The Artisans

The Tilford Bach Society’s autumn concert season got off to a rousing start at Farnham Castle last week when ‘The Artisans’ processed into the Great Hall to the sound of bagpipes and drum. 

The three musicians, Emily and Hazel Askew, with drummer Ross Garrod, play a wide variety of medieval instruments, including the vielle (an ancestor of the violin), recorders, shawm, harp and a range of percussion. 

The programme took the audience on a tour of medieval Europe, from Italy to England via Spain and France, playing and singing sacred and secular music and showing how blurred the distinctions between these genres were in this period. The performers also explained some of the history of their instruments.

The pure soprano voice of Hazel Askew provided some exquisite moments, especially when accompanied by a string of small tuned bells, the lively acoustic of the hall giving a spine-tingling ethereal quality to the music. In contrast, there were several foot-stomping dances to the lively beat of drum and tambourine. 

But the biggest surprise was reserved for the end of the concert when the programme simply said ‘Henry VIII’. Would this be one of the musical monarch’s well-known compositions, we wondered. After a spirited instrumental introduction the trio launched into ‘I’m ‘Enery the Eighth I am’, encouraging a willing audience to join in.

Rosemary Wisbey, Photo by Ian Sargeant

Artisans website