The Telling

The Telling has a growing reputation for creating intimate, staged concerts to bring early and medieval music off the page and reach wider audiences. We create a different concert experience, combining ancient song, ballads and upbeat instrumental dances with new writing, narrative, readings or film. Sometimes we perform moving around the audience, using lighting and/or candlelight.

“a multimedia experience of light, song, music & storytelling” - The Argus


“I really wish all “classical” concerts were like this” - Attila the Stockbroker in The Morning Star

Formed in 2009, we draw from a pool of leading musicians who perform for the Society of Strange & Ancient Instruments, I Fagiolini, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Carnival Band and The Dufay Collective.

“sung with perfection that is heart-stopping” - Worthing Herald

The Telling has performed 9 times at Brighton Early Music and is resident at Stroud Green Festival, North London. Recent engagements include Buxton International Festival, Little Missenden Festival, Colchester Early Music Series, Kingston Early Music, Leamington Music, Hastings Early Music Festival, Omnibus Theatre, Kino Teatr (St Leonard’s-on-Sea) and Stoke Newington Early Music Festival.

The group make regular appearances on BBC Radio 3’s In Tuneand have appeared on Woman’s Hour and, in December 2018, on Radio 4’s flagship show Saturday Live with the Reverend Richard Coles and Aasmah Mir performing and talking about carols. Our new CD Gardens of Delight is about to be released on First Hand Records

“beautifully borne” - Sean Rafferty, BBC Radio 3

Aiming to transform access to medieval music in England, The Telling is establishing a series of residencies initially targeting Liverpool, Hastings, Worthing and SE Devon. Upcoming engagements include for Stroud Green Festival, Totnes Early Music series, Lympstone Entertainments, Liverpool’s first Early Music Festival and three shows for International Women’s Day in March 2019 for Music at Oxford.

About the two shows we can offer:

Blurring the boundaries of what a concert is, The Telling bring you intimate “concert-theatre” pieces, transporting you back in time through plaintive ballads, lively dance music and dramatic narrative, celebrating the lives of two extraordinary women who defied the strictures of their time and whose stories are both of their time but also startlingly contemporary:

  • mystic, composer and polymath Hildegard of Bingen
  • a Jewish women who is part of a community of Christian, Muslim and Jewish women in Spain

1.Vision:

The Imagined Testimony of medieval Abbess Hildegard von Bingen

  • Clare Norburn soprano, writer
  • Ariane Prussner mezzo
  • Joy Smith harp

“a multimedia experience of light, song, music and storytelling” - The Argus

Vision is an atmospheric show (often with lighting design or candlelight) with a personal narrative by the extraordinary Abbess Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) alongside performances of her mesmeric chant.

The show gives an insight into the painful visionary experiences Hildegard suffered throughout her life, covering some of the core emotional moments in her life. It is “an imagined testimony” as Hildegard lies on her deathbed, revisiting and re-experiencing meaningful episodes from her past, including the moment when she was taken from her family at the age of 8 and when she made the decision at the age of 42 to finally talk about and write down her visions.

2. Into the Melting Pot:

The lives & soundtrack of Christian, Jewish & Arabic women in medieval Spain

  • Clare Norburn soprano, writer
  • Ariane Prussner mezzo, percussion
  • Joy Smith harp, percussion
  • Giles Lewin oud, vielle
  • Fatima Lahham recorders

“sung with perfection that is heartstopping” - Worthing Herald

Spain. July 1492: the deadline for the expulsion of the Jews is days away. At twilight a Jewish woman lights the lamps and starts up her spinning wheel. It is her last night in Seville. She tunes into voices of a community of Jewish, Christian and Muslim women from across the Spanish peninsula.

Down the centuries, women’s stories of integration, love, the rich cultural heritage of the Spanish peninsula and racial intolerance are played out to a soundtrack of plaintive Sephardic songs and lively medieval Cantigas and instrumentals which fuse Christian, Jewish and Arabic instrumentation and styles. With atmospheric candlelight (and lighting design if you are able to provide or for an extra fee).