Hello everyone. It's a lovely spring day here in Yorkshire and a pleasure to sit in the sun. I hope you are enjoying equally fine weather wherever you may be! This newsletter brings you a few medieval maytime sounds and also a reminder about this September's festival with news about the online version.
May time was an important time in the middle ages in Europe, as the heat began to come in earnest and all the world seemed green and in bud. Spring time was the subject for so many songs in the twelfth and thirteenth century - the genre is known as the 'reverdie', which is literally 're-greening' - but several songs specifically mention the month of May. I thought I would highlight a few favourites.
En Mai, by Colin Muset
"In maytime, when the little nightingale sings clear in the greenwood, I have to make myself a whistle from a sprig of willow. For then I have to tootle about love, and wear a garland of flowers, to distract and amuse myself - for there is no time to waste!" This version of Muset's charming little song is by Paul Hillier and Andrew Lawrence-King. There are many versions around, but this one is melodically closer to the manuscript, which actually presents some small but charming variations around what is basically a simple enough tune. Splendidly sung as ever by Paul Hillier, and Andrew Lawrence-King on the portative organ evokes the bird song of May very beautifully.
Ce fu en mai, by Moniot d'Arras
"It was in May, in that sweet happy time when the weather is fine. I rose early and went to seek my pleasure by a fountain. In an orchard, enclosed by wild roses, I heard a fiddle. There I saw a knight dancing with a lady..." This is a version recorded by Maiden in the Moor (Rebecca Austen-Brown and Sophia Brumfitt) for their appearance at Medieval Music in the Dales in 2018. Beautifully sung by Sophia and cracking vielle playing from Rebecca! Listen here (NB - this is taken from the MMitD 2019 CD - well worth following on Spotify if you haven't already!)
Kalenda Maya, by Raimabut de Vaqueiras
"Not Mayday, not the leaf of the beech tree, nor the song of the birds or the gladioli flower, none of them can please me, noble lady, until a messenger comes to me from your fair person, who can tell me of the new pleasure that love brings me..." There are so many versions of this wonderful jaunty tune. It's said that Raimbaut de Vaqueiras took the tune from a dance melody which he heard played on the vielle by two jongleurs. Thus I chose this version, splendidly and very authentically played by Flor Enversa with two vielles accompanying the singer.
Meie, din liechter schin, by Neidhart von Reuental
"May, your shining light and the little birds bringing joy with their song are all welcome to me but despite my joy, the world brings me pain..."
Over the Rhine to Germany for the splendidly jaunty 'Meie, din liechter schin' by the minnesginer Neidhard von Reuntal. As in Kalenda Maya, the glories of Maytime are evoked here only to contrast with the sadness of the singer who is without love... This version by Ensemble Unicorn is one of my absolute favourites - so gutsy! It is taken from their album 'Minnesang in Süd-Tirol', which I thoroughly recommend.
I hope you enjoyed those medieval Maytime pieces!
Medieval Music in the Dales: 9-11 September 2022
and Online From The Castle, 16-17 September 2022
As you will be aware, the Box Office for this year's festival is now open. I encourage everyone intending to come to Yorkshire to attend the festival to sign up soon! The Box Office is here - I've tried to make everything as clear as possible but if you have any questions at all, just get in touch.
I'm pleased to also bring news of the online version of our September festival, which several people have been asking about. Of course, many people just can't make it to Bolton Castle for the 'in real life' festival and we can't just abandon you! So, MMitD 2022: Online From The Castle will take place the weekend after the actual festival - on Friday 16th September and Saturday 17th September to be exact, at 1800-2200 UK time on each day. It will be a chance to enjoy the concerts from the previous week and also take a trip around the festival and meet some of the participants, many of whom I hope will also join us for the online event.
So as you can see, Online From The Castle isn't happening at the same time as the 'in real life' festival. We tried to do this last year, but it put a lot of strain on our amazing videographer Ray to get everything ready - and also on me as I juggle running two different events at the same time! Plus connections in the middle of the Yorkshire Dales (and especially deep in a castle) are not always ideal. So we have decided it will be better to give ourselves a few days to get all the footage in good shape and have a polished product for you.
Tickets for Online From The Castle will be available on the MMitD website from August. They will be free for anyone who actually attended the festival, and also for all Friends of the festival; otherwise they will be £20 (this is of course per screen, not per person).
Medieval Music in the Dales Summer School
Registration is now open for the Medieval Music-Making Summer School. This is such an amazing opportunity to work with Stef Conner, Hanna Marti and Elisabeth Pawelke, with options for instrumentalists and vocalists. Take a look here for more information and registration.
That's all for now everyone! I will be back with you in June.
Dr Gill Page
Director, Medieval Music in the Dales