June Newsletter

Hello all! I am contacting you from Greece where we are enjoying a bit of a holiday - but medieval minstrels never truly rest, so here I am... I must only apologise for the newsletter being one day late! We were without wifi for the last few days but now we are good to go.

Our New CD

The main thing I want to talk about in this newsletter is our new MMitD CD. Every year, we produce a souvenir CD for the year's festival, showcasing the performers and the theme of the year. The big task before we came away on our holiday was to get this year's CD ready for production, and to get our Kickstarter campaign to pay for the production ready to launch. With a little bit of final work as we made our way south through Europe, everything is now at last ready!

So, we are really pleased with this CD. It features all our concert performers, plus a couple of others for good measure, and fittingly with our theme, all the principal performers are women. Here's the track list:

1. Je vivroie liement - Elisabeth Pawelke with Almara

2. Diapente et diatessaron / Caute cane - Stef Conner & Hanna Marti

3. Trotto - Silke Gwendolyn Schulze with Peppe Frana

4. Quantas sabedes amare amigo - Amor Céu

5. Quid tantos iuvat - Gill Page

6. Principessa - Cait Webb with Gaita

7. Paradisi porta - Vivien Ellis and Leah Stuttard

8. Dansse real - Silke Gwendolyn Schulze with Peppe Frana

9. Beata viscera - Juliette Primrose

10. Virgo mitis - Cait Webb

11. Favus distillans - Voice

12. Three Songs by St Godric - Stef Conner & Hanna Marti

13. Worldes blisce - Vivien Ellis and Leah Stuttard

14. Santa Maria leva - Amor Céu

15. Jubilemus salvatori - Gill Page

16. Ne m’oubliez mie - Elisabeth Pawelke with Almara

17. Istanpitta Ghaetta - Silke Gwendolyn Schulze with Peppe Frana

As you can see, it covers an amazing span of medieval music, from the tenth century to the fifteenth century. The female voice is front and centre, but there are also instrumental pieces from Silke Gwendolyn Schulze (pipe and tabor, double flute, shawm), Cait Webb (harp), Juliette Primrose (vielle) and me (harp). Plus there is wonderful instrumental work on the songs from Amor Céu and Almara, as well as Leah Stuttard on the harp.

In short, we are pleased and proud of this CD and I'd urge you to get hold of a copy. The best way to do this is to pledge via our Kickstarter, which directly helps pay for the production and support our festival. Do take a look!

The Kickstarter campaign launches TODAY! Please support it - every little helps.

Booking for this September's Festival and Summer School

A quick reminder to get booking NOW if you haven't already for this year's festival (9-11 September, Bolton Castle) and Summer School (6-8 September, The Jonas Centre). Here are the links:

Our Summer School is under-subscribed at the moment and this is such a huge shame as the tuition on offer is absolutely first class! If you want to work with Lisa Pawelke, Stef Conner and Hanna Marti (I know I do) then this is your chance.

Some Musical Iconography

By training I am a Byzantinist with special interest in medieval Greece and the interactions between Greeks and other ethnic groups. So it's perhaps unsurprising that I've started to think about the similarities and differences between western European medieval music iconography and that to be found within the territories associated with the Byzantine empire. (Or as I would prefer, 'the medieval Roman empire' - Greeks and subjects of the empire in general called themselves Romans back then as the empire was the direct descendant of the ancient Roman empire). And as I am in Greece right now, it seemed only fitting to look at this just a little.

A major consideration is that the image resources are comparatively scanty for eastern Europe, and this is partly down to different traditions in Christian iconography. In the west, there was a tradition of angel instrumentalists - the heavenly choir had instrumental accompaniment - while in the east this was not so; angels are rarely shown with instruments. In the west, for one thing nativity scenes regularly feature shepherds playing instruments as the angel arrives and for another King David is principally portrayed as a musician. Both of these happen in the Orthodox tradition but not as frequently or reliably.

That said, here are a few examples around David and the Nativity. The Paris Psalter (10th/11th century Constantinople) shows David as Orpheus, strumming his lyre to the animals. This picks up on the Old Testament theme of David as musician - but is much more about the classical renaissance then happening under the Macedonian emperors.

From around the same period comes this image (below) of a man playing the flute, surrounded by animals. This is most likely Orpheus charming the animals

There is a similar image on an ivory casket of similar date, below, which explicitly depicts scenes from the life of David. All of these images of the musical king, portrayed as a young shepherd with his flock, are likely influenced by the Orpheus myth. Orpheus was also a popular subject in the early days of the empire and late

Antiquity. As someone who went to Death's kingdom and returned, he was to some extent identified with Christ. Orpheus then disappears for a few centuries until the Macedonian renaissance of classicism.

Here is an example of the kind of David-as-musician that is more familiar in the west - David surrounded by fellow musicians. This is twelfth century and now in the Topkapi Museum in Istanbul. David is playing a large square psaltery and his musicians, left to right, a pipe of some kind, a short-necked lute, and cymbals.