EditorialHave you renewed your membership? If not, you won’t be on the membership list or get your next Tamesis. Please save David the trouble of having to chase you! Peter Collier tells me that thirty-one people have booked for the baroque day so far. He is very short of violins and violas so do book if you play one of those. Only one oboe so far as well, and more keyboard players would be useful too. This doesn’t prevent other instruments and solo singers from booking - I was just asked to mention special requirements. It’s on Saturday 13th April and I hope to see a lot of you there. There are lots of bookings for Waltham Abbey but some more sackbuts and violins would be useful. I haven’t closed the bookings in any part yet, but will shortly. We’re still having trouble getting enough venues for our events. Where does your choir or orchestra rehearse? Please send the info (address, contact, suitability, cost if you know it) on an email to me at secretarytvemf.org. You’ll find enclosed a sponsorship form for Background Baroque’s latest Red Nose Day mini-marathon in aid of Comic Relief. We (Shelagh Aitken, Simon Hill, Elaine Mordaunt, Mary Anne Unrau and I) will be playing as many trio sonatas as we can in the space of two hours in St Michael’s church in Amersham on the Hill between 2.30 and 5pm on Wednesday 13th March. Our record is 27 in three hours (ten years ago) but we’re playing for only two hours this time as the church isn’t available until 2.30. We’ll aim for twenty, without repeats. You’re most welcome to come and listen for a bit, though I warn you it won’t be a fully rehearsed performance, but the main thing is to sponsor us. You can email me with your offer of sponsorship or send the form, but the easiest thing is to go to our page on the Red Nose Day website http://my.rednoseday.com/sponsor/backgroundbaroque where you can use a credit or debit card. If you decide to come and listen, the church is in the middle of the shops and cafés in Amersham on the Hill (70, Sycamore Road, HP6 5DR) and there is a nearby car park if you can’t find a space in the road. Some help with collection buckets and sonata counting would be useful too.
Chairman’s ChatThe committee of the Southern Early Music Forum has been giving thought to publicising the fora amongst the graduates emerging from conservatoires and university music departments. This mainly entails letting people know how and where to find us if they want to continue their (early) music making once they leave these establishments. It has long been a concern of mine that our membership seems to increase in age almost one year for every year that passes, so I feel we should be actively trying to attract young members. Of course young professional musicians may feel that we have little to offer them, and we might do better to target trainee teachers or indeed schoolchildren. I'm sure we must have members who could offer advice in this area and I would very much like to hear from them. I've been doing a lot of work on the new web site for the National Early Music Association at www.earlymusic.info. You can use it to make entries in the concerts and events diary or to add you name to the Early Music Register, derived from the Early Music Yearbook. I am trying to collect links to useful sources of downloadable sheet music and other resources, so do look at the Links sections and the Internet Resources section within it. You may think that a Google search does everything that you might want but when looking for music to play from you will simply find myriads of CDs and YouTube versions, so these links are quite useful and I would be glad to know of other good ones.
Renaissance Playing/Singing Day 2nd February 2013Another winter’s day, another gathering of enthusiastic TVEMF members and friends at Burnham Grammar School. David Fletcher managed to conjure 28 different combinations of instruments and voices to keep us stimulated through the four sessions of the day. A great amount of music was available from David and people also brought music they wanted to play. Versatility was sometimes called for when people changed from wind instrument to stringed instrument to voice in order to match the range of the parts presented to them. As a non-playing singer my hope was to repeat the experience of singing with a group of sackbuts (consort? choir? herd?); a warm and burnished sound which goes so well with a male voice. Sadly for me, it seems that sackbut players are in as much demand as tenor singers, and only one sackbut player joined us at Burnham. But that one was Audrey Turner, with whom I have made beautiful music before. Audrey and I again found ourselves moving together in thirds, a delicious harmonic experience I shall savour for some time. My share of the 28 ensemble combinations was: 1. 2 female singers, 1 male singer, 1 viol, 1 sackbut 2. 1 female singer, 1 male singer, 2 recorders, 2 viols 3. 2 male singers, 2 recorders, 1 sackbut 4. 4 bass singers The last combination resulted from a dilemma: an increased number of bass singers with no tenors. Who were presumably busy being celebrated at the Tenor & Sackbut Festival somewhere. David’s solution was to give the basses a session to themselves with a piece he found called “Calami Sonum Ferentes” by Cipriano de Rore for four basses. Now one must assume that when this piece of counterpoint was written circa 1555 Cipriano had particular singers in mind, and that they actually sang the music. If I sound incredulous that’s because Calami Sonum Ferentes proved to be one of the most difficult pieces of music I have tried to sing in a long time. Up there with the Stravinsky Mass (1948). Cipriano’s piece is so relentlessly chromatic and densely contrapuntal that we four able singers, after an hour’s hard work, were relieved to find a couple of brief homophonic passages. Which we repeated several times to reassure ourselves that we still had the ability to make music. Those wishing to investigate this piece further can find a performance on YouTube by four serious men in Antwerp. They have a conductor who works furiously to hold it together. Brian O’Hagan sent me a really long article about churches in London. Not all that much of it was about early music, or even music at all, so I’m afraid I’ve had to edit out a lot of it (sorry Brian!). I’ve left in some of the non-musical references so that you can get the flavour of the original, and if you would like to read the whole thing I’m sure Brian will be pleased to send it to you.
How to live in London and enjoy music in churches
but manage to avoid the English Cathedral Sound
Opportunities to Make MusicBenslow still has spaces for a few singers and “people who can contribute melody lines and drones on instruments medieval and not” for Sara Stowe’s course on 17th to 19th May - Troubadours, Trobairitz & Meistersinger.
Run by Singers has vacancies, not necessarily in all voices, for its courses in Ely, Bury St Edmunds, Dublin, Gozo and Budapest. Contact details are in the Events list.
We have, alas, lost Michael Procter but some of his courses are going on. Kai Schulse-Forster who used to run courses with Michael is directing a weekend course on Lassus for singers from March 15-17 in Berlin. For more information email him at schufogmx.de The Mondaye Academy, near Bayeux in Normandy, is continuing under the direction of Edzard Burchards, with Claudia Procter’s course for painters and a new course for teenage instrumentalists running at the same time. There are optional French lessons in the morning. Edzard took over Michael’s Venice course which I attended last year, and I can recommend his conducting. The course runs from 11th to 18th August and will concentrate on the music of Isaac in the mornings and a variety of composers in the afternoons. For more information email Edzard mailedzardburchards.de Neil Edington is organising what was Michael’s regular liturgical weekend in Cambridge from13th to 15th September. Edward Wickham will direct the music. The objective is to study renaissance settings for the celebration of the eucharist and to sing them in context on Sunday morning in St Catharines College Chapel, where Dr Wickham is both a Fellow and Director of Music. He has chosen the ‘Cuides vous que Dieu’ Missa by Pierre de Manchicourt (c.1510-1564), which is based on a chanson by Richafort. The motet will be the lovely Ave Virgo Sanctissima by Guerrero (c1528 -1599). Both are scored SSATB. The course will be limited to around 30 singers because of the Chapel size and Dr Wickham will determine balance and numbers. Contact neiled11btinternet.com for more information.
You will find with this mailing a leaflet for the Baroque week which I always attend. I was sorry when it moved from Oxford last year, but the countryside around Ardingly was so attractive that I really didn’t miss Oxford too much. We are assured that any issues with the choice (or lack of) of food will have been resolved this year and we will have our own tables in the dining room. (In case you’re put off by that, the problem was that we got a choice of curries, or a choice of burgers, but no alternatives apart from similar things for vegetarians. Peter will be inspecting the menus in advance to make sure this doesn’t happen again, and I don’t expect that burgers will feature at all!) The course advertises itself as being for people playing at 415 and 440 but in practice it’s mainly at 415 these days. It’s handy to have 440 instruments too, and I took the opportunity to play my curtal in a couple of sessions last year. The first day is like one of the TVEMF baroque days, with everything organised for you, but after that you choose the people you play with and the music from Peter Collier’s immense library. Staff are on hand to help you with this and tutor the groups. In the evening there are optional choir and orchestra sessions, a tutors’ concert and a final evening course concert and party, and for early risers there are lectures straight after breakfast.
News of Members’ ActivitiesTVEMF member Paul Smith writes that the all-male Cambridge group De Profundis (www.deprofundis.org.uk) are singing the Victoria Officium Defunctorum, along with motets by Victoria and Lobo, in St John's College Chapel Cambridge at 7.30pm on the 20th of April, directed by David Skinner. Paul will be one of the altos. Tickets available from the Cambridge ADC Box Office on 01223 300085 or boxofficeadctheatre.com (see back page). Paul is also putting on a 40th birthday concert at 8pm on Sunday August 18th in St Peter's Church, St Albans (www.stpeterschurch.uk.com) of a variety of mostly little known choral masterpieces from the 17th and 18th century, bracketed by Vaughan Williams' Serenade to Music and Purcell's My beloved spake, but also including a wide range of music from John Blow's majestic God spake sometime in visions to a Venetian madrigal about fish. The hand-picked choir includes members of the Monteverdi Choir, the King's Consort, Westminster Cathedral Choir, the National Youth Choir, the Royal College of Music and St George's Chapel Windsor. It will be directed by Nicholas Robinson. Contact Paul for tickets (£10 per person, seating first come first served) countertenorgmail.com.
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