Tamesis Issue 263
There are no reviews this month so this is rather a thin edition. Of course there has only been one workshop since the July edition, but it’s rather a pity if Peter Syrus’s July day on motets by the Bach family is to go unrecorded. I was sorry not to be able to go to it myself. I hope some of you will be inspired to write something for the November issue. Reviews of our own and other forums’ workshops are always welcome, as are reports of summer schools. There are so many these days, it would be good to know more about them.
As I’ve got some space to fill I’ve taken the opportunity to write rather more than usual about our forthcoming workshops. There is also the annual request for volunteers for the Forum stand at the Greenwich Early Music Festival. I know that people who come and help on the stand enjoy the opportunity to meet and talk to the visitors and see their friends, and there is a full programme of concerts, both free and ticketed, as well as the displays of music and instruments. I always find one day there is hardly enough.
We are remarkably fortunate in this Internet age that a substantial number of people have generously made sheet music available for free download. I have long been making use of the Choral Public Domain Library with its huge catalogue of choral music through the ages, and the International Music Score Library Project (Petrucci) with its 123,000 works. More recently I discovered NotAmos
with a wealth of pieces, mostly choral, including many big polychoral works, though often with idiosyncratic barring. I've just been made aware of another treasure trove of music made available by the Aeolean Consort which amongst hundreds of works offers 36 assorted canzonas, not counting the 19 Ricercare and Canzonas by Paolo Quagliati (c.1555-1628). I'm rather fond of the two canzonas by him published by London Pro Musica so I will certainly be investigating these. If anyone finds a significant source of early music online that isn't linked to from CPDL or IMSLP then do let me know.
When I look back at over fifty years of music-making I am aware of the ever-increasing rate and breadth of publication of early music. The staple fare of recorder groups in the 1960s was largely Schott with some Faber and Universal editions. It often consisted of arrangements of keyboard music because editors were usually keyboard players who had ready access to collections such as the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book. We rarely played vocal music, and when we did there were no words, so phrasing was hit and miss. These days instrumentalists are used to playing from parts with words underlayed, so I was rather disappointed at the recent Lacock course on Polish music to find the parts were wordless. I think we managed to phrase the music correctly in spite of this and it was nice to come across unfamiliar music that was worthwhile. How wonderful it is for us to be able to pick and choose music from many centuries and countries - renaissance musicians would have been limited to a very tiny selection by comparison.
The Royal Greenwich International Early Music Festival at Blackheath – help wanted on the Forum stand
Once again the early music exhibition and festival is being held at Blackheath while the ceiling of the Painted Hall at Greenwich is being restored. If you’ve got a good head for heights you can visit the ceiling and view it from close up, but I think I’ll wait for it to be finished and admire it from a distance.
Meanwhile, Blackheath Halls make a very good substitute venue and we enjoyed our forum stand there last year. Once again we need people to help on the stand for a few hours during the three days, giving out our membership and workshop leaflets and talking to people. You’ll find you know a lot of them. There will be free entry passes for those who can offer a reasonable amount of time to help, but if you want to spend all three days there (an easy thing to do) an advance purchase ticket for the three days only costs £12. So that you can plan your day to allow time to help on the stand and visit all the stalls, I’ve listed all the main concerts in the Concerts list at the end of this newsletter.
All the information about the festival can be found on the web site www.earlymusicfestival.com. If you can help, please contact me as soon as possible so that I can arrange a timetable to suit everyone. Victoria Helby secretary @ tvemf.org
Some of our Future Events
There is a form for the baroque chamber music day on Sunday November 19th with this issue. I know a few people find it difficult to get to Burnham by public transport on Sundays, but on Saturdays there is a risk that the place will be full of children having extra coaching. I hope to see many of you there. If you’ve been before, I can tell you that the form hasn’t changed apart from the date. If you haven’t, please read it carefully!
The form for the Christmas workshop on Sunday 17th December this year will arrive with the November Tamesis, but please put the date in your diary now. We shall have our usual magnificent bring-and-share lunch to accompany music suitable for voices, cornetts, sackbuts, curtals, recorders and strings, but I can’t tell you yet what the music will be.
Don’t forget to book for the Will Dawes workshop for singers in Ealing on October 21st. There is a waiting list for sopranos but room for other voices, particularly tenors. It seems a long time since the form came out but if you can’t find yours it can be downloaded from the TVEMF web site. To quote from the form: Giaches de Wert (1535-1596) was a Franco-Flemish composer but he spent nearly all his life in Italy. He was a major inspiration for Monteverdi and his later music sets the scene for the transition from the Renaissance to the Baroque eras. He is well known for his vivid depiction of dramatic gospel texts, using techniques from his madrigals and placing them in sacred music. He was a highly imaginative composer with an amazing talent for word-painting, who dramatised the sacred more than any other of his contemporaries. His music is fascinating and thrilling and deserves to be better known.
We are trying out a new venue for Philip Thorby’s workshop on May 19th next year. It’s Epping Hall in St John's Road, Epping CM16 5JU. As it’s a joint event we were looking for a venue on the boundary of our two areas. Epping is at the end of the Central Line and handy for the M25, and parking is only £1 for the whole day on Saturdays. It’s a purpose-built hall, so quite unlike Waltham Abbey where we often go for this event, but if you look at their web site you’ll see that it’s very well equipped. Thanks very much to Kate Gordon for finding it for us.
Our venue for Pleasures of the Plains workshop on 15th April is also new to us as a forum, though not to many of you I’m sure. We’ve booked the big hall at Benslow. The other new thing about this is that if enough of use choose to have it (35 or more), we’ll be able to have the Benslow lunch at a very reasonable price. They will also be providing our coffee and tea, but that will be included in the normal workshop fee. The Benslow Baroque Opera ends with breakfast that day, so if you’ve been to it you’ll be able to stay on for our workshop.
The tutors for it are the harpsichordist Steven Devine and soprano Kate Semmens. Some of us had the pleasure of being tutored by them at the Baroque Week in Caversham, where Steven stepped in with about three days’ notice to conduct Rameau’s Les Indes Galantes, the main work studied on the course, when the original conductor had to back out due to ill health. It was a most impressive and dynamic performance, and he also conducted the evening choir, tutored some of the chamber music sessions and even tuned harpsichords in his spare (!) time.
Here is some more information about the workshop, provided by the tutors. The title refers to the pleasure gardens of London which were at their height in the 18th Century. These were places where all classes of people were able to go, to stroll within beautiful avenues, to eat and also to enjoy music. The egalitarian attitude towards ticket prices meant that a noble man might find himself rubbing shoulders with his servant. The Pleasure Gardens provided a useful source of income for composers and performers alike. Composers such as Thomas Arne and William Boyce became prolific in their song-writing, composing new pieces that could be performed and then sold as sheet music to the public. Charming pastoral songs appeared on concert programmes alongside opera arias, virtuoso instrumental music; all opportunities for both performers and composers to show off and potentially sell their skills. The workshop will focus on music typical of the London Pleasure Gardens and works studied will include extracts from Thomas Linley’s ‘Shakespeare Ode’, selections from Thomas Arne’s ‘Judgement of Paris’ and ‘Alfred ‘(the grand ode of which may prove quite familiar), glees and choruses by Philip Hayes, William Boyce, William Shield and George Frederick Handel.
The day is for singers and baroque instrumentalists (A=415), and judging by reports of the workshop when it was done by Border Marches Early Music Forum earlier this year we shall have a very enjoyable day.
News of Members’ Activities
TVEMF member Jenny Frost is now organising baroque string workshops in Headcorn village hall, Kent, with baroque specialists as the tutors. The next workshop is on Saturday 28th October, from 10.00 to 5.00, with Julia Bishop -
If you would like to attend, or would like to be on the mailing list for future workshops, please contact Jenny on jennyfrost @ waitrose.com.
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TVEMF member Norma Herdson is organising a Thames Baroque workshop in Bourne End on Remembrance Sunday, November 12th. Music will include the overture from “The Secular Masque” by William Boyce, Telemann will be remembered on the 250th anniversary of his death and there will be a piece for singers. If you would like more details please contact Norma nherdson @ gmail.com (01628 621367/0786 655 1843)
Opportunities to make music
The Early Music at Discoed weekend for voices and baroque orchestra is on two settings of the Te Deum by Handel. As the settings are on different days, it’s not absolutely necessary to attend both days. They still need more lower voices, a baroque oboist and possibly a baroque bassoonist. No more cellos are required, but additional violins and violas are welcome, as are upper voices. The workshop will be at A=415. There are two evening concerts on the Friday and Saturday if you want to make a weekend of it. For more information phone 07989 091949 or email DiscoedEarlyMusic @ BTConnect.com