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The Alehouse Sessions

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The incredible Barokksolistene musicians perform music by Purcell and Playford, mixed with sea shanties and folk songs – entirely from memory.

I must admit that the prospect of a musical recreation of a long boozy session in a seventeenth-century tavern had me on high cringe-alert, but I'm so very glad I gave this a spin - the result somehow manages to feel authentic and contemporary at the same time (and had one of my most curmudgeonly colleagues dancing in his seat when he thought I wasn't looking). Everyone in the Barokksolistene is expected to sing, dance, move, play multiple instruments and generally have fun.

A joyful celebration of 17th-century folk music, fiddle tunes, drinking songs and sea shanties, brought vividly to life by virtuoso musicians Bjarte Eike and Barokksolistene.

Part two is The Alehouse Sessions, where the action moves to the ‘tavern’ (a role played this evening by the Queen Elizabeth Hall Foyer). Along with a variety of classical stringed instruments, their own arrangements delight us in a joyful mix of vocals, percussion, harmonium, guitar, charango and storytelling. This was immediately followed by a version of Purcell's “Lead Me” that was even more resolutely alive than the album version. It gives audiences a window into this tumultuous period through Purcell overtures, English sea shanties, and Scandinavian folk songs thrown in for good measure.BBC Four is broadcasting our Alehouse Sessions which filmmaker Dominic Best filmed in Battersea Arts Centre one snowy night in December. This means we really want the unexpected to happen because it brings a refreshing air of spontaneity to our performances and audiences love it. Through the medium of these well-loved tunes, a story of the period is interwoven into the music making; creating a unique environment between audience and performer. We have a great line of music for everyone, with professional lighting, stage and sound all weekend. The rest – harmony, rhythm combination of instruments – is completely for us to reimagine, and it’s so liberating.

These cookies help provide information on metrics the number of visitors, bounce rate, traffic source, etc. The result is a show like no other, which has won awards and rave reviews from sell-out audiences throughout Europe and the US. Beauty meets melancholy as rich hybrids of folk and classical bang heads with drinking songs, elegies, sea-shanties and bawdy ballads. The film will be available online shortly after broadcast on Sunday 23rd April, 9pm and can be found here.

A new flowering of theatre music takes place, where masques and dumbshows rub alongside Shakespeare and commedia dell’arte in beautiful union. That balances of bawdiness and reflections are the group's forte was obvious during their first stateside performance on 11 October 2017 at New York City's SubCulture. The energy flying from his bow was an inspiration, and spoke to the credence of his seamless integration of geographies. Eike was a beacon of focus throughout, linking his ensemble into a chain of artful exchanges, comic interludes, and audience rapport. I realise that this takes a particular kind of musician prepared to enjoy mistakes and turn them into opportunities for humour, to spark new ideas and to improvise.

The Boys, otherwise known as Barokksolistene, provide the entertainment, playing music by Purcell and Playford, as well as sea shanties and folk songs – all from memory. Google Analytics sets this cookie to calculate visitor, session and campaign data and track site usage for the site's analytics report. Curated by Bjarte Eike, Barokksolistene bring their unique performance experience to create the essence and atmosphere of 17th century London when Oliver Cromwell's laws that prohibited excess and closed theatres abolished the city's arts scene. The Alehouse Sessions – curated and devised by Bjarte Eike – is an ever changing and evolving insight into the music of the English 17th Century tavern.In fact, we are recreating the anarchic spirit of Oliver Cromwell’s lockdown London when the theatres and playhouses were shut down by the Puritans and the musicians surreptitiously crept into the backrooms of alehouses and inns in protest. There was the percussive backbone of Fredrik Bock on charango and the dancing of Steven Player, the equally rhythmic core of Buhre and Guthrie on their backing strings, the lively bassing of Johannes Lundberg, the rustic vivacity of viol(in)ist Milos Valent, and the harmonium of Hans Knut Sveen. In addition to their formal concerts of Baroque repertoire, Eike and his colleagues have, since 2007, developed another strand of performances. Watch Bjarte Eike and Barokksolistene perform ‘The Alehouse Sessions’ from the Czech Musica Pura Festival in 2019.

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