Tamesis Issue 270
Here’s another bumper edition of Tamesis. I’ve actually had to hold over one item until the January edition. Many thanks to all the contributors, who demonstrate just how many different ways you can review an event.
I had intended to write about the courses I’ve been on this year but this has turned out to be a ridiculously busy month, with the Baroque Day, Blackheath, the Christmas workshop and Tamesis, all in the same few weeks.
Most of you have been pretty good about using the different coloured forms for the two events so that the bookings don’t get confused, but please remember not to use one cheque or bank transfer to pay for two events, or combine an event with your membership renewal. It makes David King’s accounting very complicated. It would also really help him if you would set up a regular membership payment with your bank. They are easily cancelled if you decide to leave the forum.
This month I’m reviving our old tradition of having a November competition, with a musical quiz from Sidney Ross. It’s worth having a go because the prize will be one year’s ordinary membership of TVEMF. Closing date is December 11th.
The music links for Patrick Craig’s Christmas workshop are now online on the TVEMF Events page. As I write, the chorus scores hadn’t arrived but they should be there soon. If you’ve agreed to download your own music, please wait to be told which choir to print, unless you’d prefer to use a full score.
It seems very early to be saying it but, in case I don’t see you at the December event, Happy Christmas!
One of the chores in the modern world is dealing with endless questionnaires from the organisations one deals with. When TVEMF first started holding events at Burnham Grammar School nearly thirty years ago we used to book the classrooms by phoning the very helpful caretaker, and then contribute some £30 to the school fund. These days of course the price has gone up significantly but we also have to fill in a Lettings Policy Document and sign a Letter of Assurance regarding our Child Protection Policy. It must be at least five years since we had anyone under the age of 18 at one of our events (or many under 50) so the need for Child Protection has not been apparent. However, it would be nice to think we might get some young people to attend workshops, so are there TVEMF members who have a current DBS certificate (my CRB check having expired)?
I seem to be the custodian of lost property and apart from a number of earlier items such as an inflatable cushion, blue & white plate, salad servers and a black hat, there is now another hat, also black, featuring a zip. Not lost, but donated by the Rosenbaums on their return to America. is an elegant soprano crumhorn by (I believe) Stefan Beck. This is looking for a good home in exchange for a modest donation to a charity chosen by the recipient.
Sunday 16th December 2018 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. Proposed amendments to the TVEMF Constitution
7. Election of officers and committee
8. Any other business
Minutes of last year’s AGM will be found on page .
‘If any man be merry…’
Forty singers and two instrumentalists assembled at the Amersham Community Centre on Sunday, 9 September to take part in a programme, expertly directed by Will Dawes, of vocal music (with continuo) by Johann Pachelbel and J.S. Bach. The Pachelbel part of the programme included three motets with psalm texts, and that is what underlies the no doubt eccentric-seeming title of this review. Your reviewer has come to believe that in the fifteen years which have elapsed since he first reviewed a TVEMF event, his offerings have become rather formulaic and it is for that reason that a new trope involving the composition of eccentric titles has been introduced into them.
To proceed with the explanation, it is recounted at page 165 of The King’s War, the second volume of Dame Veronica Wedgwood’s admirable history of the Civil War (and for those readers who enjoy vivid narrative history - I hesitate to describe it as a ‘ripping yarn’ as that might be thought demeaning, though it is not intended to be - it should be top of their reading list) that among the exhortations to military godliness bestowed on the Parliamentary forces were the words ‘If any man be merry, let him sing psalms’. ‘Phew’, you may say, ‘thank goodness he’s got that off his chest. Perhaps he’ll tell us about the composer and the event now’. Well, here goes.
Pachelbel, whose baptismal date is given as 7 September 1653, was an outstanding student in his early years, entering the university at Altdorf in 1669, serving as organist of the Lorenzkirche there and becoming organist at St Stephen’s Church, Vienna, in 1673. A Lutheran himself (as might be guessed, given the foursquare homophony of the motets in our programme and the reminiscence of Ein fester Burg ist unser Gott in Gott ist unser Zuversicht), he became acquainted with the music of the Catholic composers of South Germany and Italy, and moved successively to Eisenach, Erfurt (a very significant bastion of Lutheranism in the 1530s, and the place where his association with the Bach family developed) Stuttgart, Nüremberg, Gotha and, finally, in 1695, Nüremberg again, where he remained as organist of St Sebald until his death.
The programme consisted of six items (though in the event only five were attempted, a short Bach chorale being omitted) in which the longest and most demanding work was Bach’s motet for double choir (2 x SATB) Der Geist hilft unsrer Schwachheit auf, [the Spirit helps our weakness]. The four works by Johann Pachelbel, were a four-part Magnificat and three motets for double choir, Gott ist unser Zuversicht [God is our refuge and strength, psalm 46], Jauchzet den Herrn [Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands, psalm 100] and Singet dem Herrn [Sing unto the Lord a new song; both psalms 96 and 98 open with these words]. (Translations are from the King James Bible).
To those who, like your reviewer, were acquainted with Pachelbel only by way of that overworked piece of aural wallpaper, the six minutes and eleven seconds of Pachelbel’s Canon in D (the You-Tube rendering of it with the description ‘soothing music’ had had 29,979,897 views since October 2007 when your reviewer listened to it in the course of writing this review) it may come as a surprise to learn that in the fifty-three years of his life he produced, in addition to the organ works for which he is better known, a very substantial body of vocal music, in the form of arias, motets, sacred concertos, music for Vespers, including thirteen Magnificats, and two Masses. The New Grove says of his motets that:-
‘All Pachelbel’s motets are mature masterpieces with - however conservative the genre - a modern, progressive sound and clearcut, uncomplicated harmony and tonality; wherever melismas occur they are subservient to the triadic aspects of the music’
and of his sacred concertos:-
‘Pachelbel’s reputation as a composer of vocal music will probably rest most securely on his sacred concertos and Magnificat settings…In the eleven settings of the Magnificat Pachelbel reached the summit of his creative powers’
We began with Gott ist unser Zuversicht. The process of familiarising ourselves with the text, was somewhat impeded by the discrepancy between ‘unsre’ in the title as printed and ‘unser’ in the underlay but, that controversy having been resolved in favour of ‘unser’ we worked our way in considerable detail through its 97 bars, paying particular attention to its occasional rhythmic complexities. The melismas, mostly allocated to the tenors, were decidedly subservient to the triadic aspects, which Will brought to our attention by having the chords played on the organ and telling us what they were. A straw poll conducted by your reviewer among his near neighbours and others produced a slight majority for the proposition that the music was more interesting to sing than its appearance on the printed page suggested.
This softened us up, so to speak, for our encounter with (to quote the flyer for the event) the substantial and challenging motet Der Geist hilft unsrer Schwachheit auf. The New Grove tells us that ‘Bach’s use of double chorus and his exposition of chorale treatment links the motets with the central German tradition’ and that Der Geist begins with a concerto-like movement (first 145 bars, for double choir), followed by a double fugue and a simple chorale setting (bars 245-270). This chorale celebrates, as Will told us, the life after death, thus making a sharp contrast with the earlier sections which recount and portray the Spirit’s help for our weaknesses during our lives. Wisely, given the scale of the work, Will did not initially attempt to take us through the whole of it in one session, but interspersed the other Pachelbel items between substantial sections of the Bach.
We first attempted the double choir section which takes up the first half of the motet and were assisted by Will’s numbers game in coping with the diminished sevenths and fourths with which the work is liberally sprinkled. His exhortations to avoid the appearance of clog dancing in the opening melisma and to enjoy the interplay at the end of the first section may well have had some beneficial effect, but the description of the area around bar 127 as ‘a messy club sandwich’ and the advice to ‘remove the quills from the porcupine’ at bars 142-44 left your reviewer somewhat baffled. These indeed bear comparison with David Allinson’s gastronomic (‘as if you had a hot sausage sandwich’) and behavioural (‘hiss like an angry librarian’) directions.
Next came the Magnificat. Of course one has to recognise that the Bach motet is in many ways on an entirely higher plane of achievement than any other item of the programme, but for your reviewer the Magnificat was the highlight of the day and he would willingly have spent at least twice as much time on it as was actually allocated. There is an absolutely charming vivacity about it and the contrasts between the settings of the various elements of the text, emphasised as we worked through the piece by Will’s directions as to dynamic and tempo, are admirable. Will also drew our attention to the occurrences of hemiola, to which Pachelbel seems to have been perhaps more strongly addicted than most, and to the passage in recordatus misericordiae suae where a chord ‘nudges up against its tonal neighbour’. These chords, you can’t take them anywhere nowadays (at the turn of the 17th/18th century, that is). The Doxology employs the usual rhetorical device of repetition of statements with increasing numbers of voices so that we are left in no doubt whatever about what will endure for world without end, amen. To quote the invaluable New Grove once again:-
‘Pachelbel’s choral writing in his concerted Magnificat settings displays his total command of both imitative and homophonic idioms, and within a single movement he passed from one to another with remarkable ease. He was particularly adept at writing ‘permutation’ fugues, in which two or three contrasting themes revolve about each other, without episodic interruptions, according to the dictates of invertible counterpoint’.
So there, TVEMF management, more invertible counterpoint, please.
Following the Magnificat we did some more detailed work on the chorale section of the Bach motet, and then devoted the rest of the period up till tea to the other two Pachelbel motets, beginning with Jauchzet den Herrn. Your reviewer, who was brought up in a household where German was spoken almost as much as English, has always regarded it as the pre-eminent language to employ when depicting pain and rage, but in Jauchzet dem Herrn, it is shown to be an excellent medium for less aggressive emotions. The invitations to exhibit joy in various ways bounce merrily along (Jauchzet being a very bouncy word) and there is quite a lot more melismatic ornamentation, particularly in the soprano lines, than in the other motets which we studied. Lutheranism does not require the elimination of melisma from its musical expression, as anyone who has sung any of Bach’s Lutheran Masses will be well aware. Frohlocken (rejoicing), in particular, is given the full treatment, but other words expressing positive feelings (for example Freuden, Danken and loben) get some decoration as well. Only the basses are required to trudge along dutifully almost entirely in quavers and crotchets and make sure that every triad has all its components until they are briefly let off the lead in bar 106 at seine Wahrheit für und für (for his truth [endureth] for ever and ever), but by bar 110 they are back at the coal face and there they remain until released with a series of bottom Gs, during which they have to listen to the tenors showing off, until the final C major chord at bar 132.
Having been allowed a little frivolity in our rejoicing, we returned, in Singet dem Herrn. to a more decorous approach to the task of singing unto the Lord a new song. The motet runs to 77 bars and the text appears to be taken from psalm 98, vv. 1,2 and 9. It is not clear to your reviewer (and he tenders his apologies for missing the explanation, if one was given, and thereby failing to enlighten his readers) what aspect of Pachelbel’s compositional methods it displayed which we had not already encountered in the other motets.
The tea-break was very welcome and we concluded the proceedings with a sing through of the whole of Der Geist hilft unsrer Schwachheit auf. Will deserves great credit for having brought us, in less than half a day, to a state where we were able to produce a tolerably creditable performance, and we must also pay tribute to our indefatigable instrumentalists, Barbara Moir (organ) and Elaine Mordaunt (cello) for underpinning our vocal performance so effectively. Finally, warmest thanks are due to David King for organising the event, and we gratefully acknowledge the contributions of all those who, in other capacities, helped to make it a success.
Housewives’ Choice at Ealing
I expect many of us remember that lovely programme on the BBC Light Programme. It started at nine o’clock in the morning, Mondays to Fridays, and lasted an hour. Anyone could write in and request their favourite song or dance band tune. Then came rock ‘n’ roll.
And so to the leafy suburbs of Ealing, a pleasant area, full of trees, wide streets and very big Victorian houses, detached in their own grounds, just as our great Victorian forefathers left them, sadly now clogged up with cars parked both sides of the road. I would much prefer to see just a horse pulling a cart, perhaps delivering milk or bread to these grand houses.
Our day was on the music of the Cori Spezzati style, divided choirs that is. Andrew Griffiths was our tutor for the day. We sang and played music by the Gabrielis, Willaert, Croce, Bassano, in all about eight or ten pieces. I lost count!
We got off to a good start with a piece by Croce, and after that a super piece by Willaert. This went very well, but in the Gabrieli we played just before lunch I lost it a bit and I noticed our tutor had a look on his face that reminded me of my Dad when he was checking his football coupons on a Saturday night.
After lunch I managed to pull myself up and concentrated a lot harder on the music, and I got better results. As I expected, our choir and small band played and sang extremely well and produced excellent results with all these short pieces.
Concentrating so hard, it was an exhausting but enjoyable day for me and one that went too quickly.
As always I would thank our committee for their hard work and our chairman, David, for preparing and printing all the scores and parts. Thanks to our splendid tutor Andrew for his energy and encouragement, and last but not least to all the helpers who provided the refreshments during the day.
Cori Spezzati day in Ealing, Saturday 5 October
A wet Saturday in Ealing may not compare very favourably with a sunny week in Venice, but for most of us it provided an at least affordable and very welcome substitute. And while the St Andrews United Reform Church may not have quite matched the grandeur of St Mark’s Basilica, it did provide a very comfortable and acoustically pleasing environment for the performance of some seriously fine works from Renaissance Venice (and, in the circumstances, I think I might even have preferred the warm pink Victorian brickwork of St Andrew’s ‘thirteenth century gothic’ to the rather over-decorated exterior of its Venetian rival!).
The theme for the day was the development of the polychoral style as it evolved in Venice from the 1540s with Adriaan Willaert through to the early 17th century with the two Gabrielis, Andrea and Giovanni, and passing by way of Merulo, Croce and Bassano. Our guide for this journey was Andrew Griffiths, whose careful research provided a number of new insights into this by now fairly familiar repertoire. Croce’s Percussit Saul, with its wonderful little fanfare passages for the wind players on cornett and sackbut provided a splendid opening number to the whole event.
We then reverted to the somewhat earlier work by Willaert Laudate pueri dominum, with its more straight-forward polyphony. Willaert was the maestro di cappella of St. Mark's in the 1540s, so this piece, with its two equal SATB choirs, could be said to show the beginnings of the polychoral style. After Willaert we leapt ahead a few years to the full-blown polychoral style of Giovanni Gabrieli’s Sanctus a 12, with its three separate choirs -- one high, one low and one instrumental.
A lunch break followed, involving (in my case) a somewhat damp but not unpleasant trek in the wet down to the numerous restaurants and bistro joints by Ealing Broadway. Spoilt for choice but still undecided, I ended up with burger and chips next time I’ll remember to bring sandwiches.
Andrew opened the second half with Giovanni Gabrieli’s Benedictus es Dominus a 8, from the 1615 Symphoniae Sacrae (published some years after Gabrieli’s death in 1612). This is a splendid piece which was very effectively done as an instrumental with just two sung lines -- very rewarding for the instrumentalists and quite adequate recompense for my rather dull lunch! This was followed by Giovanni Gabrieli’s wonderful O Jesu mi dulcissimi from the earlier 1597 Symphoniae Sacrae. Gabrieli became organist at St Mark’s in 1585 following the departure of Claudio Merulo, and the period of the late 1580s and 1590s probably represents the peak of the polychoral style. From the same period came our next challenge: Merulo’s Deus noster refugiam a 8, arranged for high and low choirs, with the recorders and strings in the higher and loud winds in the lower.
Giovanni Bassano was a close associate of Giovanni Gabrieli (and only a few years his junior). He was renowned as a cornett player and as leader of the St Mark’s instrumentalists (from 1601 until his death in 1617). He was also a fine composer, though somewhat overshadowed by Gabrieli. His Ave Regina caelorum a 12 is a three-choir work, with a high part instrumental part in choir I (taken here on cornett and perhaps intended by Bassano for himself?) and the other two distributed between doubling strings/recorders and loud wind.
The big finale was Andrea Gabrieli’s four choir work Gloria a16. Published in 1587, this work by Giovanni’s uncle probably represents the high point of the polychoral style. With choirs ranging from high to low, and one designated voices only, this made for a good opportunity to maximize the contrast between them. For even greater effect, the loud wind choir of was placed up in the gallery. It might not have been St Mark’s, Venice, but it came as close as we might reasonably get in Ealing! A fitting end to a great day, for which we must thank the skilled direction and enthusiasm of Andrew Griffiths for pulling the disparate forces together, the labours of David Fletcher in arranging and printing the instrumental parts, Vicky Helby for the faultless organization, and the rest of the TVEMF team.
Vocal Sound and Style 1450-1650
NEMA/BREMF Conference Oct 2018
This two-day conference was a very successful joint venture between the National Early Music association and the Brighton Early Music Festival. The original impetus was provided by Richard Bethell of NEMA and the organisation was split between NEMA and BREMF with the latter providing excellent local support.
Anthony Rooley spoke on the creative use of silence in the music of English composers c.1600 - with special reference to Dowland and Ward, beautifully illustrated by Evelyn Tubb, soprano and Michael Fields, lute. I'm not sure what he made of my flyer for our April 1st 2012 workshop 'Silence is Golden' which I gave him before his talk (www.tvemf.org/old/tamesis/humour.htm).
Robert Toft talked convincingly about the importance of rhetoric in singing and his afternoon master class with several accomplished students showed what a difference this could make to a performance.
Gerald Place spoke enthusiastically of Shakespeare's extensive use of songs in his plays, with a number of musical examples. He pointed out that the boys who played the women's parts must have been exceptionally talented as there is an account of self-accompanied song on stage. We learned that the most common word for singing was 'warbling' though what significance this might have as a description of tone quality was not known.
Laurie Stras (Keynote speaker) gave an account of the problems women faced in this period when singing. She gave many examples of the restrictions on women: they were not meant to show any skill other than singing a simple tune, and even in a nunnery, where they could sing polyphony in private, their teachers had to be women. Fortunately we no longer have such constraints and following a round-table discussion on the subject we enjoyed a delightful recital by members of Musica Secreta and the Celestial Sirens.
Gawain Glenton discussed the implications of the detailed 'job description' contained in a letter from Luigi Zenobi's to a nobleman who was about to employ a musician. The requirements for a singer included being able to deploy a repertoire of florid and playful passaggi involving scales, leaps, skips and echoes. He says that every good singer
should know how to sing the piece in its simple form with merely the odd grace, trillo, tremolo, ondeggiamento, and esclamatione. Quite daunting! Sadly for me, Gawain did not illustrate this on his cornett as I am sure he could have ably done.
Viviane Alves Kubo-Munari talked about the change in the style of ornamentation at the beginning of the seventeenth century in Italy. The rather mechanical passaggi described by people such as Dalla Casa gave way to a more musical, freer style of ornamentation.
Greta Haenen took on the contentious issue of vibrato, a word not used until the nineteenth century. The word 'tremulo' was used to describe the voce humana stop on the organ (two closely-tuned pipes for each note) as well as what we might know as vibrato. It seems that vibrato was considered an ornament that could be applied when extra emotion was signalled but was inappropriate for polyphonic music.
Richard Wistreich (Keynote speaker) discussed the concept of 'Historically-informed' singing and whether, even if we knew how music was performed in the sixteenth century, we would like it or wish to emulate it. As a former performer with Red Byrd, musicologist and a professor at the Royal College of Music, he has a wide range of experience and his talk was very thought-provoking.
Joe Bolger brought us the idea of 'Primal Sounds', emotionally-motivated sounds that all humans make from birth including things like sighing, whimpering, crying out and yelling. His three renderings of a Dowland song - 'conservatoire', 'early music' and 'primal' - were fascinating. I hated the first of these but the last one gave me goosebumps, so I think he has a point.
Dr. Muthuswami Hariharan provided an important counterbalance to the Western idea of early music. He pointed out that the tradition of Indian Music is more than 3000 years old, though not written down in Western notation until 1885. Music was passed down from teacher to pupil and the original music and vocal style from the 14th century onwards is still practised in India today. It was interesting that some of the ornamentation with rapidly repeated notes was reminiscent of passages in Monteverdi's music.
I very much enjoyed the conference, but apologise if I have misrepresented anything in the above description as I failed to take notes. There will be further conferences in this series, the next one on Baroque singing style.
Music for Charities
Sue Forrest has asked me to thank you for your generous donations to the Sue Ryder organisation which she has collected at recent TVEMF events for some of Penny Aspden’s music and CDs. As you may remember, Penny was an enthusiastic recorder-playing member of TVEMF who sadly died earlier this year. Sue was able to pay £70 into the Sue Ryder fund in her memory.
I (Victoria) have been doing the same thing for music belonging to Alex and Anne Ayre, and there will be some more when I’ve had time to sort it out. Again, thanks very much for your donations so far. They are going to a lymphoma charity.
PRIZE CIRCULAR QUIZ
Sidney Ross has set us this circular quiz, and there will be a prize of one year’s ordinary membership of TVEMF for the first correct (or most correct) answer drawn after the closing date of 11th December. You can email your answers to tamesis @ tvemf.org and I’ll write your names on a piece of paper for the draw. I suggest you put your answers in the email rather than using an attachment as it’s less likely to go into spam. Answers will be in the January Tamesis.
There are 25 cryptic clues. Each answer from 2 onwards begins with the last letter of the previous answer. There is also a connection between the answers to clues 1 and 25. Each answer has a musical association.
1.Great German, little Welshman (4)
2.Carries a revolver without hesitation (5)
3.But he doesn’t come round to repair your set ! (8)
4.Condition for unsuccessful butterfly hunt (5)
5.Composer of great stature, apparently (6)
6.Proverbially wise pianist (7)
7.Not a single chorister originally sang for him (5)
8.Reaction to the Threepenny Opera ? (7)
9.Innkeeper of note (8)
10.Hires pig, being wholly disorganised (8)
11.Venerated in Huntingdon and Cornwall (4)
12. Composer and decorator (7)
13.Farmland set aside for Tower guardians (11)
14.Harmonious gang ? (5)
15. Electrical direction to performers (1,1)
16.Two-thirds of him was absolutely heavenly (9)
17.Distance between members of 14 (8)
18.Unchanging composer ?(7)
19.Tragic heroine gets into scary situation...(5)
20....but does she help another one ?(4)
21.Colourless, approaching Ulster... (8)
22....with which he has no connexion (7)
23.Mode that is Wildly uninteresting (6)
24.See his new publication (7)
25.It is frequently on the programme, so we hear (9)
Seminars in Medieval and Renaissance Music in Oxford
All Souls College holds free seminars in the Wharton Room from 5 to 7pm on alternate Thursdays during term time. Each presentation is followed by an hour of discussion, with wine. Remaining dates this term are 15th and 29th November, and next term 24th January (John Milsom on polyphony), 7th and 21st February, and 7th March. I particularly like the title of the last one Reconstructing medieval instruments: Why bother?
Information about concerts and lectures can be found on the Music Faculty website www.music.ox.ac.uk.
Minutes of the TVEMF AGM held on 17th December 2017
1. Apologies for absence were received from Vivien Butler, David Butler and Nicola Wilson-Smith.
2. The minutes of the 2016 AGM, which were printed in the November 2017 Tamesis, were proposed by Richard Whitehouse, seconded by Sue Forrest and approved.
3. Chairman’s report
We have 333 members, down from 346 members for no obvious reason, though perhaps the increasing average age of members is catching up with us. When we started TVEMF in 1988 there were quite a few members of about my age. There still are!
Events held in 2017
Gigantic polyphony, c.1500 - Earthquake Mass (John Milsom)
Renaissance playing/singing day (David Fletcher)
Music for the death of Prince Henry in 1612 (Patrick Craig)
Baroque chamber music day (Peter Collier)
Polychoral music for voices and instruments, Little Chalfont (Andrew Griffiths) Large-scale music by Orazio Benevoli (Philip Thorby)
Music by Heinrich Isaac (Don Greig)
music by the Bach family (Peter Syrus)
16th Cent. facsimile for voices, and instruments (Alison Kinder)
Music by Giaches de Wert (Will Dawes)
Baroque chamber music day (Victoria Helby)
Benevoli’s Dixit Dominus and Gloria (Philip Thorby)
As usual I must thank the committee and others who did so much to make the year a success. Our Secretary, Vicky, has been as busy as ever in organising events and of course editing the magazine, so we owe her a huge debt. David King does a remarkably efficient job as Treasurer and somehow seems to enjoy it. Linda Barlow stepped in to take over the very necessary job of membership secretary and has largely managed to wean it away from my non-standard software. Catherine Lorigan retired from the Committee during the year but we were very fortunate to be able to co-opt Jenny Frost to take her place. All the other committee members ran at least one event during the year, and Nicola and Vicky managed two - very well done. I'd also like to thank Jeff Gill who has run an event a year with great efficiency for longer than I can remember but has finally decided to call it a day. This shows you don't have to be on the committee to help run an event and indeed Michael Bloom has also run more than one, including the forthcoming one studying Scarlatti's Stabat Mater.
4. Treasurer’s report
David King distributed the Summary Accounts for 2016 and for 1st January - 30th September 2017, which Nick Pollock had kindly examined and reminded members of the reasons why the accounting period is being changed as agreed at the last AGM.
In 2016 there had been a deficit of £101 on administrative and Tamesis costs as compared with a surplus of £217 in 2015. On participative events there was a deficit of £1229 as compared with a deficit of £739 in 2015. At the end of 2016 the total assets amounted to £9151, which was £1330 lower than at the end of 2015.
The increased deficit of 2016 over 2015 seems to be largely accounted for by a substantial fall in subscriptions, a fall in advertising revenue and significant increases in tutor fees and venue hire. The overall number of participants at events rose slightly from 442 to 469 so this somewhat mitigated losses.
In the period 1st January 30th September 2017 there was a surplus of £324 on administrative and Tamesis costs as compared with a deficit of £101 in 2016. On participative events there was a deficit of £859 as compared with a deficit of £1229 in 2016. On 30th September 2017 the total assets amounted to £8616, which was £534 lower than at the end of 2016.
Direct comparisons between the situation on 30th September 2017 and 31st December 2016 are hard because we are comparing a nine month period with a twelve month period and the same difficulty will occur next year though after that it will be possible to compare like with like. There are nevertheless a few points that should be made. Revenue from subscriptions in to 30th September 2017 is already slightly higher than for the whole of 2016. Advertising revenue is very substantially down. The figure for hiring a stand at the ‘Greenwich’ exhibition can be disregarded as the money has been subsequently refunded since in the end we were not able to have a stand. The number of participants attending events in 2016 up to the end of September was 345 whereas in the same period for 2017 there were only 298 participants and this is a significant decrease. ‘Events catering’ is very low for 2017 partially because there are fewer events, it being a shorter period, but especially because it does not include the Christmas workshop when expenditure on refreshments is far higher than at other workshops.
The TVEMF assets were at their highest at the end of 2011 at around £12,300. Since then we have been controlling subscriptions and event participation fees in order to gradually reduce this unnecessarily large figure. The aim is to bring the asset level to between £5000 and £7,500 and with this in mind it is not proposed to increase subscriptions or participation fees for the period 1st October 2017 to 30th September 2018.
The Treasurer’s report was proposed by Kate Gordon, seconded by Roger Hill and approved.
There was discussion about the difficulty of finding venues. The Chairman (David Fletcher) would like to hear of any suitable ones. The Secretary (Victoria Helby) mentioned that the Amersham Community Centre was due to be demolished and rebuilt but she did not know when this would happen.
5. Amendments to the Constitution
Clause 5a change “The Annual General Meeting of the Society shall be held in October each year (or as soon as practicable thereafter).” to “The Annual General Meeting of the Society shall be held in December each year (or as soon as practicable thereafter).” This fits with the end of the financial year and reflects what currently happens.
Clause 7a change the last sentence “Cheques shall be signed by such persons as the Committee shall from time to time authorise.” to “Authority to make
payments shall be given to such persons as the Committee shall from time to time authorise.” which covers bank transfers as well as cheques.
Clause 7b change “The financial year of the Society shall end on the 31st day of December each year” to “The financial year of the Society shall end on the 30th day of September each year”. This merely reflects the change to the financial year that was agreed at the 2016 AGM.
The Treasurer (David King) explained that the amendments, which had been published in the November Tamesis, were really to regularise what was already happening. The AGM is always held in December, not October. As most payments were made by bank transfer rather than cheques, the wording was changed to “authority to make payments” rather than “cheques shall be signed”.
The financial year now ends on 31st December, moving it from 30th September. The change to the financial year had been agreed at the 2016 AGM.
The amendments were proposed by Richard Whitehouse, seconded by Wendy Davies and approved.
6. Election of officers and committee. All the existing officers and committee members were willing to stand again. It was necessary to formally elect Jenny Frost who had been co-opted during the year. Jenny was proposed by Elaine Mordaunt, seconded by Kate Gordon and elected. Roger Hill, seconded by Jim Grant, proposed that the committee should be re-elected en-bloc and this was done.
7. Any other business.
Kate Gordon asked about the possibility of on line booking. This was only really possible for a very straightforward event. David King said that payments by bank transfer and printing your own music were proving popular.
There was discussion about the possibility of receiving Tamesis by email. This was rejected (as usual) for privacy of information reasons, but David Fletcher said that back-numbers of Tamesis eventually made their way on to the web site with names and addresses etc removed.
David King thanked the Chairman (David Fletcher) for his hard work during the year, and the meeting was closed.