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Tunes for a Monday Morning

Medieval mummers

This morning let's step back in time with the help of Oni Wytars, the early music ensemble directed by Marco Ambrosini and Peter Rabanser. The ensemble performs trans-European and Arabic music from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, exploring the ways these traditions have intersected over the centuries. Though the group is based in Germany, its members come from many countries and play a wide range of traditional instruments, including the vielle, rebec, pochette, nyckelharpa, hurdy-gurdy, oud, baglama, harp, shawm, chalumeau, and babgpipes.

Above and below: "Tre Fontane" and "Saltarello," from 14th century Italy.

Dancers in a medieval manuscript

Above: "Nani, Nani," a Sephardic lullaby beautifully sung by Belinda Sykes

In addition to her work with Oni Wytars, Sykes is also a medieval music scholar and the director of the English/Israeli/Irish/Arabic ensemble Joglaresa.  I highly recommend their 2014 album Nuns and Roses: Medieval Songs of Sin & Subversion (how can you resist that title?), and their other fine albums as well.

It's difficult to find anything but snippets of Joglaresa's music in video form, but here's one lovely recording from 2009 (below): "Al Ahavatcha," a Sephardic song by Spanish-Hebrew poet Rabbi Yehuda Halevi, performed in London. The lead vocalist is Jeremy Avis -- who, coincidentally, used to live here in Chagford. In those days (when we were all so much younger!) he performed with my friend Katy Marchant's early music group, Daughters of Elvin.

Medieval mummersImages above: dancers and mummers from medieval manuscripts.

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