To book the Earthly Delights musicians, please phone John Gardiner-Garden on (02) 62811098.
On the music front Earthly Delights has taken many forms and always been more of a changing pool of very talented musicians than a fixed line-up. It has been a function band fronting hundreds of successful parties, wandering minstrels in foyers and at fayres, a recording band behind a dozen CDs, and an ensemble supporting hundreds of historical dance shows- and it can still be whatever you need in any of these departments.
Earthly Delights started out in 1995 as a vehicle for founder John Gardiner-Garden, to explore the wonderful European tradition of 'drone-based' music (bordon musique) - mixing mostly traditional French and English music with self–composed dance music. It quickly grew from being a duo to a trio and then to a pool of musicians that could fill 3, 4 or 5 piece line-ups. They quickly established themselves as one of Australia's most inventive and interactive folk-world-medieval music bands- and one with enormous cross generational appeal. They had a major presence on the concert and function scene and filled hundreds of different public and private bills including weddings (Medieval, Scottish, Irish, English, indoor and outdoor garden weddings), parties, folk festivals, folk dances, dances, galleries and exhibition openings, conferences, Floriade, St Patrick's Day gigs, Old English Fayres, Medieval Feasts, French & Hungarian events, open gardens, school dances/fairs/fetes, shopping centre launches and bush dances (including medieval bush dances!) in Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and at the coast - for more on these see our Other Events pages. The band became well-known for being able to entertain people of all ages with both fine music and fun dancing, and being able to not only offer music of many different European traditions, but also to cross traditional boundaries, mixing medieval and other instruments and blending Anglo-Celtic, Central European and other musical styles to produce exhilarating new music. The Canberra Times referred to the band's 'high standard of music' and John Garden's 'expert dance leading' and the Canberra Chronicle to their act as a 'sound and visual delight'. There were also been many very favourable overseas reviews of their music (for more see Books & CDs).
As John's interests in historic dance (and his wife Aylwen's interest in historic costume) have increased, so the music being explored has increasingly become that which supported ballroom dance from the 15th to the 19th century, and the instrumental line-up has shifted from one that can be entirely unplugged and mobile to one which, though still exciting, is more based around a less mobile stage piano.
Band members have always dressed appropriate to the character of the function (and more than ever they can rise to any historic dress challenge!). They have also always been able to fit the music to the need of the moment and program dances to suit the nature of the event. Over the years they have been very versatile and have catered for every conceivable audience from the gentile to the riotous, from ones wanting to sit and listen to ones wanting to rage. When it comes to dancing - whether as hired band at other people's parties and events or as presenters of own workshops and events, they have offered novices and connoisseurs alike wonderfully memorable times - tailing what they offer to fit the group.
Here below are some of the musicians who have played in various 'Earthly Delights' line-ups.
Part of every performance since 1995, composer of all the original tunes played, producer of recordings, and leader of dancing has been John Gardiner-Garden (lute-backed hurdy-gurdy, border bagpipe, Irish flute, Hungarian whistle).
Playing with us between 1995 and 1998 when they all featured on our first recording have were foundation member Simon Kravis (bouzouki),
Ian Blake (soprano saxophone, clarinets, recorders, bass), Laszlo Lakk (3 string flat-bridge viola, Hungarian citera, guitar, and main chorder of John's original music), Jon Jones (west african djembe, latin american congas, middle eastern darabuka, celtic bodhran, snare) and Julian Thompson (cello, bouzouki).
Playing with us in those early year but not on any recordings were many other friends such as Gill Cosgove (violin), Vanessa Baker (violin), Brendan Rick (guitar), Mick Thomspon (percussion), Lins Vellen (violin and recorders).
Joining us in time to feature on our recordings at different times from 2000 to 2005, as well as do gigs, were Gillian Pratten (cello), Zoey Pepper (bassoon), Andrew Purdam (accordion, bouzouki, percussion, keyboards), Amy Gardiner-Garden (violin and French horn), Linda Priebbenow (violin)- and not pictured below Hannah Slees (violin) and Jenny Hadzji-Popovic (clarinet).
Of the above John, Ian, Laszlo and Gillian with Jon, Andrew or Mike went on to be, for many years, mainstays for our live performances - with functions, parties and balls every week, and often several times a week - keeping us too busy for photos (or at least keeping track of them!).
Since 2008, now increasingly billed as players from the 'Earthly Delights Historic Dance Academy' and doing an ever broadening range of historical material, ensemble mainstays have been Sally and Peter Taylor (piano and guitar respectively). Sally, with a music degree from England, came to Australia in 1983 where they tell of being inspired by an Earthly Delights events to move to Canberra in 2007. Sally's extraordinary capacity as a musician and willingness to follow John Gardiner-Garden into any corner of dance history that he wishes, has meant that John himself has been happy to focus less on playing and more on dance teaching and leading (though occasionally John still picks up his hurdy gurdy, pipes or flute to lead a set or even do a solo dance gig or overseas tour).
Since 2008 Sally, Peter and John have have been by Jessie Robertson (flute and piano), Lachlan Green (violin), Phil Green (guitar and bodhran), Leon Arundell (pipe and tabor, whistles, percussion), Angela Vivian Bolt (recorders, cornetto) and Charlotte Fletcher (violin). In more recent years they have been joined by Sarah Bull (clarinet, saxophone, penny whistle), Ian Bull (mandolin and guitar), Nic Pollock (lute, theorbo and Spanish guitar) and, on different special occasions, by Shannon Green (violin), An Ran (violin), players from Bush Baroque (recorders and viols) and players from the Aeolus Wind Trio (flute, clarinet and bassoon).
We hope one day to have time to put up snaps of all these musicians in action with the band but seem destined for a while longer to be so caught up in the whirlwind of preparation and performance, that the visual recording of all the good times and good company slips us by.
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