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Gaudete! Renaissance Music for the Festive Season

Friday 13 Dec 4pm — Sunday 15 Dec 4pm, 2024

To make a booking enquiry please complete the form below. We will contact you to confirm availability and complete your booking.


Full board per person (tuition, activities, all meals & accommodation):

£310 – single ensuite room
£265 – sharing an ensuite room
£265 – single non-ensuite room
£210 – sharing non-ensuite room

Camping per person (tuition, activities, all meals):


Non Resident (tuition, activities, all meals except breakfast):


We’re slipping a new course under the tree for Christmas 2024!

William Lyons and Richard Thomas from The City Musick will be heading to Halsway Manor for the very first time, bringing with them all the joys of the festive season during the Renaissance. We can’t promise a Boar’s Head bedecked with bay and rosemary, but plenty of other music delights will be on offer.

Intended for players of renaissance wind, brass and strings, this course will celebrate the huge variety of sounds and styles of Christmas music heard during the Christmas season in renaissance Europe. We will look at the splendors of music written by Giovanni Gabrieli and co. in the churches and courts of Venice, and of the music written by Germanic composers including Hans Leo Hassler and Michael Praetorius for grand festive occasions in German court and city. There will also be chances to explore smaller scale repertoire from the British Isles, France, and Spain, much of which had its origins in traditional song and dance.

We’re offering you the chance to gain a greater knowledge of renaissance Christmas music while enjoying communal music-making on historic instruments. The Christmas tree will be decorated and the fire lit – a perfect December treat.

Who is it for?

This Renaissance music course is for players of the cornett, shawm, dulcian, sackbut, any members of the violin family, and viol players. You might play more than one of those instruments – that’s OK too! If you play an instrument not listed above but are keen to take part, please get in touch so that we can advise.

You should consider yourself to be working at an intermediate to advanced level, be a strong sight reader, and be prepared to look at repertoire in advance if necessary. We will send you a timetable in advance, with any sheet music that the tutors provide. You will need to be able to read music for this course.

The majority of the weekend will focus on whole-group teaching and learning, with some opportunity for smaller group work, both tutor- and self-led. You’ll be able to work on and improve your existing skills and techniques, while learning new repertoire, and perhaps working on some that you’re already more familiar with.

The Tutors

William Lyons is artistic director of the acclaimed ensemble The City Musick. As a player, he has performed with leading historical performance ensembles for over thirty years. He has featured as a specialist session musician on the soundtracks of such iconic films as the Harry Potter series and The Hobbit, as well as several Wes Anderson creations. He is also a composer for theatre and film, including for many productions as composer and musical director at The Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London from 1998 to 2015. Most recently he has worked as historical consultant and composer on major films including Emma, and Mary, Queen of Scots. In 2019 he won the Crystal Pines award for Best Original Score for his work on the Oscar winning The Favourite. In the world of academia William is a Leverhulme Research Fellow, and a professor at the Royal College of Music. Published works include a chapter on theatre musicians in early modern London and articles for the Chanter journal. William is currently writing his PhD on theatre musicians in Shakespeare’s London.

Richard Thomas studied at the University of Wales, the Royal Academy of Music and the Schola Cantorum, Switzerland. Richard was a band member at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, London for many years, and plays regularly with ensembles directed by Sir John Elliot Gardiner, Sir Roger Norrington, Trevor Pinnock, Harry Christophers and Paul McCreesh, touring throughout Europe as well as to North & South America, Asia, and Australia. An interest in period instrument performance began at university and eventually led to the formation of the acclaimed sackbut and cornett ensemble QuintEssential in 1993. Richard is also a founder member of The City Musick and the 19th century saxhorn quintet, The Prince Regent’s Band. Richard teaches natural trumpet and cornetto at the Royal College of Music, the University of Birmingham, and the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, and at the Dartington International Summer School for several years.

The City Musick was formed by William Lyons to explore the diverse repertoire of civic and court wind bands in early modern Europe and is now firmly established as the premier renaissance wind band in the UK. The City Musick made their BBC Proms debut in 2012 with a performance of Venetian music in collaboration with the vocal ensemble I Fagiolini. The Decca recording of this and that of the Striggio Mass, also involving the ensemble, have both met with great critical acclaim. The ongoing collaboration with I Fagiolini continues, with a recording of the magnificent Benevoli Missa Tu es Petrus released in 2023 and the next in the sequence of works by this sorely neglected composer being recorded in 2024. Their recording of music of the London Waits, The Topping Tooters of the Town received unanimous critical praise. The new project by the ensemble: The Count & The Duke – A Renaissance Big Band was premiered at the Stour Festival and York Early Music Festival in 2023 and is a gloriously varied programme featuring a band of twenty shawms, dulcians, recorders, sackbuts, crumhorns, racketts, cornetts, trumpets, keyboards, strings and percussion!