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The Elizabethan Session

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The Elizabethan Session
The Elizabethan Session


Martin Simpson, Nancy Kerr, Folk by the Oak patron Jim Moray, 2014 BBC Folk Singer Of The Year Bella Hardy, John Smith, Hannah James, Rachel Newton and early music specialist Emily Askew have come together to create new music that has a resonance and relevance to the era of the Elizabethan times. This 14 track CD showcases the results of the multi artist commission from Folk by the Oak and the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) that was inspired by the Elizabethan era took place in March 2014. Featuring the cream of the contemporary folk world in a week-long residency, songs were premiered at live show at Hatfield House, childhood home of Queen Elizabeth, and Cecil Sharp. The group also appeared at the Folk by the Oak festival that takes place in the field featuring the very oak tree where legend claims the young Princess Elizabeth learnt of her ascent to the throne. Produced by Andy Bell (The Full English), the album was recorded at the Old Palace at Hatfield House in the very hall where Queen Elizabeth held her first Council of State and at Cecil Sharp House, home of EFDSS. From John Smith's darkly brooding track London reflecting life as a peasant in Elizabethan England to Nancy Kerr's Shores of Hispaniola examining the slave trade that of the the era; The Elizabethan Session is a classic blend of traditional and contemporary tracks. Featured on BBC Radio 3's In Tune and the BBC Radio 2 Folk Show, and reviewed in The Guardian, Times, R2, fRoots, Living Tradition and Songlines, it promises to be one of THE FOLK albums of 2014. "I hear tell of London, Buildings seven houses high, The perfume of the ladies, All the ways a man can die. And the Woman King, she's 10 feet tall, She dresses all in white, They say she shines all over England, Though I've never seen the light" - (London by John Smith). 1. Come Live With Me Trad/Newton/Askew Words from Christopher Marlowe's poem The Passionate Shepherd to His Love and Walter Raleigh's response The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd, set to the tune of 'The Woods so Wild', thought to be a favourite of Henry VIII 2. The Monnington Pavane / Ortiz Ground Askew The Monnington Pavane (named after the hamlet where residency took place) is based on a popular dance tune of the era. It is followed by a ground bass from the time, layered with an improvisation and one written by the composer Diego Ortiz 3. Broadside Kerr/Smith/Simpson A three-way composition reflecting the maritime trauma that was indicative of the generation 4. The Oak Casts His Shadow Kerr Inspired by the conspiracy theory that Elizabeth I was in fact a man, this song examines the role of gender in people's expectations of a public figure 5. The Shores of Hispaniola Kerr A female perspective on the trade that saw Africans sold into slavery during the Elizabethan age, an established trade endorsed by the Queen 6. Suspicious Mind Smith/Kerr Based on two of Elizabeth's own poems one, a condemnation of the suspicion and conniving ambition she was surrounded by, and the other written as she bade her last 'official' suitor, the Duke of Anjou, farewell. 7. London Smith A brooding take on the dangers and challenges of being a commoner in Elizabethan England 8. Hatfield Hardy An examination of childhood and loss, sparked by the memory of an older sister's childhood portrayl of the young Queen at a performance at Hatfield 9. Love-In-Idleness Hardy A lament for Hermia, inspired by William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. 10. Christopher Marlowe Simpson In memory of the poet and playwright, Christopher Marlowe who died when he stabbed in a pub in Deptford, aged 29, reflecting his past times of fighting and counterfeiting coins, his outspoken atheism & espousal of homosexuality 11. Elizabeth Spells Death Simpson The troubled musings of a Queen who must sign the death warrant of her own cousin, Mary Queen of Scots 12. The Straight Line And The Curve Moray John Dee, mathematician, astrologer and scientist to the court of Elizabeth, studied algebra and was responsible for huge increases in accuracy of navigation using the stars. This song looks at how he pushed the bounds of the sciences into occultism and magic 13. Eve's Apology in Defence of Women/Gather the Owls Newton Aemilia Lanyer was the first woman to be deemed a professional poet and this song uses verses from her fairly radical poem for the time. The tune is named after the distinctive owl mugs used to drink copious volumes of tea during the residency 14. True Lover's Knot Untied/The Great Hall Askew The Great Hall tune is written in the style of a Galliard, a popular Elizabethan dance, and modified into a waltz. Affectionately named after the large sitting room where the artists gathered to share music during the residency


  1. Name
  2. The Shores Of Hispaniola
  3. London
  4. Christopher Marlowe
  5. Love-in-Idleness
  6. Eve's Apology In Defence Of Women / Gather The Owls
  7. Broadside
  8. Elizabeth Spells Death
  9. Come Live With Me
  10. The Straight Line And The Curve
  11. True Lover's Knot Untied / The Great Hall
  12. The Monnington Pavane / Ortiz Ground
  13. The Oak Casts His Shadow
  14. Hatfield
  15. Suspicious Mind
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