The Mid Winter Revels
A joyous, colourful, and highly entertaining celebration of winter festivities by five great live performers known to festival goers and historic music & dance fans throughout the UK and abroad. Paul Saunders has toured hundreds of venues as the Early Music comedian wynndebagge, with his talents recognised by the likes of John Sessions (“the best people's entertainer I've seen”), Fairport bass legend Dave Pegg (“Very funny and his hurdy gurdy rocks”) and BBC Radio Four (“An impressive range of music”).
Joining him in the revelry are: the renowned piper Andy Letcher,Telling The Bees' frontman, 2010 Spiral Earth Awards nominee (“Glorious piping” - Colin Irwin, fRoots) and gigger with Bellowhead's BBC Proms in the Park, The Oxford Waits, Max Reinhardt, Dragonsfly, Ragnagrok and Celtarabia; ~ demon drummer and string player Chris Neen (The New St George Waits, This Way Up) aka skynntite, the long-standing sidekick of wynndebagge; ~ Barbara Segal (dance and mime) and Bill Tuck (sackbut, pipe & tabor, actor), both founder members of the highly- regarded 18th century pantomime and musical theatre group Chalemie. They have toured extensively throughout Europe, the Baltic States and Australia and in the early 2000s gave a memorable series of performances each Christmas in the Purcell Room under the title of The Dance & Drone Festival alongside other notables The Broadside Band, Sirinu and Jean-Pierre Rasle.
Visually delightful and musically energising, Punkem's Mid-Winter Revels is a glorious mix of music, dance, song and pantomime that will appeal to audiences who like their entertainment full of life and laughter.
Paul Saunders ~ hurdy gurdy, bagpipes, gittern, hammer dulcimer & vocals
"The best people's entertainer I have seen" John Sessions, BBC Radio 4
Known by most people as wynndebagge, Paul is a witty, energetic entertainer who over the last 15 years has appeared extensively at a wide variety of festivals and venues both at home and abroad, performed for television, radio and film. He combines physical and verbal comedy with ancient dance music to create a show that is truly unique.
Audience participation is his speciality, with a rare talent to engage an audience in the magic and mystery of Early Music whilst being devastatingly funny at the same time. For over fifteen years he has been at the forefront of making medieval, Elizabethan and European dance music accessible to a wider audience not only through his own performances but also through his role as the Stage Director at English Heritage's Festival of History and as Artistic Director at of one of the winter season's premier events, Ludlow Medieval Christmas Fayre.
The love of theatre and performance is in his blood(John Laurie, Private Fraser in Dad's Army was his great-uncle). As well as his regular appearances durig the festival season, he is a popular MC and after-dinner speaker, has recorded a range of music with other artists ranging from Early Music to folk-rock. He has also recorded a series of guided walk CDs for The Dog Rose Trust. Amongst many enjoyabl shows, his highlight so far was to be asked by Fairport's Dave Pegg to MC Dave's 60th Birthday Bash at Birmingham Town Hall and playing the opening number with Dave as a hurdy gurdy and bass duet.
Andy Letcher ~ bagpipes, mandolin, whistle, recorder & vocals
Visually striking and musically magnificent, Andy is a leading figure in the English bagpiping revival, listing folk supergroup Bellowhead, The Oxford Waits, Dragonsfly, Celtarabia, Peascod and Nonimus amongst the bands he has been played for. As frontman of the Oxford-based group Telling The Bees, he is a prolific and respected composer and songwriter, notching up a prestigious Spiral Earth Best Album nomination for the album An English Arcanum, a great follow-up to their ground-breaking debut Untie The Wind.
"Andy Letcher's English Bagpipes are glorious" Colin Irwin, fRoots
A fine multi-imstrumentalist, it is for his vibrant and exciting approach to the English Border pipes that Andy is most renowned. He has recently enjoyed a successful partnership with hurdy-gurdy maestro Cliff Stapleton (ex Blowzabella), has tutored at Chris Wood's English Acoustic Collective summer school 2008, and appeared with drone-improvisers Ragnagrok at the Green Man festival. In theatre he appeared on Max Reinhardt's (Late Junction) soundtrack to Oily Cart's children's show, Big Balloon, and was the piper in Rosemary Lee's acclaimed inter-generational dance piece, Common Ground. As well as a composer, he is a published author and also leads the group of musicians who provide the backdrop to Oxford's May Morning Revels.
Barbara Segal ~ dance, mime and song
Barbara Segal is based in London where she works in the field of Early Dance as a performer, teacher and choreographer. Although specializing in dance of the 18th century, Barbara's repertoire covers dance from the 15th to the 19th century. She is much in demand for lecture recitals, demonstrations and concert performances. She is also director of Contretemps, a company she founded in 1985 dedicated to the reconstruction of early dance theatre. She has performed and taught (both dance and gesture) throughout Europe, the Baltic States and Australia, as well as at many festivals, stately homes and theatres in the UK. She has collaborated with and toured for the Early Music Network and the British Council.
Her early ballet training was interrupted by university, but after completing post-graduate studies at London University (she holds a PhD in Psychology from LSE), she resumed her life-long interest in dance, with studies of the Baroque and Renaissance repertoires at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She has also studied with Irene Ginger and Francine Lancelot in Paris and with Angene Feves in the USA.
In 1995, together with Sara Stowe (of Sirinu), Barbara formed the group Chalemie, a flexible group of singers, dancers, musicians and actors, to explore and recreate 18th century English pantomime and music theatre. More recently, Barbara and Sara formed the group Chalemina, to create shows for children. She organizes and teaches at the Chalemie Summer School (specialising in early dance, music, singing, commedia & period costume making) held annually at Oxford. She has also taught early dance on the BA (Hons) degree in Ballet Education at the Royal Academy of Dance.
In addition to her work with Contretemps and Chalemie, she is a frequent performer with other groups, both in the UK and abroad. She was a founder member of the European Early Dance Company, based in Berlin, and was co-choreographer and performer in their reconstruction of the Mozart ballet “Les Petit Riens”. She choreographed and danced in Purcell's “The Fairy Queen” in Riga (a project organised by the Riga Early Music Centre). She has performed with many early music ensembles, including the New London Consort, Tragicomedia, Midsummer Opera, Cambridge Handel Opera Group, Rejouissance, Hortus Musicus, Sirinu and Collegium Musicum Riga.
With her group Contretemps she staged small-scale entertainments of dance, song, and commedia for visitors to Hampton Court. She was also involved for 5 years in work for a company specialising in historical reconstructions for the Royal Palaces. This involved the choreographing of period recreations of dances from the 17th and 18th centuries. She has also acted as advisor to several theatre groups requiring choreography for period plays, and choreographed and performed dances for film and TV.
Bill Tuck ~ pipe & tabor, sackbut, flute, actor and dancer
From playing in brass bands as a child (where he won prizes for his dexterity on the euphonium) Bill moved on to study flute and saxophone, performing in various contemporary music bands back in 1970s Australia (rock and jazz as well as avant garde). Arriving in London he switched to early music just as the `authentic instruments' scene was beginning to take off, playing mostly baroque flute. Later he developed an interest in the problems of staging eighteenth century music theatre, particularly dance and pantomime. He is a founder member of Chalemie, which toured the UK for The Early Music Network in `98/99, and in the early 2000s gave a memorable series of performances each Xmas in the Purcell Room under the title of The Dance & Drone Festival (alongside notable groups such as The Broadside Band, Sirinu and Jean-Pierre Rasle). He also performs in Commedia with Barry Grantham's Intentions Company. His principal current interest is as a writer and deviser of eighteenth century style pantomimes and other theatrical music presentations. He has played and taught pipe & tabor for many years and developed a particular interest in the 15th century dance repertoire. Returning to his early brass roots he is now an enthusiastic performer upon the sackbut (early trombone), playing in a number of waits bands and early brass ensembles. In parallel with these musical interests, he has in the past held serious academic jobs as lecturer, researcher and project manager. He also has various degrees in Computing, Cybernetics and a PhD in Maths, but claims to have forgotten all he ever knew about non-associative algebras!.
Chris Neen ~ drum, lute-backed mandola, vocals
Chris is the powerhouse of any band that he plays for although he has a gentle touch too when needed. Playing guitar since his early teens and a veteran of many festivals of all types, he was one of the founding members of the well-known ceilidh band This Way Up, in which he played electric guitar. Joining forces with Paul Saunders in the 1990's, he took up Medieval and Renaiisance drumming for which he has a natural affinity. His background in traditional dance music has been a significant part in developing his driving rhythmic approach to both the medieval drum and the mandola, both of which he uses to great effect in The New St George Waits band and in the duo wynndebagge and skynntite.
Chris has a natural stage presence. In 2007 he was a musician for the Peter Cann production Play The Man in Shrewsbury Castle and was spotted by the writer and director, who asked him to play an acting part as well. Along with his other musical interests he is also dances with the Shropshire Bedlams, a wild Border Morris team based in Bishop's Castle.