The inspiration behind ‘The World Encompassed’

Music at Oxford has an out-of-the-ordinary performance scheduled for the end of April. The World Encompassed celebrates the epic voyage upon which Sir Francis Drake embarked in 1577. Drake surrounded himself with viol players who were tasked with accompanying his worship, keeping him entertained, and impressing the occasional exotic guest.

This concert weaves together C16th music – including hymns and instrumental pieces by Taverner and Parsons – with newly-commissioned pieces by Orlando Gough taking inspiration directly from the vernacular music of the countries Drake visited and from his memoirs. Richard Boothby of Fretwork explained the idea behind this concert:

 ‘…it had a long gestation: I proposed the idea to Orlando Gough in 2009 and we produced a piece without words for a performance in 2010 in Kings Place. The inspiration was a friend who had proposed a concert of Elizabethan consort music and gamelan music, based on Drake’s account of the musical encounter he had had in Java. The idea was wonderful, but didn’t happen at that time; years later, I was casually talking to Orlando and up it popped again, and he immediately ran with the idea. In 2015 we revisited the project, concerned that audiences were uncertain as to where they were in this musical journey, and hit upon the idea of adding a spoken narrative.  We spent a week in Aldeburgh devising the narrative and fine-tuning the balance between Elizabethan music, hymns and Orlando’s music.’


The complete musical journey can be found on Hyperion records, Spotify and live on Saturday 28 April 2018.