Yesterday’s lunchtime concert with the bowed lyre went really well. The audience was about mid-sized for these events. Everyone shuffled nervously when they saw the instrument lying out beforehand!
I really enjoyed presenting this programme of “national music” from each of the northern countries. I started with the Russian tunes from Petrozavodsk, and then explained a bit about the Finnish collectors and informants before playing some tunes from Finnish Karelia, and so continuing ever Westward, through Sweden, Norway, Shetland, Iceland…
I think the most difficult tune was the Inuit shamanic chant, since it was most alien to my understanding of the ancient European traditions. It was interesting that all of the other music clearly “fitted together” well with similar structures and sonorities, while this one stood out as really foreign. However I think everyone enjoyed the participative and experimental aspects of this one tune!
Towards the end I realised that I had prepared too much material so I missed out a couple of the tunes I had planned to play – and still overran. And then was asked by the host, Sheena Wellington, to play an encore. So I count that as a great success and now I feel I would have no problem putting together a 45 minute or one-hour show based on this idea, a tour of the bowed-harp or bowed-lyre traditions of the old North of Europe.