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Lachrimae Consort title

about us

The Lachrimae Consort was formed in 1999 by a group of early music enthusiasts in the Midlands area of the UK.  Three of our players were in an earlier 'consort of six', Batcheler’s Delight, based in Leicester.

The name of our group, Lachrimae, comes from the famous piece of music by John Dowland, of which there is a wonderful arrangement for consort in the First Book of Consort Lessons, by Thomas Morley.  Our red logo is based on Dowland's own handwritten title.  (Clicking on the logo on any page will provide a fuller explanation.)

The members of Lachrimae are based all over the Midlands – Bromsgrove, Birmingham, Solihull, Leicester and Ashby-de-la-Zouch.
Lachrimae Consort at Middleton Hall, near Tamworth, Staffordshire, UK
(left to right) Mike Ashley (lute), Chris Susans (cittern and lute), Anne Graf (treble viol, voice and percussion), Heather Holt (bass viol), Sue Peters (recorders), and Martin Cummins (bandora and lute)

Previous members of Lachrimae have been Pam Holt (lute and cittern) and Andy Benfield (lute and cittern), and we are lucky, on occasions, to have excellent guest performers including David Yates (recorders), Jim Rowley (recorders), Ian Gaskell (lute, cittern and bass viol), Tony Gray (reader) and Richard Ollier (reader).

All of our musicians play in other ensembles or orchestras, but are brought together in Lachrimae by a love of the very special music composed for the Elizabethan 'consort of six' during its brief, but very popular heyday, between 1575 and 1615.  The famous German composer, Michael Praetorius, praised what he called the 'English' consort in his treatise on music, 'Syntagma Musicum', published between 1614 and 1620.  In recent years, it has often been called a 'broken consort', but this term is too general and refers to music where very long notes are 'broken' into a lot of smaller ones.  We have settled on the 'consort of six' to describe the Lachrimae grouping – the Elizabethans just called it a 'consort'.

Our most popular concerts mix history with music, and include the themes:

Shakespeare's Music

The original music used in Shakespeare’s plays, together with apt and entertaining quotations.

Heroes of the English Consort

Music from each of the four main musical sources, and the different stories behind each collection.

Sir Francis Walsingham's Goodnight

Queen Elizabeth’s Secretary of State, and chief spymaster, maintained a consort in his house, and much of the music survives in manuscript form.  This programme links the two very different sides of Sir Francis – a music-lover, and a relentless protector of the Queen’s safety.

Who sent Dowland to Coventry?

Based on recent research into John Dowland and his consort visiting Caludon Castle in Coventry, in 1599, including stories about the Berkeley family who invited him.

History of Caludon Castle

The Lachrimae Consort features in a new book published by John Clarke, called 'A History of Caludon Castle'.
It was recently discovered that John Dowland had visited Caludon Castle in 1598/9, together with his consort.
Lachrimae Consort celebrated this discovery by performing a concert of his music in St Mary's church, Walsgrave, close to the castle, in 2007.
A photograph, which was taken at this concert, appears in the book, along with the story of Dowland's visit.  More information about the book can be found on Amazon or Waterstones websites.

The Night Watch

A concert of music by Anthony Holborne, Gentleman Usher to Queen Elizabeth I.

Mathew Holmes' consort arrangements

View a video of our performance, played in the Great Hall of Christ Church College, Oxford where the music was first performed over 400 years ago.
Download longer video    (Note:  this video is 100MB, which will take some time to download, dependent on your broadband speed.)
Download shorter video    (Note:  this video is only 11MB, and contains a recording of 'Master Doctor James, Dean of Christ Church, his Paven' - music reconstructed from surviving parts by Ian Harwood, MBE especially for this performance.)
Both videos were kindly created by Graham Hope © 2010.

Something different!

Mike Ashley plays Gershwin on the lute  -  YouTube video

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Instruments of the Lachrimae Consort William Shakespeare Remains of Caludon Castle, Walsgrave, now within the boundary of Coventry
Remains of Caludon Castle, Walsgrave, now within the boundary of Coventry