Over the holiday season, my head and heart were in the 18th century with books, music and film.
A few weeks ago, on CKUA , I heard Peter North interviewing Sylvia Tyson about her recent novel, Joyner’s Dream, and its companion CD. Their lively discussion and the clever concept caught my fancy.
Tyson’s tale is a family saga that begins in England in 1780 and follows the family fortunes to North America and present-day Toronto. The story is revealed through entries in a secret journal that is hidden in a cask that contains a violin passed down through the generations. Larceny - and a talent for music - are family traits.
Tyson wrote the names and descriptions of songs and melodies played by her characters and woven into the story. “My Darling Evelyinda” is a bawdy song from the pubs. “Old Horse” accompanies a fertility ritual at community celebrations.
After writing the book, she researched the music of the period and wrote songs in the historical style for a companion disc, Joyner’s Dream, the Kingsfold Suite.
And what wonderful music it is. She is accompanied by her long-time musical friends from Quartette. The arrangements by Terry McKenna are magical. McKenna is a specialist in ancient plucked instruments, and performs with Tafelmusik, Opera Atelier, the Canadian Opera Company and the Stratford Festival.
Tyson spins a very entertaining tale and then provides the soundtrack for it – a wonderful combination that transports you back to life in another century.
Next blog: Garrow’s Law.