pledge! We can’t do it without you…

 

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Medieval Music in the Dales – Latest News

This is an online version of our latest Medieval Music in the Dales newsletter – though don’t forget if you want to get the newsletter as an email, just get in touch. We’ve been really busy with fundraising over the last couple of months, and here’s what we’ve been up to…

I’ve made three applications for funding so far. The major one is the Grants for the Arts application to Arts Council England – this is for about 55% of the total funding, so is obviously fairly significant!  It was clear to us that MMITD is a pretty unique event that will involve a huge number of musicians and crafts people, and it seemed perfect… With all the pressure on the public purse at the moment, nothing can be taken for granted, but we will  know by the end of January if our bid will be successful. Please keep your fingers crossed – it was a major undertaking just completeing the paperwork!!!

bagpipe society logo new.pngI also considered special interest groups that might like to back MMITD. I was really delighted to hear that The Bagpipe Society were offering grants. They were really happy to support MMITD, specifically and for the most part to fund the travel expenses to the UK of Danilo Turchetti of Musica Inspirata, who is busily reinventing the medieval bagpipe to exquisite effect.

I’ve also looked at local funding sources, and recieved good advice  from the Dales Tourism Business Network. And I’m delighted to announce that the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority Sustainable Development Fund has granted us £700 to support the marketing of the event. Open to any individual, business, community group orvoluntary sector body, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority Sustainable Development Fund provides a simple and accessible source of money for a range of projects that result in positive benefits fro the National Park, its envYDNPA 5cm CMYKironment, its economy and its communities, while enhancing and conserving local culture, wildlife and landscape. It’s wonderful that they have decided to assist MMITD in this way.
More information about the Fund here: http://www.yorkshiredales.org.uk/living-and-working/sdf

How You Can Help One – Crowdfunding in February

Our crowdfunding campaign will be our other major means of fundraising for MMITD. Crowdfunding is a great way of cooperating to make something happen and another great boon of the internet age. Sites like Kickstarter or Crowdfunder allow causes and projects to promote themselves to anyone interested, in the hope of gaining financial support. Supporters can contribute to the project financially by making pledges, and in return they get rewards.

From the start, we thought this would be a great model for MMITD as a way for supporters to book advance tickets – at the most excellent prices, naturally – and other benefits. Thus people who can’t actually come along to MMITD might be interested in the CD or DVD of the event or one of the other commemorative items. Crowdfunding also opens up the option for supporters to sponsor aspects of the event, and indeed to make contributions just because they (rightly!) love the whole idea!

Crowdfunding campaigns typically set a target that they have to reach. on this model, if the target is not reached, the campaign fails and all support is cancelled. So we really want to encourage everyone to get on board and book their tickets good and early so that the campaign will succeed and we can go forward with the clearest idea of our total funding.

Our crowdfunding campaign will begin in mid-Feburary and run through to Easter- and make no mistake, you won’t be able to miss it! Here are the key facts :

  • The campaign will run for six weeks, from mid-February to Easter 2016
  • There will be a range of tickets available as supporter Rewards.
  • One of the Rewards will be the Performer Pass – the cheapest ticket of all and only available as a crowdfunding Reward. This is for those who want to take part in the Open Stages and be part of the music-making.
  • Crowdfunding tickets will be cheaper than those available later!
  • Crowdfunding tickets will be the only way to reserve the limited camping pitches
  • Crowdfunding ticket-buyers get priority on their choice of workshops and concerts
  • You can make more than one pledge!
  • If you are feeling especially generous, crowdfunding offers the opportunity to sponsor a concert or a workshop – all such offers are gratefully received…
  • When you make your Pledge to buy a ticket, I will be in touch with a booking form. As appropriate, you can specify all your choices for workshops on this and – if applying     for a Performer Pass – also give details of your performance, instruments, repertoire etc.
  • And – most important – we’ve got to reach the target by Easter!!!

Full advance details of the full range of pledges and rewards will be released in the first half of February. Please help us all out by joining in the Crowdfunding Campaign.

How You Can Help Two: easyfundraising-logo-2

This is a frankly splendid idea. I caught on to it because I saw a Facebook post from the Oxford Folk Weekend announcing that they had raised several hundred pounds for their very splendid event via this ‘easyfundraising.org.uk’. I looked it up and saw it could be a great way to raise money for MMITD. Here’s how it works.

Whenever you buy anything online – from your weekly shop to your annual holiday to your car insurance – you could be raising a free donation for Medieval Music in the Dales There are nearly 3,000 retailers on board ready to make a donation, including Amazon, John Lewis, Aviva, thetrainline and Sainsbury’s – and it doesn’t cost you a penny extra!

It’s really simple, all you have to do is:

  1. Join – Head to easyfundraising.org,uk and sign up for free as a supporter.

  2. Shop – Every time you shop online, go to easyfundraising first, pick the retailer you want and start shopping.

  3. Raise – After you’ve checked out, that retailer will make a donation to your good cause for no extra cost whatsoever.

There are no catches or hidden charges at all – it’s a win-win all round. For example, I most recently bought a few Christmas presents at John Lewis and got a £1.35 donation! A £40 train ticket booked through thetrainline earnt £0.64. Even a film rented on Amazon bought a few pennies.. I’m sure you can see how it can all add up – but we really need a few more of you good people to sign up as supporters. Give it some thought?

Once you’re signed up, you can also install an easyfundraising Donation Reminder on your computer, which will give you a handy little reminder whenever a donation is available when you’re shopping online – so you never miss the chance to donate. When you see the alert, just click to activate your donation. It’s as easy as that! Shoppers who use the easyfundraising Donation Reminder raise five times more donations for their cause because it helps them remember. You’ll love it and we will too! Find out more and help raise five times more for Medieval Music in the Dales here.

Also, if you shop on your mobile or tablet, you could get the free easyfundraising app and again you’ll never miss a donation. To get it, visit the App Store or Google Play and search for ‘easyfundraising’ or find out more here.

Other new developments since September

There have also been exciting developments on the line-up front since September. Our line-up for the luthiers’ exhibition is now as follows:

  • Ardival Harps (wire and git-strung historical harps)
  • Atelier Elbock (flutes of many kinds)
  • AtelierTri Nox Samoni (flutes of many kinds, lyres, early guitars)
  • Early Music Shop (wide range of historical and folk instruments)
  • George Stephens (medieval gitterns, lutes, harps)
  • Kalum Hewitt (medieval soundbox instruments of many kinds)
  • Jim Parr (bagpipes and shawms)
  • Leaf Trading Post (bone flutes, percussion)
  • Margotton Lutherie (soundbox instruments of many kinds)
  • Musica Inspirata (bagpipes)
  • Phil Bleazey (flutes of many kinds)
  • Philippe Bolton (recorders)

And there are a couple more very likely but still to be confirmed (we like to keep you guessing a bit…) Full details will be confirmed in the next newsletter – out in early February.

Finally – more on the location for MMITD: The Yorkshire Dales

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There’s no getting away from it, the Yorkshire Dales are one of the most splendid areas of outstanding natural beauty in the country. Being able to have our event in such a stunning location is a definite plus.

The Yorkshire Dales is the second largest national park in England  after the Lake District. One of its most distinctive features is its network of drystonepress-askrigg-wensleydale walls, and there are 8689km of them! They are formed from the limestone that is the bedrock of the Dales and which contributes so much to its unique character.

The Yorkshire Dales have been shaped by thousands of years of human occupation, with each dale having its own special character. One of the most fascinating finds in the area is the Iron Age bone flute found near Malham – so MMITD is part of a very long musical heritage indeed!

Pictures courtesy of The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.

For all general enquiries or to join the mailing list please email: medievalmusicinthedales@gmail.com

There’s also our spanking new website: http://www.medievalmusicinthedales.co.uk

You can like the Medieval Music in the Dales Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/medievalmusicinthedales

You can also contact Trouvère
by email: trouvere_york@hotmail.com
by phone: 07720118406
and our website is: http://www.medievalminstrels.com

 

 

 

 

 

Medieval Music in the Dales

 A long weekend of medieval music with performance, market, workshops and more –  at Bolton Castle in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales

September 2nd, 3rd and 4th 2016

We are planning an ambitious new event for 2016. Medieval Music in the Dales will offer a weekend of all  things to do with medieval music. Currently, the UK does not have an event solely dedicated to medieval music – which tends to get mixed  up with the Renaissance, or even later periods, when in fact it has so much that sets it apart.

Medieval Music in the Dales (MMITD)  will have a strict timescale for performance of 500-­‐1500. It will feature instrument makers who specialise in, or include in their range, instruments from this period. There will also be elements of living history, which will similarly stick to this timescale.

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And it will have the perfect setting… The fourteenth-­century home of the  medieval Scrope family, Bolton Castle commands Wensleydale in a simply stunning setting. Though  battered in the Civil War, a large part of the Castle remains fully intact, allowing for plenty of room for performance, displays, and eating and drinking. Participants in MMITD will be welcome to stay at the Castle or camp on site. Facilities are basic but it is a  wonderful place to stay!

Here’s what we are hoping to include in the weekend:

  • A display of luthiers, with instruments of all kinds, from the Friday afternoon through to the Sunday afternoon
  • Informal music-making from Friday afternoon and throughout the weekend
  • A ticketed medieval banquet in the Great Chamber of the Castle on the Friday evening
  • A concert on Saturday evening – and maybe further concerts at other times.
  • Workshops on the Saturday, and maybe the Sunday also
  • A medieval market featuring quality suppliers of medieval living history equipment from the Friday afternoon and throughout the weekend

More about the location…

floor plans

Bolton Castle offers excellent and fitting accommodation for our music-making. The castle is arranged around a central courtyard that is open to the air. This courtyard has potential as a venue for the living history market stalls – as does the garden. The interior spaces that we will be using are all on the first and second floors as marked…

Visitors enter the castle on the first floor. From here they can either go into the shop and access the rest of the castle – or else into the tea room, which is one possible performance space for informal music. Going through the gift shop, visitors can access the Old Kitchen – a really excellent medieval space which is easily transformed into a medieval tavern – a further performance space where drinks could be available. Bolton Castle can even provide barrels of real ale!

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Going upstairs from the gift shop, visitors pass by the Chapel. This is now open to the elements but, weather permitting, is another lovely performance space. Staying indoors, one comes on the second floor to the Solar (right). This is a splendid large space, with the small Nursery adjoining up a short flight of stairs. The Solar will be the venue for the luthiers’ display.

great chamber with side

Along a short corridor lies the Great Chamber (left) – a truly majestic space which will be the venue for timed  slots of music, and for the MMITD trade stall selling CDs of the bands and musicians performing at the event as well as offering publicity material for performers and luthiers. This is also the venue for the ticketed medieval banquet on the Friday night. It will also make a great location for dance workshops.

bolton_castle_map_large with side

Bolton Castle sits at the western end of a small villlage. As the picture map shows, it has substantial gardens offering – along with the courtyard –  plenty of space for the living history market – and indeed outdoor performance.

The church can also be seen to the north of the castle – this is a possible venue for the concerts. There is also a village meeting room, which could house small workshops. This lies off the map on the eastern side at the far end of the village – it’s just a short walk.

The car park is actually quite large – it’s not to scale here – and there is plenty of room for camping in this area on both hardstanding and grassed areas.

Getting it all happening!

We have already explored the idea of ‘Medieval Music in the Dales’ with some of the key performers and instrument makers from the UK and abroad and it’s gone down really well with everyone so far. We are confident that we can attract some of the best performers and makers to the event. More details of the line-up will follow – it’s early days yet but it is looking good!

If you are interested in taking part or simply in coming along to MMITD then at this stage please join our mailing list or Facebook page to keep in touch with developments.  Please do get in touch if you would like to take part in MMITD as a performer, luthier or trader!

Here’s the contact details for MMITD:

For all general enquiries or to join the mailing list please email: medievalmusicinthedales@gmail.com

Or like the Medieval Music in the Dales Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/medievalmusicinthedales. NB – to get all updates on the page it’s advised to ‘like’ the page and then activate ‘Get Notifications’ from the dropdown menu under the ‘Liked’ button.

You can of course also contact Trouvère
by email: trouvere_york@hotmail.com
by phone: 07720118406
and our website is: http://www.medievalminstrels.com

new collage

Magna Melodia – designing the CD

 

I’ve been working on the cover image for the new CD. I wanted something that suggested ‘Magna Carta’ but also something that emphasised music. So this is what I’ve come up with.

The primary image is taken from the seal of King John, as used on the great charter, but here in full colour. This is the obverse of the seal, which always shows the monarch in majesty – sat in state and holding the insignia of his (or her) office. Thus John holds imagea sword in his right hand and the orb in his left hand. The other side of the seal – the reverse – showed the monarch on horse back, in the characteristic knightly pose: horse at the gallop, knight in full armour with sword raised to the back. This double-faced style of seal was instituted in this country by William the Conqueror, and remains in place to this day with the reverse of the current royal seal showing Queen Elizabeth on horseback as the Colonel-in-Chief of the Grenadier Guards and the obverse showing her ‘in majesty’ with the sceptre and the orb,

On John’s royal seal, the image is surrounded by the words Ioannes Dei gratia rex Anglie dominus Hibernie, in other words’ “John by the grace of God king of England lord of Ireland”. I’ve replaced this with the name off the CD! using letters modelled on those in the seal.

So that’s the Magna Carta angle. For the musical side of things, I thought I might echo the many medieval images of King David, the great biblical musician. He is often shown (usually himself playing an instrument) surrounded by other musicians.

So I snuck in images of a female musician playing a harp in the top left and a symphony on the bottom right (representing me!) and a male musician playing a duct flute in the top right and a medieval lute in the bottom left (representing Paul). All four of these images are loosely based on medieval exemplars. The harp player is based on the King David in the Westminster Psalter – the same image upon which Eric Kleinmann based my wonderful new Romnesque harp – while the symphony player is based on the famous miniature in the Cantigas de Santa Maria. The lute player is drawn from the Cantigas and also a couple of images in Alphonse X’s Book of Games, while the original of the flute player is a slightly earlier and English image.

Having created the image, we will now pass it on to our splendid graphic designer, Matt Riley of fusion design in York to transform it into a CD cover with our logo and all the other details and packaging.

It was an added bonus that this design echoed the circle-in-a-square design we’d used in the past for ‘Music for a Medieval Feast’ and ‘Music for a Tudor Feast’. We toyed satirically with the idea of calling this CD ‘Music for a Major Medieval Constitutional Change’ but wisely thought better in the end…

*          *          *

Musically, things are going really well. Paul has been concentrating on the troubadour material and has been recording the first instrumental pieces. I’ve been working on the pronunciation for ‘La dousa votz’ and ‘Voulez vous que je vous chant’ – those pesky differences between Occitan and French are testing me!  We’ve decided to include Raimbaut de Vaqueiras’ Kalenda Maya (in an instrumental version) and the melody sometimes known as the English Dance. This comes from the same manuscript as Foweles in the Frith – Douce 139 – and so is right at the end of our period. Soon we will be turning to the Sicilian repertoire, which being largely Christmas tunes and also twelfth century, will also play a large part in our music for the Norman Christmas event at the Tower of London (27-31 December), and our ‘Medieval Christmas’ concert at Barley Hall in York (18 December).

Working hard on ‘Magna Melodia’…

We have been really getting to grips with some new repertoire over the last few weeks, and it’s all shaping up to a very pleasing and varied programme of music for our ‘Magna Melodia’ concert of music from the time of the Magna Carta. One tune that we’ve been working on in particular is the lament on the death of Richard the Lionheart, by the troubadour Gaucelm Faidit.

This lament is usually known as ‘Fortz chausa es’, which is its original Occitan title, but the song with its music survives in four manuscripts (and many more with just the words), and we have chosen to do one of the lesser-known versions, in which the song has been reworded in French (or more like heavily Frenchified Occitan). We went for this version for a couple of reasons – firstly, it is the one in our beloved ‘Chansonnier du Roi’, the mid-thirteenth century collection that is the basis for our 2012 CD Music for a Medieval Prince. It’s always nice to expand our repertoire from this wonderful source. Secondly, this much less well-known version of the tune is a bit different (though clearly ‘the same’ in a broad sense) and this allowed scope for us to develop our own version of the song. Thirdly, we liked the idea of a French version, as we thought it more likely for an aristocratic English audience, whose own language would have been (broadly) that of northern France. Use of the Chansonnier version, however, brought its own problems. Firstly, there are only two verses given (other versions are much longer), so we will only work with these two. Secondly, there are the usual problems of damage in the Chansonnier, and very small sections of both music and words are missing. We have substituted these sections from other extant versions.

It is a stunning song in which words and music work so well together to express the devastation felt at the death of King Richard. The verse is through composed – there is no repetition of themes or phrases, rather the tune is continually changing and developing, while retaining an overall unity.  Here is our working version of the first verse, (although eventually it will probably end up a bit freer in rhythm); asterisks mark the ends of lines:

Fortz chausa dots page 1

Here’s my rough translation, to give an idea of the flavour of the piece:

It’s a harsh matter and certainly the most harmful, and the most grievous sorrow that ever was. This thing that should be mourned for all time with weeping, I must say it well in singing and must recount it. He who was of valiant men the captain and the father, the valiant king Richard, king of the English, he is dead – alas – what sorrow and what loss – what an unfriendly word and savage to hear. The man that can endure it has a hard heart indeed.

In the second verse, the poet goes on to compare Richard – favourably, of course – with Alexander the Great, Charlemagne and Arthur. In other versions, further verses lament the fate of the Holy Land now that Richard is no longer around to fight for it.

I have been learning the song, and I found it a little hard at first to get a handle on it, but the more you sing it the more interesting and satisfying it gets.  The melody is really unusual and in this version ends off the tonic – curious but beguiling! I am looking forward to singing it in concert, when it will be accompanied by the medieval lute.

While ‘Chose fort avias’ has been our major focus over the last week, we have also begun work on a wonderful piece of Aquitanian polyphony, the ‘Lux refulget’. This has some incredibly mobile melodic lines for us to master! Paul has begun work on Bernart de Ventadorn’s “La dousa votz’, and I have been working hard on ‘Man mei longe him lives wene’ and ‘Foweles in the Frith’: the latter sounds very sweet with both lines played on the harp. We will post up some sounds on Facebook soon!

 

 

 

Magna Melodia

magna melodia

Magna Melodia is our concert programme for 2015, in honour of the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta. The initial agreement of the Great Charter lies smack in the middle of the period of music that we are most interested in, and so this noteworthy anniversary has provided an admirable spur to us to gather a good range of material into a great programme. Magna Melodia is available for concert bookings in 2015 (with several already signed up!), and also as a programme of linked presentations at medieval festivals or other medieval events. And we are going to put it all together into a CD as well – which will also be available as a digital download.

Magna Melodia presents music from the world of the early Plantagenet kings – Henry II, his sons Richard and John, and his grandson Henry III. As you can see, the timespan is thus c1150 – c.1250. Geographically, the programme goes from England (of course!) to Sicily via the trouveres of northern France and the troubadours of the south. We have been able to include a great deal of our existing repertoire but have also moved into new pastures and new repertoire. Magna Melodia is at this time still to some extent a work in progress – we are trying out different options and thinking what will match up best to make the most satisfying programme – but here’s an idea of what we have in mind.

‘Volez vous que je vous chant’ is a beautiful anonymous trouvère reverdie – it recounts a dream.  We’ve chosen this as our introductory piece as it is redolent of so much that was key to the musical scene in the early thirteenth century. The song conjures up the world of the aristocratic music-makers of both northern and southern France

“Do you want me to sing you a song of love? This was not written by a common man – a knight composed this song, sitting in the shade of an olive tree in the arms of his beloved…”

The song goes on to paint a portrait of an idealised woman, not exactly human:

the nightingale was my father, who sings on the branch and in the high hedges; the siren was my mother, who sings in the salty sea and on the high riversides

This made me think of the legend of Melusine – the fairy woman, daughter of the devil, who was believed to be the distant ancestor of the Plantagenet kings. From the devil they came, it was said, and to the devil they would return…

Richard, John and Henry III had this devil’s inheritance on one side, but on the other – through their mother Eleanor – they had the heritage of Aquitaine, the very heartland of the troubadour tradition. Troubadour music was woven into the lives of the sons of Henry II and as patrons and friends of many composers they are often referenced in specific songs. Henry the Young King, the initial son and heir of Henry II, was the subject of a renowned planh, or lament, by Bertran de Born. Unfortunately, the music for this planh has not survived but we intend to present a partial narration of this lament against the instrumental background of  another de Born melody. Alongside this we will present Gaucelm Faidit’s planh on the death of Richard the Lionheart. King John fared less well at the hands of the troubadours, being noticeably criticised by de Born’s son, another Bertran:

“… his heart is soft and cowardly and no man should ever trust him.”

Troubadour music is also represented by a pair of songs by Bernart de Ventadorn, closely associated with Eleanor of Aquitaine: at present we are intending to pair ‘Can vei la lauzeta’ and ‘La dousa votz’. We may also include one or more tunes by Marcabru.

Staying in Aquitaine, we have been investigating the rich repertoire of religious polyphony from the region. We are working on ‘Lux refulget’, an example of the new style of florid organum where the melody is at times maintained in slow held notes in the tenor and decorated by fluid and lively melismas in the upper voice. We are using Paris ms. lat. 3719, one of the manuscripts closely associated with the abbey of St Martial in the Limoges.

We are really pleased to be including some Sicilian material. The Norman kingdom of Sicily was associated with the Angevins through the marriage of Henry and Eleanor’s daughter Joanna to King William II. Joanna spent her earliest years at the abbey of Fontevraud with her brother John, her near contemporary. King William died unexpectedly and young, and Joanna was taken prisoner by the new king Tancred, who had seized the throne in default of any clear male heir. She was rescued from this ignominious state by the arrival of her elder brother Richard, now king of England, and went on to accompany him on his crusade to the Holy Land.

The fabulously rich kingdom of Sicily was a vibrant mixture of traditions – Norman, Byzantine, Saracen, and three books of music from the Norman Sicilian church are extant in the Biblioteca Nacional in Madrid; they contain much liturgical music and also more informal songs of praise and celebration. We include several of these in Magna Melodia. For all the cultural diversity of Sicily, this church music can be shown to derive clearly from the practices of the church back in Normandy and northern France. Indeed, some pieces, like Orientis Partibus, are also known from later northern French sources.

This Sicilian link thus returns us back to northern France. The trouvère tradition is not so strongly linked to the Angevins as is that of the troubadours, but King Richard himself wrote in French as a trouvère and we will certainly include his plaintive ‘Ja nus hons pris’, alongside the roughly contemporaneous anonymous crusade song ‘Parti de mal’, which survives appended to a work dedicated to Henry II. This song, which was perhaps written by someone working in the royal Chancery, appears to reference the king and his sons:

“my good lords whom I have loved so much that I almost forgot God!”

Other trouvère material to be featured may include instrumental versions of anonymous pastourelles. Staying in northern France we intend also to include a selection of melodies from the Ludus Danielis, the play of Daniel originating at Beauvais in – it is thought – the late twelfth century.

Which leaves us finally, and necessarily, in England. We aim to include here too both music of the church and secular music. For the former, we have been working on the polyphonic Verbum patris humanatur, a lively new year celebratory song. It’s important to realise that for secular music the Anglo-Norman and Angevin aristocracy of England would have been enjoying the repertoire of the troubadours and trouvères, just like their continental cousins but, that said, there is also some music extant in English. We will certainly feature ‘Miri it is’, and are also working on ‘Man mei long him lives wene’ and ‘Foweles in the frith’, although this last may take us too far out of our time frame.

So, as you can see, the programme is still somewhat up for grabs, but we think that it is shaping up well and we are very much looking forward to presenting this broad sweep of music from the time of England’s Angevin kings. This really was the age of magnificent melody, whether in the monophonic song or in the excitingly blended lines of polyphony. We aim to bring these melodies to life with a range of contemporary instrumentation and show what a wonderful musical world this was.

If you are interested in booking Trouvère for Magna Melodia do get in touch! We’ll be putting up some tasters of Magna Melodia over the next few months. And if you have any comments or suggestions for inclusions in the programme, we’d love to hear them.

photo-8     At Cordes http://www.medievalminstrels.com

http://www.facebook.com/Trouvere.Medieval.Minstrels

Trouvere at Large Summer 2014 – Final episode: Bayeux!

Our last weekend in France was spent performing at the Fêtes Médiévales at Bayeux. It was our second time at the festival as performers and our third time in all – our first time was as visitors, when we were massively impressed with the whole thing! Bayeux is a great place for a medieval festival – it’s not too big, there’s a good campsite a short walk from the centre, the centre  is dominated by an utterly magnificent medieval cathedral with several other nice medieval buildings close at hand, and of course the town possesses an iconic medieval relic in the Tapestry. Every year on the first weekend in July, the entire centre is taken over with the Fêtes. Market stalls huddle all about the Cathedral, and the streets – which are generally thronged with people – are packed with entertainments. The cathedral is thrown open all day and into the evening, with extra events taking place inside, and on the Sunday morning there is a massive parade of all participants which draws simple huge crowds. For the first time (I think) this year, the Tapestry Museum was a major venue, and (certainly for the first time) there were events there on the Friday night, in which we played a part.

41 Bayeux - timetable42 Bayeux fetes

There were two elements to our involvement at the Festival. Firstly, we were presenting a short programme of English medieval music in the chapel of the Tapestry Museum – this happened on the Friday evening and on both Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Then – in complete contrast! – we were presenting masked mimed foolishness in the guise of Reynard the Fox and Tibert the Cat. We had three of these shows on the Saturday – two outside the western doors of the cathedral (an established performance space for the festival) and one on the stage in front of the Hôtel de Ville – the biggest performance area of the festival. And two of these shows on the Sunday. So we had a busy programme right through the weekend.

The performances in the Tapestry Museum chapel were quite special – it is a thirteenth century space and the only surviving element of the earlier medieval abbey which was rebuilt in the eighteenth century and done away with at the time of the Revolution. We had excellent attendance at all three performances and our music suited the space really well. Our programme travelled from a pre-conquest antiphon through to the fifteenth century ‘There is no Rose’, with St Godric’s ‘Sainte Nicholas’, ‘Parti de Mal’, ‘Ja nus hons pris’, a Ductia, ‘Verbum patria humanatur’, ‘Miri it is’, ‘The Song of the Nuns of Chester’ and ‘Brid one brere’ in between. I managed to introduce everything in passable French, and Paul managed to chat in French about the instruments to interested parties at the end of each show. All in all, we very much enjoyed doing these short concerts – it was a real treat for us.

47 Bayeux - Paul at the Chapelle 248 Bayeux - Paul at the Chapelle

The only problem for Reynard and Tibert was the weather – which was truly awful on Saturday.  The streets were still busy, but not as busy as usual and it was obviously impossible for some shows to go ahead at all, notably many of the déambulations in the streets. We were concerned about our first show, but then the (excellent) staff told us that if it was raining we should just move inside the cathedral! Well, if needs must… Being all English about it, we still had our doubts about this but as we were setting up one of the clerics came up to make sure we were okay and assure us that yes we should perform inside. It was something special to strike up our sounds within such an amazing space: in the first picture below I am standing more or less where we performed. The great pipes sounded IMMENSE! Our second Saturday show, outside the Hôtel de Ville, proceeded in light drizzle, but proceeded rather successfully for all that – the noble French gallantly gathered to participate in our nonsense. Thankfully on the Sunday the weather was much better by the afternoon, and our final show at the Hôtel stage gathered an sizeable audience and went down really well. We even got an encore! All in all, we felt rather pleased with our efforts to bring medieval mime to the French…

Article in Bayeux cathedral44 Bayeux - The stage at the town hall51 Bayeux - Reynard with fish

Finally we should mention the parade on the Sunday morning. The weather was still making its mind up what to do and we weren’t sure whether to wear our masks or not – but in the end we went for it and were glad we did as the rain disappeared and we were able to prance our way happily down the streets in fox and cat mode. We got a lovely reception as ever, and thanks to Stephen and Helen Jones for once again taking some amazing images of us prowling away.

bayeux parade both bayeux parade both 2 bayeux gill bayeux paul close-up bayeux both 3 bayeux paul

And so we returned to England with much improved French (let’s hope it lasts) and a new instrument or two, and a lot of great memories. We really hope to get back to France again next year to meet familiar faces and make more new friends, and to experience some more of those amazing French fêtes!

Trouvere at Large Summer 2014 – Episode Three: Heading North

Our visit to Philippe Bolton’s atelier was an absolute joy. We’d headed out of Languedoc, skirting past the magnificent citadel of Avignon. I’d visited Avignon thirty years ago, long enough for it to seem like it had happened in another life, and nothing seemed familiar; Paul was bowled over by the stunning battlemented citadel and it’s for sure that we will return to Avignon and spend a few days there. A campsite close by the centre was spotted, as we narrowly managed to avoid a low tunnel and sped north and east into the rolling Provence countryside.

The atelier is in Villes-sur Auzon, a charmingly round village. The workshop is small and packed with amazing tools and instruments in the course of being made. Philippe took us through the whole process of creating a hand-made recorder – it was a wonderful insight that has helped us understand the instrument a lot better.  The delicacy of some of the operations is remarkable.  We are looking forward so much to our new medieval alto.

45 Puivert - Philippe and Paul Here are Philippe and Paul exploring recorders at Puivert.

We had given ourselves a mighty day of travel however, and were soon back on the road heading north to Cluny: a long drive but successfully accomplished. Cluny is another charming town, dominated by the ghost of its abbey. As I am concentrating on luthiers in this post, however, I will hasten on to our continuing journey the next day north and east to Mulhouse… and the next day over the border into Germany and over the hills of the Black Forest… to finally pull up at the home and workshop of Eric Kleinmann, harp maker, in Rangendingen. We were here to collect my new Romanesque harp, and I soon had my greedy paws on this beautiful little beast:

89Rangendingen - new harp   unknown-artist-king-david-playing-his-harp-westminster-abbey-psalter-circa-1200

It’s based on an image of King David from the Westminster Psalter:

Eric and his wife Atsuko made us incredibly welcome over the next two days. We were given a whistle-stop tour of Swabian highlights, culminating in a visit to the wonderful reconstructed wooden castle at Bachritterburg. There was a living history group at the castle, who made us very welcome. One of them was a singer and it was great to play along with her in the beautifully dressed period rooms. Eric also took the opportunity to take some splendid shots of the harp in fitting medieval settings.

99 Bachritterburg - jam 2 102 Bachritterburg - Gill in the tower 103 Bachritterburg - Foxy harp in the tower

The journey to our next atelier took us some time. In brief….

An amazing drive back through the Black Forest north and west to Strasbourg, which gave the brakes a good workout… Two wonderful days in Strasbourg which took in the annual Fetes de Musique; we heard and saw a very splendid baroque group… south and west to Troyes via the village of Villehardouin (special relevance to me from my Greek medieval history and the visit meant a lot to me)… a visit to Guédelon, which is a unique and thoroughly admirable project to build a castle using as authentically medieval techniques as possible; we played a little in the recreated painted chamber… five days rest at Rigny-Ussé near the Loire where we hoped for wild swimming and got torrential rainstorms but also saw the village’s amazing Romanesque church and ransacked various vides greniers and brocantes… south and west to Poitiers which just has the most wonderful Romanesque sites… and finally south to Luzon to pick up a medieval symphony from Bryan Tolley.

We had been massively taken by these symphonies at Puivert but had not succumbed as we then foolishly maintained that we had not come to France to buy another symphony and it was quite enough to buy a citole and a recorder. What nonsense, we had fairly swiftly concluded – obviously we have to have one of those little symphonies! We’d contacted Bryan and discovered a mutually convenient day – and here we were.

Bryan lies in a tiny quiet hamlet some miles south of Poitiers, and his workshop is a large sun-filled room haunted by two noble felines.  We were given plenty of instruction in the gurdy in general and the symphony in particular and were again impressed with everything we saw and heard. Here’s the symphony nestled amongst some of our other instruments – it really has quickly become part of our sound:

Symphony and shawms

Bryan has been very clever with this symphony design. For a start, he explained how he had developed a design with a much taller bridge and a wheel standing above the soundboard, and that this had increased the sweetness and volume. Secondly, the keyboard appears diatonic (no sharps and flats) as it should for a medieval instrument; however, the tangents inside have been constructed such that they can be moved to create B or B-flat, F or F-sharp and E or E-flat. Thus the symphony is just that bit more versatile in combination with other instruments. The chanter is tuned to G, with a G and a C drone and the sound is wonderfully sweet.

Later the same day we drove north and west into Brittany. After an overnight stop at the incredibly charming Pont-Aven, we made our way to Penmarc’h and Atelier Tri Nox Samoni to collect our double flute from Benjamin Simao. Benjamin has a great little workshop right on the main street and again we were swallowed up in the wonderful smells of woodworking! Unfortunately, it turned out that there was still a little work required on the double flute, so Paul arranged for this to be sent on to us as we had to make our way north to Bayeux, where the Fêtes Médiévales were about to get underway! But that must wait for the final episode of our summer adventure…

Trouvère at Large Summer 2014 – Episode Two: Bellegarde

Bellegarde is a small town in the Gard region of the Languedoc, roughly half-way between Nimes and Arles. We went to take part in their Fêtes Médiévales, having enjoyed a few days on the Mediterranean coast after our exploits at Puivert.

The town lies below a substantial hill, crowned with the chunky remains of a twelfth-century tower, named ‘La Madone’ after its statue of the Virgin. The area around the La Madone has been (and is being) landscaped and has a lovely large performance area with seating around. This was the main venue for the Fêtes, but there was also a daily parade down into the town and back again.

A view of La Madone

A view of La Madone

The performance arena

The performance arena

The parades into and out of town were fun – we made our way to the church in the middle of the town and different groups took it in turns to entertain the assembled good people of Bellegarde, with fights, dances, music, and so on.

Knights clash outside St Jean Baptiste

Knights clash outside St Jean Baptiste

And we contributed our bit by joining in with the music in our guise of Reynard and Tibert.

Reynard goes to town

Reynard goes to town

We had a great time providing music for the dancers of Médiévalys. This wonderful troupe are based at Tarascon, not far from Bellegarde, and perform at many historic events. They danced magnificently, and also made us very welcome. We spoke a lot of French with them, and they likewise practiced their English on us! We have very fond memories of M. Gui, M.Alain and Mme la Présidente. Here is their website if you’d like to know more:
Médiévalys 

Médiévalys dancing

Médiévalys dancing

I particularly enjoyed their version of Arbeau’s ‘Scottish Branles’, which had real pace and energy.

Saturday was a bit quiet at the Fêtes, although the evening feast was very well attended, but Sunday was much busier, and the weather improved as well. We had been pounded with rain on Friday night and on Saturday night too there was more rain and powerful winds too. However, Sunday afternoon turned baking hot, and we had to make the most of the shade provided by La Madone as we played for the dancers – who had no such shelter!

This was to have been the last stage on the far southern part of our adventures, for we needed to head north towards Germany to collect my new harp. But Philippe Bolton had invited us to come and visit his workshop a few miles east of Avignon and it was a chance not to be missed! So our next thrilling instalment will be a tour of luthiers from Provence… to Baden-Württemburg… to Poitou-Charentes… to Brittany… watch this space…

Trouvère at Large Summer 2014 – Episode One – Puivert

We spent all of June and the beginning of July this year abroad, mostly in France with a brief excursion into Germany. It was a splendid holiday with bits of work thrown in – three gigs and some instrument collection too. I meant to keep a blog through the trip, but in the end I didn’t have access to wifi reliably enough, so this is the first episode in what is more of a retrospective, including some notes I made at the time. 

Our first appointment was at the incredibly romantic castle of Puivert, way down south in the Languedoc-Roussillon.

A view of Puivert in the last light of the day.

A view of Puivert in the last light of the day.

Puivert was featured in The Ninth Gate, starring Johnny Depp. It’s in pretty good repair – the keep especially – and has a dramatic profile suitable to its film role of the devil’s castle.

The castle viewed from the campsite soon after dawn.

The castle, from the campsite soon after dawn.

The Puivert festival (properly ‘Les Rencontres Internationales de Lutherie et Musique Médiévale de Puivert’) started life as a meeting of luthiers specialising in medieval instruments. This is its third year and it has been growing all the time with luthiers, musical performances, talks and presentations, and living history. We were involved on three levels. Firstly, on Saturday afternoon, I presented a talk – in French – on the Chansonnier du Roi and its links to medieval Greece. This is the manuscript we mined for all the material on our CD Music for a Medieval Prince. I recently wrote about the manuscript as part of a chapter on a forthcoming handbook of medieval Greece (published by Brill, should be out next year!) and it had been a major challenge for me to put together this presentation in French!

Preparing for my presentation

Preparing for my presentation

At first, it looked like no one was going to turn up, but by five minutes in there was quite a crowd, so I had to start all over again… after that it all went pretty well. I think the French were able to understand me! and Paul joined me at various points in the presentation to present music from the manuscript.

I guess one of the strangest things for us was playing our music without our medieval ‘superhero outfits’ on – just in modern civvies as it were… We are very used to performing in medieval garb, so this was something new. It was the same for the concert on the Saturday evening, our second involvement. But this too went well – we presented a selection of thirteenth century music, with an estampie real, two cantigas, a ductia plus Miri it is, and Chanterai por mon corage. The concert took place in the chapel in the village, which had very lovely acoustics and it was a pleasure to perform there. We also very much enjoyed other contributions to the evening – notably Hortus Deliciarum, a choir of students from Montpellier who presented truly delicious motets and liturgical music. We also at last got to hear Vicente La Camera Mariño playing so sweetly on the lyre and on the harp.

Playing at the concert

Playing at the concert

Hortus Deliciarum

Hortus Deliciarum

Vicente La Camera Mariño playing his Ardival 'Kentigern'

Vicente La Camera Mariño playing his Ardival ‘Kentigern’

Our part of the concert seemed to go down well and it was a great evening all round.

On the Sunday we were able to take a proper look at the luthiers and we succumbed to two new instruments… Paul ordered a vihuela from Asier de Benito, and a new alto recorder from Philippe Bolton. The range of luthiers on display at the festival was extremely impressive, especially with regard to the instruments being pretty much universally medieval in period – there was very little later and even some earlier! We were also very taken with Bryan Tolley’s symphonies, but more of that later…

Asier de Benito's vihuela based on the illustration in the Cantigas de Santa Maria

Asier de Benito’s vihuela based on the illustration in the Cantigas de Santa Maria

Paul with Philippe Bolton

Paul with Philippe Bolton

As our final contribution to the festival, we at last got into our outfits, set up our awning on the castle lawn and played our way through the afternoon. This was lovely – the weather was perfect, and people sat around and soaked up our sounds. We got to meet up with many of the singers from Hortus Deliciarum – they were keen to learn Brid one brere and we worked on the song together.

Paul sounds the greatpipes

Paul sounds the great pipes

Playing on Sunday afternoon

Playing on Sunday afternoon

In the evening we all retired to the nearby festival HQ for a meal and a drink – a perfect end to the festival. We really hope to come back to Puivert in future years. Here’s the link for more information: 

http://www.festival-de-puivert.com