It was a glorious summer day last Saturday and as
I set off for Cricklewood and Alison Crum’s day entitled "Introduction
to the Viol and Viol Consort Playing" I thought that I must be quite
mad to be spending it attempting to play a completely new instrument.
In fact I had a fantastic time even though I found myself struggling
a lot more than the genuine string players who were there. Although
I worked out where most of the required notes were in the end, this
wasn’t as successful as it should have been as I frequently found
myself bowing a different string! I felt rather sorry for the genuine
viol players who were there who had the beginners integrated into
their groups for the final session of the afternoon, but it was
a pleasure for everyone to be at Alison’s house, which is totally
devoted to musical instruments, and to sit in her lovely garden
during the breaks from playing. I had to play in two concerts the
next day but luckily the hot feeling in my finger ends wore off
by the end of the rehearsal. Many thanks to Simon Feather for his
much fuller review of the event.
I hope nobody went to Croxley on Saturday 5th
July looking for a medieval fair as it was actually on the Sunday.
I had written the information across two days in my diary and misread
it when I was putting it in the Concerts List. I managed to correct
the information on the web site and in Clifford Bartlett’s Early
Music Review, but I apologise if anybody did actually go on the
Saturday. In fact it wasn’t a very medieval event. There were some
very good notices for ye olde barbecue and tombola etc and some
of the games had been adapted to look medieval, but I was disappointed
that only two of the school children had made the effort to dress
up in costume. However we, as the official musicians, had a very
enjoyable afternoon’s playing, though I wonder what the children
and their parents made of our 13th to 15th
century repertoire. There was an excellent hawk display and I came
away with a lot of new plants for my garden.
I am usually very careful when I type things in,
but you should always check the contact number or web site before
you go. I thought about going to something last week which I had
copied from a usually reliable source, but when I looked it up on
the web site it turned out to be something quite different. I cross
checked it by doing an internet search and was pleased to find it
there, only to see on closer inspection that I was being directed
to the TVEMF web site!
There will be no Tamesis next month
Until the workshop with Jeremy West last month
we had never had a tutored event aimed at wind instruments other
than recorders and, depending on your point of view, there could
be a more than one verdict on its success. Partly owing to a clash
with a SEMF playing day, we failed to attract any non-TVEMF players,
so on a balance sheet the profit would have been enclosed in brackets
or printed in a colour whose wavelength was towards the longer end
of the spectrum. Of the four recorder players who braved the sometimes
unrefined sounds of the cornetts, sackbuts and curtals there appeared
to be a majority verdict in favour. For the remainder of the participants
it seems to have been a great success. Jeremy was able to sympathise
with the problems of playing these demanding instruments and to
convey something of his approach to the music written for them.
The final fifteen-part canzona by Gabrieli worked very well in spite
of our not having the exact instruments required. The Dutch Church
again proved to be an excellent venue - thanks are due to Jeff Gill
for suggesting it in the first instance.
For many of us the next month or so will take us
to summer schools both near and far, so please consider writing
up your experiences for the next Tamesis (in September).
The Early Music Exhibition
Introduction to the Viol - 12th July
Our stand at the Early Music Instrument Exhibition in Greenwich
is under new management, and I am looking for new pictures to decorate
it, and people to man it.
1) Please send me your pictures illustrating
our many musical activities. I will enlarge them, if necessary,
and possibly laminate them, and I will try to return them, if you
2) If you would like to sit on the stand for an hour, please let
me know which day you would like come. There will be a rota, and
we will stick to it, so you will have plenty of time to look around,
as well as doing your bit. It is great fun, and I hope friends from
other fora will also be joining us.
Do come and make the 24th-26th October a weekend to remember!
Who can fail to have been captivated by the sweet bell-like tones
of viols played in consort by masters such as the Rose Consort? It
was with the ambition to be able to make such heavenly music that
a group of miscellaneous musicians invaded Alison Crum's house on
a hot Saturday morning. Many, like myself, had never touched a viol
before. We were soon to discover why they are called "leg viols" as
you twist your legs into what seem like unnatural positions to hold
the instrument. "Watch out for the shakes," said Alison, "it means
you're gripping too tight!"
For us absolute beginners, learning to hold the viol was just the
start of what was to become a real baptism of fire. Tallis' canon
was next – though as you've never heard it before. But with that under
our belt it was straight into 5-part pavanes and galliards by Morley
Thankfully, Alison and her fellow tutors for the day, Mary Earl and
Roy Marks, know exactly how to encourage and coax even the most challenging
of learners. By teatime, we were starting to hear something of the
true consort sound. whether Alison's neighbours would agree, being
more used to the Rose practising in her music room, is another matter!
The day was a huge success and was over all too soon. Now I just need
to start saving for a bass viol. I'm sure that all the participants
will join me in thanking Johanna Renouf for organising the day, and
especially to Alison, Mary and Roy for being so patient.
News of Members’ Activities
Skeleton Crew are appearing at Freud’s Café, Walton Street in
Oxford on Sunday 20th July from 2 to 4pm. Then on Saturday
16th August they will be playing at the Elder Stubbs open
day (Rymer's Lane, East Oxford) from 12 to 2pm.
Pellegrina - Kyoko Murai (soprano), Maria Sanger (recorders),
Amanda Seaborn (viol), Alison Bowler (harpsichord) will be performing
in two concerts in the near future... On Thursday 7th August
at the Handel House Museum, 25 Brook Street (nearest
tube Bond Street/Oxford Circus) - first performance 6pm, repeated
7pm - a programme of cantatas, instrumental and keyboard pieces by
Handel, Purcell, Pepusch and others. On Saturday 4th October
they will be giving a concert 'London Revisited' at St. Dominic's
Church, Belsize Park, London NW3 at 7.30pm.
Non-TVEMF information Lains Barn Workshop Sept
Sorry to say, but this event has been cancelled due to pressure
of work on Delyth and Martin our two directors. We hope to run it
George and Rosemary Bate
Thanks to Madeline Seviour for this extract from a Brentwood
"What's On" leaflet:
July 5 Society of Recorder Players. Ingatestone Hall.
The Society of Recorder Players' ensemble will be giving a series
of archery demonstrations with traditional wooden longbows and arrows.