Thames Valley Early Music Forum
Tamesis Issue 222
Our AGM takes place after the Christmas in Rome workshop on 5th December and TVEMF needs a new treasurer. If you are interested in doing this please contact David Fletcher (contact details on the front cover) before the AGM. In order to make the new treasurer’s job easier, please consider using a standing order for your subscription next year and subsequently. There is a PDF on the TVEMF web site, and if you can’t download it David will be happy to send you one. So far only fifty seven people have signed up for standing orders out of a membership of about 350. Because our usual venue in Amersham is not available the Christmas workshop is in a smaller hall and we are having to restrict the number of places. We will be back at the Community Centre next year. There are only waiting list places at the moment for sopranos and recorder players. Priority must go to tenors at the moment (please book now) but the waiting list has only one person on it so far so if you want to come it’s worth sending me a booking form and cheque (which will be shredded if I can’t find room for you). If you’re coming please read the separate section on page 6. Many thanks to all our contributors this month and particularly to NEEMF and Thomas Green for his most useful and interesting article on web resources for music. David Fletcher’s short account of the history of TVEMF really took me back to its beginnings. I had forgotten how long the forum had been going and remember with pleasure our early meetings at the Bate Collection when it was actually possible to play the historical instruments, including the famous Bressan recorder. It was great to see Jeremy Montagu and his drums which he had specially extracted from the Collection at the Israel in Egypt workshop last month.
Minutes of the 2009 AGM held on December 6th 2009
1. Apologies for absence These were received from Barbara Moir, David King, Jill Caudle, Ruth Harris, Gabrielle Seth-Smith and Denny Lyttle. 2. Approval of the Minutes of the last meeting These were approved (proposed Giles Andrews, seconded Charles Lewis). 3. Chairman's Report for 2009 I think I can claim another successful year although, perhaps because of the credit crunch, our membership fell to 363 from a peak of 386 in 2009 but we still remain the largest Forum. Events held in 2009 were: Verse anthem workshop for singers and instruments with Bill Hunt, Vocal music for Lent with Alistair Dixon, Renaissance and medieval consort day with David Fletcher, Baroque chamber music day with Peter Collier, Inter-Forum residential weekend - Handel's Saul with Laurence Cummings, a mass in a liturgical setting with Michael Procter, Brumel "Earthquake" mass for voices and instruments with Will Carslake, vocal music by Costanzo Festa with Peter Syrus, Magnificats from Tudor England with David Allinson, Renaissance Recorder Workshop with Philip Thorby, Music for All Saints with Alistair Dixon, Baroque chamber music day with Victoria Helby, Christmas event - South American music for voices and instruments with Jeffrey Skidmore. As usual I would like to thank the excellent committee and all those who organised our events throughout the year. Particular thanks must go to Vicky Helby for organising several events including this one, and for her heroic efforts in producing Tamesis with its comprehensive concerts and events lists. We have decided to reduce the publication frequency to every other month so that she does have some spare time for other things! Many thanks also to Jim Wills who has carried out his duties as Treasurer with commendable thoroughness and accuracy. I understand that he is only willing to continue for this next year so we are looking for someone to take over in the following year. Thank too to Hazel Fenton who of course was Treasurer for many years and is continuing to audit the accounts for us. She is moving to the West Country in the New Year, so sadly we will see less of her, but we wish her well and hope she finds plenty of music in her new location.
The main worry I have about the future of the Forum is that the average age of our members seems to be rising at almost one year per year. With that in mind I would urge all members to try to encourage competent youngsters along to our events. We are trying one thing which may appeal to the young and trendy (not a description that has ever been applied to me) – thanks to Wayne Plummer we now have a Facebook group. It contains pictures and videos together with some discussion to which everyone is welcome to contribute, and you don't have to be a Facebook member to view these.
4. Secretary’s Report The Secretary (Victoria Helby) reported that 2009 had been another busy year. There had been a good selection of events, at least one every month except during the summer holidays. In November TVEMF had a stand at the Greenwich Early Music Festival and Exhibition. The Forum was very lucky that some members were willing to organise events with actually being on the committee. More people were needed to help to spread the load a little. She was pleased to say that there was a volunteer for the committee. Again this year there had been no formal committee meetings and the Forum had been run by emails and informal meetings at events such as this one. 5. Treasurer’s Report for 2008 The Treasurer circulated his Account Summary to the end of the third quarter of 2009. Gift Aid was discussed, and it was pointed out that Hampstead Music Club and the Society of Recorder Players get it. The Chairman said that he did not feel that we could morally ask for Gift Aid. The benefit of being a charity was that we did not need to pay tax on profits. Sue Forrest said that she was impressed by how very little the Forum costs and what good value for money it was. There was a question about sending out the newsletter by email. The Secretary said that this had been discussed and rejected the previous year because of the problems that this could present if the newsletter and its contents, including people’s personal contact information, could easily be obtained by outsiders. Marjory Bisset said that she was surprised to see how much money the Forum had and asked whether there were plans to use it. The Chairman said that it had not been deliberately built up but that we needed to keep a cushion for events such as Saul. Kate Gordon suggested a medieval workshop. The Chairman asked if members thought that running a small scale day with tutors would be an acceptable use of funds, and there were no objections. Acceptance of the accounts was proposed by Wendy Davies, seconded by Ken Moore. 6. Election of Officers and Committee David King had volunteered to join the committee. He was proposed by David Fletcher, seconded by Fiona Weir. Jim Wills, the current Treasurer, agreed to stand for a further year but said that the Treasurer just needs a reasonable head for figures. Someone could perhaps do it for a limited time, if they had got a lot out of the forum and wanted to give a bit back. The Chairman (David Fletcher), Secretary (Victoria Helby), Treasurer (Jim Wills) and the existing committee were re-elected.
7. Any other business Kate Gordon asked if the image of an @ could be used on online forms. The Secretary mentioned that she always shredded old booking forms. Hazel Fenton (Honorary Auditor) asked if there had been a change to the accounting year as the Accounts Summary referred to 2009. The Treasurer replied that the right- hand column was the 2008 accounts which had been audited. Hazel offered to remain as auditor and this was proposed by David Fletcher, seconded by Victoria Helby. Fiona Weir asked about younger people coming to events. The Chairman replied that Magdalen College School pupils had been invited to events held at the school but did not tend to come. A vote of thanks was offered to the committee by Jenny Gowing.
I was torn between two workshops on the 9th of October. I could have come to sing at TVEMF's Israel in Egypt but as the SEMF Schütz workshop would allow me to play the cornett as well as doing some singing I opted to go to Bosham. I gather that the Handel event was a great success but so was the Schütz, and we two cornettists enjoyed playing some demandingly high parts. The Brighton Early Music Festival is in full swing at present and on Saturday they took advantage of the extra hour to have a "White Night" of music in the gigantic church of St Bartholomew which began with a performance of the Monteverdi Vespers. I imagine His Majestys Sagbutts & Cornetts are getting a bit tired of this in its 400th anniversary year but they and the other instrumentalists and soloists gave a fine performance. I felt that the choir was not quite up to the same standard and lacked clarity but it's a tough work to master. Having played the cornett II part on a couple of occasions I'm currently learning the bass II part for a performance by Renaissance Voices in Taplow on the 4th December (see diary). The rest of the evening was very varied, ranging from medieval to baroque and I was particularly impressed by Il Nuovo Chiaroscuro, a young sackbut quartet. At one point in their program they played a piece which was familiar to me but took me a while to recognise: Giovanni Gabrieli's sonata for three violins played an octave lower - quite amazing! The evening culminated after 1 a.m. in a performance of the 40-part motet Ecce beatam lucem by Alessandro Striggio, familiar from TVEMF workshops and elsewhere. A memorable experience, well worth the loss of sleep. It is likely that most of the current members of TVEMF are unaware of its origins so I have written a short account of its early years which appears elsewhere in this issue.
Christmas workshop arrangements
Thanks very much for all the offers of lifts. Nearer the time I will send out a list of everyone who has offered or requested a lift so that you can contact each other. There is no Metropolitan line service between Aldgate and Harrow on the Hill on 5th December, but the service from Marylebone is running and there is a train at 8.27 arriving at 9.02. This seems rather early but the hall will be open from 9.30, or you could have a cup of coffee in or near Amersham station. The 9.27 gets in at 10.02, which will still give you time to get to the hall. Trains arrive at Chalfont and Latimer station four minutes earlier. You will see from the list that people have offered lifts from both stations. Return trains are at 17.23 to Marylebone, 17.33 to Harrow on the Hill and 18.23 to Marylebone. It would be a good idea to check nearer the time on www.tfl.gov.uk for the latest information. Please make sure that you go to the right hall - Amersham Common, not the Community Centre. We have hired the smaller hall as well as the larger one so that we can keep the food and drink separate from the playing. When you arrive please put your non-perishable food in the small hall and anything which could suffer from getting warm in one of the two fridges in the kitchen. If it’s very cold weather, if possible leave perishables in your car if the fridges seem to be getting full. There is additional parking across the road. The hall proved a little difficult to spot last time. It’s about a hundred metres before the Audi garage if you’re approaching from the London direction. If you can arrive a bit early and help put out chairs in the main hall and tables in the small one that will be really helpful. We’ll also need help to put them all away at the end, tidy the kitchen etc. People are always very good about helping with coffee and tea and pouring out drinks at the Christmas event, and I’m sure this one will be no exception. We may be using paper plates and plastic cups so if you don’t like using them please bring your own as well as some cutlery. If this won’t be necessary I’ll mention it in the travel email.
TVEMF - the Early Years
In 1987 I was at a cornett and sackbut course at Benslow when I spotted a flyer for the Southern Early Music Forum. In spite of being an enthusiastic player of early music since about 1962, this was the first time I had heard of the fora (forums?) and I was immediately keen to find out more. I discovered that there were then nine of these organisations covering the whole of England with the exception of the Thames Valley region. I was then living in Wokingham which was firmly in this area, and I was determined to find out how to remedy the situation, so I joined Southern, South West, Midlands and Border Marches. I attended various events in the next year and received the various newsletters, discovering that each forum had its own style and that there was no overall controlling body. However, the National Early Music Association was the obvious starting point in my attempt to form what became TVEMF so I got in touch with them and Simon Hill was soon helping me. He was one of the people who had revised the Early Music Register, soon to become the Early Music Yearbook, so was in a good position to generate a list of early music enthusiasts in the area. He told me that our current President, Jeremy Montagu, and our Secretary, Victoria Helby, had expressed interest in a forum so I got in touch with them and Jeremy offered to host an event at the faculty of Music in Oxford where he was curator of the Bate Collection of early musical instruments. I sent a mailshot to those whose addresses Simon had provided, asking them and several friends to our inaugural meeting on the 16th October 1988. Musically I have to admit that this meeting was not totally successful, partly because of using various conductors, not all of whom were sufficiently experienced, and partly because I had chosen complicated multi-choir music (Gabrieli Omnes Gentes and Praetorius Allein Gott amongst others) for which I had obtained free but not entirely satisfactory music. However 26 people signed up at that meeting and we appointed our first committee. I had reservations about my abilities as Chairman so Chris Thorn took that post and also that of Magazine Editor and I became Membership Secretary. Our current President and Secretary were elected as was our first Treasurer, Hazel Fenton, who only retired from the post three years ago. It is largely thanks to them and the other committee members that the forum has been as successful as it has been. Of the 26 people who joined in 1988, 11 are still members, 5 (at least) have died and 4 moved out of the area. The balance between voices and instruments was very much in favour of the latter with 24 instrumentalists of whom 12 claimed to sing and only two non-playing vocalists. Our current membership (as of the 1st of November 2010) stands at 354 of whom 215 sing and there is a much better balance between singers and the various instrumental families. Starting TVEMF was one of the best things I have done and has led to a rich musical life with many friends.
TVEMF “Israel in Egypt” October 9th 2010
The secret of an enjoyable and productive TVEMF workshop lies in impeccable organisation, and that is what we had on the Handel’s Israel in Egypt day at St Sepulchre in the City of London. We were a large chorus and band, but the music and seating were all set up and waiting, so, fortified with coffee, we were ready to warm up (the church was a little chilly) under Julian Perkins’ direction. Orchestra and chorus alike breathed deeply and “panted like puppies” before launching into “And believed the Lord”, where Julian suggested, “If in doubt, be lively”. As a singer, I was particularly impressed by the liveliness of the band, and felt that Julian got the balance right between directing the chorus and making interpretative suggestions for the instrumentalists. He had obviously prepared the day carefully so that different sections of the band had a regular chance to shine, and he kept the goodly number of brass players happy with the spirited “He gave them hailstones”, where the choir breathed fire. We worked through three more choruses before we surged forth with “But the waters overwhelmed”, a dramatic section where the ‘cellos induced seasickness. The effect was greatly enhanced by the double drums vigorously played by our President, Jeremy Montagu. I understand that these drums are the only surviving pair of the sort that Handel used to borrow from the Tower of London. We recovered over lunch, and spent the afternoon polishing our rhythms and articulation, and worked not on the rests but on “acts of silence”. In the speedier sections of “The horse and his rider he hath thrown into the sea” or during the plague of lice and flies, where our sight-reading flagged, we were exhorted to be “strong and wrong” rather than “tight and right”. In a workshop you can only skim the surface of such a large work, but it was an excellent opportunity to discover more of Handel’s lesser-known scriptural oratorio The Camden Choir is giving a performance on 20 November at 7.30 at St Mary the Virgin, Primrose Hill, if you want to hear the full work, and it was good to welcome members of the choir to the TVEMF event. At the end of the afternoon we had a final run through in which, to quote the text, we “triumphed gloriously”.
Coronation Anthems by Blow and Purcell - the EEMF Workshop for Voices & Instruments with Peter Holman, Elmsworth, Oct 2nd 2010
My two previous encounters with Peter were a West Gallery workshop and a performance of Biber. Today's workshop bridged several categories as both anthems were written for performance in Westminster abbey, we aimed to recreate the English "cathedral sound" (albeit with a soupçon of French baroque influence) but in a galleried old Baptist chapel where one could easily imagine bearded CAMRA members lustily bellowing out West Gallery tunes. The presence of a band - many violins who credibly imitated horns in the Purcell, several violas, a brace of viols, the obligatory theorbo and a convenient electronic keyboard - meant that we sang rather less than at an a capella vocal workshop. (That is not to say that there was less to do - it was emphatically not a case of "sit quietly and chat among yourselves".)
Blow's "God Spake Sometimes in Visions" was written for the 1685 coronation of James II and Purcell's "Praise the lord O Jerusalem" for William-and-Mary four years later. The text of the anthems was cobbled together by Cantua from various parts of the Bible. There was some conferring between the two composers (ask Peter for evidence) but whereas Blow used the layout SATB-SATB, Purcell favoured SSAATTBB. (In fact Blow has a Bass3 part with many low E's and D's - not at all easy so early in the morning. I rather wish that Peter had experimented with the singers in spaced- out choirs (cori spezzati) in the galleries - the Bass 3's, trapped at the back underneath the gallery, occasionally sounded rather muffled. Francis Sandford's eyewitness account of the 1685 ceremony (see Early English Books Online) includes engravings showing the disposition of the singers. (Sunny I hope - Ed.)* Peter's hints on technique and interpretation were on a fairly abstract level rather than of the "up-bow on the first beat of bar nine" variety. Music is a heightened form of rhetoric: think of the Peroration as having the degree of solemnity appropriate to a coronation. ("Take care of the sense and the sounds will take care of themselves" – e e cummings). In the realisation of notes inégales play the shorter note short. Trills begin above the note. Appoggiaturas are short. "Play dissonances louder" (Quantz). "A dissonance is like a storm" (Roger North), so the resolution is the calm after the storm - and a cadence with a False Relation is perhaps like one of Turner's wilder seascapes. Singers were exhorted "if you see a II-I or a VII-I, stick a trill in and see what happens!" Instrumentalists were enjoined to practice the "snatching way of playing" (Roger North). Peter made a useful distinction between imitation, where an instrumental melody is followed by a vocal entry, and echo-effects, which typically involve nymphs, shepherds and rills. ("Is it possible to have an echo effect in the absence of rills?" - Ed. "Yes in Italian madrigals, but intricate word-play is then de rigueur, as in for example "Ecco un buon' prosecco secco...secco...(echo)" - Auth.) Clifford's editorial musings in the October Early Music Review on the dynamics of repeats are worth a read, and a subscription, by the way. We were now beginning to appreciate the galliard rhythm of the Blow. (A galliard can in fact have three levels of triple-time, but that is for another workshop.)At this point I got slightly lost when Peter said, I think, that, per Roger North, Purcell's tempi "would make a pudding creak" and I had a Proustian moment recalling the clootie (cloth) dumplings of my Ripomolendinarian childhood (Is that the same as Transmungovian? - Ed. Yes!) Blow's score does not indicate where singers can breathe - many a minim had to be shortened. I have another gripe with the addition. Hemiolas are sometimes written as long bars so 8 bars/4 systems can occupy two pages with nary a bar-number in sight. I found myself crying out for rehearsal-letters. On one occasion Peter said "We'll do 128 again" and half the choir went forward and the other half opted for, da Capo, 1 - 8. There can be a fruitful tension between the word-stress of the text and the rhythm indicated by the notation of the music. Alas I know nothing about Monteverdi's Stile Concito or Concitato - or the Pyrrhic (warlike) mode, where every note is stressed - but Peter does. Our first complete run-through really took off when food began to appear from the kitchen - the final eight bars of Allelujah (molto largamente) were performed acccelerando and with a foot-thumping molto crescendo. Lunch was extremely social, enabling people to mingle out of their sections. Many thanks for all who helped to prepare it. Work on the Purcell began with a discussion of metre. Clearly for Purcell C is in four and C-stroke is in two. C-stroke backwards (whatever that means) is twice as fast as C-stroke. If one knows the Chandos Anthems (Never heard of them - Ed.), the Harpersonesque "Kings shall be their nursing fathers" until one realises that William-and-Mary was a joint monarchy (I couldn't help thinking of the 1741 Bratislava coronation of Maria Teresia, the first female Hapsburg heir. No one in the Kafkaesque bureaucracy could authorise a change in the wording of the ceremony so she was crowned Kaiser und Koenig - Emperor and King - and was referred to as He throughout.) The Division Viol (Christopher Simpson) includes Charles Colman's Rules for the realisation of ornaments. In early Baroque, trills start on the note and Appoggiaturas are short. In late(r) Baroque trills start above the note and Appoggiaturas are longer, leaning right into the resolution. After some more work (well, fun actually), we performed both works. With every second bar a hemiola, Peter conducted heroically. (I don't know how he did it, I wasn't looking.) I had internalised the "snatching" way of singing. And then it was time to go home (till next year). My thanks to Selene (organiser), Michael (mine host), Peter (of course) and Gabriele and Phil for the lift from Cambridge. I enjoyed the day immensely and learned a great deal.
*Thanks to the anonymous (imaginary?) editor for the comments - certainly not mine! And thanks to Brian for inadvertently coining a new word for notes inégales - “Nots inegalegs” in his hurriedly typed correction to his review. I can just see the pairs of quavers lurching along on unequal legs to produce the desired inequality. Victoria (ed.)
Unexpected Music : tips for beachcombers
The web and the computer have reshaped music publishing. No longer are we limited to the giants like Schotts, Edition Peters, Breitkopf and Hartel, and so on – there are now dozens of tiny imprints, sometimes producing only a handful of titles for some specialist market, springing up because small publishers can create and distribute music far more easily today. Much of this material is really cheap, and in fact a lot of it is available FREE. The NEEMF website has links to all the small early music publishers that have come my way. Let’s take a quick tour. (If you don’t have domestic web access you may have to try your local library or internet café or an obliging friend.) The tour will start at the NEEMF list of freely downloadable music, here: http://www.neemf.org.uk/sources/online.html. (From the home page follow the link to “Sources ...” and then to “Publishers and Stockists”.) One of the big names is CPDL, the Choral Public Domain Library, which offers a vast amount of free music. The link takes us to a rather over-dense page which luckily has a search box, so I try putting Crecquillon into the box. Yes, there are several pieces, starting with Dont vient cela, a chanson for 5 voices. Several people have uploaded versions and one of them has even uploaded digital copies of the original partbooks. I download one of the modern- notation versions and voilà, I have a 5-part chanson ready to go. No barlines, that’ll keep me thinking. Now let’s try another of the big names, WIMA, the Werner Icking Music Archive. From the NEEMF list, the link goes to the WIMA start page, again with a search box. This time I try Croce, since I enjoyed John Bryan’s workshop. Not quite so lucky this time, there’s only one piece, a Canzon in Bb arranged for brass quartet; again I can download pdf files and this time I can also download the Finale source files, so I can edit it myself for whatever I feel like (maybe concertinas, in my case). Less well-known, possibly less scholarly, but extremely practical and useful, is the Steve Hendricks Music Collection. A long list of titles from various sources: simple C16th dances from Arbeau (in 4 part settings by Hendricks) and Phalèse, pieces from the Cambridge Consort Books, Rosseter’s Consort Lessons and likewise Morley’s, music by Dowland; music from the Red Book of Montserrat (late C14th songs), Praetorius, Playford, and so on. In each case what you get is a pdf score, usually with no instruments assigned and with no scholarly apparatus, freely available for educational and non-commercial use. An excellent source for many purposes. You never know when you might want an almain in a hurry.
Now for a smaller site. Let’s try Hans Mons. His page turns out to cover only 13 composers, and I try the first, just for curiosity, because I have never heard of Noel Balduin. I end up once again with a free pdf score, 5 parts, nicely presented, a setting of Ach got wem soll ichs clagen. Lots of free stuff, then. For a contrast, let’s look at music you need to pay for. The page is http://www.neemf.org.uk/sources/publishers.html, and the first entry I try is for Cheap Choice Brave and New, because at some point I found this site had gone away. Well, it’s sort of come back, but now it’s an eBay store, and it doesn’t seem to stock any music. Let’s try again. How about Alfredston Music? Yes, still in business. Skimming through the list my eyes hit Padilla, Mexican Church Music: four motets à 4 SSAB SATB. Sounds interesting. Parts for recorders and viols £2.10 – that’s surely a bargain. How about the Cantiones Press – let’s see what they do. Here I quickly find a 6-part Lassus motet, Heroum Soboles, for £1.75, supplied as a PDF file. Edited by Alistair Dixon. Beautifully presented with all the proper prefatory information. What great value. One more on this page for luck, and I try The Green Man Press to see how my namesake’s doing. Looking down the list I find a Purcell ode that’s new to me, Raise, raise the voice, for soprano, bass, two violins and continuo, with an intro by Peter Holman so it must be good. Following the ‘more information’ button takes me to a brief account of the composer’s work and sample pdf pages for each Purcell title, and very nice they look, though at £7.90 not quite such amazing value as the last two. Oddly enough, this particular piece is not listed on the Purcell page; I wonder what that means. Nearly time to stop, but we mustn’t forget another fecund source of little oddities and lucky finds: websites created for individual instruments, often by people who are passionate about their instrument and determined that everybody else should have a chance to share their work. Go first to http://www.neemf.org.uk/relatedsites/instruments.html . There’s a rather small list of instrument pages here. I try venturing down the first one, a dulcian page, following the link to Repertoire for dulcians, and find a list of pieces from the C17 solo repertoire, which I didn’t even know existed. Let’s try one of the pieces by Bartolomeo De Selma, apparently a famous dulcian player in his day. I try piece 11, Canzon a doi Basso e soprano, and in no time I have yet another free pdf – and this time it comes with score and parts. Not got any dulcianists to hand? Never mind, I bet I can find a few other instruments it would work on. Enough now: I’ve got pointers to cheap, interesting editions, and I’ve downloaded a string of useful-looking pdf files; it’s time I tried playing one. Have fun exploring, and if you know any more useful pages let me know.
Thomas Green (webmaster for North East Early Music Forum)