Merrily on High: History of the English Christmas Carol with Peter Medhurst

Merrily on High: History of the English Christmas Carol with Peter Medhurst


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Join musician and scholar Peter Medhurst for a deep dive into traditional Christmas Music, live from his music room in London.

The Christmas Carol is a song that celebrates the birth of Christ and emerged in the Middle Ages, around the time that Geoffrey Chaucer (1340s-1400) was writing his celebrated works. Rather like folksongs, Christmas carols are found in every period, their words and tunes developing and changing with the character of successive generations.

Our conversation tells the history of the carol and among those discussed and performed will be: The Boar’s Head Carol which alludes to a legend involving the 15th century Oxford Scholar, John Copcot, who after defending himself against the attack of a wild boar by forcing a book of Aristotle down its throat, severed the head and impaled it on his staff as he trudged to Horspath Church to celebrate Christmas Mass; I Saw Three Ships, which recalls the three Wise Men whose mortal remains made their final journey to Cologne Cathedral in 1166; and Ding Dong Merrily on High! which was originally a popular dance in 16th century France, which involved the man tossing his lady partner high into the air! This is a live lecture delivered from the piano.

This performance and discussion have been designed to accompany a series of seminars led by Peter Medhurst. For more information, please click here.

Peter Medhurst appears in the UK and abroad as musician and scholar, giving recitals and delivering illustrated lectures on music and the arts. He studied composition and early keyboard instruments at the Royal College of Music in London, and singing with Erik Werba at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. He is known today for his lecture-recital work which has taken him to Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, as well as to all the major cities in Europe. He lectures for The Arts Society, The National Trust, and The Art Fund. Peter also leads tours abroad to places like Venice, Rome, Berlin, Vienna, and Madrid, and as part of the time spent exploring these places he gives organ recitals on the historic instruments in the various cathedrals and churches.

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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