I have always had a hankering for dressing in period costume and I get to indulge this hobby on a regular basis as part of Ayres and Graces. Nick Gravestock is the other half of this duo and we have great fun entertaining visitors to Tudor houses. Haddon Hall is a particular favourite of mine, and we are part of their Autumn season later this month, on Sunday 20 October.
Haddon Hall is becoming renowned for its varied programme of music held throughout the season. Performances are held at 12:00 noon and 2:00pm, providing time to us to cause a stir in the cafe by mingling with the visitors. The performances are included in the price of the ticket so we are mostly providing background music but many people sit and enjoy several songs before moving on. It is also fun to explain about the music and costumes.
My costume was made for me by a specialist dressmaker who has a fascinating well of knowledge on materials and styles. We struggled at first to find a ruff that didn’t constrict at the neck. Fortunately Eleanor of Toledo wore a more open style towards the end of the 16th Century so we were able to take inspiration from an authentic source.
We will be doing a couple of stints at Haddon Hall again in December as part of their fantastic Tudor Christmas. It gets quite cold singing in the Great Hall, but it’s amazing how many layers of M & S thermals can be fitted under a kirtle and gown! (Other providers of thermal underwear are available).
One of my favourite Musicke in the Ayre programmes has been Chantement cordiale. Din and I first performed this in March this year, in St Bride’s church in Fleet St. The live acoustic and attentive audience combined to create a spell-binding hour.
We then expanded it to a duet programme , performed in the Coach House Studio in Wirksworth in July 2019, with a singer songwriter I had admired for some time. Carol Fieldhouse was the person who introduced me to Dartington, and so to MITA, for which I will always be grateful. Our voices blended well and we hope to work together more in the future.
On Friday 11 October at 6.30pm Din and I will take this delightful programme to the Museum of Bath Architecture. We will be contrasting airs de cour by Chardavoine, Guedron, Besard and Moulinie with lute ayres by Dowland, and Campion. There will be a complimentary drink from 6.00pm, so it should be a good start to the weekend!
On Saturday 9 October 2019 I will be rejoining a group of local musicians to give a teatime concert of Baroque music. Moot Point Music are a talented bunch who play on period instruments and it will be a delight to join them again. The concert in Wirksworth URC church will include music by J.S.Bach, Telemann, Handel and Loeillet.
I am looking forward to singing with harpsichord and viola da gamba as well as baroque flute and violin. My contribution will be Purcell and Boyce.
The concert is on the Armistice weekend so it seems fitting to perform Dido’s lament. I hope to lift the mood later with a lighter Purcell piece and a sweet little Boyce song. I previously only knew his symphonies but I am now discovering the delightful vocal repertoire.