Amazing Musette

Thursday 14 October 18:00-19:30

Join us on Thursday 14 October 2021 at 6:15pm for an online talk on the Musette, its history and repertoire, with our special guest Amanda Babington. She will play the instrument live, show us how it works and demonstrate the allure of its unique sonority. Drawing on her own research, she will explain how a French instrument ended up in the West Highland Museum in Fort William (Scotland!).

If you are wondering what the musette is …
Like all bagpipes, the origins of the Musette – an 18th century French instrument – are pastoral. Initially a simple, bellows-blown bagpipe played by shepherds in their fields, the Musette rose to prominence as an high-art instrument thanks to its patronage by Louis XIV. Its popularity extended to other royal circles, and Prince Charles Edward Stuart purportedly owned and played a Musette. Thanks to such patronage, composers competed to write for the Musette, and so it has a rich and varied repertoire. Like its aristocratic patrons, however, it fell out of favour towards the end of the 18th century, and remained unknown and unheard until its rediscovery in the 1960s. Even now the instrument is little-known beyond small circles of enthusiasts.

Dr Amanda Babington is a violinist, recorder player and musette player, specialising in historically informed performance. She is Artistic Director of Baroque In The North, and plays regularly with many of the leading British and European period-instrument ensembles, as well as with chamber ensembles AB24, Four’s Company and Aberdeen Early Music Collective. Amanda is a Visiting Performance Fellow at Aberdeen University and Director of the University of Manchester Baroque Orchestra. She has given masterclasses at various universities and conservatoires in the UK, and at the Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music in Riga. Her debut solo musette album will be released on the Deux-Elles label in 2022.

A lecturer at the Royal Northern College of Music, she has given talks at Göttingen Handel-Festival, The Foundling Museum, London, and Manchester Camerata. Amanda has published various articles on Handel, and her edition of Handel’s Dettingen Te Deum and Dettingen Anthem for the Hallische Händel-Ausgabe was published by Bärenreiter in 2016. More recently, however, her research has focused on French Baroque music pertaining to the musette.