Folk airs meet the classical tradition at the Petworth Festival

At the Petworth Festival
At the Petworth Festival
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William Thomson’s Orpheus Caledonius presented by Žak Ozmo and L’Avventura London will be among the highlights of this year’s Petworth Festival, featuring Scottish folk band Blind Old Dogs and singer Siobhan Miller

They are promising the 18th century’s most popular and fashionable song-book, where folk airs meet the classical tradition, adapted for a modern audience (St Mary’s Church, July 14, 7.30pm).

Žak said: “The divide between the so called high art music and popular/folk music in the 18th century was much more porous than we consider it today; many musicians, including composers, were involved in both, and the two styles constantly influenced each other.

“Tunes from the Orpheus Caledonius collection in particular permeated the British musical culture of the 18th century, and Haydn and Beethoven even set songs from it. I think that mixing the sounds of an early music group with that of a folk band brings us closer to the contemporary emotional experience the 18th century musical public would have had with the repertoire.

“Orpheus Caledonius by William Thomson was the first collection of traditional Scottish songs to be published along with their melodies, in 1725. Created against the backdrop of the immense popularity of Scottish tunes in 18th century Britain, it became so successful that a second collection, featuring fifty more songs, was printed five years later.

“This seminal work influenced Scotland’s national bard Robert Burns, who used the airs (tunes) to set his own words. The popularity of the collection, and the fashion for Scottish music in general, peaked by the late 1800s and gradually faded from the salons of polite society and audiences’ memories.”

Žak and L’Avventura London have collaborated with pioneering Scottish folk band Old Blind Dogs and the two-time winner of the Scots Singer of The Year award, Siobahn Miller, to present the music of Orpheus Caledonius across the UK.

“Mixing baroque with folk elements, the performance brings this 18th century experience to life, mixing popular ballads about war and love with by lively toe-tapping dances. The wide range of musical instruments employed, offer an unrivalled journey through the history of music: From bowed baroque strings, recorders, lutes, cittern, and baroque guitar, to pipes, whistles, fiddles, mandolin, acoustic guitar, and an array of percussion instruments.”

Founded by Žak in 2009, L’Avventura London is a period-instrument ensemble presenting modern debuts of forgotten musical treasures from 16-18 century and fresh takes on well-known works. L’Avventura has appeared in the York Early Music Festival, Spitalfields Summer Music Festival, Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music, Brighton Early Music Festival, Gregynog Festival, Cheltenham Music Festival, and Tudeley Festival. www.lavventuralondon.co.uk.

Old Blind Dogs are one of Scotland’s most-highly acclaimed traditional folk bands, closely associated with the country’s roots revival movement, since their formation in the early 1990s. They have released ten albums and won the prestigious title of Folk Band of the Year at the 2004 and 2007 Scots Trad Music Awards.

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