(Click on the program title to see a PDF of the full concert program)
Most Americans are taught that their earliest English forefathers were a small group of pioneers who came to the New World seeking religious freedom, built a thriving and harmonious colony in Massachusetts, and celebrated the first Thanksgiving with the help of friendly Native American allies. In reality, the “Pilgrims” were a diverse and sometimes fractious group of Puritans and Anglicans, religious zealots and irreverent opportunists, many of whom had lived in the Netherlands prior to their emigration, and some of whom were Dutch. They brought with them a repertoire of music as diverse as their reasons for coming to the New World, and the Plimoth Colony heard not just solemn English psalms, but also catches, ballads, dance tunes, Dutch divisions, and occasionally the rarefied music of the English court. One of the Plimoth Colony settlers was even banished to what is now Maine for his no-holds-barred music parties, where men danced with women (!) and the Wampanoag drank beer and rum with their English neighbors (perhaps the closest thing to a real “Thanksgiving” that colonial Massachusetts ever experienced). This program features music from Thomas Morley, Robert Johnson, Thomas Ravenscroft, the Dutch collection ‘t Uitnement Kabinet, the Bay Psalm Book, and John Playford’s Dancing Master
The tumultuous years of the English Civil War and Interregnum (1640-1660) produced music that resonated deeply for both commoners and nobility throughout the British Isles. The royalist Cavaliers and Cromwell’s “roundheads” both had active propaganda machines, and each side produced ballads and songs that satirized the opposition and promoted their own views, or glorified martial heroes such as the dashing Prince Rupert of the Rhine. The court of Charles I also contained many notable musicians, including the viol player and composer William Lawes; he gave his life for the Royalist cause, but not before composing some of the most sublime and bizarre consort music of the 17th century. This program features music from Lawes, Locke, Alfonso Ferrabosco the Younger, The Division Violin, and original Seven Times Salt settings of Civil War ballads and songs.
Some of the finest composers in 17th-century England spent most of their careers in other countries; for some, this was purely a professional consideration, and for others, they were avoiding religious discrimination or even the long arm of the law! The most famous of these is probably John Dowland, the melancholy lutenist who became England’s foremost musical ambassador to northern Europe; however, there were many others, including the keyboardist John Bull, the viol player (and mercenary soldier) Tobias Hume, and the violinists Thomas Simpson and William Brade. These English expatriates informed a whole generation of Continental composers, and eventually some of them even gained recognition in their native land. This program features music by Dowland, Hume, Brade, Simpson, Peter Phillips, and original arrangements for broken consort of keyboard works by John Bull.
Perhaps the English language’s most famous diarist, Pepys was a prosperous civil servant and “man-about-town” in Restoration London, and the diaries that he kept fastidiously from 1660-1668 provide a revealing glimpse into the life of a middle-class bon vivant under the reign of the “merry monarch” Charles II. S.P. was an enthusiastic amateur musician who sang and played the lute, viol, and flageolet; his diaries chronicle (among other adventures) his experiences making convivial music with both the best and the worst musicians that London had to offer. Playing on the very instruments that Pepys favored, STS brings Pepys’ bustling, bewigged, and sometimes bawdy London to life with dramatic readings from the diaries and selections by Hume, Humfrey, Blagrave, Young, and Locke (all of whom were friends of Pepys).
Some of the most popular Renaissance music was written for the Christmas season; many of these pieces are still popular today, and some are little-known gems. This concert brings together devotional, poignant, celebratory, and sometimes humorous music celebrating the pagan and Christian traditions of bringing light and warmth to the midwinter cold. This program, soon to be released on CD, features original Seven Times Salt arrangements of holiday music from England, Ireland, France, Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands
Ground basses and repeated harmonic patterns form the basis of some of the most memorable instrumental music from the 17th century—English consort music, Italian dance music and songs, Spanish divisions, and many other genres relied on grounds as a common currency. In a program ranging from the rarefied to the ridiculous, STS explores the many guises of the ground bass, from “Greensleeves” to “La Follia”. This program, originally premiered as a collaboration between Seven Times Salt and David Douglass, features music by Michael Farinel, Marco Uccellini, Henry Purcell, Gasparo Zanetti, and many others, as well as pieces from The Division Violin, Playford’s Dancing Master, and original compositions by David Douglass.