Apologies for the late arrival of Tamesis this month. I was sent a huge amount of information about concerts and events to put in. Many thanks to our contributors this month, particularly Chris Thorn who I am glad to say sounds just like his usual self.
St Augustine's Kilburn is having building works so Michael Procter's May weekend will probably be held at St Mary le Strand. Neil Edington, who is running the event this year, says that it is much warmer than St Augustine's.
The madrigal day with JanJoost van Elburg on 1st February has proved very popular, with almost twice as many applications as places available!
The most telling rest
in early music is one
that's played on a shawm.
According to Chambers 20th Century Dictionary, a Haiku is a Japanese poem in three lines of 5, 7 and 5 syllables, usually comical, developed in the 17th century, incorporating a word or phrase that symbolises one of the seasons.
Members seem to have found the haiku a more difficult subject than last year's limericks. Almost everyone's entries came with apologies for their shortcomings attached, but you will see that there was quite a good selection and I found it quite difficult to decide who should be the winner.
Tigger Burton's entry is a response to David's original haiku (above)
'It is not a rest,'
said the player of the shawm
'but merely a pest.'
Tigger added: "I couldn't help but remember that many years ago I had said to Chris Thorn that I thought the Shawm to be a vicious and wonderful sounding instrument, and that I would like to buy one and have some lessons. 'Oh no,' he replied, 'buy one and don't have lessons.' This was along the lines of thought that defines a gentleman as a man who know how to play a saxophone, but doesn't!"
Madeline Seviour sent in two haikus, the first rather apologetic and the second a little later after inspiration struck:
Afraid I can't do
A haiku so I'd rather
Stick to limericks
If you don't know how
To play quavers inégale
You'd better read Quantz.
Rhythms of Haiku
Are worse than Renaissance's
I'll stick with Baroque
When tuning arch-lutes
There's no need to play music,
- it's 'continuo' !
the notes are sweeter
than baroque or modern,
more so when in tune.
A TVEMF Haiku
Tamesis is great.
This Very Entry Makes For
keeping the mag. tops.
Flutes heard from afar
Viols murmuring distantly
What was the last bar?
Dowland without tears
"Byrd"song not "cat"erwauling
T V E M F!
A goodly group of people
Making strange noises.
With sevens, fives but no threes
Cannot be Perfect.
As Geoff won the limerick competition last year I was slightly reluctant to award him the prize again, but decided that his very clever Perfect haiku really was the best, so he wins a year's free subscription to TVEMF. Thanks to everyone else - I really enjoyed them and am sure everyone else will as well.
Christmas is a time when the usual music-making tends to give way to a sequence of rehearsals and carol concerts. Of course it is also the time when one can legitimately perform pieces such as "Angelus ad Pastores ..." and even get in a rendition of "Hodie Christus Natus Est" (more than one if you grant some uncertainty in the calendar). However, now that the festive season is more or less over, we can look forward to getting back to normal (please excuse the bidirectional metaphors). As far as TVEMF is concerned we still have the two events for which forms were included in November's issue. The Madrigal Day on the 1st February is fully subscribed, and the Bach Family workshop on the 28th is pretty full too so ring John Graham (01295 750355) before sending your application.
TVEMF subscriptions run until the end of the year and if you haven't paid your subscription yet you should find a form inside your magazine. This is the last reminder you will receive; there are plenty more events lined up for the rest of the year, so don't miss them.
Minutes of the TVEMF AGM
Sunday 7th December 2003 at the White Hill Centre, Chesham
1. Apologies for absence were received from Hazel Fenton (Treasurer), Tigger Burton and Andrew Benson Wilson.
2. Approval of the minutes of last meeting. These had been published in the November Tamesis and were approved.
3. Matters arising from the Minutes
The web site was discussed. Linda Hill said that pictures for the web site were about to appear. She had been taking photographs at events. The Chairman (David Fletcher) said that the site looks rather plain but practical at the moment. * see below
Bryan Healing had talked to Vanessa at the Early Music Shop about the Exhibition but she did not know if anything had come of this.
4. Chairman's report appears below.
5. The Secretary's report was published in the November Tamesis and taken as read.
6. Treasurer's report was published in the November Tamesis. David said that the accounts looked pretty healthy. There was a query about admin costs. David said that cost of events was rising. The Secretary (Victoria Helby) pointed out that the accounts were for the previous year. The Committee had taken note of the rising cost of tutors and venues and had put up prices this year. David said that the aim was to break even.
Fiona Weir said she would prefer to pay more and have a bigger hall. David said that having more events would reduce the number of people attending. Sue Mace said we should have a bigger hall for tutors like Philip Thorby and Alan Lumsden.
7. Election of officers and committee
The Officers were re-elected (proposed by Bryan Healing, seconded by Gabrielle Seth Smith) The committee was also re-elected, with the addition of Geoff Gill.
8. Any other business
Yasue Ishida said that she prefers events on Saturdays. There was discussion about this. Two Saturday events had already been booked for 2004. Future events were announced and the meeting then closed.
* Anne Scruby had unfortunately not seen the 2002 minutes before the meeting. After reading them later she asked me to add that she was not criticising the web-site or its readability but was making a suggestion for improvement that Paul might consider, as he had volunteered to work on improving the web-site. The suggestion was to add an image of the latest Tamesis for PRINTING out. It was already formatted for printing and would be useful to encourage non-members, or be available to members eg if postal problems meant their copy did not arrive.
Chairman's Report 2003
It's just over fifteen years since TVEMF was formed with the help of the National Early Music Association and had its first meeting at the Faculty of Music in Oxford, hosted by our President Jeremy Montagu. Prominent at that meeting were Harold Copeman, who did some of the conducting, and Chris Thorn, who was elected our first Chairman. Very sadly, Harold died some ten days ago, so we will no longer have the benefit of his support and his erudite knowledge of Latin pronunciation, as laid down in his well-known book "Singing in Latin". On behalf of TVEMF I would like to express our heartfelt sympathy to his friends and family. Fortunately Chris Thorn is still with us but currently in hospital for tests after a heart attack, so I'm sure you would like to send him best wishes for a speedy recovery. Chris has done a vast amount for TVEMF over the years and we owe him a huge debt of gratitude.
It's good to see that our membership is continuing to grow from that original 24 to its present level of 360.
The events held since the last AGM are as follows:
Christmas in Venice with Alan Lumsden
Portuguese polychoral music for voices and instruments with Peter Leech
Vocal music by William Mundy with Alistair Dixon.
Tenebrae - renaissance choral music with David Allinson
Baroque chamber music day with Peter Collier
Mass in St Augustine's, Kilburn with Michael Procter
Canzonas from c1600 with Jeremy West
Introduction to the Viol and Viol Consorts with Alison Crum
Renaissance playing day with David Fletcher
Spanish & Mexican music for voices & instruments with Philip Thorby
Baroque chamber music day with Victoria Helby
I would like to thank those who organised events during the past year: Victoria Helby, Johanna Renouf, Neil Edington and John Graham. Thanks also to the others on the committee for their support, especially Hazel Fenton who has done her customary, unassuming, efficient job as Treasurer. As usual our secretary, Victoria Helby, deserves a special vote of thanks as she has put in a huge amount of work in preparing concerts and events lists, editing Tamesis and organising three events. It would be good to have a few more people to share the work of organising events - it's not too challenging and the committee will give plenty of help and guidance.
David Fletcher Dec 2003
HAROLD COPEMAN 1918 - 2003
SINGING IN LATIN or Pronunciation Explor'd
Harold Copeman, musician extraordinaire was a good man. Although I first met Harold many years ago I knew little of his personal life, as we always spent more time together singing not talking. But there was no shortage of topics for discussion. I remember going to a conference at the University of York in 1989. Here we discussed the use of linguistic and historical information to reconstruct the sound of words as spoken or sung in central European countries from the ninth to the twentieth century. Not content with this, papers were read on the musical conventions adopted by composers and performers in the different countries, showing how they kept in step (or not) with the vernacular pronunciation of their local language and Latin. In the evening we relaxed to historically informed and pronounced performances of the Yorkshire Bach Choir and the Hilliard Ensemble.
This was just prior to Harold's classic work SINGING IN LATIN published at Oxford by the Author in 1990 when he was 72. In the Preface Andrew Parrott (Tavener Choir and Consort) concluded that for a very long time to come singers and others involved with vocal music would be in his debt for having tilled the soil so thoroughly and so skilfully; "the challenge is there for performing musicians to accept". Harold's POCKET SIL also appeared "for singers and conductors who wish to have with them at rehearsals some short notes about Latin pronunciation …. In the last few years a good number of professional and skilled amateur groups have been seeking to bring to English, French, German and Iberian music, as well as Italian, something of the sound the words have when the music was written; and this book is mainly for them."
As members of TVEMF we have all benefited either directly or indirectly from his interest in and fascination for an earlier sound world. Though even the POCKET version requires a knowledge of IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) and a good soaking in Latin. A little touch of Harold in the night.
As I said, I did not know that Harold was a Lancashire lad, who went to MGS (Manchester Grammar School) before The Queen's College, Oxford. That he worked in the Treasury and that his wife had sight-read madrigals by Braille. Whatever the details of his life, I feel privileged to have joined others drawn together by him to make music. He remains much missed by all his family and friends - linguists, historians, theologians, musicologists, conductors and not least singers.
St John's Chapel, Oxford Crematorium
On Sunday, January 11 Philip Picket's New London Consort was at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in another guise - never the same thing twice - with instrumental music by Giovanni Gabrieli and his contemporaries. There were 20 musicians, never all used at once: violin band, cornetts and sackbuts, recorders and curtal, and a continuo group. The concert was very well paced, even choreographed: perhaps the stands had cards saying "after this number go to position y", which was sometimes in a gallery or at the back of the auditorium. Gabrieli canzonas were interspersed with organ pieces, sonatas and works by others: the unexpected highlight was a Passamezzo Concertato by Marini for two violins, chittaroni and organ: full of exciting dissonance. From my position in the cheap seats you could hear every note: what this says about the balance of seventeenth century instruments or the acoustics of the hall (there were no visible microphones) I am not sure. However this was a very satisfying concert.
Among the instruments listed in the programme were two shawms which did not appear, unless my senility is nearly complete. No big crime, although I often play Gabrieli on my shawm, thanks to the paucity of alto trombones or violas among my playing partners. Which reminds me to thank those who have sympathised with me about my recent stay in hospital. I am now taking things a little gently, but hope to return to my previous level of ghastliness. Why does it remind me? A lady whom, it seems, I do not know, signed my get-well card saying she was hoping for a shawm lesson! I hope we may meet: maybe I shall even give my first shawm lesson. It is never too late for such things: a gentleman who will recognise himself took up the saxophone when he was nearly a decade older than I am now.
More amusement from the spellchecker includes one Govan Gabriella, and my
two favourite instruments, the jackboot and the sham, supported in the continuo section by the titration.
Bach Revisited - Feinstein Ensemble 28.11.03 Purcell Room
The Triple Concerto in A minor, for flute, violin and harpsichord, uses the same line-up of soloists as Brandenburg 5, but is a much darker work with a far greater variety of orchestration than the somewhat prosaic Brandenburg: snappy plucked sections contrast meandering melismas on the harpsichord, and light airy passages are set against full-bodied chords. The ensemble ably allowing the rich orchestrations to flourish over an underlying solid Germanic performance.
Cantata 82 "Ich habe genug" was originally written for a mezzo in C minor and nowadays is usually a bass solo; in this E minor version (Cantata 82a) Bach sets soprano with an obbligato oboe instead of the flute. The instruments began shakily and although one wouldn't want to reign in Faye Newton's poignant and confident delivery the baroque flute was overwhelmed at times.
The Feinstein Ensemble are known for their fresh, clear and lively execution of Telemann's works and The Orchestral Suite in A minor was no exception. They did ample justice to Telemann's lyrical skills as well as to his seemingly endless ability to come up with fresh, varied and attractive orchestrations, as well as interesting melodies and counter-melodies. In keeping with this concert's theme of Bach reworking and varying material, in the one hundred or so suites he wrote, Telemann incorporated the Polish folk tunes he was so fond of, along with idioms from operatic arias and the Italian concerto. Although he was highly accomplished on the oboe and the flute, Telemann's particular fondness for the recorder is evidenced in the lyricism, virtuosity, and athleticism so beloved (and dreaded) by recorder players the world over.
Bach's Concerto in F for harpsichord and recorders also starts with a brave flourish on the recorders. This reworked version of Brandenburg 4 in G reduces the part played by the recorders and enhances the virtuoso harpsichord part, whose light, lyrical passages were so admirably executed by Nicholas Parle.
The London Motet and Madrigal Club
The London Motet and Madrigal Club meets once a month (excluding August), on a Saturday from 6.30-8.30, and except in December the meetings take place at the Methodist International Centre, Euston Street, which is very near to Euston station.
News of Members' Activities
TVEMF member Alison Bowler will be playing with Pellegrina (other members of the group are Kyoko Murai, soprano, Maria Sanger, recorders and Amanda Seaborn, viol) at The Handel House Museum on Thursday 11th March - first performance 6pm, repeated 7pm. The programme consists of cantatas, songs and instrumental music by Handel, Purcell, Croft and Paisible. Tickets are £5.00 which includes free Museum admission. The Handel House Museum is at 25, Brook Street, Mayfair (nearest tube is Bond Street). This summer, on Thursday 1st July, Pellegrina will be performing at Fenton House, Hampstead - more details nearer the time.
For a different view on early music and authenticity Alison recommends you to look at
. She says it's amusing but I have a horrible feeling that it's meant to be serious.
TVEMF member, Clare Norburn writes of Mediva's next London concert on
Monday, 23rd February at 7.30pm Leighton House for Kensington & Chelsea Music Society. See the TAMESIS Concert listings or visit www.mediva.co.uk for further information.
"7 musicians on harp, shawms, recorders, fiddle, gitterns, percussion and
voice will be performing sultry songs and wild instrumentals from medieval Spain. This is another chance to see Mediva's sell-out performance from the South Bank. Famed for their innovative presentation and slick performance style, Mediva is a vibrant ensemble, drawn from the leading younger generation of medieval musicians in Europe. Mediva is in great demand, both in the UK and abroad. They are regular performers on radios 3 and 4, having been featured on "Loose Ends", "In Tune", "Music Restor'd" and "Late Junction".
Andrew Black writes: The Singers of London have started rehearsals with JanJoost van Elburg, their recently appointed musical director. We are working on a programme entitled Music of the time of the "Thomas Kantoren" comprising works by J S Bach (Jesu, meine Freude), Schein, Franck and Kuhnau. JanJoost will be familiar as a tutor on Lacock courses, and is giving a workshop for TVEMF at the end of January. At least 6 forum members sing in the choir. We sing a lot of early music, although not exclusively. (For details see the concerts list for 26th March.)
We would welcome a few extra experienced singers, particularly Altos and Tenors. Rehearsals are held on Monday evenings (7-9) in St Olave's Hart street (in the City of London, near Tower Hill Station). For more details contact Sue Glanville at or or 020 8806 3408
Jane Bliss thought people might be interested in the following:
Re-enactors' Easter Market 5th, 6th and 7th March 2004 Venue - The Sports Connexion, Ryton on Dunsmore on the A423 near Coventry Costumes, arms & armour and some musical vendors including Eric Moulder & Marcus Music
Listings in Early Music Review
Helen Shabetai will take over organising the listings for EARLY MUSIC REVIEW from March. Tamesis never claims to be fully comprehensive - the number of concerts and events that go in depends on how much time I have, though I always try to put in news of members' activities that are sent to me.
Now that Early Music News has ceased publication the Early Music Review listings will become an even more important source of information about concerts and courses etc. The listings have always been highly comprehensive and many organisations were not even aware that their concerts and courses had been included in the publication.
Clifford and Elaine Bartlett are keen to keep EMR's highly detailed monthly international listings available, but it is not possible to continue 24-32 pages of detailed listings free of charge. From March 2004 their free listings will only give details of date, venue, group and phone number or email contact. There will be a charge for more detailed listings. The listings will be produced monthly, and all information and advertising should be with Helen by the 7th of the month preceding publication.
Please add her to your mailing list so that she can continue to collect basic listings information about as many early music concerts as possible.
Helen Shabetai, 118 Handside Lane, Welwyn Garden City, AL8 6SZ Tel: 01707 889893 Fax: 01707 322743 email: