As cautionary tales go, it's a classic. Head onto Ilkley Moor unprepared and not only will you catch your death of cold, but you'll end up as food for the worms, which will be eaten by ducks, which in turn will be eaten by the people issuing the warning. 'That's where we get our own back,' the reckless, hatless lover is told.
This month sees the release of a new video recording of the Baht 'At Variations, a collaboration between poet and broadcaster Ian McMillan and composer and artistic director of Skipton Camerata Ben Crick.
Ian and Ben, both Yorkshire-born and -bred, seem to have relished the task of imagining the back story behind one of Yorkshire's most famous folk songs, On Ilkla Moor Baht 'At. What was it that happened between the bare-headed hero of the song and Mary Jane, the object of his affections? It was that question that prompted Ian to suggest it as the basis for his new venture with Ben Crick. Food for thought and for a new musical venture.
Many will know of Ian McMillan through his regular broadcast appearances on television and radio, and his articles in various national and local newspapers. But Ian is first and foremost a poet. He founded Versewagon (later re-named Circus of Poets), a performance poetry group with John Turner and Martyn Wiley. Ian’s association Skipton Camerata goes back a few years having previously collaborated with Ben and composer Russell Sarre on Ice Cream: the Opera and, more recently, on a plan to develop an opera festival in Bradford. It’s perhaps ambitious, particularly in the current circumstances, but the promotion of live music and local talent is core to the work of Skipton Camerata.
Of course, when Ian and Ben first started talking about the new project it was supposed to have made its first appearance in front of a live audience in Skipton Town Hall. The coronavirus pandemic changed all that but plans are afoot for a concert performance. Until then, audiences are encouraged to hear and see the new piece online from the comfort of their own homes completely free of charge. (Although, donations to the cost of making the video are very welcome.)