Tamesis Issue 207 December 2008

Editorial

This looks like quite a big Tamesis, but a lot of it is taken up with the minutes of the 2007 TVEMF AGM. The only article is by Beresford King-Smith of the Midlands Early Music Forum about the NEMA yearbook. I find this absolutely essential, if only for its list of contact addresses and phone numbers, but in fact it’s useful for its lists of players and makers and there are interesting articles too. I do need more articles and reviews for Tamesis, so please get writing.

Inside the back cover you will a crossword compiled by Celeste E L Voyce (lovely name!) which originally appeared in the South West Early Music Forum newsletter. I’m most grateful to their newsletter editor, Heather Gibbard, for letting me reproduce it here. Entries received by January 1st will be put into a hat (or something) and the first correct one drawn out will receive a year’s free membership to TVEMF. Don’t let that cause you to postpone sending David your membership renewal, as the winner will have their money refunded. It’s not an impossible crossword – I managed to do it before I asked for permission to use it – so do have a go.

Included amongst the five inserts this month you will find a form for the Nottingham Interforum residential weekend at Nottingham University. This is only the second ever interforum event, and commemorates the 250th anniversary year of Handel’s death. It will be open to singers (the choir has a major role, with soloists drawn from the choir) and baroque instruments at A=415. I heard very good reports of the first interforum event, so I booked at once and hope to see many of you there. I see that bookings before the end of this year will receive an early-booking discount.

I rather wish I’d applied the TVEMF version of this (an increased charge for late bookers) to the Christmas event this Saturday as I’ve never had so many late bookings before. To be fair, some of them are from people who only heard about the event recently from their friends and relations, but it does help us if you can get your booking forms in as soon as possible. And several events lately have been oversubscribed. You’ll see from the form for the Alistair Dixon workshop in February that we have decided to enforce our policy of not refunding money to people who simply don’t turn up for a workshop, to avoid having empty spaces and unbalanced forces at oversubscribed events. Anyway, I’m looking forward to seeing over a hundred of you on Sunday – this must be a record turn-out.

We’ve had a proposal from Horse’s Brawl for a workshop and we would like to know whether it would be likely to attract enough TVEMF members to make it financially viable. “Laura Cannell and Adrian Lever lead a day’s practical music-making on their original take on early music, with roots in renaissance, medieval, baroque and contemporary folk traditions,” is how they describe it. They did a day for NEEMF, who tell us that the feedback on the day was very good - they distributed forms and had a highly positive response. “ The actual style was that they taught us a simple tune by ear and then we all mucked it around in various ways; then we did another one, and so on. They're very impressive players and quite inventive muckers-around, I mean improvisers. Do your lot enjoy that sort of thing? That might be the key question.” If that might be your kind of thing, or you have friends in the folk world who might enjoy it, please send an email to secretary*tvemf.org and we’ll get back to Horse’s Brawl and arrange a date. The workshop would be open to players of soft winds, strings and plucked instruments. I saw Horse’s Brawl performing at the Greenwich Early Music Festival with Philip Thorby, and I think it could be rather fun.

Jeff Gill is organising a workshop with Peter Syrus on Festa next year, and we hope to have a date for that soon. Our programme is getting quite full in the first few months of the year, but we still welcome suggestions for May onwards.

This is the last Tamesis before Christmas (and don’t forget that there won’t be on in January) so let me take this opportunity to wish everyone a very happy Christmas and new year.

Victoria Helby



Chairman’s Chat

The Baroque Chamber Music Day was its usual success, thanks to rapid thinking by Victoria Helby who managed to reorganise the groups on the fly to take account of absent participants. A heterogeneous group of players and singers were divided into compatible groups and then produced some lovely music. If you think sudoku is hard, you should try organising one of these days!

The more I look as our web site and at those of other Fora I realise what a good job Linda Hill made of designing ours and how much work went into maintaining it. I'm a computer programmer who gets bored easily, so I would rather spend several days writing a program than perform a boring task that would only take a few hours a month. Thus I have developed a program which process the text of Tamesis and creates web pages for the concerts and events lists and (eventually) extracts the useful material from the body of the magazine for archival purposes. With this in mind, those who submit items for Tamesis should be aware that they may eventually find their way on to our web site, so should say if they do not wish this to happen. Email addresses will be camouflaged to prevent them being picked up by web- crawlers, and other sensitive information will be removed.

When I was updating the links to other sites it occurred to me that it might be nice to offer links to the web sites of members of the Forum or their performing groups. Anyone who would like to be included in the list of links should send me an email (address on front cover). In return, perhaps they would care to link back to the TVEMF site. I do not promise to include all links I receive as they will need to be to pages with significant early music content and if there are too many I will have to prune the list.

David Fletcher



Minutes of the 2007 AGM held on December 9th 2007

1. Apologies for absence These were received from Wayne Plummer, Simon Pickard and Jim Wills.

2. Approval of the Minutes of the last meeting The minutes of the 2006 AGM were approved, proposed by Ken Moore, seconded by Frances Whitfield.

3. Chairman's Report In terms of number of events this was our most productive year yet, even if it was partly due to a few shared workshops. The number of members is down to 366 from 383 last year but I would attribute this to random fluctuation rather than a trend. Attendance at events has been good, sometimes embarrassingly so. The breakdown is: 153 recorders, 72 viols, 60 other strings, over 50 keyboards, 10 cornetts, 15 sackbuts and 275 singers.

Events in the last 12 months:

Florentine Intermedii with Philip Thorby
Music by Rogier with Sally Dunkley
Music by Cipriano da Rore with Peter Syrus
Viol consort day with Sarah Mead
Music by Heironymus Praetorius with Andrew Carwood
Renaissance consort day with David Fletcher
Baroque chamber music day with Peter Collier (Jointly with Oxford Baroque week)
33-part Magnificat by Giovanni Gabrieli with Philip Thorby (jointly with EEMF)
A mass in a liturgical setting with Michael Procter
Richafort's tribute to Josquin with John Milsom
Palestrina & his contemporaries with Alan Lumsden (part of the Wooburn Festival)
Baroque chamber music day with Victoria Helby
Michael Praetorius says... with Philip Thorby (jointly with NEMA)

We have been very fortunate that three of the members who joined the committee when the Thames Valley Forum began in 1988 are still serving, thus providing continuity and reliability. Our secretary, Victoria Helby, does a brilliant job in compiling concerts and events lists, editing Tamesis and still finds time to organising events - I don't know what we would do without her. Hazel Fenton has been Treasurer all that time and has done that vital job efficiently with the minimum of fuss. She wanted to step down last year but carried on, pending our finding a replacement, but is definitely retiring at the end of this year. Catharine Lorigan had offered to take over but her husband has been posted overseas so this will not be possible. We therefore still require to find a replacement treasurer.

We also need to find some new committee members as Jill Caudle has too many other commitments these days, and Johanna Renouf, who has been very supportive over the years, is moving back to the USA in the summer - we wish her well and hope she finds plenty of music there. We do most of our business by email and members can do as much as they feel able to do. Of course non-committee members organise events - in particular I'm grateful to Jenny Gowing, Diana Porteus and Mary and Michael Raynor for their efforts this year. We must also thank regulars Johanna Renouf, Neil Edington and Jeff Gill as well as Victoria of course. Our web site is a useful source of information and much appreciated, thanks to Linda Hill who performs the perpetual task of keeping it up to date.

David Fletcher

4. Secretary’s Report

2007 has been a busy year. We’ve had a good selection of events, at least one every month except during the summer holidays. These have included one in conjunction with a local festival, one organised by the Friends of the Oxford Baroque Week, a joint event with the Eastern Early Music Forum at Waltham Abbey and this year it was also our turn to host the National Early Music Association Day in London. In November we ran a stand at the Greenwich Early Music Festival and Exhibition. Although all this has involved quite a lot of work by individual events organisers, we’re very lucky that so many Forum members are willing to organise events without actually being on the committee. We’re very grateful to them. We do need people to serve on the committee officially, however, because one of our jobs is to be trustees of the charity, though we are lucky to have Don Gill whose sole job as a committee member is to look after this side of things. Don’t be afraid that joining the committee will involve you in time-consuming meetings - we have once again managed to run the Forum this year by email without having a single committee meeting apart from informal ones at events such as this one.

Victoria Helby

5. Treasurer’s Report for 2006

The Thames Valley Early Music forum has had another successful year in 2006. 10 events (Jan to Dec) 7 of which made a profit or broke even, while only 3 incurred a loss: over the year a profit of £12.39. Our large administration profit of £501.51 is due to our large membership, and selling advertising space in Tamesis, while keeping our overheads down to a minimum. Our pricing policy aims to make the events self-financing, so if rents and conductors fees increase, so does the cost of attending an event. But at present there is still no need to increase the price of membership, which covers insurance, administration and the costs of printing. This membership cost has remained the same for about 16 years! Can I remind you that we do not pay in cheques until after an event, and if you let us know that you are unable to come we destroy the cheque. However, if you simply do not turn up we are very tempted to keep your money.

The Exhibition at Greenwich is less clear cut. It costs us at least £100, depending on the generous donations from other forums and NEMA, but we do get new members every year, and the forum members who volunteer to man the stand get the perk of free entry to the exhibition. The committee take the view that on balance it is worth doing, as long as enough helpers can be found.

As you all know I have had a difficult year personally, and I have been treasurer of the Forum for 19 years, and am retiring as at the end of the year. I had to learn the job from scratch, and have greatly enjoyed it, but feel it is time for someone else to have a go. I propose Jim Wills as our future treasurer, but as he is not here we cannot formally elect him. Perhaps we could agree in principle and tell him next week!

Hazel Fenton

The Treasurer added that the cost of tutors and halls was going up, so workshop fees would have to go up. Acceptance of her report was proposed by Jane Bonner, seconded by Penny Vinson.

6. Election of Officers and Committee

The Chairman (David Fletcher) and Secretary (Victoria Helby) and the remaining members of the committee were re-elected. Hazel Fenton proposed Jim W ills for the post of Treasurer, seconded by David Fletcher. Hazel Fenton was re-elected to the committee as an ordinary member (proposed by David Fletcher, seconded by Victoria Helby). Sarah Young was elected to the committee (proposed by Jane Bonner, seconded by Jenny Gowing).

7. Any other business

Fiona Weir thanked the committee for their work during the year.

Hazel Fenton was made an honorary life member (proposed by David Fletcher, seconded by Victoria Helby).



NEMA's Early Music Yearbook & Performers Directory, 2009

The title has grown longer and the book somewhat fatter this year. The cover's colour-scheme, too, is unfamiliar – a purple so dark ('aubergine', perhaps?) that it almost blends with the black title-area.

The reason for the book's enlargement is that, as you may know, the Arts Council took a decision last year to axe its annual grant to the Early Music Network, which consequently folded; Keith Bennett supplies an article about this in the Yearbook's Editorial section. This is not the place to ask whether the Network had really brought about its own demise, though a case could possibly be made for taking such a view.

At all events, we now have a larger and – to many, I should think – an even more useful Yearbook, for it now incorporates (though in a smaller format than before) 120 pages of the 'Performers Directory' which the Network used to publish. For the sake of those performing groups there represented, one must hope that NEMA will find a way to get its new-look Yearbook into the hands of many of those promoters who used to receive the Network's glossy volume.

But, as ever, the most interesting part of the Yearbook to most readers will be the Editorial section at the beginning – this varies from year to year, mainly in order to catch up with composer-anniversaries and suchlike. The 2009 Editorial is a few pages short of its predecessor, but it includes several 'goodies': Christopher Hogwood (NEMA's President) on Handel (d.1759); Andrew Woolley on the keyboard music of Henry Purcell (b.1659?); Martin Morell and Michael Procter on the life and work of Giovanni Croce (d.1609) – some MEMF members took part not long ago in Procter's joint Croce workshop with NWEMF, and, indeed, I tutored a MEMF Croce workshop myself, a few years back.

Richard Bethell introduces NEMA's big York Conference next July, entitled 'Singing Music from 1500 to 1900' – he has some interesting things to say about the problems of persuading our Conservatoires of Music to teach singers in some way other than what he calls OSFA ('one-size-fits-all'), and this is clearly going to become one of the main themes of the Conference. Think about going to it.

Cedric Lee writes about his Green Man Press, and Alison Crum reviews viol-makers in Britain. Chris Goodwin contributes an interesting piece on 'The Lute Society at 52' (Dear me ! – I tried in vain to master a lute in the 1950s, and I think I must have joined, for a while; I seem to remember receiving some neatly-written tablatures from them – is there a piece called 'Buffins'?) There are also articles about The Georgian Concert Society in Edinburgh; Mark Deller on 'Stour Music'; Jane Beeson on NORVIS; Paul Fugler and Peter Leech on SWEMF – the usual 'map' of the EMFs is there, of course, misleading as ever; the sad fact remains that perhaps 50% of England (by area) is not really serviced by any of the Fora. MEMF, for example, only promotes workshops in about a quarter of the area shown on the map.

As to the rest of the Yearbook, the 'Directory' provides bags of useful background info, and the 'Register' lists oodles of early music enthusiasts – if your name isn't there, then it jolly well ought to be!

Beresford King-Smith