The Telling specialises in programmes of medieval music and storytelling, narrative and poetry.
Blurring the boundaries of drama/concert, Vision explores the extraordinary life of the visionary medieval abbess Hildegard of Bingen, alongside her haunting and distinctive chant.
Vision aims to give an insight into the painful and visceral visionary experiences Hildegard suffered throughout her life. It is “an imagined testimony” as Hildegard, read by actress, lies on her deathbed, revisiting and re-experiencing meaningful episodes from her past.
The imagined history of troubadour Countess Beatriz de Dia.
This intimate piece of “concert-theatre” takes you back to the heady atmosphere of Provence in the 12th century. The evening combines the plaintive music and poetry of the troubadours, foot-stomping medieval dances and a narrative for actress Jan Chappell as the redoubtable Beatriz.
The story imagines how Beatriz came to write her impassioned song A Chantar, the only example of a troubadour song by a woman, where both the poetry and melody have survived. Beatriz’s poetry is grounded in the rules of courtly love. She lives in a world where emotions are sacrificed to the strait-jacket of ritual: her only recourse is to channel her pain, love and desire for revenge into this passionate song.
INTO THE MELTING POT
Spain. July 1492: the deadline for the expulsion of the Jews is days away. At twilight a Jewish woman lights the lamps and starts up her spinning wheel. It is her last night in Seville. She tunes into voices of a community of Jewish, Christian and Muslim women from across the Spanish peninsula.
Down the centuries, women’s stories of integration, love, the rich cultural heritage of the Spanish peninsula and racial intolerance are played out to a soundtrack of plaintive Sephardic songs and lively medieval Cantigas and instrumentals.
A MEDIEVAL CHRISTMAS
A candlelit celebration of Christmas in olden times with songs, poetry, dances and Christmas stories
A Medieval Christmas transports you back to another age through readings & stories, such as poems advising against over-drinking, accounts of harsh winters and a description of Christmas at the court of King Arthur. Through medieval and more recent poems and prose, we look back at long traditions dating back to the Middle Ages and the spirit of Christmas past.
The music includes a selection of the most beautiful medieval carols, some of which are still sung today. There are also songs about winter, songs to the Virgin Mary and a bawdy drinking song from the Carmina Burana.
See in the twilight with mesmerising music by medieval Abbess Hildegard of Bingen and haunting medieval music from England with poetry by local poet Sarah Law inspired by Hildegard and English mystics Margery Kempe and Julian of Norwich (and her imagined conversation with Sufi mystic and poet Rumi).
THE LILY AND THE ROSE
An atmospheric candlelit programme which takes you on a tour of five countries in medieval Europe.
Lilies and roses were used as imagery in sacred text in praise of the Virgin Mary and, in strong contrast, in love songs.
As well as music by Hildegard, The Lily and the Rose, covers a huge range of textures and styles. There’s music by Machaut, the beautiful English carol Ther Is No Rose, more earthly love songs, including a number from the original Carmina Burana, exotic upbeat Spanish cantigas and soulful songs from the Sephardic Jewish tradition – and one of the most beautiful pieces in the medieval repertory: Ciconia‘s O Rosa Bella
CLIMB EVERY MOUNTAIN
Pilgrim songs and dances for Montserrat.
Spanish medieval songs and dances from the 13th century, celebrating the monastery and pilgimage site of Montserrat. A mix of heartfelt devotional songs and lively rhythmic music written to inspire the pilgrims as they danced and sang their way up the mountain to the monastery.
TALL TOWERS, HUSBANDS AND OTHER OBSTACLES TO LOVE
It was tough being a troubadour in love. There were numerous obstacles to overcome, including strict parents, tall towers, distance, the dawn, not to mention husbands with bad breath and red beards. Indeed, having a good problem to deplore and bewail was pretty much a prerequisite for a good troubadour song.
Join The Telling on a musical journey around and over the obstacles of courtly love as we perform troubadour
and trouvère music and poetry, and foot-tapping dances.
Photos: Robert Piwko