Sunday, November 22, 2009

A music that cannot leave you cold as a witch's caress !

Who would expect to see a lutenist wearing a kilt in the Arsenal ? Or a crowd of students dancing around the tables and a giant playing “We will rock you” on bag-pipes ? No, you are not dreaming. The Arsenal turned into a 16th century Elizabethan tavern for the occasion!

On Thursday 15th October, the Festival de Wallonie invaded the FUNDP. Students were invited to attend two lectures about the relationship between writing or playing music and running a business. During the evening, the atmosphere was livened up by the “Witches”, a band playing Irish and Elizabethan music. The spectators discovered the jigs, ballads and other pieces that were played in pubs in the old days. Nicolas Sansarlat played the violin, Claire Michon flitted from the flute to the drums, Sylvie Moquet hid behind her viola de gamba while Miguel Henry was tenderly plucking his lute's or his theorbo's cords and Freddy Eichelberger accompanying them with his harpsichord and his cither. But the most impressive musician of all was Mickaël Cozien, who played the bag-pipes with a speed and a precision that would make you lose your mind.

It was a real time-travel across the tunes of England. Moreover, this travel was rewarding in many respects. First of all, the audience discovered instruments they had never heard of: the cither, a stringed instrument of the guitar family, which dates back to the Renaissance ; an imposing viola de gamba, also a stringed instrument used in the Renaissance and Baroque periods ; and the theorbo, a kind of long-necked lute dating back to the 16th century. Each in a row, the musicians took care to present their instruments and explain their main features. But the audience also learned about the styles of music which were played in 16th century pubs as well as about the main composers of the time: Orlande de Lassus, John Dowland, O'Neil and so many others. Moreover, the musicians explained that the Irish traditional music is a direct heir of the Elizabethan music. Icing on the cake, the Witches also introduced the public to an old type of dance: as a result, more than thirty pairs of feet stamped on the floor of the Arsenal while the musicians were playing a furious jig. The evening was too short, but everyone left with a smile on the face.

Hopefully, it is far from being the only concert of the “Witches”. The band has been on stage since 1999. The five original musicians are Claire Michon, Freddy Eichelberger, Odile Edouard, Pascale Boquet and Sylvie Moquet. But the composition of the group changes from concert to concert, sometimes including special guests such as Miguel Henry and Mickaël Cozien. They also have a huge and diversified repertoire, ranging from jigs to psalms, from hornpipes to Flemish songs and from ballads to masques. If you want to discover their music, nothing is simpler. Three CDs have already come out and a few concerts are planned in November. Do not hesitate to plunge into the enchanted universe of the “Witches”, you will not regret it !

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