Minster Minstrels at the Saltaire Festival, 14 September 2013
On Saturday 14 September, Minster Minstrels attended a workshop and concert with the York Waits as part of the Saltaire Festival 2013. Entitled "The White Rose and the Red", the theme of the day was music from the Age of Richard III. The Minstrels joined adult participants for an afternoon of music-making, with the opportunity to play a wide selection of period instruments and learn some renaissance dances. Playing in the round in a huge room at the top of the historic Salts Mill was a wonderful feeling. "Once I picked up the Harp, I didn't want to put it down - unfortunately, it was too big to take home on the train!" One of the many expressions of enthusiasm from our players sums up the mood of the day.
As an ensemble comprising players of any instrument who come to learn more about early music, in rehearsals we listen to recordings played on period instruments, and discuss how we need to adapt, technically and stylistically, to get as close as we can to performing the pieces as they might have sounded in their own times. There is no substitute, however, for experiencing the instruments for real and having a go. From harp to hurdy-gurdy, reeds to rebec, the York Waits enabled us to do this admirably, bringing the past to life. Their passion shone through in both their teaching and their demonstrations; everyone came away having learned something new, and inspired to want to learn more.
Between the workshop and the concert, The Early Music Shop, event hosts, kindly allowed us to take refuge in the shop after hours, and we were able to rehearse using their beautiful wooden music stands - a rare treat - and feast our eyes at leisure on the many weird and wonderful instruments on display.