Leicester Guildhall, Leicester Early Music Festival (solo concert)
Then there was the unforgettable Peter Bull. This amazingly versatile minstrel drew another capacity crowd for his marvellously entertaining offering called From Bad King John to Good Queen Bess. Hurdy-gurdy, recorder, dulcimer, cittern, flute, lute and voice were put to work for a fast moving 90 minutes of splendid medieval and Elizabethan songs and dances.
Little Moreton Hall, Cheshire (“Tudor Christmas”, with Anna Keightley, soprano)
Peter Bull and Anna Keightley... added to the festive atmosphere with various delightful airs and ballads whilst dressed in authentic clothing. Not only did they captivate all that entered the hall, but momentarily transported everyone around them to another time in history, it was quite magical.
Ilkley Manor House, North Yorkshire (solo concert)
Once again the Manor House was packed to capacity for what turned out to be a good humoured and very instructive concert. Dressed in period costume with a dashing feather in his cap, Peter Bull treated his audience to a range of airs and ballads from the time of King Charles I.
His quiet and unprepossessing manner immediately endeared him to all present and he soon had feet tapping to the brisk rhythm of the hurdy-gurdy. A carefully constructed introduction to each instrument — the aforementioned hurdy-gurdy, the flute, dulcimer and lute, and the type of tune about to be played or sung, added to the enjoyment of the evening.
Although lacking the nuances of later music with its elaborate crescendos and embellishments, Peter Bull gave his audience an insight into the vigour and love of words and music enjoyed during the period of the English Civil War and the early renaissance.
“Musical Wizard:” Peter Bull at Nunnington Hall, North Yorkshire
Against the backdrop of the oak-panelled Great Hall, and under the hooded gaze of Lord Preston’s impressive portrait, Peter Bull, resplendent in black velvet and sporting a large ostrich-feather hat, took us through a tour of the music and instruments of the Civil War. The Hall itself was used as lodgings for the Roundheads and one could imagine the music echoing down the centuries to a very different audience.
Peter Bull performed two different concerts, beginning with a selection of tunes by John Playford (1651), played with great dexterity on the hurdy-gurdy (or wheel fiddle), a cross between a violin and the bagpipes! In contrast, he then performed the popular Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes (Ben Johnson) and Gather Ye Rosebuds (William Lawes) on the lute.
This was followed by further dances from The English Dancing Master on the alto recorder and dulcimer, an instrument popular at the time of Pepys. Peter Bull finished both performances with a rousing jig on the hurdy-gurdy and then answered questions from the public.
Peter Bull has been delighting and informing audiences in historic locations for 20 years, with music from the 13th to 17th centuries, for which he wears authentic hand-made costumes, and plays up to six different instruments.