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Our Carol programme brings together a mixture of the earliest medieval English carols and traditional carols from across Europe including Finland, Spain, France and Germany, plus insights into the history and stories behind the carols. Some concerts feature bespoke animations, inspired by medieval imagery, by Kate Anderson.



Carols were quite revolutionary in their day. They were the music of the people, in the language of the people, at a time when church services were in Latin. They were all about joining in.

The title of this programme is inspired by the fact that many carols have intertwined roots, dating back centuries, often to the Middle Ages, with melodies being adapted and reinvented, and new sets of words written.

In the Middle Ages the term “carol” didn’t have the same meaning as today. It was merely an indication of the form of the piece which would start and end with a chorus (named a burden) and would be interspersed with verses that told the story. The word carol is derived from the Old French word carole, a circle dance accompanied by singers.

Several medieval carols including The Coventry Carol and Ther is No Rose are also still sung in modern arrangements at Christmas carol concerts and church services across the country. And indeed these early English carols are very much “for the people”.

The programme includes a selection of traditional carols from across Europe. Many, like the Burgundian carol Patapan, have roots going back centuries, some as far back as the Middle Ages. There is also a personal dimension to the choice of carols, drawing on three of the roots of The Telling's performers, ie Finnish, German and Irish roots (Kaisa Pulkkinen, Ariane Prüssner and Jean Kelly respectively) to include several carols which are not well known in the UK.


The Telling:

Clare Norburn, soprano

Patricia Hammond, mezzo

Jean Kelly / Emilia Agajew, harp



The Ulverston concert is supported by the Sir John Fisher Foundation and the Conwy performance is supported by the Colwinston Trust.

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