Parlement of Foules

The programme is loosely inspired by Valentine’s Day and more closely by Chaucer’s poem ‘Parlement of Foules’  – an account of the birds’ troubles having to choose a mate on St Valentine’s day, eventually resolved in a good-natured way. However, in our programme it’s the birds observing the humans and seeing a far less innocent picture.

In a triptych of stories, we have on the ends two contrasting versions of a ballad rooted in the tradition of courtly love – ravens contemplate dining on a slain knight’s body with very different outcomes. In the middle of the triptych, the birds contemplate humans’ springtime dalliances as they turn into love and betrayal, then keep the wounded company in their time of despair, and even ease their passing. All the while, they welcome spring and go about their lives, even take sustenance from the aftermath of human tragedies – all still in a good-natured way.

See the programme below, or go to the deiatiled page of Parlement of Foules for pdf-s of printed programme etc. (WORDING! + link)

The three ravens – Thomas Ravenscroft (c. 1588 – 1635)
Spring birds
This merry pleasant spring – Anonymous 17th century
The nightingale – Richard Sumarte (fl. 1600 – 1630)
The nightingale – Thomas Weelkes (1576 – 1623)
Earthly pleasures
En froylik weson – Jacobus Barbireau (1455 – 1491)
Pastime with good company – Henry VIII (1491 – 1547)
Donna gentile – Heinrich Isaac (c. 1450 – 1517)
Blow thy horn, hunter – William Cornysh (1465 – 1523)
Kemp’s jig – Anon. 16th century
Tomorrow is St Valentine’s day
(to the tune of Souldier’s life) – Anon. / text by W. Shakespeare (1564 – 1616)
Robin is to the greenwood gone – Anon. 16th century
Willow, willow – Anon. 16-17th century
O Death, rock me asleep – Anon. / text attr. Anne Boleyn (c. 1501 – 1536)
Ah Robin, gentle Robin – William Cornysh
Pensive birds
Coockow, as I me walked – John Baldwin (before 1560 – 1615)
The nightingale – Thomas Bateson (c. 1570 – 1630)
Sweet Suffolk owl – Thomas Vautor (fl. 1592 – 1619)
The twa corbies (to the tune of Adew Dundee) – Anon. 17th century