REVIEW: Orpheus Caledonius: BREMF

Orpheus Caledonius

Brighton Early Music Festival

St Georges Church

8pm

28th October

L’Avventura London
The Old Blind Dogs
Siobhan Miller singer
Žak Ozmo director

BREMF Community Choir

The 18th-century fascination with Scottish tunes was kindled with the publication of William Thomson’s Orpheus Caledonius (1725). Which was the very first collection of Scottish songs to be printed along with their melodies. Many of the airs to which Robert Burns later set his own words came from Orpheus Caledonius, but despite its importance, this collection has been neglected. The concert this evening gave us a peep into the history of music as it changed from one form to another, layering itself in sophistication and pretension and hiding it’s raw and beautiful thick strong roots.  The music this evenings threw off the accumulated soil and detritus of fashion to take us back to the honest simplicity of this music, hiding in plain sight often in the melodies and themes of classical music and brimming with earthy stories and passions.

We had some jolly songs from the BREMF Community Choir, who were all tarten’ed up and tam’o’shantered and sang in the interval which kept the atmosphere very jolly.

Period instrument ensemble L’Avventura London paired up with Scotland’s roots revival champions, folk band Old Blind Dogs, and special guest singer Siobhan Miller – two-time winner of the ‘Scots Singer of the Year’ award – and filled St Georges with passion and pure delight as they reanimated these hauntingly beautiful melodies and lively, toe-tapping dances. The sounds of eighteenth-century art music and contemporary folk have never been so engagingly brought together. Miller added some sly and funny commentary to the performance, utterly delighted the crowd with her soft delightful voice which melted me in a moment into a die hard fan, and then thrilled everyone by getting up to dance, she wow’d the audience with her charm.  It’s a pity the amplification wasn’t quite as balanced as it could have been, something to pay more attention to in future performances.

This was a beguiling mix of the 18th century blending with contemporary Scottish folk singing and the talents of Miller and Ozmo which together brought us into a state of sublime simplicity, where the music and atmosphere transcended the event and took us to a very special pure space of perfection.

Full details of the event can be seen here

Once again the BREMF challenges and surprises with its in-depth programing and the festival is off to a grand start and gathering speed.

For more info or to buy tickets see the BREMF website here.

 

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