Super group to create music inspired by Hatfield House’s Elizabethan heritage

Rachel Newton is part of the Elizabethan Session Rachel Newton is part of the Elizabethan Session

Monday, February 3, 2014
3:26 PM

A folk music project will create a special piece inspired by Hatfield House’s Elizabethan heritage next month.

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The Elizabethan SessionThe Elizabethan Session

Folk by the Oak – the annual music festival based at Hatfield House, the childhood home of Queen Elizabeth I – and the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) have commissioned eight musicians to create new work inspired by the Elizabethan age.

Martin Simpson, Nancy Kerr, Folk by the Oak patron Jim Moray, Bella Hardy, John Smith, Hannah James, Rachel Newton and early music specialist Emily Askew will live and work together for a week in March to come up with new music that has a resonance and relevance to the era.

The Elizabethan Session will use material and history, stories, myths, characters and legends relating to the 16th century period and the artists will draw inspiration from the role that Hatfield House played in the Queen’s life.

Legend has it that Elizabeth was told of her ascension to the throne underneath the large oak tree in the stately home’s grounds, where Folk by the Oak is now held annually in July.

Folk by the Oak patron Jim Moray is part of the Elizabethan SessionFolk by the Oak patron Jim Moray is part of the Elizabethan Session

The group will live and work together at a rural retreat in Herefordshire from March 14.

They will premiere the results in The Old Palace, at Hatfield House, on Thursday, March 20, followed by a further concert at Cecil Sharp House, the London home of EFDSS, on Saturday, March 22.

The group will then record the material live at Cecil Sharp House for a CD release and reconvene with an appearance at Folk by the Oak on Sunday, July 20.

Elizabethan historian Ian Mortimer, who has appeared extensively on BBC One, Two and Four and BBC Radio, will visit the artists to give them an insight into the era and Queen Elizabeth.

The Elizabethan Session, a folk super group, will perform at the Old Palace at Hatfield House in MarchThe Elizabethan Session, a folk super group, will perform at the Old Palace at Hatfield House in March

Adam Slough, director of Folk by the Oak, said: “Since the first Folk by the Oak in 2008 we have been wanting to pay tribute to our beautiful venue that’s so awash with history.

“To do this through the music of these great artists will be a real thrill.”

Katy Spicer, chief executive of EFDSS, which also supported the acclaimed Cecil Sharp Project and BBC Folk Award nominated The Full English, said: “The Elizabethan Session will be central to our artists’ development programme in 2014, providing EFDSS with the opportunity to work with an amazing group of artists, develop our partnership with Folk by the Oak, and challenge the pre-conceptions of folk music amongst audiences.”

The Elizabethan Session is being funded by Folk by the Oak and EFDSS, with support from Arts Council England and the PRS for Music Foundation.

Tickets are on sale at www.folkbytheoak.com/TES.html and you can follow the project on Twitter @elizabethansess.

* For more entertainment news, visit our What’s On section.

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