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
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
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.
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.
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.
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,
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."
John Playford Weekend
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.
Benslow Music, Hitchin, August, 2015
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
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.
Greenwich Early Music Festival and Exhibition
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 secretarytvemf.org with a range of times when you can
12th to 14th November
Beauchamp Early Music Week 2015
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!
26 July – 1 August
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!
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. nherdsonbtinternet.com
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
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.
Gresham College lectures
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.
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