Faronel offers a wide range of music from the early medieval period through to the early 17th century.
We cover a wide mixture of periods and styles, taking the audience on a musical journey during which we talk about the music and our instruments. We find that these explanations are very popular as they help to demistify repertoire that may be previously unfamiliar to most general concert-going audiences. We can offer programmes that present a mixture of different periods and styles of music, or we can present halves or the whole of a concert featuring music focussing on the following areas:
Sacred music – from Gregorian chant to the polyphonic glories of the Renaissance: music sourced from Italy to the Orkneys, including the oldest vocal work in English, antiphons by Leonel Power, songs for the pilgrims on the road to Santiago de Compostela, works by Machaut and Dufay and much else.
Medieval secular music – Songs and dances from France, Italy, England and Flanders: our repertoire includes works in the classic formes fixes of virelai, rondeau and ballade, dances from early sources such as the Chansonnier du Roi and Harley manuscripts, the earliest known keyboard pieces, music by masters of the trecento such as Landini, and music from medieval England.
Renaissance secular music – including consort music from the late 15th to early 17th centuries, songs and dances from publications by Michael Praetorius and Tilman Susato and works incorporating keyboards including harpsichord, virginals and organ.
Renaissance wind consorts – music for various combinations of woodwinds, including recorders, crumhorns, cornamusen, shawms, curtal, kortholt, and rackett. The music is taken from the many continental publications of the late 16th century, together with English works from the Tudor and Jacobean courts.
Pastyme with Good Companye – music from the court of Henry VIII, including works by good King Hal himself as well as songs, dances and sacred music by composers associated with the Tudor court. This programme features music for that most iconic of early music instruments – the crumhorn! – and is particularly popular with school audiences.
Fidel and Gay Sautrie – a programme of medieval music from the time of Chaucer, including repertoire written for Thomas Becket, works by contemporary composers admired by Chaucer, and pieces mentioned in the Canterbury Tales – all played on the instruments described in the great man’s writings.
500 Years of British Music – repertoire from the 12th to 16th centuries drawn from across the British Isles, including the oldest extant song in the English language, the world’s oldest surviving keyboard works, medieval songs, early renaissance polyphony, music from the Tudor court and instrumental consort repertoire.
The Road to Compostela – focusses on works written for the pilgrims on the route to the tomb of St James at Santiago da Compostela in Spain, including music from the 14th century Llibre Vermell de Montserrat, extracts from the 12th century Codex Calixtinus, and examples of the 13th century Galician Cantigas de Santa Maria.
Welcome Yule! – our Christmas programme which includes a mixture of pieces both sacred and secular, reflective and rousing, including many carols well-known today but in their original versions. This programme has proved very popular in a variety of contexts, including Christmas events for organisations such as historical societies as well as conventional concerts.
We enjoy exploring new areas of music so our repertoire is always evolving and expanding. If you have a particular theme that you would like to explore please do ask to see what might be possible: our recent concert at West Somerton, Norfolk, for example, included a number of works new to us from the 14th century in reponse to a request for a programme to reflect the precise period of the restored wall paintings there.
We are careful to play our music on combinations of instruments that reflect, as closely as possible (and as far as research is able to reveal), the original instrumentation of the various periods and styles we cover – the aim being to get as close to the original sounds of the past as we reasonably can.
The only thing we don’t do is dress up in “period” costume: no disrespect to those groups who do, but it’s not our thing! Apart from anything else, in order to reflect six centuries’ and a dozen countries’ worth of repertoire in even vaguely authentic costume would cost us a fortune in outfits!