The idea of sitting through 90 minutes of music from the past 600 years perhaps does not appeal to everybody. However, with the wit and humour involved in Chris Green and Sophie Matthews’ evening of entertainment it was very difficult not to come out with a smile on my face.
The pair began by playing the oldest known song in the English language, followed by the second oldest. Watching Green and Matthews both play their respective period instruments with such skill and accuracy was incredible and made it feel like you were actually there listening at the time this music was written.
Starting with an instrument called a ‘shawm’ and moving onto a demonstration of the English bagpipes (which apparently outdate the traditional Scottish bagpipes), the 90 minutes that followed gave us a whistle stop tour of music over a 600 year period. Using a fife to play, the first half of the show ended in audience participation with the tune ‘Who’s The Fool Now’. I found it heartwarming to see members of the audience looking highly excited and full of joy with the chance to join in with music that they themselves have memories of.
With a change of tone, the second half of the show began with possibly my favourite song called ‘My Thing is My Own’ – a rude and sassy story of a woman who refuses to sleep with anyone until she’s married. The lyrical genius of this song meant it was forgivable to play it to a family friendly audience and it was amusing to hear people giggling behind me where they might usually disapprove.
After this, a humorous rendition of ‘When Father Papered the Parlour’ had the whole audience grinning and many reminiscing of a tune they would have known as a child. On a more serious note, singing ‘Keep The Home Fires Burning’ had some audience members in tears and others welling up, overwhelmed by hearing a room of people singing such an emotional song 100 years after it was originally sung.
While a huge amount of music was left out of this show, this cannot be a criticism as we all would have been there for days if they had tried to include all the music from the past 600 years. The selection played was clearly chosen for enjoyment of the show, for education purposes, and most importantly for the pleasure that both performers clearly felt playing the pieces they had chosen. As a flute player myself, I feel like I enjoyed myself just as much as I learnt new things.
For more information, and to see a video of part of the show, please click here!
Who’s The Fool Now: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAvZm5fs0hw
My Thing is My Own: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bx7sIpypBMc
When Father Papered the Parlour: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39wx7UeTXfw
Keep The Home Fires Burning: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDb4QQdTQ0s
Good-Byee (they ended on this song, one that I love!): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zr5ksOyxZRU