The 5th International Festival of Town Pipers
Colchester:   2nd – 4th June 2012

For three days in June, waits musicians from around the world visited Colchester for a unique event. Re-creating the colourful liveried civic bands that played about town in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, members of the International Guild of Town Pipers gave free performances throughout the town on instruments designed for the job – the loud and vibrant shawm band of double reeds and brass.

Dance and Music workshops

As well as hearing these exotic sounds, members of the public joined in Tudor Dance sessions lead by Jackie Marshall-Ward of Colchester Historical Dance and a workshop “Waits’ Music for Modern Instruments” when York Wait Tim Bayley took them through some of the best of the Waits’ repertoire.

Reflections on the 2012 Festival, by Peter Barnard of de Mowbray’s Musicke

Report on the Fifth International Festival of Town Pipers

Maybe it is because we are fairly new to the world of the Town Pipers, but the prospect of being among sixty-four other musicians for three days was a really exciting one. When these musicians also play a variety of loud instruments and the event is in historical Colchester alongside a Medieval Festival then a very good time was surely ahead.

The morning of Saturday 2nd April started grey but dry. As we walked to the Castle Grounds where the Fair was being held and where the Town Pipers had their HQ we soon saw others dressed in fine clothes typical of the 15th to the 17th century. Groups were from throughout England, Holland and America. They ranged from the solo Wayte of Baggeshotte to the large groups from Colchester and Den Bosch. Friends were hailed and met and new friends introduced. Lizzie Gutteridge – who had done so much work to make the festival successful – was soon addressing us all with the day’s briefing.

We had our four stations around the town to play for 30 or so minutes and we were given a steward to make sure we didn’t get lost. De Mowbray’s Musicke started off playing by Hollytrees Lawn next to the Castle – to an audience who were initially bemused but were soon intrigued by our music and various and unusual instruments. After that we moved into the centre of town where we played under the watchful eye of the council official. We had to sign that we knew what to do in the event of fire! Running off to Costa was not an option!

We had yet to hear any of the other 11 groups, but while we waited to play at the shiny new Firstsite arts centre we listened to Colchester Waits and watched the Colchester Historical Dancers. They gave a fine display. Our final spot of the day was at the bandstand in Castle Park where we had an appreciative audience, including a family who had travelled from Cambridge for the event.

The day had been great fun – we had played our chosen pieces and had attracted audiences that seemed to enjoy the music. And the rain had held off – hurrah!

After a quick return to the hotel to spruce up, we headed back into town – I was sure that Colchester would be flat, but was surprised to find that North Street has a steep incline. The hall for dinner was not the easiest to find – a few musicians failed to find it – and although it is now a Masonic Hall it was in fact a redundant church. We were heading for the fine St John’s gatehouse when we were hailed and rescued by Lizzie who was at the head of her troop.

Once inside quick drinks were bought and then it was time for dinner. After the food was over it was time for music and dancing. There was no shortage of musicians to play, nor people prepared to instruct the assembly in branles, measures, tourdions and Playford country dances. A lively time was had by all, with some fine playing and dancing.

Sunday started wet. It was the day of the Big Blow – the public showcase of the festival. Undeterred by a little dampness, Town Pipers were soon on their way to the bandstand for the first of the three shows in the day. This was the moment when all the groups got to hear all the others. A packed hour of music starting with a fine trumpet fanfare followed by one or two pieces from each group and then the massed bands playing La Battaille, Gathering Peascods, The Earl of Oxford’s New Almain, and Bruder Conrad’s Tanzmass. What a great showcase of Town Piping musicianship!

The show was repeated twice during the day and despite rain threatening, the show went on. Next up was playing in the Medieval Festival and then at the end of the day inside the Firstsite gallery. Here the acoustics enhanced the glorious sounds and the Colchester Historical Dancers who accompanied the musicians.

After a quick return to the hotel it was off to the Town Hall for the reception with the Deputy Mayor – the Mayor was getting wet on a boat on the River Thames to celebrate the Queen’s sixtieth jubilee. After a fine fanfare by Colchester Waits playing in the gallery above the hall the buffet was quickly devoured. There was time for a few quick speeches and votes of thanks. Then various groups took advantage of the fine acoustics in the Moot Hall to play loud music to entertain us all. Sadly the evening came to an early end, although there was still another full day to go and I’m sure that Lizzie was thinking about preserving our stamina!

The sun came out early on Monday morning. Hurrah! Another day’s fine music was ahead. Lizzie had paired groups to play at the various spots and this meant that we had a more gentle day’s playing as well as hearing the music of a another group. We joined Doncaster Waites and headed for CO1 Café. This was an indoor venue – another redundant church – and Doncaster Waites and ourselves alternated tunes we thought fitting to entertain the diners.

In all we had four shows that day and this included playing in the Medieval Festival. There were many stalls and other entertainments at the Fair. At times there was a distinct medieval character to Festival site with multiple and overlapping sounds of music, dancing and story telling. There were also the cider stall and the fine food stalls as well as many selling clothes and trinkets.

All too soon the day – and the weekend – was drawing to an end and it was time to say our farewells. There had been so much music; so much fun and so much camaraderie. It felt like being in a large and welcoming family.

Where next? That was the topic among many of us. Roll on the next festival in two years time!

If you missed the festival this year make sure you book a place next time. This was one festival I would not have wanted to miss.

Thank you Lizzie and all your helpers.

Het verslag van Mitchel over het colchester Waits medieval festival.

Het begon op een vrijdag 1 juni 2012. Ik was gevraagd door mijn tante die in Engeland woont. Mijn oom woont ook in Engeland. Ze vroeg of ik een drummer jongen wou zijn. Ik wou dat natuurlijk heel erg graag. Maar goed, we gingen om 9 uur met de bus naar het station. Toen gingen we ongeveer 2 uur met de trein. En om ongeveer 12 uur kwamen we bij de boot aan. Maar pas om half 3 ging de boot. We konden om half 1 inchecken. Dus we gingen om die tijd inchecken. Het duurde 2 uur tot de boot vertrok. Maar er was genoeg te doen en te zien aan boort. Mamma was haar portemonnee vergeten uit de tas te halen die in het ruim zou gaan. Dus mijn moeder ging snel weer terug naar de ruimte waar je, je tas weg kan doen. Ondertussen zag ik nog een groot containerschip voorbij komen en een tanker. Toen mamma terug kwam ging ik een rondje op de boot doen. Maar ik ga nu niks meer over de boot vertellen, anders wordt pappa boos omdat ik het dan nog niet af heb. Dus toen oom Erik ons ophaalde, gingen we naar het festival. Om te kijken hoe alles eruit zag en om kennis te maken met de andere 3 drummers. Eerst werd ik voorgesteld aan Paul, en daarna aan Mike. Jammer genoeg was de andere drummer al naar huis. Maar haar naam was Jane. Daarna gingen we naar het huis van mijn tante Lizzie en mijn oom Erik. Toen we aankwamen kregen we thee en gingen we nog wat praten. Toen ging ik naar bed (een slaapbank.)

De volgende dag werd ik om ongeveer 8:30 wakker. Ik ging naar beneden om te ontbijten en toen kwam ik mijn moeder tegen. Dus we wachten nog even tot iedereen beneden was en toen gingen we eten. Daarna gingen we de auto inladen en gingen we weer naar het veld. Daar gingen we de auto weer uitladen. We luisterden nog even naar de toespraak van tante Lizzie. Toen gingen we naar de andere tent om de allereerste muziekstukken te spelen. Het was erg leuk. Want de andere drummer was er ook.(Jane) Het drummen ging erg goed. Ik kon het aardig volgen. Na het stuk gingen we weer naar de andere tent om wat spullen weg te leggen.

Mamma en ik gingen nog een rondje lopen over het terrein. Het was er erg leuk en mooi om te kijken hoe ze zich vroeger vermaakten en hoe ze leefden. We zagen veel merkwaardige dingen. Als je binnen liep kwam je de eetkramen tegen aan je rechterhand. En dat was ook het enige wat echt een beetje bij elkaar zat behalve dan het boogschieten. We hebben echt van alles gezien. Edelstenen, gedroogd voedsel, kruisboog schieten, roofvogelshow en nog veel meer. (eigenlijk te veel om op te noemen.) daarna gingen we weer snel weg voor het volgende optreden. We waren er een tijdje mee bezig maar bij het boekje dat we hadden gekregen stond een plattegrond. Dus uiteindelijk kwamen we er alleen zonder hulp. En we waren nog als eerste ook. Maar algauw kwamen de andere mensen en speelden we voor de 2e keer. Toen was het gemakkelijk om naar de 3e plaats te komen en het 2e deel weer te spelen. En zo ging het 5 keer lang door. Daarna gingen we naar een kerk om daar te eten en te drinken. Eerst gingen we in een aparte ruimte drinken en toen gingen we naar de kerkzaal zelf om daar avond te eten. Na het eten gingen we nog allemaal liedjes spelen en de overige mensen mochten op de muziek dansen. Toen gingen we weer naar het huis van oom Erik en Tante Lizzie. We gingen weer een kopje thee drinken en toen weer naar bed.

De volgende dag was het een regenachtige dag. Ik zag en hoorde het al toen ik die dag wakker werd. Maar toch we gingen weer weg naar het festival. De meeste drummers hadden al voorzorgsmaatregelen genomen en er plastic zakken over gedaan. Ik had dat natuurlijk weer eens niet gedaan en ik kreeg van tante Lizzie een blaadje om mijn drum proberen te beschermen. Maar een velletje waar eigenlijk je muziekblaadjes in moeten zal dat niet erg werken. Dus ik heb het de hele dag zonder een bescherming voor mijn drum moeten doen.

Toen de dag bijna voorbij was gingen we opnieuw met de hele band uit eten. Maar dit keer in het stadhuis. Jammer genoeg kon de burgemeester er niet bij zijn vanwege het 60jarige bestaan van de koningin van Engeland. Het was niet een dergelijk leuke avond als ervoor. Want net toen we alleen maar muziek wilden maken moesten we weer weg omdat het stadhuis op dat tijdstip sloot. Dus we konden geen muziek meer maken en ook niet meer dansen. Dus gingen we weer weg en we hoorden voor we weg gingen van mensen van een andere band dat hun dinsdag ook op de boot naar nederland zouden vertrekken.(ze waren namelijk Nederlands.) dus die kwamen we misschien nog tegen. We gingen dus weer naar het huis van oom Erik. Daar gingen we weer thee drinken en gingen weer naar bed toe.

De volgende dag was de allerlaatste keer en ik vond het wel heel erg spannend om de laatste delen van het festival te spelen. We hebben daar nog een broodje braadworst gehaald en ik had er mosterd op gedaan maar ik wist niet of hij pittig was en dat was hij wel. Ik brand haast mijn tong maar ik vond hem erg lekker. Maar ik vertel nu niet alle laatste stukken want ik vind dat een beetje veel om te typen. Maar het allerlaatste was ook waar we begonnen zijn, bij de andere tent. Het ging echt heel erg goed en ook heel erg leuk. Het was dan ook zo voorbij.

Het einde van dit verhaal.

Editors/translators note:

First of all I would like to thank Mitchel for his view on the Festival and I would like to apologise to him a thousand times for taking so long with the translation of his report. (Sorry Mitchel, your uncle is a bit slow)
It was great having Mitchel as part of the band. All the band members agree with me on this one. He did a fantastic job on his drum, especially considering that it was his first time playing in a renaissance band and drumming to tunes he had not heard before. Respect.
We asked him if he would like to write a report on the festival, which he did. I (his uncle Erik) did the translation for him (with some editorial liberties).
Please enjoy an eleven year old boy’s view of the festival.

Mitchel’s report of the 5th International Festival of Town Pipers in Colchester: 2 – 4 June 2012.

It all started on Friday June 1st 2012. I had been asked by my aunt (Lizzie), who lives in England, to join her band. My uncle Erik also lives in England. She had asked me if I wanted to be the drummer boy. Of course I wanted that very very much.

We left our house at 9:00am to go by bus to train station. The train journey took about two hours and we arrived at the ferry around 12 o’clock. But the ferry wasn’t supposed to leave until 2:30pm. We were allowed to check in from 12:30pm, which we did. So we had another two hours to spend before the ferry left, but there was enough to do and see on board. Mummy had left her purse in the luggage, which was on its way to the hold. So she had to quickly run back to retrieve it. In the mean time I saw a large container vessel and a tanker vessel pass by. After mummy returned I went for a tour around the ship. But that is enough about the ferry; otherwise my daddy will get angry with me for not finishing the report.

My uncle Erik picked us up from the ferry and he took us straight to the Festival to familiarise us with the Medieval Fayre and to introduce the other drummers in the band. First I met Paul and then Mike. The third drummer had not arrived yet, but her name is Jayne. Next we went to the house where Aunt Lizzie and Uncle Erik live. There we were given tea and spent some time talking and practising the drum pieces before I went to bed (a sofa bed).

The next day I woke up at 8:30am. I went downstairs to have breakfast, where I met my mother. We waited for the others to join us and we had our breakfast. After that we loaded up the cars and drove to the park. There we had to unload the cars. We listened to a short speech by Aunt Lizzie and then proceeded to the second tent where we played the first pieces of the day. That was a lot of fun, because the other drummer (Jayne) was also present. I was able to keep up fairly well. After that we went back to the marquee to store the instruments and music stands.

Mummy and I went for a walk around the Fayre. It was a lot of fun to see how people used to entertain themselves and how they lived. We saw a lot of strange things. When entering the market, the food stalls were on the right hand side. We saw precious stones, dried food, a crossbow competition, a show with birds of prey and loads more (to much to mention, really). After that we had to go quickly to our next performance. It took us a while to get there, but the booklet we were given had a map, so we found it without any help. We were first to arrive at FirstSite, but the others arrived shortly after us. That is where we played for the second time that day. The 3rd location (Hollytrees) was easy to get to and there we played our 2nd set for the 2nd time. We performed a total of five times that day.

After the performances we went to a church where we had drinks and dinner. Before we moved to the dining hall to have our dinner, we were served drinks in a separate area. After dinner people played some more tunes and others danced. At the end of the day we returned to the house where we were served tea before going to bed.

The next day was a rainy day. I saw and heard the rain as soon as I woke up. But it did not stop us returning to the festival. Most of the drummers had taken precautions and had their drums covered up with plastic bags. Of course I had not done that, so Aunt Lizzie gave me a plastic folder to put on top of my drum. But the folder (in which you would normally stick sheet music) was really too small and did not work very well, so I had to do without protection for the drum for the whole day.

At the end of the day we went out for another meal with all the bands, this time in the town hall. Unfortunately the mayor of Colchester couldn’t be there because of the Diamond Jubilee celebration for the Queen of England. The evening wasn’t as much fun as the first evening. Just as we were ready to make music, we had to leave, because the town hall was closing. So no more music or dancing. Before we left though we found out that people from another band (also people from the Netherlands) would be on the same return ferry as us. So we might see them on board again.

We went home again for another cup of tea before bed time and some sleep.

The third day was the last day and I found it really exciting to play in the last part of the festival. We ate a sausage roll with mustard. I hadn’t realised that it was a hot mustard and I nearly burned my tongue, but I still enjoyed it.

I am not going to tell you all the final parts, because I think it is a bit too much to type. Our final set was at the tent where we also did our first set. It went really well and I enjoyed it very much. It was over before I knew it.

The END.

All participants thank Lizzie Gutteridge for her hard work in arranging this Festival and for her band Colchester Waites for being such welcoming hosts.

The Musicians Who Took Part: