Performed on Saturday 8th February 2020
On Saturday evening, my senses were aroused and tickled by the musical performance of ‘Beauty to Bawdy’ by Elaine Chipchase and Mick Pearce at Beeston Canalside Heritage Centre.
Mick hails from Teeside, with a classical training background, now residing in Worksop, and Elaine, also with classical background, and who has been singing for only five years. This evening saw them perform together for the first time at an official public event.
The first half ‘Beauty’ was made up of nine musical and lyrical compositions by 17th century poets and composers such as William Lawes, John Dowland to Henry Purcell. The Suite for 2 Lutes by William Lawes particularly caught my imagination with Mick and Elaine playing their finely tuned acoustic guitars in sublime unison. Also A Pretty Duck (from A Booke of Ayres with a Triplicitie of Musicke, 1600) by John Bartlett really captured my senses and made me smile generously.
After the interval and the performers’ change of costume, with Elaine in suitable ‘country wench’ attire, we were treated to the ‘Bawdy’ side resulting in us joining in for the chorus singing and giggling at the naughtiness of it all.
I was particularly hooked by the compositions of Thomas D’Urfey, aka Tom Durfey, 1653-1723. He was an English writer and wit, and composed plays, songs, and poetry, in addition to writing jokes, who was a key innovator and contributor in the evolution of the Ballad opera (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_d%27Urfey) during the Restoration period. I certainly remember seeing The Virtuous Wife (1680) most probably at the Nottingham Playhouse which staged popular Restoration comedies in the 1960s and early 1970s, several of which starred Judi Dench as their ‘bawdy’ wench or haughty heroine.
Five of the Bawdy songs were taken from Durfey’s multi-volume Pills to Purge Melancholy, written between 1698 and 1720, namely The Old Fumbler, Consent at Last, and Watkin’s Ale.
We all really started to get into bawdy accompaniment with Mick and Elaine recounting The Lusty Young Smith, The Comical Dreamer and My Thing Is My Own.
Choruses such as ‘Will you buy a fine dog with a hole in his head’ and ‘My thing is my own and I’ll keep it so still yet other young lasses may do what they will’ we all cheerily sang together and tapped our feet. The finale rendition My Thing Is My Own known traditionally as Lillibulero, brought robust and very smiley appreciation by the audience.
In all, a wonderful Beauty to Bawdy evening I will remember for a long time. I can foresee Elaine and Mick performing together at Elizabethan and Jacobean venues such as Wollaton Hall, Hardwick Hall and Tissington Hall, in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire...and more.
Please go onto Canalside Heritage Centre’s website to see all their Events and musical evenings taking place during the year https://www.canalsideheritagecentre.org.uk/
My thanks go to Zoe Cockcroft as CHC volunteer events coordinator and who is also a talented textile artist with her art cards displayed for sale here http://www.zoezegzula.co.uk/ , together with a large range of heritage crafts and products/gifts by local artisans.
Opening times: Everyday 9.30 am - 4.30 pm Tel: 0115 922 1773
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