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
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 wish.
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!
Introduction to the Viol - 12th July
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 and Holborne.
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 28th
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 next year.
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.