Outdoor music festivals in Sydney have enjoyed, on average, a history of eight to ten years. The Renaissance Players presented, by impressive contrast, its staggering 36th ‘Runnymede Pop Festival’ recently. Their tradition of reviving and celebrating early music continued formidably, combining several elements of festival entertainment.
These features included an engagingly bright stage set and an informative, attractively designed program guide for festival goers. The Renaissance Players made a hauntingly effective entrance from the rear of the venue. They were summoned to the stage by ancient woodwind and led by Jessica O’Donoghue’s focussed ‘Sa Sibilla’ chant concerning the Day of Judgement.
The long history of colourful concerts by The Renaissance Players continues with the definite success of their latest offering, British Birds, Beasts & Bards. Carrying the subtitle of “popular traditions of British music & poetry c. 1300-1977” the equally enthralling and colourful souvenir programme suggests substantial and staggering possibilities.
Director Winsome Evans has ensured a fine blend of vocal and instrumental music fills the British Proms style concert, where many ‘birds’ and ‘beasts’ from the British tradition can be depicted by the Players. Words of a variety of bards are brought to life through the highly entertaining and animated readings of Geoff Sirmai.