Thursday, 5 May 2016, 1:00PM - 2:00PM
St. Sepulchre Without Newgate

Medieval Music: The Lands of the Bell Tower

Professor Christopher Page, Catherine King

Many thousands of visitors to London each year return home thinking that Big Ben is the name of the great clock tower at Westminster. Londoners know that this is the name of the bell. This is a legacy from the Middle Ages when bells had names, ‘tongues’ and ‘mouths’. They could be baptized and might even be taken down, and filled with thorns, as a punishment if they did not ring of their own accord in a time of crisis. Where the bell-towers on the skyline ended, there Christian Europe had its frontiers.

This final lecture of the series, given in the church whose bells are commemorated in nursery rhyme as the ‘bells of the Old Bailey’, will explore the place of the bell tower and its inhabitants in the medieval imagination.


No reservations are required for this lecture. It will be run on a ‘first come, first served’ basis.
Doors will open 30 minutes before the start of the lecture.
Speaker_ChristopherPage_370x370.jpg

Christopher Page is Professor of Medieval Music and Literature, a Fellow of the British Academy and a Fellow at Sidney Sussex College, University of Cambridge. He is an internationally renowned performer and writer, as well as being an experienced presenter through BBC Radio. He holds the Dent Medal of the Royal Musical Association awarded for outstanding services to musicology.

In 1981 he founded the professional vocal ensemble Gothic Voices now with twenty-five CDs in the catalogue, three of which won the coveted Gramophone Early Music Record of the Year award. The ensemble has performed in Britain, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Sicily, Sweden, America, Israel, Poland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria and Finland. London dates included twice-yearly sell-out concerts at London’s Wigmore Hall. The ensemble gave its first Promenade Concert in 1989. The group’s work has been chronicled most recently in Daniel Leech-Wilkinson, The Modern Invention of Medieval Music (CUP, 2007) and Richard Taruskin, Text and Act (OUP, 2006).

Professor Page’s major 350,000 word study, The Christian West and its Singers: The First Thousand Years, was published by Yale University Press in 2010. Prior to this his six other books include Songs and Instruments of the Middle Ages, Discarding Images: Reflections on Musical Life in Medieval France and The Summa Musicae: A Thirteenth-century Manual for Singers. He has edited three books of music, including Abbess Hildegard of Bingen: Sequences and Hymns.

Between 1989 and 1997, Professor Page was presenter of BBC Radio 3’s Early Music Programme, Spirit of the Age, and a presenter of the Radio 4 arts’ magazine Kaleidoscope.

Professor Page has been chairman of the National Early Music Association and of the Plainsong and Medieval Music Society (founded 1889) of whose new journal, now published by Cambridge University Press, he was a founding editor. He serves on the editorial boards of the journals Early Music (OUP) and Plainsong and Medieval Music (CUP). He was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 2008.

In 2012, Professor Page was a founder member of the Consortium for Guitar Research at Sidney Sussex College, an affiliate of the Royal Musical Association.

Professor Page is currently completing a monograph on the Tudor guitar, representing the more academic side of his interest in playing guitars of the sixteenth-nineteenth centuries in a historically informed manner.

Professor Page has been appointed Gresham Professor of Music from September 2014. In this role he hopes to achieve “the ambition of all Gresham Professors; showing that a little-studied aspect of the field can have much more breadth of interest, and interdisciplinary appeal, than one might initially suppose.”

His first year as Gresham Professor of Music was a series of six lectures on Men, Women and Guitars in Romantic England:

The guitar is arguably the most widely cultivated instrument in the world. At a time when fifty or more pianos are broken up for scrap in Britain every week – sad relics of Victorian parlour entertainment – sales of guitars have never been higher. Nonetheless, it has been almost universally forgotten that there was an intense guitar craze in England between about 1800 and 1835, spanning the lifetimes of Keats, Byron, Shelley and Coleridge, and a craze whose history has never been traced. Histories of English music and society in the nineteenth century continue to be written as if it never happened, and yet the instrument was cultivated from the royal family in the person of Princess Charlotte (d. 1817) down to the poorest laundress. This is much more than the story of an instrument and its music : the rise of romanticism, the creation of an urban poor hungry for self improvement, the proliferation of newspapers, serialised fiction and printed sheet music, the social position of women and other aspects of English society and culture in the wake of the Napoleonic Wars all have a place within it.

Professor Page continues his series of Music lectures in 2015/16 lecture series entitled Music, Imagination and Experience in the Medieval World

All of Professor Page's past Gresham lectures can be accessed here.

Current Gresham Professor of Music

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Catherine King was brought up in Elgar country and after studies at Cambridge and in London, returned to the Welsh Borders. Much of her very full career has revolved around early music (with numerous recordings) but always alongside later and contemporary repertoire.

Concerts range from Verdi Requiem in Symphony Hall Birmingham and Elgar in Worcester Cathedral to medieval songs in the USA and Spain (caves and ancient churches), from Bach throughout Europe, and Italian Baroque arias in Genoa to Scottish 20th and 21st Century songs in Warsaw. She performs across the world with recent and forthcoming concerts in London (Harrison with ELISION at Kings Place), Trondheim (Bach), Spain (medieval) and Germany (Kleiberg Requiem), and a production of Wagner’s Die Walküre at Longborough in the UK. She has had many works written for her, including song cycles by Larisa Vrhunc, Tansy Davies and Barry Ferguson. Her numberous CDs include Bach ‘Alto Arias’ on Linn, Galuppi ‘Forgotten Arias’ (Gramophone Editor’s Choice) and ‘Airs de Cour’ (BBC Music Magazine Editor’s Choice).

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Transcript

5 May 2016

Medieval Music: The Lands of the Bell Tower
Professor Christopher Page
Catherine King

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