A Game of Thrones

  • Elin Manahan Thomas – Soprano
  • Elizabeth Kenny – Lute and Theorbo

Anon. (attr. Henry viii) – Pastime with good company

Anon. Passava amor

Orlando Lassus – Bonjour mon Coeur

Philippe De Monte – La grand amour

Claude de Sermisy – Secoures moy

Anthony Holborne – The countess of Pembroke’s paradise

John Dowland – Come away

  • Now o now

Dowland – Can she excuse my wrongs

  • His golden locks

Anon. – Woe worth the tyme

Giacomo Carissimi – Ferma, lascia ch’io parli


Queen Elizabeth I gloried in her reputation as the world’s most famous virgin. Unmarried until the end, throughout her reign she used her maidenhood as a pawn, promising one great European after another the greatest gift she could bestow: her hand in marriage. Treaties were drawn up around suggested betrothals, and country allied to country on the basis of a possible marriage to the Queen of England. Among Elizabeth’s suitors were Philip II of Spain, Archduke Charles of Austria, and two Dukes of Anjou, Henry and Francis. But her lasting love was for her courtier and lifelong devotee Robert Dudley, the one man she could not marry.

Through all this turbulent time the English Renaissance flourished. The Tudor court buzzed with music, and the cult of ‘Oriana’ gave rise to the madrigal and the popularity of the lute, with one John Dowland trying (but failing) to gain a place as court lutenist. Elizabeth employed two official royal composers, Thomas Tallis and William Byrd, but even here there was intrigue as both were devout Catholics in a Protestant court. The influence of continental music by Tessier, Francesco di Milano, De Monte and their contemporaries, permeates vast amounts of works by English and Scottish composers.

Elizabeth’s suitors, too, presided over flourishing royal courts. Philip II reigned during Spain’s ‘Golden Age’ which saw the rise of composers such as Victoria, Morales and Guerrero; and the Archduke Charles II of Austria counted Orlando de Lassus as his protégé among other Franco-Flemish composers.

Pressed to marry, and besieged by threats of war on all sides, Elizabeth trusted no-one, least of all her Tudor cousins, each of whom had a claim to the throne. Her most famous cousin, the alluring and adamant Mary, Queen of Scots, was such a threat that Elizabeth eventually had her beheaded, turning Mary accidentally into a Catholic martyr who would be celebrated for centuries to come. Carissimi’s telling of Mary’s end through her own words is one of the greatest early laments to survive.

© Elin Manahan Thomas 2021


March update

We have decided that our festival was so close to the date when we might be permitted to hold concerts again, we cannot risk going ahead as planned especially as several of the artists have problems in that they are unable to rehearse. Our only concert in May will be on Sunday 23rd when Elin Manahan Thomas and Liz Kenny will perform their programme “A Game of Thrones” in Huntingdon Hall: hopefully we will make a recording for streaming, so if we find people are still unable to attend there will be an opportunity to catch it online.

It is hoped we will be holding the other concerts later in the year, subject to negotiations with artists and venues.

With fingers crossed and a glimmer of sunshine maybe we’ll soon be able to see the roadmap working for us all.


Early Music Festival 2021

Our Festival planned for May last year and postponed till May this year, is, not surprisingly, changing shape as we continue to experience restrictions.

Some of the artists due to come to Worcester are experiencing unforeseen problems: for example, a lack of opportunity for groups to rehearse together; the development of long Covid; and living abroad making costly quarantine prohibitive to travel.

At our last meeting the committee were concerned that May might well be too soon to expect people to come out, especially on consecutive days after having been locked down for so long.

So the only definite news at this stage is that the Pride and Prejudice Ball is to be a virtual event on Saturday May 15th…………..and it’s already proving very popular with our dancing friends. (For more information see events page)

Our Sunday afternoon concert at 3pm on 23rd May is our safest bet currently, and we hope will feature Liz Kenny and Elin Manahan Thomas…..but it is still early days to be sure about what might happen in May.

So with another committee meeting at the beginning of March ………watch this space!


Pride and Prejudice Ball 2021

It will be no surprise to know that we will not be dancing in the Guildhall this year for our Pride and Prejudice Ball…………it is however booked for Saturday 21st May 2022. Musicians Vicki Swann and Jonny Dyer will be providing the music, and Brian Stanton will be calling in the Guildhall Worcester.

In the meantime we will be having a Virtual Ball on Saturday 15th May this year and in the safety of your sitting room and with the help of Zoom you can join in…in costume even!

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