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Queen's Consort Wassail Evening

CORMUSEN, crumhorns and flutes –supporters of Bexhill Museum were transported musically back six centuries by five talented musicians and their historic instruments.

Hastings-based Queen’s Consort specialise in re-creating chamber music from the Renaissance on instruments which are faithful copies of those King Henry VIII and the musicians of his court played. Clad in authentic period-style costume, the quintet entranced a sell-out audience in the Sargent Gallery on Tuesday, December 11th with Wassail – music for the Christmas season.

The evening was both a musical joy and a learning experience for Queen’s Consort members illustrated their selection of works with explanations of the wide variety of instruments they were playing.

These varied from a goat horn limited to a one-octave span to the viola da gamba, a bowed descendant of the Spanish guitar and looking like a dwarf cello.

The Consort’s musical range was as varied as their instruments, starting with a carol dating from the 1300s and progressing through to the work of John Dowland (1523-1626).

The listeners learned that Henry VIII was an enthusiastic musician who not only surrounded himself at court with musicians but took ten of them with him to his historic meeting with King Francis 1st of France on the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520.

Though works such as Alas Poor Robin and The Fairy Round may not have been familiar to 21st Century ears the combination of period costume, music and instruments plus the infectious enthusiasm of the players for their subject proved a winning format.

A thoroughly enjoyable evening put together by museum volunteers Sally Hemmings, Peggy Goodberry and Karen Smith including interval refreshments in the Education Room with mulled wine, raised £443 for museum funds.

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