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 In festive mood . . . Maddy Prior and below, The Carnival Band
Prior engagement
The ex-Steeleye Span singer Maddy Prior (who had a Christmas hit with Gaudete) talks about her new band who come to the Apex this month
a slow learner and it takes me time to feel comfortable with a song, but once it all came together it was special”.
The Carnival Choir’s Andy Watts (shawm, recorder, bagpipes, curtal, clarinet, melodica and vocals) had the idea that the audiences who came to see Maddy and The Carnival Band might like the opportunity to join in with shows - even come on stage and sing with the band. The participants can learn the songs online through various tutorials and then there is a workshop before each of the shows to rehearse. It has been very successful and the fans love it, he says.
What does Christmas mean to you Maddy?
Like everyone it is about family and a particular atmosphere at that time of year. I always tour right up until Christmas, so these days I go to another member of the family’s house. Now the celebrations are for my grandchildren, notably for my four-year-old grandson. This year he will begin to understand what it is all about, which is exciting”.
How do you celebrate the festive season?
With family, but I also run a weekend at Stones Barn between Christmas and New Year. It is a course for people who love to sing. Some stay here, some locally, and we all sing mainly less well-known carols, feast and generally have a great time.
Do you have a favorite carol, or a few favourites?
Angels from The Realms of Glory is one of the most energetic carols, and The Carnival Band do a fantastic arrangement of it. The lovely Angel Gabriel is also beautifully arranged.
n Maddy Prior and The Carnival Band, ‘Carols and Capers’ will be at the Apex, Bury St Edmunds on December 6. Tickets £28/£26. Box office 01284 758000.
How did you first get together with The Carnival Band? It was in the early 80’s. The Carnival Band had been
asked to play on the BBC programme Pause for Thought. This was an early morning slot lasting five minutes. Towards Christmas band were asked to play a carol a day for five days. The producer, John Forrest, knew me from Steeleye and suggested that I would be ideal for the band. I was asked to sing Angels from The Realms of Glory. It was
incredibly high and fast - it intrigued me.
(Maddy sang with them that year, then the next and has done so ever since. She
and the band then decided to record an album and follow that up with a tour.
That was over 30 years ago.)
What is special to you about appearing with The Carnival Band?
They are all very skilled, mainly classically trained, musicians. They come from a different way of playing to Steeleye or myself. I am

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