One of the highlights of the Positive News Midsummer Fair, held at Shakespeare’s Globe, was the Palm Court Orchestra, Aspidistra, playing in the garden of the neighbouring Cardinal's Wharf. Seated on a platform placed over the pond, in front of the evocative ruined folly, they played an array of Palm Court music.
The seventeen century house and garden right next door to the Globe had been opened to visitors of the fair, creating an oasis of ‘turn of the century’ calm.
The heyday of Palm Court Music must have been the Edwardian era, before recording and broadcasting were established. In those days the only way of introducing music into the home was to make your own, or invite musicians to play for you.
Many small orchestras of three to ten players existed for just this purpose and often played adaptations of large orchestral works in a palm court setting. Of course this all changed with the advent of modern recording techniques.
Adam and his orchestra, Aspidistra got together about five years ago with the aim of bringing back the festivity, elegance and fun of the Palm Court style.
Some of the best tunes written for the genre, now gathering dust in the archives, are on this new CD, my favourite being the Argentinian tango melody by Charles Ancliffe, “El Saludo”.