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Arculo Consort of Viols
Matthew Farrell, Sarah Small, Cai Waverley-Hudson and Tim Edwards
Notes on the performers
Arculo Consort of Viols is a young and vibrant group of professional viol players from across Britain. The five founder members all studied together at The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, where the group formed, and have since moved from strength to strength performing recitals and services in some of the UK’s most prestigious cathedrals, churches and concert halls.
Arculo strives to convey consort music with intelligence and playful creativity and hopes to bring new energy to sublime viol music, whilst creating a relaxed and fun atmosphere for audiences of all ages.
Arculo’s 2022/2023 season has seen festival appearances at Lincoln Cathedral’s Byrd 400 Festival, Chichester and Newark festivals. The consort have also enjoyed playing in Southwell and London and gave a public workshop at the Newark School of Violin Making.
Future engagements include a collaboration with vocal group Ensemble Pro Victoria at the Hatfield House Chamber Music Festival and a concert of Bach and Buxtehude at the Brighton Early Music Festival.
The First English Civil War (1642–1646), commenced when the King Charles I raised his standard at Nottingham on 22 August 1642, 20 miles (32 km) south west of Newark. The town was a mainstay of the Royalist (Cavalier) cause: “Newark was besieged on three occasions and finally surrendered only when ordered to do so by the King after his own surrender”. The town fielded at times as many as 600 soldiers, and raided many nearby towns of the opposing Parliamentarians (Roundheads). At the end of 1644 it was besieged, but relieved in March by Prince Rupert. Parliament commenced a new siege towards the end of January 1645 following more raiding, but this was relieved after a month. The final siege began in November 1645, by which time the town’s defences had been greatly strengthened. King Charles surrendered at Southwell, 8 miles (13 km) west of Newark, on 5 May 1646. He ordered Newark to surrender, which accepted under protest by the town’s garrison.
Royal Consort set No.4
William Lawes is known for his ensemble dance music, which takes the form of suites called “consort sets,” well appreciated by his contemporaries and successors. Ten of these sets form a fine and varied collection called the Royal Consort, completed in 1635 for Charles I of England. This was issued in two versions: for two treble viols, tenor viol, bass viol and theorbo continuo; and, later, for two violins, two bass viols and two theorbos. Until recently the violin version was the better known, thanks to editing work done in the 1960s, but scholarship has revealed the four-viol version to be of much better quality, having been the original setting.
Mico was appointed resident musician at Thorndon Hall, Essex, in 1608. There, he worked for Sir William Petre (William Byrd’s former patron) as a music teacher for the family’s children, as well as composing for the household. Surviving documents record the handing over of the household instruments to Mico in 1608, including five viols (with bows), a lute, organ and virginals. In 1630 he was appointed as organist to Queen Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I, and held this post until the queen’s flight to Holland in 1642. None of Mico’s consort works were published during his lifetime, but Christopher Simpson, writing six years after his death, named him as one of the best composers of fantasias.
Alfonso Ferrabosco the younger
Ferrabosco the younger’s reputation was built largely on his prowess as a viol player, and even more so his compositions for viol consort. These were highly idiomatic works, with many divisions, and virtuosic lines. He also wrote many In Nomines, which were great examples of that popular genre, without the pedantic bent many later In nomines possessed.
In 1628 Tomkins was named “Composer of the King’s Music in ordinary” at an annual salary of £40, succeeding Alfonso Ferrabosco the younger who died in March that year. But this prestigious post, the highest honour available to an English musician, was quickly revoked on the grounds that it had been promised to Ferrabosco’s son. Charles I was executed in 1649, and a few days later Tomkins, always a royalist, composed his superb Sad Pavan: for these distracted times.
He was a prolific composer of both full and verse anthems, writing more than almost any other English composer of the 17th century and several of his works for the church were contemporaneously copied for use elsewhere. The survival of his music was ensured by the posthumous publication, overseen by his son Nathaniel.
See How Cawood’s Dragon Looks
When Charles’s dispute with Parliament led to the outbreak of the Civil War, Lawes joined the Royalist army. During the Siege of York, Lawes was living in the city and wrote at least one piece of music as a direct result of the military situation – the round ‘See how Cawood’s dragon looks‘, a vivid and defiant response to the Parliamentarian capture of Cawood Castle, about ten miles from York
Fantasia No. 8
Newark Siege: Pavan and Galliard
Around 1640 Jenkins revived the In Nomine, an archaic form for a consort of viols, based upon a traditional plainsong theme. He wrote a notable piece of programme music consisting of a pavane and galliard depicting the clash of opposing sides, the mourning for the dead and the celebration of victory after the siege of Newark (1646).
In the 1650s Jenkins became resident music-master of Lord Dudley North in Cambridgeshire, whose son Roger wrote his biography. It was in these years, during the Commonwealth under Oliver Cromwell, in the absence of much competition or organised music-making, that Jenkins took the occasion to write more than 70 suites for amateur household players.
He is noted for developing the viol consort fantasia, being influenced in the 1630s by an earlier generation of English composers including Alfonso Ferrabosco the younger, Thomas Lupo, John Coprario and Orlando Gibbons. Jenkins composed numerous 4, 5, and 6 part fantasias for viol consort, almans, courants and pavanes, and he breathed new life into the antiquated form of the In Nomine.