Told from the perspective of Marion, a shepherdess who transforms over time into a noblewoman, our program recounts the varied tales of Robin Hood in dramatic reading and song accompanied by instrumental compositions from the 12th through 18th centuries, plus improvisation in period styles. The mythical figure of Robin Hood has undergone stark change from invention to present day, gifting us with a trove of the outlaw-hero’s exploits in story and music. Robin Hood’s relation to the maid Marion in early fables sprang from the same tradition as archetypal medieval narratives of encounters between virginal shepherdesses and knights, with origins in pre-Christian May Day ritual. Today, we present a musical narrative tracing the development of the Robin Hood mythos from archetypes in medieval French pastourelle traditions, through contemporaneous collections of polyphonic music, to English, Sottish, and Irish ballad traditions alive in the 17th and 18th centuries, proposing more than one answer to the centuries-old question of, “Who was Robin Hood?”
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