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The Alehouse Sessions

The Alehouse Sessions

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The Strad’s Masterclass series brings together the finest string players with some of the greatest string works ever written. First an album from 2017 as well as a series of performances, The Alehouse Sessions has now been turned into a film for television, to be broadcast on BBC Four on 23 April. The programme features a lively mix of Handel, Purcell and Rebel plus explorations of a much more adventurous repertoire, including moments of improvisation for which Bjarte and his ensemble have become so renowned.

This spring (most likely 23 April), BBC4 brings The Alehouse Sessions to screens in a new film directed by Dominic Best, capturing the sound world of rebellious London under Oliver Cromwell’s draconian laws. Members get the first chance to book our entire programme of events, including go-down-in-history gigs, concerts with world-class orchestras, and talks from cultural icons and political giants. The energy flying from his bow was an inspiration, and spoke to the credence of his seamless integration of geographies.Of course, all baroque music requires a degree of improvisation – whether secular or ceremonial music.

Part one, Purcell’s Playhouse, imagines the backroom of a bar where a makeshift theatre has sprung up to mark the end of Cromwell’s reign – and his puritanical ban on playhouses. The Alehouse Sessions aims to capture the atmosphere and sounds of London at a time where the theatres were closed (thanks to Oliver Cromwell). Like the “Spanish Set” with which the group encored, during which Eike walked through the crowd with his violin, it was a reminder that listening is an active process. Inevitably some of that concert atmosphere, the back and-forth repartee, is gone, but instead those interactions and conversations are dissolved into the music itself. But perhaps most exciting are the relationships the disc establishes between Purcell’s music and the nicely spoken melodies from Playford’s English Dancing Master and their bastard musical relations in other genres.Here is music that asserts itself as a commodity only of the heart, fermented with just the right amount of personal expression it until it goes down smoothly like a pint ripe for the palate. When 17th Century England went into lockdown and the Puritans closed playhouses and theatres, musicians and performers sought refuge in backrooms of taverns and alehouses to vent their anarchy. Leap forward to those days in December 2022, and we find ourselves sitting around a table, drinking beer, gossiping and playing music at London’s 17th Century George Inn. 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. I realise that this takes a particular kind of musician prepared to enjoy mistakes and turn them into opportunities for humour, to spark new ideas and to improvise.

You won’t be able to bring any bags over 40 x 25 x 25cm into the Queen Elizabeth Hall, so please leave large bags at home. This was, perhaps, the greatest pleasure of seeing the Alehouse Boys in the flesh, by which the rigor and body work that goes into such a performance came across with unique authenticity. Part two is The Alehouse Sessions, where the action moves to the ‘tavern’ (a role played this evening by the Queen Elizabeth Hall Foyer). 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.Cut scene, and we move into the “back room” of the pub (which is really a stage at the Battersea Arts Centre), we’re on stage in front of a very enthusiastic, diverse audience who’s joining in singing, laughing and dancing.

We pride ourselves on using local suppliers where we can so are delighted to be working with DG MUSIC to bring you this mini festival of the best in live music, beer and food! They also brought great humor to their presentation, interrupting their opening number, for instance, to play out a drunken brawl in slow motion.This means we really want the unexpected to happen because it brings a refreshing air of spontaneity to our performances and audiences love it. They perform an unlikely fusion of baroque dance and folk music, sea shanties and storytelling: Purcell with booze. In what is by no means your typical classical music concert, guests will be able to move in and out of the Queen Elizabeth Hall foyer to sip on a cold drink and experience the different layers to the evening. drawing its inspiration from the Shakespearian theatre where there was a direct communication between stage and hall", says Bjarte Eike.

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