Refrains from Christmas past

On Yoolis Night: Medieval Christmas Carols – Alnwick Playhouse, Wednesday, December 14, 7.30pm. Tickets £14, £13 conc.

FOR those who feel modern Christmas is too commercial, perhaps this trip back to the Middle Ages is the perfect festive treat.

Joglaresa presents a programme of Christmas music from the 12th to the 15th centuries, including medieval instrumental dances and Middle English lullabies using historical instruments – harps, vielles, voices and bells.

Carols have been sung in Europe for thousands of years.

Originally of pagan origin, they would have been sung around stone circles to celebrate solstices.

The carol as we know it today became popular in the 1400s, which was when the word carol began to be used in the way we use it now.

Manuscripts containing polyphonic as well as monophonic carols were composed and preserved allowing them to be performed today.

Jogalresa is a London-based British/Irish ensemble, directed by Belinda Sykes, has been playing since 1992.

Today the group consists of Belinda Sykes – voice, bagpipes; Ruth Fraser – voice, harp; Jean Kelly – harp, fidel; Tim Garside – percussion, citole, voice; and Jim O’Toole – fidel, voice.

Their work focuses on connecting ancient and traditional music but, rather than create a fusion or mix of these styles, they aim to use their combined experiences and upbringings to create a homogenous sound.