The Renaissance Players album

Pilgrimage to Montserrat

(Tall Poppies)

Pilgrim resWe engage with other cultures via travel, music and dining. But how to visit that equally exotic culture called the past? Ruins obscured by clamorous tourists often tells us more about now than then. Perhaps even more than art and literature music provides the clearest window on to how people thought, celebrated, mourned and worshipped. The trap with recreating ancient and early music is excessive reverence rather than whole-hearted performances that make the past truly come alive in the present.

Winsome Evans’ magical Renaissance Players certainly don’t squib on this front as they recreate the collected songs sung by those making the pilgrimage to Catalonia’s Monastery of the Blessed Virgin over 700 years ago. The particular interest of this material is the interaction of the sacred and the secular; of solemn liturgical pieces and joyous dances. Evans has fleshed out the core material in ingenious ways that further emphasise this interaction. The only quibble might be the trained modern voices sometimes sounding anachronistic, but the essence of then is still made miraculously real in the present.