Medieval Music in the Dales 2023
Transitions: The Fifteenth Century
Medieval Music in the Dales 2023 celebrates the music and the dancing of the fifteenth century. This was a period of transition in music. The modal styles of the medieval period were evolving and changing. The result was that the dominant of characteristic sounds of the sixteenth century were very different from those of, say, two hundred years earlier. New instruments came to the fore, consort music became a 'thing', and the balance between harmony and melody in musical creation tilted in favour of the former. It's also the time of the earliest surviving dance choreographies replete with both steps and music.
Our 2023 festival traces this evolution with a wonderful array of concerts, dance performances, talks, workshops - and of course loads of informal music-making.
What ticket to buy?
You can buy a Festival Pass for one, two or three days. A Festival Pass includes ALL daytime concerts and Queen Mary's Chamber concerts, and ALL workshops and talks (on the relevant days). Your Festival Pass also of course allows you to stay on site into the evening on any or all nights and enjoy the Tavern scene! A Festival Pass also allows you to get a Camping Pass to camp on site.
Festival Passes cost:
£125 for all three days
£90 for two days
£55 for one day
This page outlines the programme for Medieval Music in the Dales 2023. Here are links to a print-friendly version of the programme, and also daily timetables.
The following links will help you around this page...
Concerts in St Oswald's Church
St Oswald's Church was built at the same time as the Castle, at the end of the fourteenth century, and remains in use to this day. It's the venue for our six daytime concerts and our two evening concerts. Seating is pews, so bring a cushion to be sure of your comfort!
Evening Concerts: Friday & Saturday 7.30pm, St Oswald's Church
The Medieval Music in the Dales evening concerts bring together most of our concert performers, spread over the two nights. Friday features sparkling vocalists Refekae, the amazing Becki Austen-Brown (quite possibly with a guest performer) and the harp and lute of In Cytharis, plus music and dance from Gaita. Saturday features wind virtuosos Blondel, the Rose Consort of Viols, and the wonderful Fount & Origin - plus more music and dance from Gaita.
In Cytharis: In Cytaris vel etiam in organis
In Cytharis is the harp and lute duo specialising in music of the fifteenth century. The clear articulation of the plectrum lute is juxtaposed to the hypnotic buzz of the gothic harp with its bray pins - a feature that was common for the construction of harps at this period. The resulting sound is one that to today’s audiences often appears to be reminiscent of instruments like the sitar and is one rarely associated with preconceived ideas of the sounds of late medieval and renaissance Europe.
Ailen Monti and Carolin Margraf met while studying at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, and founded In
Cytharis in 2020. "Absolutely marvellous” (Professor David Fallows)
Concert 1pm, Saturday 9th September - free with Festival Pass
Participation in evening concert, Friday 9th September: £20
Blondel: Zephyrus his swete brethe
Blondel gives engaging and spirited performances of Medieval and Renaissance wind music, performin ceremonial fanfares and intimate chansons, dances and theatre music on shawms, bagpipes, recorders, curtals and a variety of percussion. It is easy to imagine how the bold tones of a shawm band cut across the hustle and bustle of dance and banquet halls, or even a city square. More surprising to modern ears is the joyful and sophisticated beauty that results from this uniquely blended sound.
Blondel are Emily Baines, Lizzie Gutteridge and Belinda Paul. "Brilliant time travel experience"!
Concert 3pm, Friday 8th September - free with Festival Pass.
Participation in evening concert, Saturday 9th September: £20
The Rose Consort of Viols: Songs Without Words
For nearly four decades the Rose Consort has been delighting audiences across the UK, Europe and further afield. By using instruments and playing techniques appropriate to the various pieces they perform, the Rose Consort bring the musical riches of the past to life again. For MMitD they will be playing some of the earliest viol music, using specially commissioned viols based on those in a 1497 painting by Lorenzo Costa, in Bologna.
"the Rose Consort of Viols have a blend that might have been passed through muslin" (The Independent on Sunday).
This event is supported with funding from Continuo Foundation.
Concert 1pm Sunday 10th September - free with Festival Pass
Participation in evening concert, Saturday 9th September: £20
Pellingmans' Saraband: The Swallow’s Nest
Fifteenth-century vocal and organ transcriptions
Jacob Heringman and Susanna Pell have been musical colleagues for almost 25 years. As Pellingmans' Saraband, they explore the unique sonority of a bowed fretted instrument with a plucked and bring some of the greatest music of the Renaissance and Early Baroque period to life. For MMitD, they are focusing on the music of the late fifteenth century, and are joined by the wonderful Rebecca Austen-Brown (right).
Concert 1pm, Friday 8th September - free with Festival Pass
Rebecca Austen-Brown will be participating in the evening concert on Friday 8th September: £20
Images copyright: l: Simon Ryder, r: Guy Carpenter.
Fount & Origin: The Sword and the Lily
Transitions from this life to the next
Fount & Origin is an early music ensemble specialising in vocal music of the late Middle Ages, committed to reviving unknown works from the period and researching the rich history that underpins their composition and performance.
Formed in Autumn 2018 by James Tomlinson, the ensemble delights in performing medieval music to the highest standards of choral performance, combining a conscientious approach to musical expression with historical insight and demonstrating ‘impressive control over challenging idioms’ (Edward Higginbottom, 2019).
Concert 3pm, Sunday 10th September - free with Festival Pass
Participation in evening concert, Friday 9th September: £20
Refekae: A Century of Song
Refekae* have formed specifically for this festival, and consist of brothers Richard and David de Winter, and Catherine Backhouse, all of whom have been schooled in the UK choral tradition. The programme will show how vocal music develops in Europe throughout the 15th century, from lush monophony in the early part to the bewildering counterpoint of the 1490s, as found in the Eton Choirbook among other sources.
Concert 3pm, Saturday 9th September - free with Festival Pass
Participation in evening concert, Friday 9th September: £20
(* In case you are wondering, it's a Latin thing... Refekae: Ricardus, eius frater, et Katarina amica eorum - Richard, his brother, and their pal Catherine!)
Mini-Concerts in Queen Mary's Chamber
Hugely successful last year, this is another chance to enjoy some beautiful music in the intimate setting of Queen Mary's Chamber. Each concert lasts around an hour, and places are strictly limited, so get there in good time. These Chamber Concerts are only open to Festival Pass holders and admission is free.
Friday September 8th, 5.30pm
Jude Rees: an impressive range of wind instruments!
Leah Stuttard: Gothic harp and 'Top of the Pops - a selection of the most popular songs from the fifteenth century'
Saturday September 9th, 5.30pm
Bill Taylor: a programme of late-medieval music from England and the Continent, played on a medieval double harp.
Anna O'Connell: “Pfeif aus, lass raien!”: Fifteenth Century German Song, accompanied on the harp
All workshops are 90 minutes long unless otherwise stated.
Please note the level for each workshop - only go for intermediate or advanced if you are already genuinely comfortable with the instrument, voice or skill. Beginner is suitable for all who feel they need the basics.
Get to grips with fifteenth-century polyphony with the members of Refekae, and work on a short performance for the Festival Finale on Sunday.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday 9am-10am, St Oswald's. INT/ADV
Fifteenth-century vocal improvisation, with Leah Stuttard
Look at the rules for four part improvisation and apply them to music from the Bayeux manuscript.
Saturday 11.15am-12.45pm, Queen Mary's Chamber. INT/ADV
Playing for Dancing
Develop your skills for working with dancers, with Lizzie Gutteridge of Blondel
Thursday, 5-6.30pm, St Oswald's. This workshop is open to Festival Passes for any day. INT
Recorders, with Emily Baines
Explore medieval recorder repertoire and technique with Emily Baines of Blondel
Friday 10.15-11.45am, St Oswald's. INT/ADV
Get comfortable with your medieval harp, with Gill Page (Festival Director). This workshop is intended for those new to the medieval harp or just wanting to try it out. Harps will be available for loan from the Early Music Shop.
Friday 5.15-6.15, St Oswalds. BEG FULLY BOOKED
Drumming for Dancing, with Terry Mann
Another chance to explore techniques for working with dancers, with Terry Mann.
Friday 9.30-11am, Queen Mary's Chamber. INT/ADV
Playing 15th Century English Songs on all Harps
A workshop on 15th century English repertoire with Bill Taylor of Ardival Harps
Friday, 11.15am-12.45pm, Queen Mary's Chamber. INT/ADV
Vielle Workshop, with Rebecca Austen-Brown
Explore medieval bowed string techniques and repertoire. Suitable for all bowed strings - modern instruments welcome if you are looking to make your sound more medieval.
Saturday, 10.15-11.45am, St Oswald's. INT/ADV
Beginner Bagpipe, with Paul Leigh
First steps on a bagpipe, focussing on control of the bag and making a consistent sound. With bagpipes available to borrow, courtesy of The Bagpipe Society.
Saturday 9.00-10.00am, Castle Hearth. BEG FULLY BOOKED
Stepping up your Ensemble Arrangements, with Jude Rees
Work on arranging your medieval music in ensemble. Suitable for all instruments.
Saturday 9.30-11.00am, Queen Mary's Chamber. INT/ADV
Family Ensemble Workshop with Jude Rees
Work on some splendid processional music - with the (optional!) chance to star in the Festival Finale!
Saturday 1.30-3.00pm, Great Chamber. BEG/INT/ADV
Have you played violin or other bowed strings and want to take it medieval? Join the brilliant Juliette Primrose to have a go on a vielle and get the basics of this core medieval instrument.
Sunday 10.15-11.45am, St Oswald's. BEG FULLY BOOKED
Make a loud parp! have a go on a shawm, perfect for fifteenth-century music
Sunday 9.00-10.00am, Castle Hearth. BEG FULLY BOOKED
Fifteenth-Century Ensemble with the Rose Consort
Explore the ’songs without words’ from late 15th century Italian manuscripts. Suitable for bowed strings, recorders and similar. This event is supported with funding from Continuo Foundation.
Sunday 9.30-11.00am, Queen Mary's Chamber. INT/ADV
Arrangement and Intabulations with In Cytharis
Explore the earliest manuscript sources of intabulations for lute, harp and keyboard and play fifteenth-century arrangements. Suitable for bowed strings, recorder, harps, gittern and similar; some knowledge of sight-reading (of modern notation) required.
Sunday 11.15am-12.45pm, Queen Mary's Chamber. INT/ADV
Introduction to 15th century English dance, with Gaita
This workshop, suitable for beginners, will teach a selection of dances from the “Gresley” manuscript, written in England in the last quarter of the 15th century. It will focus on those dance descriptions for which there is also music in the manuscript, and which are relatively straightforward and fun to learn.
Friday, 9.30am-12.30pm (with a break), Great Chamber. BEG FULLY BOOKED
Work on this stylish and wonderful Italian dance - and find out about its Yorkshire links!
Please note: this workshop will now be led by Helen Young of Herts Early Dance
Friday, 1.30-3.00pm, Great Chamber. INT/ADV
Dancing Angels and Shepherds, with Hazel Dennison: CANCELLED
A workshop based on the four musical mesures and basic steps of fifteenth-century Italian dance, linked to the Shepherds' Play in the Wakefield Cycle of mystery plays.
Saturday 9.30-11am, Great Chamber. BEG/INT
This workshop has had to be cancelled but has been replaced with:
Voltati in ca Rosina - a chance to explore this dance from Ambrosio, with Helen Young and Herts Early Dance. Same time, same place. Intermediate.
Workshop with Herts Early Dance
A practical workshop, suitable for beginners, this is an opportunity to try some Italian dances. You will learn the steps and patterns you need to dance Petit Riens – a fun dance for three, Amoroso – a chance to express yourself in a simple couple dance, and to try the noble form of Bassadanze. If possible, wear soft soled, flexible shoes.
Herts Early Dance are a social dance group made up of musicians “The Presence” and of course dancers, just a few of whom are with us this weekend. They meet regularly in St Albans to enjoy dances of (mainly) the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
Saturday 11.15am-12.45pm. Great Chamber. BEG FULLY BOOKED
Gresley dances using “new” (old) music, with Gaita
The Gresley” manuscript, written in England in the last quarter of the 15th century, contains 26 dance descriptions but only 13 tunes, only 8 of which clearly share a name with the descriptions. In this workshop we will look at several of the remaining dances which we have speculatively reconstructed to fit surviving 15th century English (and in one case Italian) songs. Some previous experience of early dance will be assumed.
Sunday 9.30am-12.30pm, Great Chamber. ADV
Beginner Fifteenth-Century Dance, with Grantham Danserye
Another chance for beginners to get to grips with the Gresley repertoire - perfect if you want to include dance in your history displays.
Sunday 1.30-3.00pm, Great Chamber. BEG FULLY BOOKED
Talks & Presentations
All talks are 45-50 minutes long and take place in Queen Mary's Chamber (upstairs from the Solar)
‘Hidden in Plain Sight: Is this a Doucaine I see before me?’, with Eric Moulder
A musical instrumental mystery...
Friday 4.15pm, Queen Mary's Chamber
The Earliest Italian Dance Manuals, with Juliette Primrose.
Find out about the fascinating 15th century world of Guiglelmo Ebreo de Pesaro and Domenico of Piacenza.
Saturday 2pm, Queen Mary's Chamber
The Harp in the Fifteenth Century, with Bill Taylor
An illustrated talk with music
Saturday 3.15pm, Queen Mary's Chamber
Vocal Polyphonic Improvisation, with Fount & Origin
A demonstration of improvised polyphony, exploring the building blocks of medieval improvisation techniques, with off-the-cuff improvised performances.
Saturday 4.15pm, Queen Mary's Chamber
Medieval Music in the Fifteenth Century: Transitions, with Gill Page
The fifteenth century broadly covers a transition from medieval styles to renaissance styles. What makes the difference? A few thoughts!
Sunday 3.15pm, Queen Mary's Chamber
Why not take advantage of the amazing musicians present at Medieval Music in the Dales and snap up a bit of one-to-one tuition? Our One-to-Ones are based on a 50-55 minute session, costing £40, and take place a short walk away from the hustle and bustle of the festival...
This year, One-to-Ones are available with:
Emily Baines (recorder) FULLY BOOKED
Alison Crum (viol) (NB Sunday afternoon only) FULLY BOOKED
Terry Mann (pipe & tabor / frame drum) FULLY BOOKED
Carolin Margraf (gothic harp)
Ailen Monti (lute) FULLY BOOKED
Juliette Primrose (vielle)
Jude Rees (bagpipe, shawm) FULLY BOOKED
Bill Taylor (medieval harp)
Steve Tyler (hurdy gurdy). Steve will have a gurdy available for those without an instrument.
Richard de Winter (voice)
Please note that spaces are limited, so if you are keen it's a good idea to book early.
We expect as ever a wonderful range of musicians performing on the Castle Stages. You might see some of our professional musicians unable to resist the opportunity to join in, or one of the many other bands who attend each year to add their music to the scene. The line-up will be confirmed in the month before the Festival.
There's more information here about being a Castle Stage Performer - if you are interested in taking part in future years just get in touch.
This year, we have two musical Castle Stages, plus a special Dance Stage in the Great Chamber:
The Tavern Stage
This is in our magnificent decorated Marquee, transformed into The Whole Gamut Tavern for the weekend. Expect lively sounds and even a bit of dancing!
The Hearth Stage
MMitD stalwarts will remember the old Tavern space inside the Castle. This year, it is the Hearth Stage: the fire and candles will be lit for a cosy and atmospheric space suitable for more gentle sounds. There'll be a small bar in operation too, during the afternoons.
PLUS... The Great Chamber
This year, the Great Chamber is home to loads and loads of dancing, with performances from Herts Early Dance, Grantham Danserye and Colchester Historical Dance. Performances will showcase dances from the dancing masters of the 15th century ducal courts in Italy: Domenico da Ferrara and Guglielmo Ebreo/Ambrosio, plus a few other favourites from manuscripts of that time and place plus dances and music from the English Gresley manuscript.
Instrument Makers Exhibition
Simply the best place to browse and try out gorgeous replica medieval instruments (plus a few later ones as well). This year the Instrument Makers Exhibition will be in the Solar and Nursery, and runs 1-5pm Friday, 10am-5pm Saturday and 10am-4pm Sunday.
The line up of instrument makers will be confirmed in April.
The Whole Gamut Tavern
The Whole Gamut Tavern stays open into the evening on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, for Festival Pass holders only, and this is the place to come for a bit of a session, informal playing and dancing, and of course a bit of a drink.
Terry and Jude in the Tavern
Want to learn a few medieval tunes in a relaxed slow session? Join Terry Mann on Friday evening and Jude Rees on Saturday evening - 6.30-7.30pm each night. A great way to get your evening underway!
This year's finale will be in the Great Chamber at 4pm on Sunday- join us for performances, the all-important RAFFLE! and the traditional group photo.
Sunday Night in the Great Chamber
On Sunday evening, we have an informal get-together in the Great Chamber of Bolton Castle. The fires are lit and the candles too, and there's a bar on hand - and the music and dancing just seem to happen! Admission is free, but places are strictly limited, so you need to REGISTER at the Festival Desk to get your name on the admission list. First come first served!