The Telling

A different concert experience


The Telling is a medieval ensemble which creates staged concerts to bring early music off the page and reach wider audiences. In 2019 we gave 28 performances including two Arts Council funded tours.  We combine music (which straddles classical/folk/world music) with new writing, readings or film. We move around audiences and use costume and lighting/candlelight.
"imaginative and eclectic" The Guardian, Fiona Maddocks
We engage a pool of leading directors, actors, musicians and lighting designers from arts organisations including BBC TV, The RSC, National Theatre, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, The Dufay Collective and I Fagiolini.
"Siren-like voices... an ardour to these performances that is hard to resist." BBC Music Magazine
We have been on BBC Radio’s In Tune, Woman's Hour and Saturday Live and performed for promoters including Music at Oxford, Buxton International Festival, Brighton Early Music Festival, Little Missenden Festival and Keele Arts.
We record for First Hand Records: our most recent CD Secret Life of Carols reached 25 in the Classical Charts in December 2019; David Mellor called it his "absolute favourite" 2019 Christmas Album and it was in The Guardian, BBC Music Magazine, The Daily Mail & Classic FM “Best Christmas Albums” lists.
“unexpected delight from beginning to end, and really strongly recommended” David Mellor, Classic FM/Daily Mail
The Telling distinctively builds residencies where no early music tours: Liverpool, Hastings, Worthing and Wolverhampton, also spearheading Liverpool's first Early Music Festival. Our Artistic Director, Clare Norburn has devised a new genre where music and drama collide. Her concert/plays have attracted 4-star reviews in The Times and The Guardian and performances at Bridgewater Hall, St George’s Bristol and LSO St Lukes. Our Director Nicholas Renton directed Andrew Davies’ BAFTA-nominated Mrs Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters for BBC TV & episodes of Lewis, Musketeers, Silent Witness and George Gently.
The Telling has been far from idle during lockdown:

  • #TuneTag: recording 40 daily films from 1 June to 10 July of a single piece of medieval music, self-recorded by our musicians in their own homes

  • #InRetreat: a weekly singing workshop on Zoom which started on 27 march and still maintains a loyal following of 35-70 people each week

  • #HomeTour - a series of 10 weekly films (early music’s answer to the National Theatre at home): a weekly series of recorded concerts and concert/plays (including Vision) with live pre-screening singing workshops and post-screening Q&As and “meet the artists” over Zoom.   #HomeTour will return in December

Vision was selected by The Guardian’s Tim Ashley, alongside the Salzburg and Edinburgh Festivals, as his recommended home watching: “Norburn and Prüssner are mesmerising in the music. An austerely beautiful piece about a woman whose faith gave her extraordinary strength and courage… it really is wonderful, so do try and catch it.”

Photo: Robert Piwko



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Thanks to our Funders

Our Secret Life of Carols tours 2019 and 2020 are funded by Arts Council England.

In Retreat is funded by Arts Council England’s Emergency Response Fund and our crowdfunders.
#TuneTag and Online R&D of two new shows & performance of Unsung Heroine are funded by Arts Council England’s Emergency Response Fund.


Our Empowered Women tour (Vision, Into the Melting Pot and Unsung Heroine)  is funded by Arts Council England, The Golsoncott Foundation, Unity Theatre Trust and The Marchus Trust.


The Marchus Trust.

Our Hildegard and Beatriz de Dia shows (Vision and Unsung Heroine), including filming of the online versions, are supported by The Ambache Charitable Trust which is active in raising the profile of women composers.

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#HomeTour is funded by Arts Council England's Emergency Response Fund, The Sylvia Waddilove Foundation and The Golsoncott Foundation.