Philip Astle of the group Freshe Ayre.
Philip Astle of the group Freshe Ayre.
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Sounds of old England fill picture postcard church

Music from the 12th through to the 21st centuries filled Priory Church, Deeping St James, where recorder group Freshe Ayre gave a pre-Christmas concert.

But describing Freshe Ayre as a recorder group is really an injustice when you consider the wide array of instruments the group had at its disposal.

Exotic-sounding instruments like a bass cornemuse, mute cornett and timbrel turned the 12th century church into a banqueting hall fit for Henry VIII.

Freshe Ayre is made up of recorder and bass cornemuse player Philip Astle, organist John Worthington, tenor cornemuse player Victoria Worthington, timbrel player Jo Astle and Ann Wright on recorder.

For its concert, called Playful Pipes and held in aid of Priory Church funds, Freshe Ayre were joined by baritone soloist Bryan Jones and organist Philip Spratley for a concert rich in heritage and originality.

The concert opened with Margaret Lowe’s Dawn Carol where the group took up different positions in the church as part of an experiment in musical sound.

Freshe Ayre drew heavily on the monastic traditions of their surroundings with music thought to have been written at Thorney Abbey and Reading Abbey, both from the 13th century.

These were mixed in with works by Johann Sebastian Bach (Prelude and Fugue in A minor), along with compositions by some of the musicians in action at the church.

A four-piece movement written by John Worthington last year, Rakes of Mallow by Ann Wright which won a competition to find a piece of music suitable for new recorder players and organ interlude Hollingside by Philip Spratley.

If only some church services were as good as this.

Music Review by Winston Brown