Friday, 3 July 2015

Sir Walter entertains


Sir Walter Ralegh: celebrity of the Elizabethan world of entertainment

He may have been described as “a stupid get” by the Beatles in one of their 1960s songs but it seems that Sir Walter Ralegh’s reputation in the entertainment world of his times made him as popular a figure as the Four Lads from Liverpool.

The East Budleigh-born explorer, courtier and author was, so Professor Jonathan Bate of Warwick University points out, “like a celebrity figure of the day and his poems were set to music – they were like the pop songs of the Elizabethan era.”


How much did Shakespeare owe to Sir Walter?

 The Shakespearean Authorship Trust even includes Ralegh as a candidate among the many who may have composed work by the Stratford Bard.  Some of the characters in Shakespeare quote odd lines from Ralegh poems, notes Professor Bate.
So it’s no surprise that the concert entitled Shakespeare’s Music, performed by the Exeter Festival Chorus on 11 July at 7.30pm in St Peter’s Church, should feature this relatively little-known aspect of East Devon’s most famous historical figure. In fact it turns out that one of the songs in the programme, previously attributed to Shakespeare, was co-written by Ralegh.

Soloist Kate Somerby will be performing in the Budleigh Music Festival concert on 11 July  

Kate Somerby, a Trustee at Fairlynch, is hoping to see a future display on ‘Ralegh the Entertainer’ in the current exhibition at the Budleigh Salterton museum. 

As one of the members of the Exeter Festival Chorus she is also looking forward to the event in St Peter’s Church, which is part of the 2015 Budleigh Music Festival.  “The programme is stitched together by a wonderful actor who is the great-great grandson of Charles Dickens,” she says. “It comprises a variety of short pieces ranging from jazz arrangements to Vaughan Williams.”

Kate, who is herself a professional actress, will be singing Gerald Finzi’s setting of ‘Fear No More the Heat o’ The Sun’ from Shakespeare’s Cymbeline.

For more information about the Exeter Festival concert click  here   The Budleigh Music Festival website is at

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