On the Radio!

Thanks to BBC Radio Humberside for inviting us to talk about My Ancestors were French on the radio.

Louise and Amanda had fun on David Burns show last Thursday. We played a couple of live songs and chatted to Burnsy about the project and celebratory event. Here is Amanda tuning up before the broadcast.

mandi tuning

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Team Photo

Here we are, the My Ancestors were French team, Richard, Louise, Quentin and Amanda at National Trust Calke Abbey, the home of the oldest surviving Auricula Theatre in England.

Richard, Louise, Quentin and Amanda at Calke Abbey

Richard, Louise, Quentin and Amanda at Calke Abbey

It was an amazing venue was for The Auricula Suite concert. A beautiful setting, superb acoustics, a sunny day at last, and a lovely audience. Thanks to all.

Not alone, Refugee…

The lovers in our story, Valentina and Raoul, have been torn apart when Valentina escapes from persecution during the Reformation and comes to live in England, while Raoul stands by his faith and stays in France, facing an uncertain future, possibly death.

This song is Raoul’s story. He is so sad now that his lover has gone, but looks up at the heavens and feels comfort in knowing that wherever she is, she’ll look up and see the same moon, the same stars…

…The Same Sky

I don’t know where you are
But I guess where you’ll be
Under the same sky as me
Where you’ll be, well I guess
‘Cross the cold northern sea
Follow the same star as me

Now you’re gone

In a strange land you are
But not alone refugee
Under the same moon as me
Where you’ll be, well I guess
But I know what you’ll see
See the same sky as me

Now you’re gone

I don’t know where you are
But I guess where you’ll be
Under the same sky as me
Where you’ll be, well I guess
Growing flowers for me…

I feel the same sun!

Under the same sky

The Transit of Venus

© 2012 Duffy-Howard

Dressed in Blue

A love song, and tribute to the beautiful little flower, it’s continuing endurance throughout history, and the unusual but traditional way of displaying it, on an Auricula Theatre. As is the way with flowers they don’t last long. But they come back again. We discover more beautiful varieties every year.

She’s my beautiful flower
I’ll be her sun and her rain
What colour will she wear
When she comes back again?

Behind the veil
I can see her glow
What colour will she wear
When it’s time to show?

When April’s flowers
Stand tall and proud in line
You raise the curtain
I see you shine
You raise the curtain
I see you shine!

I was dressed in blue
When I married you
I wore your flowers in my hair
And kept your love in my pocket

On a beautiful day
At the end of May
My heart leapt out to you
My wild-fire-rocket

My heart leapt out to you!

So take it slow
Sing it long and low
What colour will she wear
When it’s time to go?

© 2012 Lou Duffy-Howard
Auriculas grown and photographed by Richard Duffy-Howard

English Garden

The next chapter of our Auricula Suite tale…

primula-auricula-taffeta

In our next song, many years have passed by, and Valentina embraces life in England, growing roses in her English garden. Millais’ painting is full of coded messages – the Victorian concept of ‘the language of flowers’. Red roses symbolise passion. In Millais’ painting of the lovers standing by the wall the young woman is trying to make her lover wear the white scarf that would protect him from persecution and possibly death, and he, despite his love for her refuses to renounce his faith. Here Canterbury Bells signify faith; and Nasturtiums, patriotism. Valentina settles in the East Coast of England, she marries and has a family. But she never did forget Raoul.

I work the land here, I rise each morning
I thank the Lord and reap what I have sown.
I left my homeland, but kept my God-fear
I looked up to him when I set off alone.

I’m long since married; I have three daughters,
I love them dearly and we are family
And my garden is full of roses
I give them water and feed them tenderly.

My husband loves me; we work together
And spend the evenings until the fire burns low.
But when my candle is pale and smoky
I think back to you, I never let you go.

.
Our last embrace by the wall,
You kept your faith, you would not lie
The broken bell signalled your fall,
I never knew if you would live or die

In the darkness we lay down in the heather
One kiss to last forever, before I went to sea.
My eldest daughter, she looks so like you.
But home is here now, what is and what will be.

.
I made my life here; I rise each morning
I thank the Lord and reap what I have sown
I left my homeland but kept my God-fear
I looked up to Him when I set off alone

.
I made my life here; I rise each morning
I thank the Lord and reap what I have sown
And in my garden, my English garden
I tend my roses, and water them…alone.

© 2012  Lou Duffy-Howard

Auriculas grown and photographed by Richard Duffy-Howard

The Same Sky

The lovers in our story, Valentina and Raoul, have been torn apart when Valentina escapes from persecution during the Reformation and comes to live in England, while Raoul stands by his faith and stays in France, facing an uncertain future, possibly death. 

This song is Raoul’s story. He is so sad now that his lover has gone, but looks up at the heavens and feels comfort in knowing that wherever she is, she’ll look up and see the same moon, the same stars…The Same Sky.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I don’t know where you are
But I guess where you’ll be
Under the same sky as me
Where you’ll be, well I guess
‘Cross the cold northern sea
Follow the same star as me

Now you’re gone

In a strange land you are
But not alone refugee
Under the same moon as me
Where you’ll be, well I guess
But I know what you’ll see
See the same sky as me

Now you’re gone

I don’t know where you are
But I guess where you’ll be
Under the same sky as me
Where you’ll be, well I guess
Growing flowers for me…

I feel the same sun!

Under the same sky

© 2012  Rich & Lou Duffy-Howard

Auriculas grown and photographed by Richard Duffy-Howard

Into the Sun

Here begins Valentina’s tale. Young lovers, Valentina and Raoul separate when she escapes persecution and comes to England as a refugee. Valentina boards a boat for the East Coast of England, leaving her lover behind to an uncertain fate, possibly death.

She brings Primula auricula flower seeds and the skills to grow the little flowers here as a reminder of home. The Huguenot people were skilled artisans and were well accepted in their new land. Although Valentina misses her loved ones she is relieved to be travelling over the sea into the unknown and a new life. Valentina says she’ll never forget Raoul…

I’ll be heading down to the harbour
Gonna be setting sail on the next high tide
You know the world may seem much smaller now
but it feels too big to me
I’m gonna be far away from here
by the time it’s light

Gonna be thinking ‘bout you baby
when I’m back on the ground
How we were heading
straight into the sun
With my flowers tucked up
and all safe and sound
I’m gonna be missin’ you baby
when I’m gone…

….The waves are so high
that I get vertigo
And seagulls swoop down
I’m spinning round and round and wonderful
And so high
up on the northern sea
And we are drenched
spray like waterfall
Our river flows to meet us
in East Anglia
And I get vertigo

The waves so high

I don’t know where I’m going
But I know where I’m from
Heading out to the sea
I’m looking into the sun

Into the sun, into the sun

C’mon

Round and round and round and round…
…and wonderful

© 2012  Lou Duffy-Howard

Auriculas grown and photographed by Richard Duffy-Howard

primula-auricula-reddown-tickled-pink

Kings and Weavers

A huguenot
A Huguenot by John Everett Millais

Kings and Weavers is the next song in The Auricula Suite. It introduces the history of the flower, the Primula auricula, whose origins are in the Alps. Imagine how it will have been trampled underfoot by the Roman Legions travelling across the continent two thousand years ago. By the 16th century the auricula became a symbol of wealth and was grown in what is now France and Belgium by the first people to be known as ‘florists’ – The Huguenot people. They were also craftsmen and women, weavers and silk workers. In our tale the Huguenot people made auricula growing popular in England when they came here as refugees in the 16th century.

‘Kings and Weavers’ introduces the young couple in our story, Valentina and Raoul. Although Valentina and Raoul are fictional, they represent many people fleeing persecution and making a new life in a new and strange land, even here, today. I imagine Valentina and Raoul are similar to the couple standing in the walled garden in Huguenot Victorian artist, John Everett Millais’ painting, A Huguenot on St Bartholomew’s Day.

Flower of kings and of weavers
Crushed underfoot on the mountainsides of Gaul
Leaves of green for a queen and a thousand different colours
Comfort of the soldier on the wall
.
I will come for you
I will find you…
.
Your flower theatre will remind me
Of the gardener and the skillful artisan
Of Reformation time, and the people
On a journey to find a new homeland
.
I will come for you
I will find you…
.
The flower of kings will live forever
The flower of weavers will go on
Spell or cure on a starry night
The moon in the middle of the flower shines bright
I can see it too babe
.
I will come for you
I will find you…
.
Flower of kings
Flower of weavers
Green leaves for a queen
And colours for all
From high in the mountains
To the Huguenot gardens…
I’m thinking of you…standing by the wall

Valentina and Raoul, in the Huguenot garden,

Valentina and Raoul, by the wall…

© 2012  Lou Duffy-Howard

The Same Sky Overture

We have recorded a set of songs written to complement the project story.  You can hear the first one here. It’s the only instrumental in The Auricula Suite,  featuring guitars, hammer dulcimer and a beautiful lonesome hurdy gurdy solo; The Same Sky Overture.

The Auricula Suite is our set of songs telling folk tales of a journey to a new land; a story of love and loss, persecution and a new beginning – inspired by the small alpine Primula auricula and the folk tale of its 16th century journey to England with the Huguenot refugees.

The Same Sky is Raoul’s lament. His lover, Valentina, has escaped persecution on a ship to England, but Raoul stands by his faith and refuses to go.   It’s a sad song, now that his lover has gone. He looks up at the heavens and feels comfort in knowing that wherever she is, she’ll look up and see the same moon, the same stars……The Same Sky

© 2012 Duffy-Howard