FAIRE: AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY
Bartholomew Faire was formed in 1996 with the intent of making the arcane and diverse world of ‘early music’ accessible and enjoyable to all audiences. Our catchline “experience the ancient” not only beckons the listener to another time and place, but also emphasizes the immediate impact that antique music can have on the present moment.
Following the ancient traditions of music-making, Bartholomew Faire uses the medieval delineation of ‘loud’ and ‘soft’ instrument combinations to create different textures of sound. The ‘soft’ music typically features the lute, harp, low recorders, ocarinas, oud, citole, and ethereal percussion effects like the ocean drum or spring drum. The ‘loud’ band turns people’s heads with the shawm, Kelhorn, pipe & tabor, the intriguing hurdy-gurdy, and Louis’ mighty Gothic bagpipe. Often, Bartholomew Faire will mix and match these instruments in creative ways to present ‘trance’ music (hurdy-gurdy with harp, oud, and large frame drum, for example), upbeat improvisations on traditional-sounding chord progressions, with liberal instrument changes, or Baroque music with a Celtic edge. With Bartholomew Faire’s impressive instrumentarium, the possibilities are endless.
Through the years, Bartholomew Faire has seen many personnel shifts: starting as a primarily vocal ensemble, later featuring harpsichord and viola da gamba with the usual collection of harp, lute, hurdy-gurdy, pipe & tabor and recorder, and then settling into our current instrumental lineup complete with bagpipes, shawm, oud and world percussion.
Starting with our auspicious Phoenix Early Music Society debut (when we were called “Musica Ficta”), Bartholomew Faire has brought its distinctive sound to many venues, including the Devonshire Renaissance Faire (9 years), coffeehouses, car dealerships (not kidding!), The Kerr Cultural Center, all kinds of schools (from elementary to university), sidewalks, bookstores, Shakespeare plays, botanical gardens, First Friday events… the list goes on!
Everywhere we play, we draw a diverse and enthusiastic crowd: Folk audiences recognize and appreciate the close connections between ‘early music’ and traditional music and instruments. Jazz aficionados are intrigued by the fact that we improvise the variations that we play, much like a jazz combo would. Classical devotees are often pleased to discover the ‘crazy cousin’ of the classical world. World music fans often hear familiar sounds, whether it’s Celtic, or Middle Eastern, or something else altogether. And those who enjoy pop, or alternative or classic rock are drawn by the vitality and drive that the music and our energy has to offer. There is something for everyone in every Bartholomew Faire performance.
2010 - Bartholomew Faire LLC