In 1974 I went to see the full consort in action in the Kelvin Hall in Glasgow and the atmosphere was absolutely electric. The concert started off with Munrow looking out of a side curtain at the side of the stage (presumably to see if any technician etc was fiddling about with the mics) and, when he found that the coast was clear, he raced up the few stairs onto the stage and started to play a Danse Royale with his bagpipes. One by one he was joined by other members of the small consort who all played individual pieces on Crwth (Oliver Brookes), Citole (James Tyler) Harpsichord (Christopher Hogwood) and finished off with James Bowman singing to their accompaniment. Just before the interval Bowman was accompanied by Robert Spencer in a variety of lute songs. The second half of the concert the big-band played a selection from Praetorius’s Terpsichore. If anyone is interested in what pieces they played that evening then let me know and I’ll post it on this forum, once I find out where I’ve “archived” the programme.
There’s no doubt about it, Munrow took early music by the scruff of its neck and popularised it. Looking back I don’t think any individual since Munrow’s death has achieved what he has done since, and I can sadly see a kind of demise to what we were once used to. True, there are countless very good professional early music groups about that took on specialised areas of early music but none has successfully taken on the big band theme and not one individual has popularised early music to the same extent.
I miss the great man badly. They say great things come in small packages – Munrow wasn’t great, he was phenomenal. What he achieved in a ten year lifetime was nothing short of genius. He was always in a hurry to do things and he certainly hurried to cram everything he could manage to do in an astonishing ten years. Those ten years was a whirlwind. We all miss you David but we all thank you for giving us an immense amount of pleasure.