They that in Ships unto the Sea down go: Music for the Mayflower
A new programme created to mark the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower.
In the late Summer of 1620, a ship named the Mayflower left England. In addition to 36 crew members, this ship carried 102 passengers: Separatists, merchants, their families, their servants and their apprentices, all seeking a fresh start in the New World; four of these came from Shipton in Shropshire. This much is well known. What is perhaps less widely known is that some of the passengers travelled with books of music, along with a few musical instruments. An inventory of the library of Elder William Brewster taken in May 1644 includes three music books, all dating from before the date when the Mayflower sailed, and at least one other copy of one of these books can be traced back to other passengers.
This programme aims to recreate the world of those on board ship: the Saints, the Strangers, and the sailors.
The title They that in Ships unto the Sea down go comes from the text of Psalm 107 in Henry Ainsworth’s Psalter of 1612, one of the books carried on board the Mayflower by Elder William Brewster. The programme also includes other psalms, hymns, lutesongs and ballads, from his library.
For the others on board, there are sailors’ songs, and other music for mariners; and for the merchants, songs and dances describing tobacco, and some of the other wonders that they hoped to find in the New World.
The programme includes music by Richard Allison, Louis Bourgeois, Thomas Campion, John Dowland, Thomas Ford and Tobias Hume.
Passamezzo was founded by Tamsin Lewis in 2001, initially to explore the Jacobean Masque. The core membership of the ensemble has expanded to: Eleanor Cramer (soprano), Alison Kinder (viols and recorders), Tamsin Lewis (Renaissance violin, viols, voice), Richard Mackenzie and Robin Jeffrey (plucked strings), Richard De Winter and Michael Palmer (actors and baritones), and Charlotte Ewart (choreographer).
The ensemble specialises in English Elizabethan and Jacobean repertoire, the masque remaining an important part of their programming, and concerts have a distinct theatrical air created by costume, readings and presentation. The ensemble delights in all aspects of musical life, from the intimacy of the lute song to the brash raucousness of the broadside ballad, from the sacred part song to the profane insanity of bedlamite mad songs. The programmes are carefully researched with music frequently taken from manuscript sources, unearthing pieces that have lain hidden for centuries. It is this range of material and overall spectacle, combined with the informative and accessible manner of their presentation, that makes Passamezzo such an engaging group.
Passamezzo often work with dancers and actors. They have played in a great variety of venues including the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, Hampton Court Palace and in theatres, concert halls, stately homes, churches, palaces and ruins throughout England.
Television and Radio credits include: Lucy Worsley’s Merry Tudor Christmas; Danny Dyer’s Right Royal Family (BBC1); BBC Restoration; Howard Goodall’s The Truth about Carols (BBC2); Elizabeth I’s Secret Agents (BBC2); Big Brother (Channel 4); Henry VIII and his six wives, and Elizabeth I (Channel 5); Frost Fair; King Lear and Boxing Day (Radio 4); Vic Reeves’ Rogues Gallery (Discovery); Early Music for the Holidays; Christmas Carols, Chant and Legend (Harmonia Early Music/PRX).
Passamezzo also work with Moroccan Sufi musicians ‘Ensemble Mogador Soufie’ performing 17th Century English and Moroccan music in both countries as part of the Shore to Shore project.
A passamezzo was a popular sixteenth century tune and dance. It could be played and danced simply and enjoyed by anyone, but could also become an exhibition piece, with virtuosic and showy divisions played upon it.
Passamezzo have a Website