Tamesis Issue 251 September 2015


I hope you all had a lovely musical summer, as I did. I went to the Beauchamp renaissance week (reviewed by Robert Johnson below) and the Ardingly baroque week, and really enjoyed them both. I hope there will be a review of Ardingly in the next issue.

Hugh Rosenbaum tells me that Emma Murphy’s Venetian workshop in October is full. If you have managed to get a place I’d recommend taking a small torch in case you find yourself in a dark corner as I did last time I was there for a workshop, but with luck they will have replaced the missing bulbs by now. Nicola Wilson-Smith still has room for another tenor and a couple of altos and high sopranos at the Sheppard workshop. If you’re going to this one, please check that you paid the correct amount as we’re having to charge slightly more for it.

There are forms for the November 8th baroque chamber music day and the Christmas event in this mailing. They both come to me but please be sure to use two separate cheques. The baroque day has been moved to Sunday to avoid sharing the building with the children’s Saturday school. It was great to have so many singers at Ardingly this year and more would be welcome at the baroque day too as instrumentalists love to play obbligato parts with singers (though you must be able to hold a part on your own and be a good sight-reader). I hope the day doesn’t clash with any orchestra concerts so that we can have a good number of strings and do some Brandenburg concertos and other larger works. I’ve recently acquired the orchestral parts for Handel’s Messiah which some people might like to dip into. Singers please bring a score if that appeals to you.

And finally, many congratulations to David Butler and Vivien Price who got married in August.

Victoria Helby

Chairman’s Chat

The National Early Music Association has been digitising back-numbers of its Early Music Performer journal and they are now available for download at
www.earlymusic.info/Performer.php. Because they are mostly scans they are quite bulky and some have been split into sections to keep file size down. Optical character recognition has been used to capture the text and although pretty good, there are some errors – for example Anthony Rowland-Jones has come out as Rouiland-Fones in one place. There are some excellent articles and I particularly recommend an article on viol sizes in issue 16 by the late John Catch, a TVEMF member for many years.

On the subject of Internet resources I should mention that there are a number of Facebook groups relevant to early music. Firstly of course there is the TVEMF group www.facebook.com/groups/167039029092/ but there is the Early Music group www.facebook.com/groups/2204637648/, the Early Music Events group
www.facebook.com/groups/early.music.events.uk/ and my favourite, the Cornetto - Zink - Cornet à bouquin group www.facebook.com/groups/711332708925479/, which has links to some fine music, not just for cornett.

I'm not really a Facebook enthusiast and getting notification of pictures and videos posted by my friend Wayne, who is playing and singing with Philip Thorby in Venice as I write this, is an exquisite form of torture. Still we can all enjoy the sounds of Venice on October 10th at the TVEMF workshop with Emma Murphy and on September 26th we can sample the very different sound world of John Sheppard, born some 500 years ago.

David Fletcher

Letter to the Editor

Dear Ms. Helby,

Might I suggest there may be a good number of our fellow early music enthusiasts who would enjoy listening to the Early Music (Oude Muziek) stream on the internet, from the website www.concertzender.nl. The site furnishes early music 24-hours-per-day, without any advertisements, featuring consistently excellent performances, in their entirety, often of obscure and intriguing compositions and composers.

The website offers 7 broad categories of music. “Early Music” is subdivided (somewhat confusingly) into “Early Music” (generally, 1400-1780 or so), “Gregorian Chant”, and “Bach Ad Infinitum.” I expect many listeners will be as surprised as I am at the number of outstanding recordings with cornetto! The brilliant chief programmer, though not I believe ever a presenter, is Irene Stolp.

It is a mystery to me how broadcasts of this excellence can survive with no visible means of support. We should enjoy it while we can.

Faithfully yours,

Kenneth Hoffman
TVEMF Member, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


Sunday 6th December 2015 at 5.15 approx.
(after the Christmas workshop in Amersham)
1. Apologies for absence
2. Approval of the minutes of last meeting
3. Chairman's report
4. Secretary's report
5. Treasurer's report
6. Election of officers and committee
7. Any other business

Spanish Vespers, Peter Syrus

Around 40 of us gathered on 11 July at Ickenham United Reformed Church to sing and play music by Victoria, Velasco, Guerrero and Vivanco. At the start of the day, Peter gave participants a helpful handout he had prepared beforehand which provided some background on the works we were about to sing and play.

We were promised a musical feast for the day of double-choir psalm settings by Guerrero and Velasco, simple hymns by Victoria, a Magnificat by Vivanco, instrumental processionals and plainchant antiphons – a ‘Salve Regina’ by Padilla. A lot to cover in a single day and as it turned out we ran out of time to cover everything.

We divided into two choirs, each comprising singers and an assortment of instruments, including cornets, sackbuts and recorders and, for one piece, shawms. I was apprehensive about the latter as I consider them strictly outdoor instruments, but I needn't have been, as on this occasion they were unobtrusive, or quiet even.

Achieving a balance between voices and instruments and the two choirs proved trickier than usual, largely because of a shortage of sopranos (a first for TVEMF?!) and the relatively high tessitura of some of the pieces.

In practice, there was no time to sing more than one Victoria hymn, which was far from simple, but very beautiful, as I think Victoria's music generally is, and I would have liked to have sung another.

The highlight of the day for me was Vivanco's Magnificat. I sang this with my choir in June and so was very much looking forward to singing it again as the piece contains unusual but sumptuous harmonies which makes it harder to sing than it appears to be but worth the effort.

I like Peter's approach of explaining the pieces we are singing, the context in which they were composed and performed, and how to approach them. However, as well as a better balance of instruments and players, the day would have benefited from some singers paying more attention to our conductor.

Thanks to Peter and Jeff for the opportunity to sing and play this magnificent repertoire which I hope we can revisit again soon.

Kate Gordon

Selene Webb (Mills) memorial service in Cambridge

On Sunday July 19 I was privileged, with other members of TVEMF, to take part in the concert in memory of Selene Mills, who died a year ago. It was organised by her husband Nick Webb, and all the profits went to Cambridge Early Music, the foundation of which was her great achievement.

The Fairhaven Singers performed music by the contemporary composer Carl Rütti, one piece being a specially commissioned work in Selene's memory: Lighten our Darkness. Also taking part were members of the Intrepid Academy and Philomel, who played music by Frescobaldi and Caccini. The Parley of Instruments chose two "short but intense expressions of grief" by composers who were among Selene's favourites - Monteverdi and Bach, ending with the moving Sinfonia from Cantata 12 - "Weinen, Klagen, Zorgen, Zagen".
It was a great honour that the former members of the Hilliard Ensemble came together to remember Selene. They sang three 12th century hymns of St Godric, and then, superbly and very movingly, the first part of Tallis' Lamentations.

Trinity College Chapel was perhaps half filled with performers, but it seemed that the audience took up the entire remaining space, spilling over into the antechapel too.

The second half of the concert was taken up with a performance of Handel's Dixit Dominus, one of Selene's favourite works. Philip Thorby was the inspiring conductor - we had rehearsed with him all the afternoon, and caught some of his fervour. The orchestra, composed of professional players, was of the highest calibre, and the young soloists were brilliant.

These words by Selene were printed in Tamesis after her death, but are equally relevant to this wonderful concert in her memory -

"There is no more precious gift than making music together, and I have based my life's work on this principle."

Anna Gray

John Playford Weekend
Benslow Music, Hitchin, August, 2015

I had forgotten how scary it can be to go on a new course where you don`t know anyone. Scary but good, good to meet new people and try out new disciplines. I’ve always liked the Playford tunes, we often play them at community events – between scenes in Shakespeare productions or as background music for local arts exhibitions. The idea of playing them for 2 and a half days at Benslow Music was rather daunting, I thought I’d be bored. How wrong I was.

Tutors were Paul Hutchinson and Karen Wimhurst, both well known in the folk world, courses at Halsway Manor, Cecil Sharp House and in many folk festivals in the UK and abroad.

There were nine of us on the course, playing a multitude and a variety of instruments – from racket to saxophone with recorder, flute, violin, clarinet, Northumberland pipes, melodeon, accordion in between.

We started by playing the basic tunes, then how to make them more danceable by using articulation, phrasing, dynamics. We moved on to using the tune as a template on which to improvise. We could use the root of the chord sustained, play the root and change the rhythm, play through the triad, use two notes of the chord but where in the bar. Add to this the different textures created by the instruments and you could see how not boring it was when we moved into small groups to make arrangements.

Val Campion, TVEMF member, Trustee of Benslow and local resident, arranged for local dancers to come in on Sunday so that we could play for them, both tutti and in small groups. A great time was had by all.

Norma Herdson

Greenwich Early Music Festival and Exhibition
12th to 14th November

Another year has gone round and it’s time to recruit volunteers to help on the forum stand at Greenwich. The Early Music Shop are still going to give us free passes for you but they need to have the names for them by mid-October, so please could you decide as soon as possible if you will be able to help. They don’t need to know who is helping on which day, but although I won’t be drawing up a rota until much nearer the event it would still be helpful for me to know when you’re available as soon as you know yourself. The major concerts are listed in Tamesis and there is more information on their web site www.earlymusicfestival.com. We shall need a lot of volunteers to cover the three days but it’s always an enjoyable occasion, with a chance to go to lots of concerts, demonstrations and masterclasses, try out instruments and meet your friends. Please email me (Victoria) at secretary*tvemf.org with a range of times when you can help.

Beauchamp Early Music Week 2015
26 July – 1 August

For the second year running, the course formerly known as ‘Beauchamp’ met at Dene Magna School in Mitcheldean under the auspices of Gloucester Academy of Music who had taken it over some time ago before Alan Lumsden’s retirement. About forty participants assembled for another residential week of polychoral music-making, among them many of the usual suspects including a visitor from the United States and one from the Netherlands. As always, there were several tents and camper vans dotted about, taking advantage of the pretty Forest of Dean surroundings and the blissful tranquillity of the rural site, although the weather was less than summery. Jo and her staff were on hand in the kitchen to provide us with three delicious meals a day throughout the week in the school hall, the classrooms in the mathematics block were available for smaller groups, and we had access to the comfortable armchairs in the staff room for those who, like me, felt the need for an afternoon rest. Even the noises of a tree and a wall being removed and new asphalt being laid outside the building didn’t disturb our rehearsal arrangements. The first piece of news we heard was that two of our friends Vivien and David had become engaged as a result of meeting on the course previously and their marriage was to take place shortly!

This year the course title was ‘The Three Marys’: Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the wife of Clopas, who stood at the foot of the Cross. This theme has inspired countless masterpieces from 16th and 17th century composers, and Philip Thorby and David Hatcher had selected some large-scale works by composers such as Giovanni Gabrieli, Merulo, Naldi, Padovano, Senfl, Lassus and Bassano, who was perhaps the ‘find’ of the week with his settings of Ave regina caelorum and Sancta et immaculata virginitas. In addition to the massed forces required for these works, unaccompanied choral pieces such as the extended Maria Magdalene by Andrea Gabrieli and a few instrumental pieces by such as Uccellini, Schütz and Willaert were prepared. The relevant parts of Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 also featured.

As before, a flipchart appeared several times a day with the name of the next pieces to be studied and a list of who plays (or sings) which part. The efficiency of this process was evident, and it wasn’t long before I spotted my name put down to sing a part doubled by an instrument in one of the choirs, which involves counting through long rests, coping with sudden changes of metre and finding the next pitch from the context.
    It is challenging to hold one’s own against the solidarity of the sackbuts, the
    comradeship of the cornetts and the community of the curtals. One could only marvel at
    the ability of the tutors to progress a rehearsal even though the standard of the singers
    was not always equal to that of the seasoned instrumentalists. Some firmer tone from
    the sopranos and a few additional men’s voices would have been desirable. Students
    are welcome to join the course, and can take advantages of the bursaries offered.
    Once again it had been decided that there would be no concert at the end of the course.
    At various points the groups came together in the hall to present to the assembled
    company the music they had just been rehearsing. This avoids the need to pack up
    instruments and stands and transport them elsewhere, as well as saving time and
    maintaining the continuity of the week.
    We stand in awe of Philip and David for their provision of a constant stream of highly
    enjoyable and interesting music to play and sing, and their hard-driven rehearsal
    technique which ensures that each person present feels drawn deeply into this gorgeous
    sound-world. Philip in particular spent much time in explaining on a bar-by-bar basis
    why he thinks these works are so fine and why he admires their composers so much.
    We also thank organiser Anne Ingram from GAM and her new assistant Jane who
    attended all week, nor must we forget Steve Hornung who provided the informal bar.
    Next year’s course dates are 24th to 30th July, with substantial discount for booking
    before the end of January, so start getting your sight-reading up to scratch now!
    Robert Johnson
    This article first appeared in the EEMF newsletter which Robert edits.

Opportunities to make music

    On Sunday 29th November TVEMF member is putting on another of her Thames Valley
    Baroque workshops at Bourne End near Maidenhead. This one is for orchestra only,
    entitled “A Cornucopia of Christmas Concerti”, with works by Manfredini, Pez, Torelli and
    possibly Corelli. Contact Norma for more information and links to download the music
    from Petrucci. nherdson*btinternet.com

Harpsichord tuition

available from teacher with over 18 years experience.
Whether you are looking to pass exams, diplomas,
improve your continuo playing, or just want to learn for fun,
lessons are designed to suit individual needs.

Please call Katharine May (GRSM Hons, ARCM) on 01628 783272 or email

km*katharinemay.co.uk (www.katharinemay.co.uk)

Gresham College lectures

Professor Christopher Page is giving a series of lectures on medieval music at St Sepulchre’s church, London EC1A 2DQ where we often hold our workshops. The first one is on Thursday 8th October at 1pm. You can find more details and a list of future lectures on the Gresham College web site http://www.gresham.ac.uk/lectures-and-events. They are a little difficult to find – the easiest way seems to be to search under the speaker’s name for this year and next year.

Handel House

www.handelhouse.org/whats-on To book tickets please call the booking line on 020 7399 1953. September concerts were in the July Tamesis.


    Thursday 1 October, 6.30-7.30pm A Tribute to King Louis
Marie van Rhijn (harpsichord) explores music by Marin Marais and works written during Louis XIV’s reign until 1715. Marais’ collaboration with Louis Lully created some sumptuous pieces originally composed for viol and continuo that Marie has transcribed for harpsichord and theorbo. She will be joined by Johan Lovfing (theorbo) for these.
    Thursday 8 October, 6.30-7.30pm Raging Roland
The 16th century poem Orlando Furioso inspired Handel’s operas Orlando, Ariodante and Alcina, as well as works by Francesca Caccini, Rossi, Vivaldi, Lully and Rameau. Cathy Bell (mezzo-soprano) explores some of the musical and literary descendants of Ariosto’s epic poem, and looks at why it exerted such a wide influence on later culture. Cathy will be joined by harpsichordist Marie van Rhijn.

    Tuesday 13 October, 6.30-7.30pm BHS: Musical Inspiration
Johann Sebastian Bach was inspired by many great composers and in turn became the source of inspiration for composers during and after his lifetime. Alina Ratkowska (harpsichord) performs works by Georg Böhm, Johann Adam Reincken, Dietrich Buxtehude and Johann Jakob Froberger.

    Thursday 15 October, 6.30-7.30pm The Secret Garden
Harpsichordist Katarzyna Kowalik explores some of the most mysterious titles in the harpsichord repertoire and pieces inspired by nature that transports one to the most imaginative baroque ‘Jardin secret’ or ‘secret gardens’.

    Thursday 22 October, 6.30-7.30pm Élégance
Eva Caballero (flute) and Nathaniel Mander (harpsichord) present an elegant programme of fashionable sonatas for flute and harpsichord demonstrating that their subtle instruments often inspired composers and performers alike in the 18th century.
    Sunday 25 October, 2-3.30pm Best of Friends
Julian Perkins (Harpsichord) and Andrew Radley (counter tenor) will present a lecture-recital
    that explores the friendship between Handel and Telemann. Excerpts include
Telemann’s Moralische Kantaten.

    Thursday 29 October, 6.30-7.30pm Suites of 1722
Mutsuko Miwa (harpsichord) will perform excerpts from JS Bach’s French Suites alongside suites written by Couperin and Rameau all of which were written in 1722.
    Friday 30 October, 7.30-9pm Museums at Night: Handel by Candle
Cathy Bell (mezzo-soprano) will deliver a lecture-recital that explores light in the 18th century. Going to the opera, a night-time activity, involved candles to not only light the stage but also the journey to and from the opera house. Cathy will sing examples from a selection of Handel operas with George Ross (cello) and Marie van Rhijn (harpsichord) to illuminate this forgotten experience.


    Thursday 5 November, 6.30-7.30pm Soli Deo Gloria
JS Bach created a compositional novelty with the beautiful and intimate sonatas for violin & obbligato harpsichord. Julia Kuhn (violin) and David Wright (hpschd) will explore the wide range of emotions and contrapuntal perfection demonstrated in his music.
    Tuesday 10 November, 6.30-7.30pm BHS: Triple Bill
Harpsichordist Tolga Atalay Ün will present a programme including much loved works by Byrd, Duphly and JS Bach.

    Thursday 12 November, 6.30-7.30pm Cosmopolitan Baroque
Harmonia Artificiosa present a programme that contrasts Italian, Austrian and German repertoire from the early and high Baroque. Harmonia Artificiosa are Elicia Silverstein (violin) and John McKean (harpsichord).

    Thursday 19 November, 6.30-7.30pm CiR Series: Tre Voci featuring Edwin Hillier
Composer-in-Residence Apprentice Edwin Hillier collaborates with Tre Voci cello ensemble who specialise in performing transcriptions of medieval and renaissance vocal music, new music and improvisation. The programme will include a new piece by Edwin.
    Sunday 22 November 2015, 2-3pm CiR Series: The Hermes Experiment
With their unique instrumentation and innovative approach to performance, The Hermes Experiment (soprano, clarinet, double bass and harp) will perform works from Handel’s time to the present day, including a new work by Dublin-based composer, Elis Czerniak.
    Thursday 26 November, 6.30-7.30pm CiR Series: rarescale
rarescale’s Carla Rees (alto/bass flute) and Michael Oliva (electronics) lead a unique concert of contemporary and baroque music including a chance to hear baroque flute d’amour with electronics. They will also perform a new work by Chinese-Swedish composer, Weiwei Jin.

    Saturday 28 November, 2-3pm Exhibition Lecture
In an illustrated lecture Ellen Harris, author of George Frideric Handel: A Life With Friends, delves further into the lives of Handel’s friends. The exhibition is a culmination of her work.

    Sunday 29 November, 2-3pm CiR Series: explorensemble
London-based new music group, explorensemble, perform a programme that will include works by European composers Romitelli and Stockhausen and a new commission from composer Oliver Christophe Leith.


Handel: A Life With Friends Wednesday 1 July 2015 – Sunday 10 January 2016 What was it like to live next to the great composer Handel? Who would call at his house? Who did he visit? In this exhibition, Handel scholar Ellen Harris explores the composer’s domestic life at 25 Brook Street and the many friends and neighbours who visited him at the new, fashionable residential district called ‘May Fair’. With important loans from national, local and private collections, the exhibition will offer a rare glimpse into the public and private lives of some of Handel’s closest friends.

Exhibition Talks at 3pm are delivered by volunteers and are suitable for all levels of knowledge. They last between 15-20 minutes and will take place on the last Saturday of each month: 26 September, 31 October and 19 December.

Composer-in-Residence Installation
During the CiR Series (19-29 November), an installation created by Edwin Hillier will be on display in Handel’s Bedroom. Taking as its starting point three different composers (Handel, Bach and Scarlatti), the work will explore the interaction of three distinct and ever changing strands of music. Making use of multiple sound sources, visitors can move freely around the room, continually shifting their perspective.

Due to building work taking place at the museum the public entrance is now at the front of the house at No.25 Brook Street. There is currently no lift access or toilets within the building, but visitors will have the opportunity to use Handel’s original staircase.

Opening hours Tuesday-Saturday 10am-6pm (8pm on Thursday), Sunday 12pm-6pm. Last admission 30 minutes before closing. Closed on Mondays and Bank Holidays