of Trial and Triumph
The Live Show - The CD
Songs of Trial and Triumph is a solo performance by Brian Peters of some of the greatest of the ‘Child Ballads’, the crown jewels of British traditional song. Collected together in the 19th century by Harvard professor F. J. Child, drawing on the published editions and unpublished manuscripts of Thomas Percy, Sir Walter Scott, Robert Burns and others, these centuries-old ballads are packed with murder and magic, love and lust, trickery, tomfoolery and The Devil himself. Brian Peters is one of the best interpreters of this repertoire: a singer who brings passion and storytelling skills to his vocal performance, and a multi-instrumentalist whose proficiency on guitar, concertina and melodeon allows him to create a variety of musical textures. He’s also a researcher who has dug out unique versions of the ballads, and whose knowledge of the work of F. J. Child and of the singers who carried the old songs down to us - from Anna Brown in 18th Century Aberdeenshire to a gypsy community camped under a flyover in 1970s London - allows him to set the ballads themselves against an informative account of their background.
The ballads presented in Songs of Trial and Triumph vary from one performance to the next, but often include such titles as:
• Lay the Bent to the Bonny Broom (Child 1, Riddles Wisely Expounded)
• Scarborough Fair (2, The Elfin Knight)
• The Outlandish Knight (3, Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight)
• Hind Horn (17)
• Kemp Owyne (34)
• Sir Aldingar (59)
• False Foudrage (89)
• The Demon Lover (243, James Harris)
• Henry Martin (250)
• Six Nights Drunk (274, Our Goodman)
• The Farmer’s Curst Wife (278)
• The Golden Vanity (286, The Sweet Trinity)
Songs of Trial and Triumph is a presentation that encompasses drama, emotion, accomplished musicianship, education, humour and, above all, entertainment. It brings the old ballads vividly to life in a form that can entrance even those with no previous experience of this kind of song. The normal running time is 90 minutes, although it can be edited to an hour if preferred.
“Brian Peters plunges deep into the ancient songs, finds their power,
mystery, evil, drollery and courage, and brings them to us fresh”
Cornell Folksong Society, USA
“Brian Peters entranced the audience with a programme that included several
of the ballads. His performance brought home every nuance of the stories, whether
Grand Guignol or cheeky humour. The audience 'got it' because he 'gave it' to
them via his passionate and totally engaged delivery.
His album is a corker…. terrific choice of songs and spot-on vocals, varied and immaculately played backings”
The Living Tradition, UK
“Brian Peters has long been one of the very best performers in the field
of English traditional song and music. He sings and plays with consummate skill,
breathing life into unusual ballads such as Sir Aldingar and False Foudrage,
which shimmer with magic and murder. Peters’ Child ballads embody trial
and triumph, but also tragedy, action, excitement, and humour.”
Steve Winick, Dirty Linen (USA)
"Brian Peters' presentation on Child Ballads at Augusta Vocal Week this
summer was a riveting vocal concert. He gave the ballads new life, with fascinating
insights into the songs and their collectors, and he supported the songs with
some of the tastiest guitar, accordion, and concertina accompaniment we've heard
on this side of the pond in some time!
Brian made a huge contribution to this year's Vocal Week, and was a pleasure to work with."
Flawn Williams, director, Vocal Week at Augusta Heritage Center, West Virginia, USA
“It was a great pleasure to hear The Child Ballads brought to life and
put into context all in one concert. Brian not only sings the ballads with sensitivity
and passion but his linking narrative demonstrates his understanding of the
collection and how it relates to traditional song and its performance in general.
He does not choose to treat the songs as museum pieces and he uses accompaniment,
where appropriate, on various instruments to support the songs and provide variety
throughout the show.
A very enjoyable experience.”
Doug Bailey, Wildgoose Records, UK