EditorialThere isn’t much spare space this month, so I’ll keep this very short and just say thank you very much to our contributors this month, particularly to Sidney Ross who provided not only a review of the Kilburn weekend at very short notice but also a fascinating quiz on music and mathematics. I’m looking forward to having a go at it when I’ve finished this edition of Tamesis. If you’re planning to go to the course on baroque music and dance on 21st June, please could you send in your booking as soon as possible so that the tutors can have some idea of the numbers expected. It should be a really enjoyable and informative day. I keep receiving news of interesting-looking summer schools, including some in Europe. Let’s have some reviews of last year’s courses, so that we can see whether they are really as good as they appear to be.
Chairman’s ChatI was very sad to hear of the unexpected death of Judy Bailey who had been a regular at our events for many years - an obituary appears in this month's Early Music Review. The annual event in Waltham Abbey was its usual success with about 80 participants coming to enjoy Philip Thorby's unique directing style. We are running out of very large-scale pieces, having on previous occasions done Spem in Alium and Ecce Beatam Lucem, both in 40 parts and The Gabrieli 33-part Magnificat. However the 16- part Sion Spricht by Schütz was just as dramatic if not more so. For me it also provided further confirmation of the relationship between tessitura and date, being rather late for a piece scored for cornetts and sackbuts, with correspondingly demanding parts. Still it was well worth the sore lips! I gather that the Mass in St Augustine's under the direction of Michael Procter was very well received by the congregation and enjoyed by those taking part. Neil Edington, who once again organised it, unfortunately lost his voice and had to drop out on the Sunday but I trust he is now fit and well again. I felt a bit guilty at not going to the St Augustine's event but the attraction of a weekend at Wedgwood College doing Venetian music with Peter Syrus was too hard to resist. The early 15th century featured composers such as Ciconia, Romanus and Christoforus de Monte who were all unknown to me. Those of us more used to 16th century music found it quite hard to get to grips with the earlier style but some success was achieved. Once we moved to more familiar musical territory we made quicker progress and the course culminated with two very different settings of O Jesu mi Dulcissime by Giovanni Gabrieli. The 1615 version had florid ornamentation and more adventurous harmonies than the 1597 setting but we enjoyed them both very much. Peter had, as always, provided copious background information and the College looked after us admirably. If you should go on one of these courses, then a trip to the museum in Stoke is highly recommended if you have even the slightest interest in ceramics. It has been quite a while since we last held an event for dancers so the Baroque music and dance workshop on the 21st June is not to be missed if you would like to try your hand at minuets, gavottes and all those other dances whose names feature in the baroque dance suites that many of us play. However if you just want to play you will also be most welcome.
Music and mathematicsThe two are often said to go together, so here is a quiz embodying both elements. Questions 1-9 are all music-based, and each of the answers is a number. The nine numbers, when arranged in increasing order, are nine consecutive members of a mathematical series, starting with the third number in the series. Question 10 asks you to find another number in the series. Questions 11-19 are cryptic clues and each of the answers has a musical connection. The initial letters of the answers, when rearranged, spell out the name of the discoverer of the series, which is the answer to Question 20. Qs 1-9 are not arranged so as to give the answers in the order in which the numbers occur in the series. The answers to Qs 3, 6 and 9 are even numbers; the rest are odd. Qs 11-19 are arranged so that the initial letters of the answers are in alphabetical order. Two of the initial letters occur twice. Numbers:- How many- 1. Beats in a Mars bar
Sidney RossThere will be a prize of a year’s subscription to TVEMF for a completely correct answer to the quiz (first one to arrive if there is more than one). If nobody finishes it, there will be a prize of a free quarter-page advertisement (transferable) for the most nearly correct answer. Answers and explanations will appear in the next edition, so the closing date is the first Monday of July. Answers preferably by email (ask for acknowledgement) to tamesistvemf.org or post to Amersham address (see front cover).
Kilburn revisitedA group of about 25 singers (the numbers fluctuated, but there were 25 at the service) met on 31st May to take part in Michael Procter’s annual Kilburn weekend. For your reviewer, and no doubt for many of the other participants, this event is one of the high points of the TVEMF calendar. It is always a delight to sing whatever Michael selects, even if, as has occasionally been the case, the setting might have been more accommodating to one’s vocal range. However, except to the extent that singers were bronchially challenged, there could be no such complaints on this occasion. Chest walls having been raised and heads suspended by the usual invisible wire, we renewed our acquaintance with the madrigal Quando lieta sperai by way of introduction to the mass itself. The special edition of the music which Michael produced for us, with the mass, the madrigal and the offertory motet Domine convertere all in one volume, was a most welcome innovation - a bargain at the price and a great convenience in that it reduced the number of pieces of paper required for the service. Michael patiently and sympathetically guided us through the Mass, breaking the sequence of movements at one stage to introduce us to the rather different challenges offered by Domine convertere with its sinuous lines and continually shifting harmonic structure reflecting the “turning” in the text. The performance at the service was not marred by any serious mishaps, though there were a few moments of uncertainty. However, all concerned seemed reasonably content with the outcome, and members of the congregation were very appreciative. After a lengthy and relaxing lunch, during which the management of the Queen’s Head indicated that they would be glad of our custom on future occasions, we returned to the church, sang the madrigal and spent some time on the Credo, which we had barely looked at on the Saturday. All in all, a very satisfactory week-end, for which much credit is due to Neil for organising the event (and commiserations to him for being unable to take part in the service) and to Penny Vinson and Jenny Robinson, “our fifth column in the church”, as Michael described them. The organisation of the church’s music was admirable and the tea-time cakes that they produced deserve a special mention. Warmest thanks to all three of them and to all the others who helped out with the washing-up and suchlike tasks. I take this opportunity of mentioning that Michael’s quatercentenary Croce edition in 14 volumes will be available both in hardback (we saw volume 1, and very well got up it is) and paperback in the relatively near future. There is a very fetching picture of croci (unaccompanied by text) on his web-site and he has produced a leaflet about it.
National Early Music Association International Conference
In co-operation with University of York Music Department
and the York Early Music Festival 7-10 July 2009
Singing music from 1500 to 1900 -
style, technique, knowledge, assertion, experiment