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berto
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Recorders to leave the Renaissance Faire
« on: Mar 26th, 2003, 9:16am »
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Ending a twenty-seven year engagement, the recorder players of Musickes Merrie Companions are leaving the Bristol Renaissance Faire.
 
In an announcement to the Oak Park Recorder Society on March 25, 2003 (many OPRS members played with Musickes Merrie Companions at the Faire), group leader David Fitzgerald cited artistic differences as reasons for the split. Faire management had proposed new performance schedules and arrangements that were unacceptable to the group.
 
The Bristol Renaissance Faire (http://www.renfair.com/bristol), located just west of Kenosha, Wisconsin near the Illinois-Wisconsin border, is a show designed to entertain fair-goers in the custom of Merry Olde England during Elizabethan times. The Faire is held in a mature oak forest with a rolling landscape, organized into ten neighborhoods of permanent shops representing an Elizabethan Village.  The entire village is a stage, where entertainers and audience interact on the village streets.
 
For over twenty-five years, Musickes Merrie Companions ([url]http://earlymusichicago.org/ensembles.htm#Musickes Merrie Companions[/url]) had graced a corner of the Faire with their elegant, tasteful, and authentic renditions of Renaissance recorder consort music. Vocals, hand drums, tambourines, crumhorns, shawms, viols, vielles, and other exotic early instruments were added to the mix when the piece or mood called for it.
 
The sweet strains of recorder music will be heard no more at Bristol. It is sad, sad news indeed.   Cry
« Last Edit: Mar 26th, 2003, 10:03am by Forum Admin » IP Logged

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Re: Recorders to leave the Renaissance Faire
« Reply #1 on: Mar 26th, 2003, 9:55am »
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I played with Musicke's Merrie Companions at the Faire for the first time in 2002 and had an absolute blast. Playing recorder all day and helping to enhance the Ren Faire atmosphere became one of the highlights of my summer. I was greatly looking forward to going up there again this year as well.
 
When I heard that the group would no longer be playing anymore, I was shocked. Just plain shocked. And deeply saddened as well. Not only for myself, but also for the people who had been playing at the Faire since the beginning. I can only imagine how crushed they must have felt.  
 
My heart goes out to them.
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Re: Recorders to leave the Renaissance Faire
« Reply #2 on: Mar 26th, 2003, 12:41pm »
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Cry
 
If I had time to say all that was on my mind...
 
Since I must display some restraint, I will only say that it breaks my heart to know that our group is no longer wanted by the Faire.  I have only played since 1996, but my year has been lived in cycles of playing-the-Faire and waiting-eagerly-for-next-season ever since.  Yeah, it was a pain sometimes playing for the best part of a 10 hour day in sometimes-less-than-ideal weather, but I wouldn't have traded it for anything.  
 
Management is concerned that we are not "Flashy" enough.  They will probably hire another folk-music-in-Renaissance-clothing group with guitars and bawdy lyrics.  These groups have their place and I love to watch them myself, but our group had a place, too.  We were a quieter, constant presence- more atmospheric.  People could listen to us passively as they shopped the area merchants.  They could come closer and sit by us as they rested or ate.  And we were, above all, approachable.  As the only group I know of at Bristol who concentrated exclusively on *actual* Early Music as opposed to folk-song-fake Early Music, we answered their questions about what the music was really about in the 16th century.  We could show them the wonderful instruments and do our best to sate their curiosity.
 
No, there will be no large outcry from the Faire goers when we are gone.  We were not the producers of wild, enthusiastic followings.  
 
But a piece of the true soul of the Faire will be quietly missing.  For those who were touched by the beauty of the real music of that time- those whose hearts felt a chill as they were subtly brushed by music that has endured for centuries and could still touch upon those universal sentiments that unite us as humans- there will be an emptiness.  It may be forgotten for a while as the next beautiful trinket catches their eye or as the next colorful character grabs their attention in their passing.  But something very important will be missing.
 
And it is truly a pity.
 
We always did it for the love- never for the money.  The unwillingness of the management to consider any compromises wounds us all deeply.  It is not only the Faire patrons that will be missing something.  As each summer Sunday passes, there will be a large group of people with a love of performance embedded in their beings that will feel the need to hold back a tear.  
 
We have our memories.  But wouldn't it be wonderful to have our anticipations back?
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Re: Recorders to leave the Renaissance Faire
« Reply #3 on: Mar 26th, 2003, 2:29pm »
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This is a sad day for the Musickes Merrie Companions, that's for sure.  I was honored to be a guest vocalist for several weeks at last year's Faire, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with these talented and wonderful people.  They did bring a degree of authenticity to an otherwise 'representation' of Renaissance English life.
 
I only hope that the powers that be at the Faire will realize what they've done by laying out such unreachable demands on the group, and allow the group to return as they'd done for 27 years.  
 
 Cry
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Re: Recorders to leave the Renaissance Faire
« Reply #4 on: Mar 26th, 2003, 2:45pm »
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> Management is concerned that we are not "Flashy" enough.  They will probably hire another folk-music-in-Renaissance-clothing group with guitars and bawdy lyrics...  As the only group I know of at Bristol who concentrated exclusively on *actual* Early Music as opposed to folk-song-fake Early Music, ...
 
I'm glad you had the courage to say that.  Excellent points.
 
I listen to RenRadio (http://renradio.com/index.html) from time to time. Renradio plays Renaissance and Celtic Faire music of the kind that predominates at the Bristol Renaissance Faire.  It satisfies for a while, but after a half hour or so I hunger for The Real Thing and put on one of my early music CDs.
 
Several years ago, when "Vision" came out, I was enthralled.  After a couple of weeks, however, the modern embellishments and jazzy arrangements began to grate on my ears, and I rushed to the store to pick up CDs of "The Real Thing"--Hildegard von Bingen's music as performed by Barbara Thornton and Sequentia.  "Vision" is "flashier", but I haven't replayed that CD in years.
 
One of the saddest aspects of Musickes Merrie Companions' leaving the Renaissance Faire is that thousands of people will no longer be exposed to "The Real Thing" (or at least the nearest approximation of it at the Faire). They won't have a chance to know what they're missing.
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Re: Recorders to leave the Renaissance Faire
« Reply #5 on: Mar 26th, 2003, 3:27pm »
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I was trying to understand the faire mgmt's venal viewpoint,
since it doesn't accomplish much to just say they are wrong.
 
1.  they want more noise, apparently, which makes  sense in the early  pm, when sometimes the group can't be heard from a few feet away.  and often, during the crowded times, few people seem to be listening.  They are eating and talking.  More show biz could help.
 
To be louder is problematic,  however.  More brass, big reeds? The music would become something quite different in the process.  Recorders seem fine to me in the morning,  in terms of volume, noise doesn't seem necessary until the p.m.
 
2.  They want to be able to post scheduled entertainment, which  makes sense in being able to advertise, drawing  people, getting them to move from spot to spot.
 
but up till now it is the faire’s  fault  for not  suffieciently  listing the group, and for not finding a way to post a schedule.  A way to do that could have been figured out.
 
3. They want scheduled Dance?  well, I guess i get it, in terms of posting a schedule, but they took the space for dancing away  in the first place.  Do they plan to re-create space?  Dave F's dance  schtick was pretty good, I thought, and there could have been more if they asked, although it was increasingly  physically harder, and  there was no space.   Most of the regular performers aren’t dancers or extrovert performers.  it would take a change  to learn some dance, and put on a bit of a show.
 
4.  Fewer people? It looks like just plain nickel squeezing.  The group was  pretty cheap already,  seems to me.  And be able to do both music and dance with fewer people?
 
I will say that, by way of a possible example of what they may be thinking, that  the women's singing group does have a nice show biz bit.  smallish in number, look good, sound good, have a short show, then move the audience  on.
 
5.  Performing Saturday plus Sunday seems a real problem for most folks who have jobs , and a test of stamina, unless there were almost two seperate groups.
 
6. Then maybe there are  unspoken mgmt. thoughts:  Maybe mngmt has heard  from vendor who want crowds drawn in earlier in the morning, and at the end of the day.
  Or maybe the new music director has candidates, or believes he can recruit  a new, younger,  prettier, noisier, more outgoing  [and trashier?] group, without much difficulty.  Maybe so.  Lots of aspiring performers in the world.  
   
 
Well, the annual choice of  choosing to survive the heat for the joy of playing won’t have to be faced.  
 
Tis a great pity…..
 
Faire thee well.
 
 
[/color][color=Black]
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Re: Recorders to leave the Renaissance Faire
« Reply #6 on: Mar 26th, 2003, 4:32pm »
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> I was trying to understand the faire mgmt's venal viewpoint, since it doesn't accomplish much to just say they are wrong.  
 
You make some excellent observations.
 
> 4.  Fewer people? It looks like just plain nickel squeezing.
 
MasquedPhoenix 1 pointed out that "we always did it for the love- never for the money. "
 
Was a "pay cut" entertained at all?  I, for one, would have been pleased to play for free now and then (assuming I was formally invited), so long as there was no contractual obligation to show up both Saturday and Sunday week after week (and assuming the performers didn't have to pay for admission).
 
> 5.  Performing Saturday plus Sunday seems a real problem for most folks who have jobs , and a test of stamina, unless there were almost two seperate groups.
 
The Management has a point--the absence of Musickes Merrie Companions on Saturdays created a real void.  Maybe they want to make better use of that entertainment space by ensuring that a performing act will be there on both days.
 
Was moving Musickes Merrie Companions off to a (shaded!) quieter, even out-of-the-way corner ever considered? Sure, the audience would have been smaller, but for the performers playing for the love of it, maybe they wouldn't mind.
 
> Or maybe the new music director has candidates, or believes he can recruit  a new, younger,  prettier, noisier, more outgoing  [and trashier?] group, without much difficulty.
 
Another very good point.  It is conceivable that a younger, "sexier" group might replace MMC--but a group that plays "genuine" early music, not the faux RenFaire stuff.  Maybe that wouldn't make MMC any happier, but it might not be such a bad outcome, especially if the "unsexy" MMC could play in a quieter, out-of-the way venue (and for less "pay"?).
 
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Re: Recorders to leave the Renaissance Faire
« Reply #7 on: Mar 27th, 2003, 8:17am »
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I thought this morning was going to another day of entering music into a computer until I opened my e-mail and got the shock of news about MMC leaving the Bristol Ren Faire.  I can remember going to the Faire in High School with my mom soon after I learned what a recorder was and meeting a very distinguished gentleman named David Fitgerald.  He changed my life that day.
 
Several years later and just happening to read an ad in the local Oak Park Paper about a recorder school, I run into this wonderful man again and find myself seated at a wood table the next summer playing at the Ren Faire.  Now was my chance to change someone's life.  And we did over and over and over again. Summer after summer.
 
One of David's most memorable quotes (and there are so many) was that you can close your eyes and be transported to another time, another place, through our music.  And it was played on instruments that are as real as you can get.  We ARE as real as you can get.  No other group at that Faire can boast the authenticity that MMC can.  Are we flashy?  Are we bawdy?  Can we draw a crowd?  With all that is going on at that Faire cannot a little peace and quiet also have its place.  Cannot people sit and just listen without being asked for participation other than sheer appreciation for the moment? And not to mention being begged for some kind of tip!?!
 
I for one will not let this moment pass unnoticed.  I can write and call.  And I will voice my opinions.
 
David, you have given me and many others some of the most wonderful summers filled with fun, laughter, friendship and the best kind of music making anyone can ask for.  Thank you forever and always. Laura Sanborn
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Re: Recorders to leave the Renaissance Faire
« Reply #8 on: Mar 27th, 2003, 8:39am »
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[color=Red][/color]Voices are working in the ether,
 
Something is stirring.
 
Do we go quietly into that dark night...
 
...or do we take a stand?
 
Things may have to change, some compromises may have to be made.
 
It may not be possible to keep things exactly as they have been, though we can try.
 
But change comes with the passage of time.  This it too important to too many people to just roll over and weep softly.
 
Ideas are already in the air.  There is room for more.
 
Time is critical.
 
It comes down to this-  how much do we love playing and how much do we want to continue?
 
Is what we do worth something?
 
There are many of us who think so.
 
Would you know more?
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Re: Recorders to leave the Renaissance Faire
« Reply #9 on: Mar 28th, 2003, 9:14am »
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Shocked
Well, I had freed my schedule for the summer, as always, and was greatly looking forward to finally having it all together, having put the finishing touches on my latest and best costume ever in the 20-some years I had been playing with MMC at the Bristrol Faire, going back to "King Richard's Faire."  
 
When I learned the details of the demands being requested for the upcoming summer, my mood dropped drastially.  Playing recorder with Dave Fitzgerald, whether in the Oak Park Recorder Society, Musickes Merrie Companions or any number of smaller or larger groups, has been the salvation of my otherwise stress-filled life.  I gladly arose each Sunday I played at 6 a.m. and trudged off on a 1 hour drive to Bristol, lugged tons of instruments, gallons of water and sustenance for the day up and down rocky, rutted and muddy roads to get to "OUR TABLE."  Unpacking, stowing cases, sometimes strolling off for a good morning to other faire merchants and participants, I learned that they appreciated the quiet music we played throughout the day - even looked forward to it.  At the end of the season it was "SEE YOU NEXT YEAR!"  If someone was missing, it was noted by merchants we sat near.
 
We were recognized while walking around on our breaks, we loved to lunch at the "soup kitchen," we purchased Faire memorabilia and collected mugs and shirts for each year of our tenure.  When asked where I purchased something, it was usually "at the Bristol Faire."  Friends and relatives looked forward to hearing about the coming year and brought groups to hear us while enjoying other aspects of the faire.  We gave directions, made up songs to draw people to nearby food merchants and generally didn't mind at all if we spent more than we made.  We were part of the "atmosphere."  
 
After all this time, I feel at odds and am definitely open to anything else that MMC can become involved with during those empty summer Sundays (and perhaps a return engagement, if we can generate a change of heart toward our presence)  Thanks, Dave, for all the memories.   --Carol Stanger
 
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Re: Recorders to leave the Renaissance Faire
« Reply #10 on: Mar 29th, 2003, 10:44am »
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Alas,  change seems to be always with us.
 
I, too, have had a number of blessed years playing in the group.  A marvelous experience to say the least!  To be aware, as so few of us are, of the passing of the sun nearly the full arch of the sky while making good music.  Loud?  What is Loud.  As was mentioned earlier, Krums are our friends!  But to even think of "The Silver Swan" played loudly is a crime!  Artistic differences I can agree with wholeheartedly.  If we were to go off into a quiet corner of the faire at even no wages for our usual Sunday, I'd be happy...and I'm sure there'd be many people to follow us there.    The group will be sorely missed...if not by others, by myself!  And I'd hate to stress dear Dave by doing two days...even if it could be done!
 
A passing of a wonderful experience...I'll miss it greatly!
 
And while dancing is good, I haven't seen anyone rushing up to us begging to become a dancing master for the group.
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Re: Recorders to leave the Renaissance Faire
« Reply #11 on: Apr 4th, 2003, 8:14am »
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Something to pass on from the Faire's music director-  He was wondering if anyone from our group might be interested in playing with the regular recorder group that's part of the Faire cast proper.  They are the small group that basically follows the dancers around and plays little sets with them throughout the day.  
 
The bad bits- it is Saturday and Sunday- no pay is involved.  This group is also expected to go through the 5-weekends-before-opening-day training academy that all the regular performers must attend.  Dan said he might be willing to waive part of that requirement based on how well the candidate auditions.
 
If anyone is interested, post a reply and I'll give you Dan's contact information.  
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Re: Recorders to leave the Renaissance Faire
« Reply #12 on: Apr 4th, 2003, 4:17pm »
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I'm not certain if they would have me, but the music director's proposition sounds quite interesting. My schedule over the summer (at least at this point) is free enough to commit to both the training academy and the regular performing.
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Re: Recorders to leave the Renaissance Faire
« Reply #13 on: Jul 14th, 2003, 3:51pm »
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Last weekend I went up to the Faire with my Scottsman partner.  As he remarked, "there are a lot of ghosts around here".  As the saying goes, the silence was deafening.  Cry  I spoke with Lady Ettie and Chris from the Ocarina shop.  Both said that people have been asking where our group went.  I told them that the more people who say that to management or write it on the comment sheets by the gate, the better off we are.  I'll see if there is some sort of e-mail spot to post comments.  Renaissance Entertainment Corporation (the folks who hold the pursestrings) does have a website.  Maybe a minor deluge of e-mails would be appropriate...  Wink
 
I did see the group that Dan was talking about when he said they had someone doing "authentic" music on shawms and drums.  Yeah, they were exciting.  Big Renaissance bagpipes, shawms and lots of percussion.  Great for a 20 minute show.  And, yeah, they were doing some of the Istampitas and other authentic works.  But I'm betting you wouldn't want to hear that going on all day outside your shop... Shocked
 
Still working on getting us back- MP1
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Re: Recorders to leave the Renaissance Faire
« Reply #14 on: Jun 16th, 2004, 3:53pm »
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Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin
 
Hey, 'Berto- when is the heading going to be
"RECORDERS RETURN
TO RENAISSANCE FAIRE!"
?
 
(Keep watching.  We'll let you know when the dates are finalized.)
 Grin Grin Grin Grin
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