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The Alehouse Sessions

The Alehouse Sessions

RRP: £13.71
Price: £6.855
£6.855 FREE Shipping

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BBC Four is broadcasting our Alehouse Sessions which filmmaker Dominic Best filmed in Battersea Arts Centre one snowy night in December. Case in point was the “Travel Set,” which cycled through tunes from Norway, Scotland, Denmark, Shetland, and a jovial take on “The MTA Song” with ease. There was the percussive backbone of Fredrik Bock on charango and the dancing of Steven Player, the equally rhythmic core of Buhre and Guthrie on their backing strings, the lively bassing of Johannes Lundberg, the rustic vivacity of viol(in)ist Milos Valent, and the harmonium of Hans Knut Sveen.

Beauty, improvisation, melancholy, bawdiness - Purcell, Playford and their European contemporaries bang heads with ballads, ditties, elegies, sea-shanties and folk song. A Changing Places toilet is located on Level 1 Royal Festival Hall next to the JCB Glass Lift, for the exclusive use of disabled people who need personal assistance to use the toilet. The players all sing, dance, tell stories and jokes, and the result are performances that have an anarchic, organic spirit all their own. This means we really want the unexpected to happen because it brings a refreshing air of spontaneity to our performances and audiences love it.In fact, we are recreating the anarchic spirit of Oliver Cromwell’s lockdown London when the theatres and playhouses were shut down by the Puritans and the musicians surreptitiously crept into the backrooms of alehouses and inns in protest. Everyone in the Barokksolistene is expected to sing, dance, move, play multiple instruments and generally have fun. We meet at the Ale House from 8-ish on the third Thursday of every month, mostly playing tunes from Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales and France with a smattering of Scandinavian and North American tunes. This is a window into Cromwell’s tumultuous lock-down England where, under a cloak of moral guardianship, the Puritans have closed all playhouses and forced trained musicians to seek refuge in the tavern. These sessions have already been hailed as ‘irresistible’ [The Times], ‘superb’ [The Scotsman] and ‘fabulously unrestrained’ [The Guardian], and they have diverted away from the traditional concert model by ‘creating the effect of a late night jamming session’ [BBC Music Magazine].

Attendees can book a double-bill of tickets, with The Purcell Playhouse kicking off proceedings at 9pm in the Purcell Room, recreating the raucousness of a night at the theatre after the 18 year theatre closures under Cromwell came to an end.

I must admit that the prospect of a musical recreation of a long boozy session in a seventeenth-century tavern had me on high cringe-alert, but I'm so very glad I gave this a spin - the result somehow manages to feel authentic and contemporary at the same time (and had one of my most curmudgeonly colleagues dancing in his seat when he thought I wasn't looking). Barokksolistene’s signature project “The Alehouse Sessions”, devised and curated by Bjarte Eike, has been made into a film for television.



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