Enjoy Baking, Cooking And Merriment With The Musicians of The Early Interval

Dec 30, 2020

Some delicious musical festivities are firing up, and you can take part online.

This weekend, Early Music in Columbus presents The Early Interval in an interactive online event to let audiences take part in traditional English Twelfth Night revels.

Travel back to a distant era and bake a traditional Twelfth Night Cake, make a bowl of wassail, meet some farm animals and chat with the musicians of Columbus’ resident early music ensemble in an interactive Personal Evening with The Early Interval, Sunday, Jan. 3 at 3 p.m. on Zoom.

The event anticipates The Early Interval’s 30th annual Twelfth Night Celebration. This year, the Twelfth Night Celebration will be released as a special video production in collaboration with Actors’ Theatre Columbus. Twelfth Night: Cakes and Ale brings to life passages from the 17th-century English diarist Samuel Pepys’ colorful descriptions of London’s Twelfth Night festivities. That program will be accessible online Jan. 6-11 on Early Music in Columbus’s website.

Traditionally, Twelfth Night in England marked the end of the 12 Days of Christmas, a season full of surprises and merriment.

“The world is upside down during the span of time from All Hallows’ Eve (Oct. 31) until Epiphany (Jan. 6). The normal things are not normal, the servants get served and the lord of the manor does the serving,” said Early Interval Creative Director Jim Bates. “And there are also pranks and tomfoolery during this time.”

Bates says the Jan. 3 Zoom event and Twelfth Night: Cakes and Ale will help bring some now distant Twelfth Night traditions to the present day. An avid baker, Bates will demonstrate from his kitchen how to bake a traditional Twelfth Night cake while participants view or even follow along in their homes.

Jim Bates, creative director of The Early Interval, candies orange peel for a Twelfth Night Cake.
Credit Jim Bates / The Early Interval

“The Twelfth Night Cake was a really big part of Twelfth Night,” said Bates. “In every one of Samuel Pepys’ diary entries on Twelfth Night, the cake is kind of the centerpiece of the evening.”

Sean Ferguson, who performs with The Early Interval on guitar, lute and other plucked string instruments, will demonstrate how to make wassail, a traditional Twelfth Night beverage.

In a nod to the traditional Twelfth Night blessing of the animals, Early Interval violinist Xan Vargo will introduce participants to the alpacas, chickens and other animals in her menagerie in a recorded video clip. And Early Interval recorder player David Stefano will talk about the rich history of the English Twelfth Night Feast, traditionally held on Jan. 5 – the last of the 12 days of the Christmas season.

“There’s something neat about being invited into the homes of these musicians that we have on our season every year,” said Sarah Hixon, program director of Early Music in Columbus, the concert series that presents The Early Interval’s annual Twelfth Night concerts. “It’s a nice intimate experience that people can have that’s just a little bit different, and something that we actually wouldn’t be able to do in quite the same manner if we were in person.”

The Personal Evening with the Early Interval will also include recorded solo musical performances by Early Interval musicians.

Those who register for the Jan. 3 event will receive a Zoom link and passcode, a recipe for Twelfth Night Cake and an ornament that can serve as a cake topper or Christmas decoration.

After a year that saw more than its share of seriousness, the Personal Evening with the Early Interval echoes the Twelfth Night tradition of topsy-turvy fun.

“It was a very celebratory sort of revelry,” said Hixon. “This is where people sort of let their hair down and had a lot of fun.”