LIFEM | 13-16 November 2024 — Subscribe for more news

John Paul Jones meets consort of viols | Thursday 15 October

World Premiere of The Tudor Pull, a new composition by John Paul Jones to be streamed at 7.00pm on Thursday 5th November from Marquee TV and the LIFEM website,

In one of the more eye and ear catching new music stories of 2020 the London International Festival of Early Music, LIFEM is proud to announce the world premiere performance of The Tudor Pull written for viol consort Fretwork by prolific composer, producer and Led Zeppelin’s legendary multi-instrumentalist John Paul Jones.

This isn’t the first time that Jones’s music has been performed at LIFEM, his hauntingly beautiful Amores Pasados, settings of three Spanish poems were performed by tenor John Potter at the 2018 festival, but this new work breaks new ground for an annual event that is a unique celebration of past musical genius and contemporary talent. Commenting on his new work Jones said:

‘I’ve been an admirer of Fretwork for some time, and was thrilled at the commission to write a piece for them to premiere at the London International Festival of Early Music.
The Tudor Pull is inspired by a colourful pageant that takes place on the River Thames in full Tudor costume. Every year a flotilla of small traditional rowing boats follow the Queen’s Rowbarge, Gloriana, from Hampton Court to the Tower of London, and there to take part in a ceremony to present an ancient artefact, the ‘Stela’, to the Governor of the Tower. I wanted to invoke the excitement of the event, as well as have a sense of the ever-changing moods and pace of the river.’

Commissioned by LIFEM chairman Chris Butler and The Early Music Shop, The Tudor Pull is in three movements: Hampton Court; Kew; The Tower and marks the first LIFEM commission during the tenure of inaugural LIFEM artistic director Gill Graham who said:

‘I have known John as a composer with a brilliant facility to write original and memorable music for several years. The Tudor Pull is no exception to that and I look forward to hearing Fretwork do what they do best – brilliant performance all the way!’

The Tudor Pull will be filmed in a performance by Fretwork who will then programme subsequent live performances in their 2021 schedule. Richard Boothby of Fretwork said:

‘We’re really pleased to have this wonderful new piece from John Paul Jones. It’s an honour to be playing music from a composer with a such an illustrious career - who isn’t a fan of Led Zeppelin? I had not heard of the original Tudor Pull and John evokes the event with great flair and colour. We will enjoy playing it immensely.’

Background to the Tudor Pull

The Tudor Pull is an historical rowing event with much pageantry on the River Thames in which a Royal Barge delivers a stela (a piece of wooden water pipe in a special glass case) to the Governor of the Tower of London. The boat is accompanied by a flotilla of Thames Watermen’s Cutters which are rigged with flags and canopies and propelled by rowers in full ceremonial livery; they set off from the Royal Palace at Hampton Court with a procession to the water. The distance covered is around 25 miles and the party create a visual spectacle rarely seen on the modern river; after the delivery the stela is kept at the Tower until it’s sent back to Hampton Court for the following year.

The Tudor Pull will be hosted by Marquee TV and streamed from the LIFEM website,, at 7.00pm on Thursday 5th November.

For further information or interviews with Fretwork, John Paul Jones, Gill Graham or Chris Butler please contact


Faced with unprecedented challenges posed by COVID-19, we have been required to adapt and innovate to achieve LIFEM’s goals. This year we are pleased to welcome world- renowned concert artists and a global audience, to our first digital festival – LIFEM: Digital. To bring you all the usual events, as well as newly-devised content, LIFEM: Digital will run for a full week, from Thursday 5th to Wednesday 11th November, 2020. The event will continue to bring you live concerts from both leading artists and young performers in LIFEM’s Young Ensemble Competition. These concerts will be accompanied by 24-hour access to our Performers’ Platforms and our unique digital feature, the Virtual Exhibition.


In 2016, Fretwork celebrated its 30th anniversary. In these last three decades, they have explored the core repertory of great English consort music, from Taverner to Purcell, and made classic recordings against which others are judged.

In addition to this, Fretwork have become known as pioneers of contemporary music for viols, having commissioned over 40 new works. The list of composers is like the role call of the most prominent writers of our time: George Benjamin, Michael Nyman, Sir John Tavener, Gavin Bryars, Elvis Costello, Alexander Goehr, John Woolrich, Orlando Gough, Fabrice Fitch, Peter Sculthorpe, Sally Beamish, Tan Dun, Barry Guy, Andrew Keeling, Thea Musgrave, Simon Bainbridge, Poul Ruders, John Joubert, Duncan Druce & Nico Muhly.

John Paul Jones

A prolific session musician in the 1960s, John played, arranged and recorded with artists including Dusty Springfield, Tom Jones, The Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart and Cat Stevens. He was a founder member of Led Zeppelin and following his unparalleled career with them, he worked as a performer, arranger and producer for artists and groups including Diamanda Galas, REM, Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel and La Fura dels Baus. He released his debut solo album, Zooma, in 1999 followed by The Thunderthief (2001). Since 2004, his sonic explorations have also led him to perform as part of John Cage’s Musicircus at the Barbican under the direction of Stephen Montague, touring with bluegrass trio Nickel Creek, and working as co-composer and performer for Merce Cunningham’s Nearly Ninety.

In 2009 he co-founded the band Them Crooked Vultures, with Dave Grohl and Joshua Homme, releasing a universally acclaimed album and touring the world to sold-out venues. In 2011, John appeared and performed in Mark-Anthony Turnage's opera 'Anna Nicole’, at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden. In 2016 Jones finished writing his debut opera, The Ghost Sonata. John has made several guest appearances in recent years with acclaimed Norwegian free improvisation and avant-garde group Supersilent.

In 2017, John took to the stage with Anssi Karttunen and Magnus Lindberg as ‘Tres Coyotes’, and their debut fully improvised performance received a rapturous welcome in Helsinki. In 2019, John and Anssi Karttunen formed a duo called ‘Sons Of Chipotle’ featuring John on piano and electronics, and Anssi on ‘cello and electronics. 'Sons of Chipotle' performed to sold out venues in South Korea and Japan and were scheduled to appear in the USA. John has recently completed commissioned works for Swaledale Festival, and for LIFEM.