Twelfth Night Concert

Sunday 6th January 2019 at 3.00 pm

The Menuhin Hall, Cobham, Surrey KT11 3QQ

A joyous musical extravaganza to celebrate the Three Kings and mark the close of the Christmas season.Adoration of the MagiPeter Medhurst continues his tradition of presenting Twelfth Night Concerts with a programme of music to celebrate the close of the 2018/19 Christmas season.  Pieces include original settings from Shakespeare’s Twelfth NightDie heiligen drei Könige aus Morgenland by R Strauss, and a new arrangement of Brightest and Best of the Sons of the Morning.  A newly commissioned work for the event by Simon Austin entitled Noblesse Oblige will also be presented.  In true tradition of Twelfth Night, there will many party pieces and surprises in the second part of the concert and these include Zörgend leise by Schubert, Duet from thePearl Fishers by Bizet, as well as pieces by Vaughan Williams, Gilbert & Sullivan and Warlock.

Peter Medhurst


Helen Semple | soprano

Richard Rowe | tenor

Philip Salmon | tenor

Nick Gee | baritone

Maciek O’Shea | bass-baritone

Jeremy Limb | piano

How to book

Tickets: £30

Booking is now open and tickets are available through the
Box Office:  08700 842020
Online:  from The Menuhin Hall website where full booking details can be obtained:

(See below for details of getting to the Menuhin Hall by car or train)

About Twelfth Night

The 6th January celebrates the feast of Epiphany, the moment in the nativity story when the Magi present their famous gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. It is also the day which marks the traditional close of the twelve festive days that follow the birth of Christ. In our time, Twelfth Night seems to have lost much of its original spark, reduced by many to a day when war is declared on carpets reluctant to give up the last of the Christmas tree needles. However, in the past, Twelfth Night was one of the most looked forward to moments of the Christmas calendar.

The early 19th century writer Leigh Hunt tells us: Christmas goes out in fine style, with Twelfth Night. It is a finish worthy of the time. Christmas Day was the morning of the season; New Year’s Day the middle of it, or noon; Twelfth Night is the night, brilliant with innumerable planets of Twelfth-cakes. The whole island keeps court; nay, all Christendom. All the world are kings and queens. Everybody is somebody else, and learns at once to laugh at, and to tolerate, characters different from his own, by enacting them. Cakes, characters, forfeits, lights, theatres, merry rooms, little holiday-faces, and, last not least, the painted sugar on the cakes, so bad to eat but so fine to look at, useful because it is perfectly useless except for a sight and a moral – all conspire to throw a giddy splendour over the last night of the season, and to send it to bed in pomp and colours, like a Prince.

A few centuries earlier, in 1512, Henry VIII marked the day by taking part in an Italian Masque the kyng with xi other wer disguised, after the manner of Italie, called a maske, a thing not seen afore in England, they were appareled in garmentes long and brode, wrought all with gold, with visers and capes of gold, and after the banket done . . these Maskers came in, with six gentlemen . . and desired the ladies to daunce. By contrast, Charles II chose a different entertainment 150 years later and according to custom . . opened the revels of the night by throwing the dice himself in the privy chamber . . and lost his £100.

Samuel Pepys – usually so sociable – declined to partake in his family’s celebrations of 1665, and went to my viall, leaving my wife and people up at their sports, which they continued till morning, not coming to bed at all. A year later he was still of the same mind It being Twelfth Night, they had got the fiddler, and mighty merry they were; and I above came not to them, leaving them dancing and choosing King and Queen.

Pepys refers to the old custom of the election of the Bean King – the first man to find a bean in a slice of Twelfth Night Cake; and the Pea Queen – the first woman who locates a pea. The 17th century poet, Robert Herrick throws a little light on role of the cake:

Now, now the mirth comes

With the cake full of plums,

Where bean’s the king of the sport here;

Besides we must know,

The pea also

Must revel as queen in the court here.

Begin then to choose

This night as ye use,

Who shall for the present delight here

Be a king by the lot,

And who shall not

Be Twelfth-day queen for the night here

Which known, let us make

Joy-sops with the cake;

And let not a man then be seen here,

Who unurg’d will not drink,

To the base from the brink,

A health to the king and the queen here.

Jointly, the King and Queen ruled over the festivities of the day, and all – irrespective of class or status – would be duty bound to do whatever was bidden of them. When Mary Queen of Scots had Twelfth Cake at Holyrood Castle in 1563 her maid, Mary Fleming, drew the pea and was dressed in the Queen’s own clothes for the rest of the day. Although William Sandys, in the 19th century, said of Twelfth Night in our time it is probably the most popular day throughout Christmas, thanks to the Twelfth Cake and other amusements, the Victorians reined in the festivities, eventually banning them altogether.

The illustration above, dating from 1794, shows Twelfth Night Cake taking pride of place in the centre of the table. To the right, a hat is being passed around, and a woman selects, in raffle fashion, a card from within (although one cannot help speculating that she is being steered by the young man to a card of his choosing). Written on the cards were names of characters to be portrayed in the Bean King and Pea Queen’s court. These could be fictitious or real personages. For example, on the male side could be the Prince of Wales, the Lord Chamberlain, the Prime Minister, or the Archbishop of Canterbury. On the female side might be found the Queen Mother, the Princess Royal, maids of honour and ladies in waiting. Going back to Leigh Hunt for a moment:

The whole island keeps court; nay, all Christendom. All the world are kings and queens. Everybody is somebody else, and learns at once to laugh at, and to tolerate, characters different from his own, by enacting them.

© Peter Medhurst 2018

How to get to The Menuhin Hall

Free parking on site for 125 cars with 6 spaces for disabled parking with The Menuhin Hall parking permits only.

By Train
Cobham & Stoke d’Abernon Station is on the Guildford via Cobham line from Waterloo.  Taxis are available at Cobham station.
In addition, minibuses may collect audience members, by prior request, from the station 30 minutes before the start of a performance.  For this facility please contact the Box Office on 08700 842020.

By Car
The Menuhin Hall is easily accessible from the M25 junctions 9 (Leatherhead) and 10 (Cobham).  The School is a few minutes from Cobham in Surrey.

From the M25 Junction 10
Leave the M25 at junction 10 and take the A3 towards London.  After one mile take the A245 at Painshill Roundabout and follow signs to Cobham. Go through Cobham centre and follow the A245 towards Leatherhead but continue straight on to Fetcham when the A245 takes a left near Shoot’s Garden Centre. The School is on the right immediately after crossing the M25 flyover. Proceed up the drive and follow the signs to The Menuhin Hall car park.

From the M25 Junction 9
Leave the M25 at Junction 9 and at the roundabout take the 3rd exit onto the A243.  At the next roundabout take the 2nd exit onto the A244.  Continue to the next roundabout and take the 1st exit into Oaklawn Road.  At the next junction turn right into Woodlands Road signposted (A245).  At the T junction by Shoots Garden Centre turn left onto Cobham Road and the school is on the right hand side.  Proceed up the drive and follow the signs to The Menuhin Hall car park.