“Why these are the city waits, who play every winter’s night through the streets to rouse each lazy drone to family duty. These are the topping tooters of the town, and have gowns, silver chains, and salaries, for playing “Lilliburlero” to my Lord Mayor’s horse through the city.” This 1709 reference to a professional band of musicians conjures the thriving city of London in the 16th and 17th centuries. The band’s sound is replicated on this release by the modern-day namesake The City Musick directed by foremost expert in the field William Lyons (who is also director of the Grammy-nominated Dufay Collective). The drones of dulcians and cornetts, sackbuts and shawms, evoke the era’s civic events, theatrical productions and liturgal service, paying homage to the unsung talents of the Waits from the period when their reputation was at its zenith.
The City Musick was formed to explore the diverse repertoire of civic and court wind players in 16th and 17th century Europe and is now firmly established as the premier renaissance wind band in the UK. After its debut USA tour in 2009, including a performance at the reconstructed Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, Virginia, the ensemble has performed for traditional feasts and ceremonies in the City of London, at the York Early Music Festival, and in Florence and Antwerp. The City Musick made their BBC Proms debut in 2012 with a performance of Venetian music in collaboration with I Fagiolini. The resulting Decca recording and that of the Striggio Mass, also involving the ensemble, have both met with great critical acclaim.