Concerts by The Night Watch can be a pick and mix of mediaeval, renaissance and baroque music, or themed to suit a festival, music club or concert series.
Below are the themed programmes we currently offer. More will become available. If you have a special request for a programme to suit your event, just ask.
Singing the Seasons – a year in early music
Singing The Seasons celebrates the changing year in 13th to 18th century music, taking a journey through winter, spring, summer, autumn and Christmas. Hear the oldest surviving song in English (about the weather, of course); a Tudor song for Valentine’s Day; a 13th century round celebrating the arrival of summer; the very first version of Old MacDonald Had a Farm, originally a winter song published in 1706; and some of the earliest surviving carols.
From Bard to Verse – the original music of Shakespeare’s plays
- 'Tis 400 years since the Bard left this life
- And bequeathèd the second best bed to his wife,
- So here is our tribute in th’ guise of a show,
- Read to the bottom and then you will know
- That Shakespeare’s plays were bursting with song
- To drive on the story, or p’raps sing along;
- Yet in Bardic productions producèd today
- You rare will have heard this sweet muse in t’ play:
- So come hear The Night Watch put right this cruel wrong,
- With strings and with reeds and with bow and with tongue,
- Recorders you’ll hear, and with lutes they will labour,
- Cittern and crumhorn, rebec, pipe and tabor,
- Bagpipes, bandora, bray harp and more,
- Shawm and gemshorn, guitar and mandore,
- With period clothes to wear for your pleasure,
- And music t’ delight you, measure for measure.
Musical History Tour
What does it mean to be “in love up to the elbows”? Why is the earliest known English song complaining about the weather? Why did followers of the Virgin Mary get bladdered “for Our Blessed Lady’s sake”? How could Henry VIII write such a beautiful love song while being so vile to his wives? And why didn’t he write Greensleeves? Why was a well-known Christmas song never sung at Christmas? Why was farting so enjoyable in the 17th century?
Drive the Cold Winter Away (formerly Winter Warmer)
The Night Watch play ‘early music’, songs and dance tunes from the 12th century to the end of the 17th century (mediaeval, renaissance, and early baroque). Back then, people’s experience of winter was very different to ours: no central heating, often a shortage of fresh food, and no Christmas adverts on TV from July onwards.
William Shakespeare: Songs from the Shows
To commemorate the 450th anniversary of the Bard’s birth in 1564, The Night Watch reclaim the songs and dance music Shakespeare knew and used in his plays, performed on the instruments he would have heard, and wearing the clothes of his day. Surrounded by music, William used it to create moments of comedy and light relief; tension and menace; tragedy and tenderness. Hear songs about fortune and fairies, love and loss, going mad and growing up; together with jigs, masques and Queen Elizabeth I’s favourite dance, all referred to or performed in his plays.