Heigh Ho Holiday

Heigh Ho Holiday
Christmas Revels in 17th-century London

The City Musick, William Lyons
St John’s, Smith Square. 13 December 2017

King James I issued his ‘Declaration of Sports’ in 1617, noting that he had heard that people had been ‘barred from all lawfull Recreation, & excercie vpon the Sundayes afternoone, after the ending of all Diuine Seruice‘. So wrote Wiliam Lyons, director of The City Musick in his programme note for this concert, as an example of the encouragement of festivals and holy days during the early 17th century, despite opposition from Puritans and Catholic gentry. These occasions included Christmastide festivals, a time when the virtuosi musicians of the local city waits came into their own, perhaps with the opportunity to relax a little from their normal role of providing music for civic ceremonies, processions, dances, masques etc. Their musical repertoire was wide, as was the range of instruments that they played, both aspects revealed in this concert by a 21st-century incarnation of the waits – the seven musicians of The City Musick. Continue reading

Elizabeth’s Lutes

Elizabeth’s Lutes
Alex McCartney
Veterum Musica. 56’05

Elizabeth's Lutes cover artThe music on this recording reflects the music in and around Elizabeth I’s court. A keen lute player herself, at the height of her Golden Age, she employed some 70 musicians in her court. Rather surprisingly, the first piece is by Orlande de Lassus, Susanne un jour, somebody with no Elizabethan connection at all. But this became very popular throughout Europe, and is played here in a contemporary version found in the Matthew Holmes Manuscript in Cambridge University Library. Continue reading