Saturday 21 October, 13.00 at St Nicholas Church

Battle Cry: She Speaks

A programme challenging the 17th-century obsession with female abandonment and lament.

Date & Time: Saturday 21 October, 13.00

Ticket price: £15; 12-25s £7.50; under-12s free

Venue: St Nicholas Church

This 2023 BBC Music Magazine award-winning duo presents a programme challenging the 17th-century obsession with female abandonment and lament. Includes music by Purcell, Monteverdi and Barbara Strozzi.

Helen Charlston mezzo-soprano
Toby Carr theorbo

The stories of women such as Dido and Ariadne have been told and re-told throughout history, as Greek myths and ancient tales dealt with the reality of war and high mortality rates on the women seen to be ‘left behind’ by male adventure and success. We consider this trope through the hands of women and men writing music in the 17th century, exploring whether this abandonment and lament does need the air of helplessness that might be assumed.

Owain Park’s Battle Cry (City Music Foundation commission, 2020) considers this stance in the 21st century, giving so-called ‘abandoned women’ a platform for their own voice. Through new texts by Georgia Way, the voices of Boudicca, Philomela, Marietta and Sappho are brought into focus as we ask what they might say today.

Our programme also illuminates the voice and theorbo as a modern-day musical pairing and brings it forward into the 21st century (it is a far less exploited idiom in contemporary music than one would expect). Instead of using a large continuo team with harpsichord and cello alongside the theorbo as might be more typical in performances of the 17th-century components of this programme, we chose to zoom in on the intimate connection and extraordinary expressive wealth of just this pairing. The effect is a world of clarity and beauty, allowing the stories being told to take centre stage. Enter this glorious sound world with us as we breathe new life into this instrumental combination and let the battle cry of women throughout the centuries resound.


Henry Purcell
Oh, lead me to some peaceful gloom (Bonduca’s song)

Barbara Strozzi
L’eraclito Amoroso

Robert de Visée

John Eccles
Restless in Thought

Owain Park
b. 1993
Battle Cry

Giovanni Kapsberger
Preludio Quinto

Strozzi La Travagliata

Claudio Monteverdi
Lamento d’Arianna

de Visée Sarabande

Purcell An Evening Hymn

Download Programme