Thursday 16th October we went to see a concert by a group called “The Witches”. On the little flyers received some days earlier, we, (me, Audrey and some students in History), read “an Introduction to music of the Elizabethan period and Irish traditional music”. Everyone thought that this could be a good opportunity to discover something totally unknown to us. And indeed, we discovered something we did not expect at all.
When the musicians started playing, the music we heard was not the merry tunes one would normally expect when listening to old music. Quite the opposite, the music we heard was calm, serene and almost nostalgic. After the first song, the band members presented themselves and went on, this time with a more entertaining song. It is important to note, however, that the term ‘song’ is really unappropriate. Indeed, there was no actual singer, but only the music coming from the instruments. A reason for this is that, in the Elizabethan time, instruments were preferred to singers and thus, there were very few singers. I very much appreciated this part of the concert, since I did not know anything about music during the Elizabethan period. The first part of the concert was very fulfilling.
After the break, the band began to play Irish traditional music, with the bagpipes, the flute and the violin as main instruments. If the musicians did not play really catchy songs during the first part, they did so during the second. From this moment on, one knew that the spectators were charmed. Indeed, everyone, myself included, started clapping hands in tune with the music (sometimes, the bagpipes player had to stamp his feet so that some could find the tempo again). The music went on, each second more entertaining. The musicians were wonderful; they were masters in their respective arts. There are, however, three artists really worthy of a special commentary; the bagpipes player, the flautist and the violin player. They were tremendous! And this is not an overstatement. Indeed, one had the impression that they were born with their instruments because they played in an authentic style, really showing that they enjoyed playing their instruments. Those three could have started a band on their own and would have been a tremendous success! For example, the man who played the bagpipes played “we will rock you” by Queen on his bagpipes as a repeat song at the end of the concert. If that’s not proof enough!
Another interesting aspect of the concert was that, after each song, each musician explained something about the instrument he played. They were nine and played various instruments such as the theorbo, the lute, the bagpipes, the harpsichord, the flute, the viola de gamba, the violin and so on. This made the concert not only entertaining, but also musically and historically interesting, since some of us did not know anything about these instruments.