Wednesday night is #HomeTour night with The Telling

Leading early music group The Telling can’t tour.

Their response?

A packed weekly line-up of concerts, workshops and premiere “concertplays” (with leading TV director Nicholas Renton) beamed to your living room, some of which you can sing along to. 

Leading early music group The Telling should have been running residencies and mini festivals in Liverpool and Wolverhampton in the next few months and premiering a new concertplay. Lockdown may have called time on those plans but, undaunted, The Telling, whose last CD reached No. 25 in the classical charts in December and who gave 28 concerts in the UK last year, has responded creatively. Their #HomeTour programme, funded by Arts Council England, Ambache Charitable Trust and Sylvia Waddilove Foundation, will launch on Wednesday 12th August and run weekly every Wednesday until 28 October. 

The packed schedule consists of a mix of pre-recorded concerts (some outside, in front of a socially distanced audience) of Sephardic, medieval and lullaby concerts, storytelling with music and online premieres of four hybrid concertplays (where music and drama collide) written by The Telling’s soprano, writer and Artistic Director Clare Norburn and directed by acclaimed TV director Nicholas Renton, best known for the BAFTA-nominated Mrs Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters for BBC TV, as well as episodes of Musketeers, Lewis, George Gently and Silent Witness.

Each performance will be available for a week to stream for free, although donations to The Telling’s fundraising appeal will be encouraged. “We are modelling the weekly shows shamelessly on the successful National Theatre at Home programme,” Clare Norburn explains. “But in addition, although the shows are online, we want to make the experience more interactive. Building on our weekly #InRetreat singing workshops on Zoom, we will run a series of participative events before and after many of the screenings. This will include pre-screening workshops so participants can sing along with one or more songs in the concerts and Q&As and post-show parties with the artists over Zoom.”

The Telling #HomeTour will launch on 12 August with a screening of a specially filmed online version of the group’s acclaimed concert/play, Visionthe imagined testimony of Hildegard von Bingen, featuring actor Teresa Banham (RSC favourite, with guest roles on Dr Who, Call the Midwife, Silent Witness) as Hildegard. As Clare Norburn explains: “The production was filmed over two days during lockdown at the haunting church crypt of St Mary Magdalene’s Church Paddington (one of Betjeman’s favourite London churches).  We had to think about how best to film this kind of show – which was going to be a challenge at the best of times, to which we had to add in worries about singing (although chant is arguably the most gentle and “least produced” form of singing out there!)  No one has really filmed a show quite like this for camera before. We found the solution was to pre-record the sound – the recording process is naturally socially distanced as you want distance between each microphone – and then lip sync to playback, getting away from the need for our singers to sing on film and therefore from needing to be 3 metres distant from anyone when filming! 

“Vision features music by the extraordinary abbess and gives an insight into her life, with an intimate, dramatic narrative. She was, in many ways, an ordinary girl taken from her parents at the age of 8 and bricked into a cell. She was extraordinary in how fought her doubts and the strictures imposed upon women in the Middle Ages to go on to found her own convent, oversee the writing down of her visions – and then in her last years to go out and preach.”

The second concert/play screening will be of Unsung Heroine: the secret life and love of 12th century troubadour Countess Beatriz de Dia, the Amy Winehouse of medieval times, on 23rd September. Actor and fellow-singer-songwriter Anna Demetriou plays Beatriz and it will also be filmed over two days at a shabby chic chapel turned venue in Peckham. The production will include the only surviving song written by the Countess as well as other troubadour and trouvere music, including by other women, e.g. Blanche de Castille.

Towards the end of the tour, two brand new concert/plays by Clare Norburn are scheduled for filming and screening. The first of which is Love in the Lockdown on 14th October, the tale of a playwright and a musician in the early stages of a relationship, who are separated in the lockdown. They work together online on stories and music inspired by an earlier quarantine in Florence in 1348, as translated into literature by Giovanni Boccaccio in his book The Decameron. The project provides a framework for strange echoes over Zoom, which start to impinge on the characters’ isolated lives. The #HomeTour finale is the premiere of I, Spie which explores the possibility of composer, John Dowland also being an Elizabethan Spook.

All of the screenings will premiere on The Telling’s Facebook and YouTube accounts and include pre-show singing workshops and post-show Q&A parties via Zoom. Full listings are below and at thetelling.co.uk/home-tour

In between concertplay screenings, The Telling performers will present short concerts:

  • Singers Clare Norburn and Ariane Prüssner will present 4 concerts focussed on Sephardic songs, medieval music and lullabies
  • Harpist Joy Smith, who is also known for her story telling YouTube series, will take the lead on 26th August with a story with music
  • Giles Lewin will introduce you to a series of his weird and wonderful instruments including the Vielle, bagpipes and oud on 16th September.

On the second and fourth weeks, The Telling takes a week off and, in their place, Thames Valley Early Music Forum presents a talk by David Allinson on 19th August and Southern Early Music Forum presents a session with Patrick Craig on 2nd September.

In addition, since the end of March, The Telling’s singer Ariane Prüssner has been presenting free weekly 30 minute singing workshops via Zoom, known as The Telling #InRetreat. All are welcome, no experience necessary, and all participants are muted so they can sing without fear. The workshops take place every Friday at 11am. Full details can be found at thetelling.co.uk/in-retreat.

The Telling #HomeTour will take place every Wednesday evening from 12 August to 28 October 2020– with the main event at 8pm. Each show will be available to screen for a week. Some events have a Zoom pre-workshop at 7.15pm. Some have post-show events, also on Zoom. See listings below and on www.thetelling.co.uk for full details

The Telling #HomeTour Listings (times subject to change)

Wednesday 12th August 2020

7.15pm  Pre-show singing workshop

              Zoom – Meeting ID: 863 5807 5471. Link to join: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86358075471

8pm     Vision             The imagined testimony of Hildegard von Bingen, reimagined for online screening starring Teresa Banham as Hildegard

             Facebook / YouTube (@thetellingmusic)

8.45pm Post-show Q&A Party

             Zoom – Meeting ID: 873 1287 3263. Link to join: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87312873263

Wednesday 19th August 2020 – Week off

Thames Valley Early Music Forum presents ‘Veni in hortum meum’, motets from the Song of Songs – a talk by David Allinson focussing on Franco-Flemish gems by composers such as Lassus, Clemens and L’heritier.

Wednesday 26th August 2020, 8pm

Facebook / YouTube (@thetellingmusic)

Joy Smith is one of The Telling’s harpists and is also a wonderful storyteller. Join her tonight to hear her brand new story especially written for The Telling Home Tour combined with performances of a range of early music interspersed into the story. More detail to be released nearer the time online 

Wednesday 2nd September 2020 – Week off

Southern Early Music Forum presents a session with Patrick Craig

Wednesday 9th September 2020

7.15pm  Pre-concert singing workshop

              Zoom – Meeting ID: 851 4418 7048. Link to join: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85144187048

8pm       Sephardic song concert with Clare Norburn, soprano & Ariane Prüssner, mezzo & medieval harp

              Facebook / YouTube (@thetellingmusic)

Wednesday 16th September 2020, 8pm

Facebook / YouTube (@thetellingmusic)

Meet the Instruments

The Telling’s Giles Lewin introduces you to a series of his weird and wonderful instruments including the oud, Vielle (medieval fiddle), bagpipes – as well as some lively 18th century dances on his violin.

Wednesday 23rd September 2020

7.15pm Pre-show singing workshop

             Zoom – Meeting ID: 845 9273 2625. Link to join: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/845927326258pm     Unsung Heroine             The secret life and love of troubadour Countess Beatriz de Dia, reimagined for online screening starring Anna Demetriou as Beatriz de Dia

             Facebook / YouTube (@thetellingmusic)

9pm      Post-show Q&A Party

              Zoom – Meeting ID: 814 2948 6746. Link to join: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81429486746

Wednesday 30th September 2020

7.15pm  Pre-concert singing workshop

              Zoom – Meeting ID: 818 5159 7816. Link to join: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81851597816

8pm      Lullaby concert with Clare Norburn, soprano & Ariane Prüssner, mezzo & medieval harp

              Facebook / YouTube (@thetellingmusic)

Wednesday 7th October 2020

7.15pm  Pre-concert singing workshop

              Zoom – Meeting ID: 874 0367 9761. Link to join: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87403679761

8pm      Medieval concert with Clare Norburn, soprano & Ariane Prüssner, mezzo & medieval harp

Wednesday 14th October 2020

7.15pm  Pre-concert singing workshop

              Zoom – Meeting ID: 880 7509 1318. Link to join: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/880750913188pm     Love in the Lockdown             A playwright and musician separated in the lockdown record stories and music for each other but dark fictional characters impinge on their isolated lives. Online premiere of a brand-new concert/play by Clare Norburn

             Facebook / YouTube (@thetellingmusic)

9pm      Post-show Q&A Party

             Zoom – Meeting ID: 898 7915 3385. Link to join: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89879153385

Wednesday 21st October 2020

7.15pm  Pre-show singing workshop

              Zoom – Meeting ID: 843 0020 7263. Link to join: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84300207263

8pm      Contemplation with Clare Norburn, soprano & Ariane Prüssner, mezzo-soprano

Wednesday 28th October 20208pm      I, Spie             The imagined story of Elizabethan Spook composer, John Dowland. Online premiere of a brand-new concert/play by Clare Norburn

             Facebook / YouTube (@thetellingmusic)

9pm      Post-show Q&A Party

             Zoom – Meeting ID: 885 1268 4281. Link to join: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88512684281

For more information visit  http://www.thetelling.co.uk/

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