at the Thaxted Festival
An overcast, increasingly chilly First Day of Summer, but there were strawberries and wine still at the Festival Club over the road in Clarance House, and a predictably wonderful programme from Opus Anglicanum.
LoveSong, their new anthology, devised by John Rowlands-Pritchard , began with The Song of Songs, included a look back to The Seeds of Love, as well as Cider with Rosie, Laurie Lee's evocation of summer love in the country followed by The Honeysuckle and the Bee, with a clever botanical link to Marie de France's Chevrefoil. All the readings by the inimitable John Touhey.
Lots of early music – a lovely Rosa Bella by John Bedyngham – and two tombs: Larkin's Arundel reflection, and Catherine Dyer's My Dearest Dust. Ted Hughes rubbed shoulders with a dodgy American joke and Norfolk poacher Frederick Rolfe. Musically there was Holst, of course, and Vaughan Williams, and finally a heady blend of Burns and Shakespeare.
On Midsummer Day
500 years ago Henry VIII was crowned.
A nod to this anniversary, perhaps, in the encore, the greatest hit he never wrote, Greensleeves.