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October adventures

October means two things: ten days holiday in Italy working our way across from Lucca to Venice celebrating a significant anniversary, followed by the Dowland Project’s appearance at the Grenzenlos festival in Murnau on the 21st.

The Italian trip turned into yet more of an adventure than I was anticipating when we arrived at the car hire in Pisa to discover my driving license had expired.  After some frantic lateral thinking it became a trip by train, taxi and boat, with only one change of reservation (miraculously). Huge thanks to Trenitalia, all of whose trains ran absolutely on time (and were incredibly cheap), to countless helpful taxi drivers and Vaporetti crew who manhandled the luggage we thought was going to fit in a car – and special thanks to Erica who rescued us in Castell’Arquato and drove us to Fiorenzuola station so we could get to Sabbioneta. It was all total magic until we arrived back at Manchester airport to find the Trans Pennine Express had cancelled our train and the two we eventually caught both developed faults. Italy has a bonkers right-wing government which manages to make the trains work, why can’t ours?

On the Murnau blurb I’m billed, curiously, as a countertenor. I was once billed as a male soprano at a Purcell Room concert eons ago when I had to sing some pretty crotch-tightening arias but I’ve not yet dared to sing falsetto in public (it’s frightening enough in private) and I’m certainly not going to this time (I hope this is a cause for relief rather than disappointment). The evening is called Time Travel, and begins with readings by the actors Undine Brixner and Nicolaus Paryla, before we launch into a short tour of the DP repertoire from Troubadour song to Schubert, plus a digression via Placidus von Camerloher (1718-1782) and a folk song or two.

In November the Alternative History quartet has two concerts in the UK, at the University of York on the 7th and the Greenwich Early Music Festival on the 9th. I think this is the first time we’ve done two consecutive concerts in the country that two of us live in. I guess that post-Brexit our fellow band members won’t be allowed in so make sure you catch us while you can. Then at the end of the month we return to the mainland (our natural home) with a special programme for the Murillo festival in Seville. Sadly, the gigs we were hoping would follow this have been postponed till next year, and our next concerts in Spain will be in February.

In between the AH gigs I have an experimental concert with my former Hilliard Ensemble colleague David James at St Marie’s Cathedral Sheffield on November 10th. This will mark the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1 with a performance of Guillaume Dufay’s L’Homme Arme mass in a version for the two of us and Jacob Heringman (lute).  We’ll also be re-visiting some Byrd, Tallis and Arvo Part that we used to do with the Hilliards.  We’ll be repeating the programme in Marvao in July, and if all goes well we might expand our repertoire for future concerts.

On November 25th I’ll be returning to Triskel Arts Centre in Cork, this time with the Gavin Bryars Ensemble to celebrate Triskel’s 40th anniversary. We’ll be doing Jesus Blood, Winestead and a new Lauda composed for the occasion. The next day we repeat the programme at the National Concert Hall in Dublin as part of Gavin’s 75th birthday celebrations.

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