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The Dowland Project

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What does an ensemble of four musicians from completely different societal backgrounds do with a 13th-century song that survives only as a skeletal vocal line? The answer is: they listen, they improvise and they give free rein to their musical associations, knowing that the result will be something entirely new. For John Potter, the longstanding tenor of the Hilliard Ensemble and a teacher at York University, music exists by definition only in the present. So far, so good, one might think. But the consequences are far-reaching, as was already evident in the Dowland Project’s two earlier albums, ‘In Darkness let me dwell’ (1999) and ‘Care-charming Sleep’ (2003).
It goes without saying that a firm grasp of historical styles is essential. But otherwise nothing more is needed: ‘If we take the opportunity to ignore historical detail where it doesn’t serve our interests in the present, we can bypass the musicological thought police and negotiate directly with the dead composers.’ Thus Potter writes in his article for the book ‘Horizons Touched - The Music of ECM’, published by Granta, London, in 2007.
Now the Dowland Project is expanding its repertoire and delving into songs from the 12th century to the present day.

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