Mediaeval Baebes bring Latin, Middle English to UK folk festival

Tue Aug 13, 2013 9:22am EDT
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By Jeremy Gaunt

LONDON (Reuters) - Rock and folk fans are not often treated to Latin, Middle English and medieval German, but that is exactly what attendees at a recent music festival in rural England got.

The Mediaeval Baebes, a British folk/classical group that mixes ancient texts with new music, enchanted a crowd otherwise gathered in an Oxfordshire field for the heavy rock of Alice Cooper and the fiddle frenzy of The Levellers.

Cooper's "School's Out For Summer" gave way to "Adam Lay Ibounden", a tale in 15th century English about the first man's 4,000 years in bondage:

"Foure thousand winter/Thought he not too long/And all was for an apple/An apple that he tok".

Katherine Blake, the Baebes' classically trained founder and musical director, leads the group, which currently comprises six women but has been as large as 12.

With various personnel, Blake and her Baebes have spent 17 years touring folk clubs, church halls and singing at corporate functions.

The Oxfordshire gig at Fairport's Cropredy Convention, an annual festival of mixed genre music, was the latest big event. Coming up is a trip to America's East Coast that includes a performance at the Maryland Renaissance Festival.

Blake creates the songs, digging out the old texts - including from the romantic poets such as Byron - and reinterprets them with folk-cum-classical music.   Continued...