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The Bagpipe Society

Medieval Music in the Dales

Medieval Music in the Dales is a new festival of medieval music, taking place each September at Bolton Castle in Wensleydale. 2016 was our first time out, and we were really grateful to get funding from The Bagpipe Society to support our efforts. In fact it was our first tranche of funding and gave us a great feeling of encouragement! The weekend featured concerts, workshops, open stages and – a crucial part of the event – an exhibition by instrument makers. Bagpipe featured a lot in all aspects of the event, but the Bagpipe Society money specifically went to support the attendance of Italian bagpipe maker Danilo Turchetti (Musica Inspirata) to attend the exhibition. Danilo is both a player and a maker. Active in the medieval music scene in Italy, he wanted to make an authentic medieval bagpipe – in other words one that would answer to the extensive iconography and also be true to the materials and techniques that were known at the time. This was what led to the creation of his magnificent musa – a truly impressive set of great pipes. Great in size, they are also great in sound – loud but nevertheless surprisingly sweet. It was fittingly a great pleasure to hear their sound ringing out around the fourteenth-century walls of Bolton Castle. Danilo really appreciated his visit to Yorkshire. Did it meet his expectations? “It went beyond!”

There is a lot more information on the Danilo’s instruments, approach and technique on the Musica inspirata website: It’s well worth a read, and you can also hear the musa in action.

There were plenty of other bagpipes on show. Jim Parr was also exhibiting with his usual magnificent assembly of pipes. The high D set that were delivered to Paul Martin at the event made a real hit at the medieval feast on the Friday night. Paul also provided a workshop on medieval bagpipes, while Tom Hughes provided two workshops for beginners.

We had a series of concerts in the parish church of Castle Bolton, with Trouvere, Steve Tyler and Katy Marchant, The York Waits, Gaita and Leah Stuttard. As you can imagine there was plenty of bagpipe action here too. The same went for our open stages, where some twenty bands and performers contributed their music to the event, including bagpiping from Maranella and Tritor amongst others.

Tom Hughes and Paul Leigh, ably assisted by Paul Martin and Denise Quail, led with their bagpipes in our ‘Big Plays’ – basically huge play-a-longs for anyone on any instrument during which everyone learnt ‘Stella Splendens’ from the fourteenth-century Libre Vermell. This led to a rousing finale to the whole event in the castle courtyard.

Medieval Music in the Dale 2016 went really well – we learnt a huge amount to make it even better in future years and are already hard at work on MMitD 2017. We are going to have the theme of ‘Spain Comes to Yorkshire’ and I look forward to welcoming pipers Eduard Navarro and Raúl Lacilla Crespo to Wensleydale next year for concerts and workshops and lots more medieval music. Our thanks again for the support of the Bagpipe Society! Further information can be found at