by Tim Nuttall
The sounds of more than 600 years of musical history are set to be heard at Withernsea Methodist Church next week when the Hull Road venue hosts A Brief History of Music by acclaimed duo GreenMatthews.
Comprising multi-instrumentalists Chris Green and Sophie Matthews, GreenMatthews play traditional English folk songs and tour a variety of themed musical shows, from Witty Ditties to A Christmas Carol: In Concert.
The duo’s A Brief History of Music begins in the Middle Ages and ends up in the 20th century, taking the audience on a 90-minute whistle-stop tour of long-forgotten songs, tunes and the centuries in between.
With years of playing experience amassed between them, Chris and Sophie have mastered a beguiling blend of ancient and modern folk instruments – using them to breathe new life into material from hundreds of years ago to make it fresh, relevant and accessible for a modern audience.
Born into a musical family in Coventry, Chris Green began playing guitar at the age of eight and piano from the age of nine. Largely self-taught, Chris now plays most things with fretted strings or keys in a variety of musical genres including folk, theatre and early music. He is a regular musician at Shakespeare’s Globe and was also one of the musicians on BBC’s Poldark. As a writer and composer, he has adapted The Wind in the Willows for GreenMatthews, as well as A Christmas Carol: In Concert.
Sophie began playing flute at the age of 10 but is now more well-known for her prowess on the English border bagpipes – becoming one of the foremost players of the instrument in the UK. She also plays a variety of early woodwind instruments and is one of a handful of British players of the baroque musette, an 18th-century French bagpipe. Sophie is also recognised as a superb interpreter of narrative song with a clear, pure and unaffected soprano voice. When not touring with GreenMatthews, Sophie is an accredited lecturer for the Arts Society, lecturing primarily on music in art.
As modern-day balladeers, and firm believers in the power of narrative, the duo specialise in telling stories through song. Taking their cue from the troubadour tradition, GreenMatthews have positioned themselves as “21st-century wandering players” – touring their self-created shows extensively throughout the UK and Europe.
Mixing the familiar and the obscure, the raucous and the reflective and the courtly and the commonplace, A Brief History of Music takes in the vigour of the medieval period, the musical intricacy of the Renaissance and the pomp and bombast of Victoriana, accompanied by an array of traditional instruments, to help paint a vivid picture of our musical DNA.
GreenMatthews’ appearance in Withernsea has been organised in conjunction with Blaize – a community arts organisation that works nationally, but predominantly throughout the north of England, and aims to bring quality theatre, music, dance, children’s entertainment and comedy to isolated, rural communities.
Through its ArtERY rural touring scheme, Blaize helps to deliver professional performances throughout East Yorkshire.
Thanks to organisations such as these, the hard work of dedicated volunteers at local venues, and the support of local communities, opportunities are created in areas where access to the arts may otherwise be limited.
Church leadership member Gordon Beastall said: “It is a real privilege for Withernsea Methodist Church to host events such as these for the benefit of the community and it is a genuine pleasure to help bring performers of this calibre to the town.”
The success of previous concerts held at the church, which in the past year have included a performance by 1940s swing revivalists the Polka Dots and acclaimed harp and guitar duo Máire Ní Chathasaigh and Chris Newman, has meant that tickets are in high demand, with only a few remaining and the event heading towards being a sell-out.
GreenMatthews’ A Brief History of Music takes place on Friday, November 17, at 7.30pm. Tickets, priced £5 for adults and £3 for children (over 13), are available to reserve now by texting your name, and the number of tickets required, to 07977 685878. Payment will be taken on the door on the night.
For further information about GreenMatthews, visit greenmatthews.co.uk.