Badinage, a group of internationally renowned, award-winning musicians specialising in Historical Performance, will be visiting Durham on 29 June as part of the month-long Summer in the City Festival.

The group will perform ‘Voice of the Bridge’, an original creation, featuring street songs of gossip, scandal and protest, and high Baroque music from Louis XIV’s Paris. The performance takes place on Saturday 29 June at 8pm in the Joachim Room of the College of St Hild and St Bede. Suitable for ages 16+.

Badinage will also be recreating the street performances of seventeenth-century Paris on Durham’s Framwellgate Bridge on Saturday 29 June, from 1.30–2pm. The cast will be handing out song sheets and oranges.

News and gossip seventeenth-century style

Parisian street performers sang out against royal authority through the reign of Louis XIV. They performed on the capital’s iconic bridge – the Pont Neuf – among the throng of carriages, pedestrians, street sellers, food hawkers, tooth-pullers, prostitutes, preachers, and livestock.

Pont Neufsingers produced the liveliest satire of their age, wittier than Private Eye’s sketches, more resonant than the cries of Twitter. Spreading news and gossip about life behind the scenes at Versailles, Parisian street singers defied the king’s secret police and acted as hubs of political information and a touchstone of social justice. Audiences of all classes – from noblewomen to paupers – gathered round to hear them sing truth to power.


Badinageis made up of an award-winning group of international performers, including Mezzo Soprano Katie Emily Bray who will represent England in the 2019 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition this June.

Harpsichordist Tom Foster will make his solo Carnegie Hall Debut in early 2020.

With violinist Naomi Burrell, oboeist Leo Duarte, and viol-player Jonathan Rees, all five musicians perform regularly on the stage, radio and TV as soloists and principals with the world’s finest Early Music ensembles.

‘Voice of the Bridge’ is written by Jonathan Rees.

This event is a joint venture by Durham University’s Department of History and Cambridge University’s Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages, based on research into French soundscapes from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries.

Dr Tom Hamilton (History Department, Durham University),,