Folk by the Oak – the annual music festival based at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire, the childhood home of Queen Elizabeth I – and the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) have commissioned eight musicians to create new work inspired by the Elizabethan age.
Martin Simpson, Nancy Kerr, Folk by the Oak patron Jim Moray, Bella Hardy, John Smith, Hannah James, Rachel Newton and early music specialist Emily Askew will live and work together for a week in March 2014 to come up with new music that has a resonance and relevance to the era.
The Elizabethan Session will use material and history, stories, myths, characters and legends relating to the 16th century period and the artists will draw inspiration from the role that Hatfield House played in the Queen’s life.
Legend has it that Elizabeth was told of her ascension to the throne underneath the large oak tree in the grounds where Folk by the Oak is now held each July.
The group will live and work together at a rural retreat in Herefordshire from March 14. They will premiere the results at The Old Palace at Hatfield House on March 20 followed by a further concert at Cecil Sharp House, the London home of EFDSS, on March 22.
They will then record the material live at Cecil Sharp House for a CD release and reconvene with a show at Folk by the Oak on July 20.
Elizabethan historian Ian Mortimer, who has appeared extensively on BBC One, Two and Four and BBC Radio, will visit the artists to give them an insight into the era and the Queen.
Adam Slough, Director of Folk by the Oak, said: “Since the first Folk by the Oak in 2008 we have been wanting to pay tribute to our beautiful venue that’s so awash with history. To do this through the music of these great artists will be a real thrill.”
Katy Spicer, Chief Executive of EFDSS which also supported the acclaimed Cecil Sharp Project and BBC Folk Award nominated The Full English, said: “The Elizabethan Session will be central to our Artists’ Development Programme in 2014, providing EFDSS with the opportunity to work with an amazing group of artists, develop our partnership with Folk by the Oak, and challenge the pre-conceptions of folk music amongst audiences.”
Thursday 20 March 2014
The Old Palace, Hatfield House, Hatfield, Herts AL9 5NQ
Saturday 22 March 2014
Cecil Sharp House, 2 Regent’s Park Road, London NW1 7AY