Totnes Early Music Society (TEMS) Presents Syrinx: Blast from the Past
Ann Allan, Belinda Paul, Gail Hennessey and Sally Holman play shawms, dulcians, bagpipes, baroque oboes and bassoon
Saturday April 27 in St Mary’s Church, Totnes, at 7.30pm
Totnes Early Music Society Concert Organiser Jill Tomalin is excited about the next event in the current TEMS season. Jill writes:
All areas of life
‘There’s a chance to hear shawms, dulcians, bagpipes, and bassoons in St Mary’s Church, Totnes on Saturday 27th April when top wind band Syrinx recreate music reflecting all areas of life over four centuries. Wind music could be heard everywhere from the 14th to the 18th centuries – from grand state occasions to the humblest village dance. This final concert in the 2018/19 series from Totnes Early Music Society features music from early anonymous Italian and English sources to Dufay and Josquin as Syrinx chart the rise of professional wind bands, before turning to the music of Handel and Telemann, when wind bands were arguably at their peak.
The world’s leading period orchestras
The members of Syrinx play in many of the world’s leading period orchestras including the Academy of Ancient Music, The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, and The Gabrieli Consort and Players. They are also active as chamber musicians, appearing with I Fagiolini, and Mediva, amongst others. Ann Allan has played for TEMS before with Daughters of Elvin, while Belinda Paul is making a third visit, after outstanding concerts with Concentus Vii and Blondel in 2017’. Jill comments further:
Tunes to hang to…
‘This concert is likely to be lively, with some exuberant songs and dance music from as far back as the 14th century, on instruments we rarely hear today. Belinda and her colleagues are truly expert at making dulcians sing and bagpipes sound melodic, as well as captivating us with some fantastic dance music. At the opposite extreme, one late 16th-century piece called Fortune my Foe, was often played at public executions and referred to as ‘The Hanging Tune’!
Shawms and dulcians
While bagpipes need no introduction, shawms were imported into Europe from the Middle East and featured prominently from the 14th century onwards. Shawm bands provided ceremonial and dance music at every court in Europe, while many towns had a group of wind players known as Waits to mark the hours and provide music at major social and civic events. The arrival of the dulcian broadened the sound range, with a sweeter, softer sound than shawms. Both continued to be played well into the 18th century but were ultimately replaced by the oboe. These fashionable new instruments led to a change as oboe bands sprang up to perform at civic occasions, coronations, and other spectacular events.
Make the acquaintance of these now largely-forgotten instruments in Blast From the Past, a concert of music from Syrinx, an outstanding wind band, at St Mary’s Church on Saturday 27th April at 7.30pm. Advance tickets are £13, available from the Dartington Box Office (01803 847070) and website (www.dartington.org/whats-on), with tickets for under 18s at £5. Tickets on the door at St Mary’s will be £14/£5
Philip R Buttall
top image: Syrinx