Performing a Miscellany

Posted by Abigail Williams on Tuesday, July 19, 2011 with No comments
One of the aspects of miscellany culture that's most intriguing is how they were used - so many of them seem to point towards home-made entertainment and performance in their titles. So it seemed a good idea to try out the concept of domestic performance with a house concert, (which would also give Alva a chance to do a trial run of the Yorkshire Garland programme with local guinea-pigs.) One thing I'd forgotten in planning this homestyle re-enactment was that the average eighteenth-century hostess had a lot more (or at least some) domestic help. But after a flurry of hoovering and cooking, Giles and Viv, with fiddle and voice, set out to recreate an authentic miscellany singalong. Most of the material in the collection probably hasn't been performed for a couple of centuries, and almost certainly never in a 60s semi in Marston. But it worked - we sang along proudly to the joys of Yarm, shed a tear for the star-crossed lovers of Bowes, and would, if we could have done, laid bets on the outcome of the York Races. One of the things it showed very clearly was how the material changed in performance - the coy conventionality of 'In Praise of Yarm' became comic; many of the pieces seemed much more self-mocking than they were on the page. It was a very different experience from the same material performed in a large Victorian church in York a week later, which had a different kind of engagement (a couple from Yarm at the front made incredulous faces at one another throughout) but less of the interactive informality of the house concert. You can read a review of the York gig here and see images of the house concert here. I will put up some clips of the music on our audio page soon. There's a link to the Yorkshire Garland facsimile on Google Books in an earlier posting.