Joglaresa : music for Magna Carta

LBMC indulged in a different sort of music on Saturday 17th October. The change of style was better suited to a different venue, so we decamped to St Barnabas’s church. Sadly, the well-known, mediaeval heating system there was in one of its grumpier moods. But were we down-hearted? Not a bit of it. We enjoyed an exhilarating evening of mediaeval music. Belinda Sykes has been passionate about this kind of music for a long time,  and is the driving force behind (and usually in the forefront of) this group of very able musicians, who blend well together.

It is the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta this year, and the concert Joglaresa gave us (“Robbers, Rebels & Royals”) took music from those days when, if you were ruling class, you were still a Norman speaking French; if you were a cleric you spoke Latin and if you were a peasant you spoke an English a century older than Chaucer’s. If you had gone on Crusade (as many did) you (or your accompanying serfs) might well have picked up the rhythms and cadences of the Arabic songs heard there. Thus our evening’s entertainment contained all these things crafted into songs about, inter alia what a rotten activity Crusading is, Robin of Sherwood, Marion (and her other boyfriend), the seasons, the state of the roads, greedy barons and how beastly it is to be poor. (The ways of the world have changed rather little in some respects.) The rhythms were delicious; the melodies and harmonies played and sung teased the ear in a more complex way than one might perhaps expect. And, conversely, the simpler laments just wrung the heart.

After the interval performers and audience demurred at returning to the interior of the chilly church and we all made ourselves comfortable in the modern hall. Smiles all round. The gut-stringed instruments were particularly grateful.

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