Brexit Music for REMA

Friday, March 29th, 2019

photo: Guy Carpenter

Last night Jacob Heringman and I had the privilege of performing to REMA, the European Early Music Association who were having their annual conference in York in solidarity with their Brexit-Benighted English colleagues. Although it didn’t perhaps have the poignancy that it might have had if it had really been Brexit Eve, it was nevertheless a moving occasion and we chose a programme that reflected our mutual sense of loss. When we decided on the pieces several weeks ago we didn’t know what the Brexit state of play would be, and it turned out that we were none the wiser last night either. We ruled out offering the assembled delegates an indicative vote on what sort of programme they might want (after all, they might have voted for none of them and told us to come back on Monday) but we did replace Dowland’s Now O Now I needs Must Part with Campion’s Leave Prolonging Thy Distress.  Sadly, we couldn’t show our video of In Darkness Let me Dwell, but I was able to describe our walk along the Brexit cliff edge to the post-Brexit ruin in which we burned our music to keep warm. And we were able to include Compere’s Omnium Bonorum Plena where the composer prays for twelve of his fellow citizens of nowhere, and Cipriano’s madrigal about the joys of coming back, finishing with what has become our Brexit anthem, Finisterre. We were even able to acknowledge the Irish backstop with the Vaughan-Williams/Sheamus O’Sullivan Twilight People as an encore.  A huge thankyou to the legendary Delma Tomlin for hosting the event and inviting us to be a part of it, and also to ECM who provided us with a very stylish discography, the outer pages of which are above and below.