Sir Francis Drake may have been a pirate, but he also had a civilised side: he took four viol-players with him on his plundering voyage round the world in 1577-80. They played hymns and psalms to him every day, and he also used them to convey messages of peace to native peoples. This little-known fact is the basis for the extraordinary work which Orlando Gough and the Fretwork ensemble will unveil at Kings Place, London, tomorrow. Fretwork's Richard Boothby – who made a similar trip on his father's meat-ship in the Sixties – came up with the idea: "It seemed the perfect excuse for our viols to represent all the styles of the world as Drake found them, as well as presenting the music which he would have heard on board."
Gough will intersperse consort music of the Elizabethan age with his own conjectural musics from Morocco, Cape Verde, South America, the west coast of North America, the Moluccas, Java, the Cape of Good Hope, and Sierra Leone. He will even conjure the effect of a gamelan from Fretwork's plangent strings.
'The World Encompassed', 19 June, King's Place, London N1 (kingsplaceevents.co.uk)Reuse content