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1977

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CONCERTS & EVENTS

January - Viol studies with June and Francis Baines, London.

May - Romeo & Juliet with Les Grands Ballets Canadian, Montreal.

July - 8 shows at the National Arts Center, Ottawa.

October - School concerts in Ontario.
November -  Vancouver, Campbell River, Mill Bay, Oliver, Kelowna, Vernon, Trail,  Kimberly, Grand Forks, British Columbia.

November - Waterloo, Chatham, St. Catherines, Stugeon Falls, Kirkland Lake, North Bay, Ontario.
December - Niagara On The Lake.

December -  CBC TV (French Network) Christmas Taping,Ottawa.

December - Fly to London.

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Margaret practicing the Tenor Viol on the porch of the Aylmer cottage in Quebec.

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LISTEN WHILE YOU BROWSE

As time passed, the Huggett Family received more concert requests from francophone communities across Canada. The Huggetts responded by including French commentary and songs in the shows. Here is a song, in Parisien style, with music by Andrew and lyrics by Odette Legault. It was recorded for french CBC TV in the fall of 1977.

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Jennifer Huggett

Michelle

Lyrics by O. Legault, Music by A. Huggett

Leslie, glockenspiel; Margaret, spinet; Andrew, vocals, guitar; Jennifer, cello; Fiona, violin. ; Ian, viola.

THE MUSIC

Performing medieval and renaissance music comes with many challenges. With a few notable exceptions like Edgar Hunt and Arnold Dolmetch, who rediscovered the recorder and its music during the first half of the 20th century, few musicians knew anything about this music until the second half of the 20th century. 

In 1971 the Huggett Family was fortunate enough to study with Edgar Hunt. In 1977, they established a relationship with Francis and June Baines. Francis was a double bass player who, along with his wife, June,  had reintroduced the six-stringed viol and its repertoire to modern audiences in the 1960s.

The viol comes from the Kingdom of Aragon in the culturally diverse Spain of the late 15th century. Playing position and technique are derived from the "rabab," a Moorish bowed instrument still played in North Africa today. The instrument comes in different sizes and has six strings and frets and is played with a bow while held between the legs, much like the modern cello. The viols repertoire is extensive. Like almost all renaissance music, it is written for the player's enjoyment as music was very much a participatory event during that time, and the idea of pleasing an audience had not yet come into being. Unlike the music of later periods, that's often divided into "melody" on one instrument and "accompaniment" on the others, music of the renaissance period often distributes the melody, at whim, between all the instruments—fun for the players but often confusing for the listener. 

June and Francis Baines had worked on ways to address this challenge to make viol music more accessible to the modern ear. And the Huggetts worked closely with them, pursuing the same goal.

Sunday mornings were lesson time, and the family would drive to the Baine's house on the far side of London. Interpreting the music wasn't the only challenge. Margaret remembers, "It was always so cold in their music room although they had a heating unit which supposedly stored up the heat during the night while electricity was cheap and discharged it during the day. But it was depleted by 10:30, and our legs froze as we clasped our viols between our knees. Never mind, when we left at 12:30 for the long drive back to South London, Francis would ply us with his homemade mead, which we later discovered he had enriched with vodka."

Francis Baines never appeared to take himself, or anything else, for that matter, seriously. But behind the quick, dry throwaway humor was a history of solid work and a real contribution to the musical life of Britain.

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Fiona plays the six string viol.

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A posthumous tribute. Francis Baines recorded with many famous musicians, including Alfred Deller and the Amadeus String Quartet.

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June and Francis Baines - pioneers in the world of viol music. Francis was a professional bass player and played many other instruments, including the viol.

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The Huggetts include music for six viols in their programming for the first time.

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A minuette by Mozart. Easy to listen to. Typical of the classical period.

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Music for viols from 150 years earlier. Everybody has their own melody, which is often confusing for the listener unless the musicians pay particular attention to their individual phrasing.

ROMEO & JULIET (IN FRENCH)

In May, the Huggetts return to Canada to reprise four performances of Romeo & Juliet at Place des Art in Montreal. The spoken words have been translated into French, and the hometown Montreal audience reacts enthusiastically.

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A capacity house at Place des Art for the french version of Romeo & Juliet.

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Annette Av Paul and Alexandre Béline as Romeo & Juliet.

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Letter of agreement between The Huggett Family and Les Grands Ballets Canadien for 4 shows of Romeo & Juliet.

CANADIAN CONCERTS

THE NATIONAL ARTS CENTRE, OTTAWA

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The Huggett Family plays 8 shows at Ottawa's National Arts Centre, this time as part of July's "Festival Canada."

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After coaching by June and Francis Baines, The Huggetts add music for six viols to the NAC show.

ONTARIO SCHOOL SHOWS

The Huggett Family received regular requests for school shows, particularly in the greater Ottawa valley.

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"It was a pleasure to perform for school children, especially the elementary grades who were so open-minded and curious." Leslie Huggett

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Students at Queen Elizabeth Public School, one of 15 greater Ottawa schools visited by the Huggett Family in 1977, react to the Huggett's show with letters and drawings.

BRITISH COLUMBIA

In November, the Huggetts return to British Columbia under the sponsorship of J. J. Johanneson and Festival Concerts to play shows in Vancouver, Campbell River, Mill Bay, Oliver, Kelowna, Vernon, Trail,  Kimberly, and Grand Forks.

Margaret remembers, "Vernon had a first-class performance center, and we spent several days playing for adults and young people while staying in a comfortable motel with our own kitchen. It was a very peaceful four days with no travel needed. 

It was always my job to check the travel arrangements to ensure we arrived at the next destination on time. After the last evening concert in Vernon, we had to be up early to travel through the mountains and over the Monashee Pass to perform in Castlegar at 1 pm . Only 388 km, still, as it was already winter, this sounded risky, so rightly or wrongly, a plan was formed to have someone else drive the van with all our instruments overnight, and we would take a local flight from Kelowna to Castlegar in the morning. However, we ran into a snowstorm, making it unsafe to land, so we were forced to fly on to Cranbrook, an airport with one room, a telephone, and a washroom with only two people in charge. After several hours of anxiety, the snow abated, and a plane appeared to take us back to Castlegar, and we arrived at the school at the appointed showtime of 1 pm. 

There was no stage here, but our instruments, music, and costumes had safely arrived ahead of us. They were dumped in a pile in the performance space around which a restless audience was already seated. Under their curious gaze, we swiftly set things up, tuned our instruments, and, one at a time, disappeared behind a curtain to change into our costumes. The show went ahead without more delay, and it surprised our audience that such good music and funny stories could evolve out of chaos. 

Our evening engagement for that day was just an hour's drive away in the town of Trail. We arrived with time to relax and catch our breath, although a janitor came and turfed me out in the nurse's room where I was trying to get over a migraine. Fortunately, these migraines always disappeared by 6 pm, and the concert went ahead with much success. Many of the audience seemed to be Italian and were great music lovers. When Leslie told them it was Jennifer's birthday, they all burst into song, and the food at the sponsor's tastefully furnished house was exceptionally good. Definitely, all's well that ends well. 

Each venue's music committee planned a post-concert reception in their own way, and often there was drinks and a buffet with light Refreshments at the concert venue, in which case we would often stay in our stage costume. On one such occasion, Ian accidentally spilled some orange juice down the

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"The girls" in beautiful Stanley Park, Vancouver.

front of his braided green tunic. Hearing my "Oh, No!" a lady stepped forward reassuringly and said, "No problem! I'll take it home and have it back to you in the morning."  The people of British Columbia were very special."

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Fiona, Ian, and Margaret on the Nanaimo Ferry en route to Campbell River.

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Ian, Jennifer, Margaret, and Fiona, down by the docks in Mill Bay.

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Fiona on the Vancouver beach. 

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Jennifer, Fiona, and Margaret in Vancouver.

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Ian yawns as Andrew calls his girlfriend from Trail, BC.

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Leslie, Margaret, Andrew, Fiona, Ian, and Jennifer at the airport in Kelowna.

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Bravo Huggetts! A nearly flawless family show

By MARKE ANDREWS

Budgets being what they are, many entertainment events come and go virtually unnoticed by the public. Audiences are attracted only by society bulletins and/or word-of-mouth.

Too bad, because often the small event is the more noteworthy, upstaging and out-stripping the "big" show. Literally, the public often doesn't know what they're missing.

Such an event took place Thursday evening at the Queen Elizabeth Playhouse, sponsored by the Festival Concert Society.

The Huggett Family, an Ottawa-based unit so nuclear it's almost radioactive, presented a remarkable evening of songs,

airs, ballads, and dances drawn from the 16th to 20th Centuries.If that seems a monumental, mind-boggling task, then the Huggetts are a mind-boggling ensemble. They are astounding musicians, and their execution of Thursday's difficult program was near-flawless.Among the six of them: father Leslie, mother Margaret, daughters Jennifer (20 years) and Fiona (16), and sons Andrew (22) and Ian (18), the Huggetts play over 30 instruments, including viols, lutes, crumhorns, rankets, and rauschfifes. They dress in Renaissance garb, and, given the costumes, music and instrumentation, one has to steal a glance at the electric lighting to reaffirm this is 1977.The first half of the program offered music from the Renaissance, centering on that of the English and Scottish courts. Preceding each

selection was a witty, at times satirical introduction from Leslie. Particularly stunning were two collections of madrigals, one featuring four voices accompanied by viol and recorder, the other mixing voice, lute and recorders. Thomas Robinson's Go From My Window, originally a folk song rearranged for the lute, was given a conscientious reading by Andrew.The family reenacted two Italian dances, as performed for James I. Finishing the first half were four pieces excerpted from Jacobean masques. These selections were ornately majestic, the elaborate viol, harpsichord, and recorder parts intertwined deliciously. Indeed, music fit for a king.The second half featured Andrew's arrangements of traditional ballads and folksongs. The family fragmented into

alternating vocal duets, with instrumental support changing with each selection. The variety-packed program ended with an Ottawa Valley hoedown, with Andrew, Ian andFiona on fiddles. The family encored with Greensleeves.Outstanding musicianship, sensitive interpretation, and a dignified presentation are the qualities of this most musical family.
Bravo Huggetts!

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ONTARIO

NIAGARA ON THE LAKE

In early December, the Huggetts played two Christmas shows in picturesque Niagara On The Lake.  These appearances were preceeded by shows in Waterloo, Chatham, St. Catherines, Stugeon Falls, and Kirkland Lake.

Margaret remembers, "Our December performances in the Shaw Festival Theater included Leslie's reading of a child's Christmas in Wales. He had an amazing ability to speak with so many of the regional accents of Great Britain, including that of Wales, although Dylan Thomas himself spoke as though he was a member of the Bloomsbury set. In his later years, Leslie's recordings of his many autobiographical tales were much enhanced by this gift.

After our second concert, which was a matinee, we were taken out for supper at the Oban Inn before setting out on our drive up to North Bay for Monday's concert. By midnight we had reached Huntsville, and the highway became increasingly icy. There being no other traffic about, Leslie swerved from side to side to avoid these patches, but he was soon chased down by an OPP officer, thinking he was a late drunkard heading home. After persuading the policeman that we were only a group of musicians heading up to North Bay for our next performance, we continued on our way, arriving around 2 am. At 8 am, the phone rings. It is the sponsor who has arranged an interview on the morning radio show. I went off to do it, letting the remaining troubadours

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The Huggett's Saturday evening show and Sunday matinee in Niagara On The Lake were followed by a late-night drive to North Bay through a snow storm.

sleep in.

That evening's concert was held in St. Alphonsus  Catholic Church and was well-received. Afterward, there was a reception at the home of the priest who was on the music committee. The table was spread with cheeses and cold cuts, and he had ready a great display of his homemade wines."   
              

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Niagara On The Lake, the perfect setting for a Christmas concert.

CBOFT TV CHRISTMAS SPECIAL

Once again, the last job of the year is the taping of a Christmas Special, this time in French. This presented a new challenge, for none of the family were fluent in the language.

Belle Qui Tien Ma Vie

Je Suis Riche

Once I Had A Sweetheart

Greensleeves

Heigh Ho Holiday

In Dulci Jubilo

Michelle

The Wexford Carol

Spangioletta

The Holly and The Ivy

Holbourne

MISCILLANEOUS MOMENTS FROM 1977

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Fiona on the Kootenay Lake ferry. Winter and long johns are here to stay.

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Fiona and Ian, en route to Kelowna.

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Margaret researching concert material - a continuous job.

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Leslie, Margaret, and Fiona aboard the ferry to Mill Bay.

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On stage, Leslie often delivered the jokes and quotes Margaret found during her research.

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As well as researching the program material Margaret was also the bookkeeper and kept impeccable tax records.

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Fiona and Margaret are out on the bikes. The family usually took an hour or two off after lunch for individual recreation.

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Jennifer, Andrew, Ian, and Fiona with string coach Igor Szwec.

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Long time friend Cathy Greenman and Jennifer enjoy boating on the Ottawa River.

Jennifer takes in the autumn colours in Gatineau Park, Quebec.

Margaret and Leslie waiting in Campbell River, British Columbia.