Thames Valley Early Music Forum
Tamesis Issue 234
TVEMF members formed one of the four choirs at Michael Procter’s memorial service at St Sepulchre-without-Newgate last Friday 2nd November. I think Michael would have been pretty happy with all our efforts, bearing in mind that we had only had an hour to rehearse each choir, and being a very sociable man he would have approved of the wine and nibbles afterwards which gave some of us an opportunity to talk to people we hadn’t seen for a very long time. From where the choirs were sitting at the side it was difficult to hear the contributions from members of Michael’s family, but Robin Rigby has put links to Claudia and Ben’s words on the web site www.michael- procter.com. For a lot of us the last time we saw Michael was his memorable TVEMF Christmas workshop last year, and now it’s almost time for the next one. A form is included, along with forms for Jeremy Jackman’s workshop for singers in January at St Sepulchre’s, and David’s popular annual renaissance playing day in February. Don’t forget that singers who can hold a line are welcome to that as well.
We are in the process of arranging workshops with Patrick Allies and Peter Syrus during the early summer. Keep an eye on the web site www.tvemf.org if you need to know the dates before the January Tamesis comes out.
There are a couple of things to keep you entertained at home over the winter season - listing your musical activities in November for Hugh Rosenbaum’s play month count and dreaming up your desert island discs as suggested by Kate Gordon. Read on for more information.
It seems early to say it, but Happy Christmas to all our members!
Sunday 2nd December 2012 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. Election of officers and committee
7. Any other business
After so many years it's hard to remember for me to remember what it was like before TVEMF existed, but now there is usually at least one event per month, which is a great joy. The workshop with James Weeks, studying music by Philips and Sweelinck, seemed to go very well, and confirmed my opinion of Phillips as a somewhat neglected master, whilst introducing equally good music by his contemporary. I very much enjoyed the Baroque Chamber Music day, which appeared to run very smoothly but I know that our Secretary had some anxious moments and put a great deal of work into rearranging groups after a late cancellation, so many thanks to her.
Time for a mention of what one might call domestic matters. I am a computer programmer, which makes me particularly sensitive to things being done in an inefficient way (all right, I'm a bit obsessive). At our events we usually use plastic cups and cup-holders for convenience. The latter are not disposable - please do not throw them away as they can be used many times. When disposing of plastic cups, please try to stack them, otherwise the bin fills up very quickly. Please do not deposit used tea bags on the lids of containers used for cutlery or sugar. Indeed, before the morning session, please consider making a pot of tea rather than each person using a messy tea bag. When making coffee, please keep at least one dry spoon for the purpose - it is sufficient to have one wet spoon for stirring coffee and (if your taste buds are very sensitive) another for tea, otherwise we rapidly run out of spoons. Help in clearing up after events is always welcome, but please don't pack jugs, kettle, cutlery etc. into our boxes unless they are marked as ours! It's very embarrassing and inconvenient to have to return a jug or bowl to the church some days afterwards.
The Purcell workshop is well-subscribed with singers but, as usual for baroque events, we have had some difficulty in attracting enough instruments. It will be fine, but do encourage any of your string-playing friends to join TVEMF and come to these events. The Christmas workshop will of course be great fun and I look forward to this festive occasion. The Byrd workshop in January is intended to encourage those who are a bit nervous at the idea of singing without the aid of bar lines. Anyone who has been performing early music for a while will have got used to the idea that the bar lines do not indicate emphasis, merely the passage of time, so it should not be too hard to abandon them. Just make sure you can distinguish a semibreve rest from a minim rest and all will go well. In fact we shall be working up to things gradually, starting with modern notation before doing the same music in a form which would have been more familiar in the sixteenth century. Finally I should point out that needing a bar for support is not something I associate with TVEMF members!
Letter to the Chairman
I was recently at an SRP Playing Day in Petersfield and happened to see a leaflet on your workshop: "Silence is Golden".
Imagine my delight - it sounded most interesting.
Unfortunately, my enthusiasm was rather short-lived when it was pointed out to me that it had actually taken place earlier in the year. I'm so disappointed that I missed as I think it sounds a most imaginative theme for a workshop - rests are among the most difficult parts of a piece to play well and convincingly.
I have no idea how many people attended or how successful it was, but if you are thinking of putting on something similar in the future i should be really pleased.
As a music teacher I have spent much of my life looking for imaginative ideas on dealing with rests for young people who seem to think that silence means that something has gone wrong.
I suspect the event would have included a recorder arrangement of John Cage's 4 minutes 33 seconds, which, although I have never seen the score I imagine it to have included a large number of rests and would have formed quite the most tranquil part of the day - an ideal follow on from lunch.
Please let me know if you are thinking of putting on a similar workshop in the near future - my cheque will be in the post before you can say "hemi-demi-semi-quaver rest".
TVEMF play month count
Hugh Rosenbaum didn’t get a very good response to his idea of a play count in October, so I’ve suggested we start again with November. As it’s the month that’s already started you can begin now, which will help you to remember about it. You may remember the play count was suggested in the September Tamesis, and the idea is to emulate the RSPB’s bird count and send him a list of your musical activities in one month, including instruments or voices, number participating, kinds of pieces played (not the whole list), and one name of the organiser, contact person, or poster. In spite of the title I’m sure it’s meant to include singing as well. I’d like to publish the results in the January Tamesis so hope Hugh will get a lot of replies this time. I did October and it didn’t take very long.
Please send your November report to Hugh either by email to hugh4 @ blueyonder.co.uk or post them to 127 Fortis Green Road, London N10 3LX.
Desert Island Discs
And here’s another idea for you to be thinking about over the Christmas period. Kate Gordon has suggested that we might like to dream up a list of our eight favourite pieces of music, or specific recordings, for our own Desert Island Discs. To inspire you, here are Kate’s: 1 JS Bach B minor mass 2= JS Bach St John's & St Matthew's Passions, Magnificat 5 JS Bach double violin concerto 6 Tallis Lamentations of Jeremiah (both sets) 7 Monteverdi Vespers 8 Tallis O Nata Lux Send your own lists to me at tamesis @ tvemf.org and I’ll publish the results in January.
Cambridge Choral Study Weekend and De Profundis concert
The Cambridge Choral Study Weekends are an established series preparing Renaissance music for performance in the context of a sung Mass. They have been directed by Michael Procter and following Michael’s sudden tragic death earlier this year, Edward Wickham agreed to direct the course taking place in Gonville and Caius College on 14th-16th September. There were 32 singers and we studied two six-part works. The larger work was Isaac’s Missa Virgo Prudentissima composed at the beginning of the 16th Century and the other was Manchicourt’s motet Osculetur me composed around the middle of the 16th century. These two compositions are utterly different in style but both are of top quality and wonderful to sing. The Isaac mass was quite challenging. There are intricate rhythmic patterns and many of the melodic lines are quirky and unpredictable requiring the utmost concentration. In contrast the Manchicourt was very straightforward but it was sublimely beautiful. There was limited rehearsal time available before we sang both works in the college chapel on the Sunday morning. There was no keyboard player to support us during the service or rehearsals which made the event all the more enjoyable but carried an element of risk. Edward Wickham used the time very efficiently to ensure we reached an acceptable standard and his efforts paid off. We were most indebted to Edward for the hard work he put into ensuring the success of the weekend. After very intensive rehearsals on the Saturday, the evening was free and by fortunate coincidence David Allinson’s group De Profundis was giving a concert in St John’s College Chapel and many of us attended it. De Profundis was founded by the tenor Mark Dourish in 2011 and consists of around 20 men singing renaissance music at the pitch originally written as opposed to the somewhat higher pitches more commonly used nowadays for mixed choirs. I had never heard the group before and was very struck by the quality of the singing and of the rich effect of performing music at a low pitch. The concert was the first in the series of Iberian Renaissance Masterpieces and consisted primarily of music by Morales including his Missa Mille Regretz. The mass is based on the Josquin chanson and we heard this chanson sung one-to-a-part in addition to a number of Morales motets and the entire mass. As an encore given, according to David Allinson, to ensure we did not need counselling after an evening of miserable music, De Profundis performed an uplifting piece by Créquillon. David was really at home with the works chosen for the concert and demonstrated his insight into the expressive potential of this powerful music. It was a most memorable occasion and De Profundis is highly recommended. Watch out for details of future concerts of the group listed in forthcoming issues of Tamesis.
Tewkesbury Medieval Music Festival
organised by Waytes and Measures The Library, Theoc House, Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire
Saturday 13 October 2012
Waytes and Measures is a group of five people who perform medieval and Tudor music in authentic costume and with period instruments. Their definition of “medieval” is anything up to the time of Henry VIII. The day this year was tutored by Tim Bayley from the York Waits. The music we looked at was from the 13th to 15th centuries and in anything from one to four parts. Variety was given by repeating the music with different combinations of instruments and singers. We sang and played a lot of music so I can’t mention all of it, but two favourites were “Mit Guenstlichem Herczen” by Oswald von Wolkenstein (1377-1445), a three part canon that sounded especially good played on psaltery, dulcimer and oud, and a contrasting piece, “Reveillez-vous Piccarz” that we sang and played, getting louder as time went on and with a rousing four-part finale including shawms. The workshop finished around 5 pm so people could eat before the concert that was held in the same venue, starting at 7 pm. The concert was fairly informal and anyone who had attended the day could volunteer to perform. Highlights for me included a portative organ duet, a pipe and tabor duet, a shawm trio and a performance by Simon Pickard of the Southwest Early Music Forum on double chanter bagpipes. Tim demonstrated his versatility on almost any instrument by playing solo items on bagpipes and hurdy-gurdy, as well as joining with other people in playing drum, portative organ, pipe and tabor and shawm. Makes you sick, really. The concert finished with everyone playing a selection from the music we had looked at during the day and when we played “Ductia” it was great that there was some dancing to the music. For further information on Tim and the York Waits, see the York Waits website, www.theyorkwaits.org.uk.
Future events: Plans are being made to have another medieval music day in Tewkesbury next year. See the Waytes and Measures website, www.waytesandmeasures.org.uk or e-mail contact @ waytesandmeasures.org.uk. On 20 April 2013 Tim will be tutoring a day on waits band music through the Southwest Early Music Forum. Details will be available nearer the time on the SWEMF website or you could e-mail the organiser, Simon Pickard simpickard @ btinternet.com. On 5 October 2013 I am planning a workshop to be tutored by Tim through the Southern Early Music Forum. The theme will be music from the time of Richard III and it will be for all instrumentalists and singers. It is possible that there will be a workshop showcase on the following day, 6 October. Please contact me if you would like to be put on the mailing list. My e-mail address is catherinecruise @ btinternet.com.
Twice monthly classical/early/traditional music in London
I’m told that ‘Get Classical’ nights are held on the first and third Thursday of each month organised by Jennifer Bennett of the Amphion Consort at The Constitution, 42 St Pancras Way, NW1 0QT, a pub already well known for its folk evenings. They start at 7pm and go on until 11.30pm and admission is £5. The line-up of instrumentalists varies, but on a typical evening there might be baroque violins, lute, cittern, bass viol, but not necessarily all playing at the same time, there is a lot of improvising, and the atmosphere is very informal. For more information please email: jsb @ jenniferbennett.eu or look at www.amphionconsort.com. Do go and try it, and write us a review.
International Young Artists Competition 11-13 July 2013 York, UK
Applications are now being invited for this prestigious competition which takes place at the York Early Music Festival in July 2013. The closing date for entries is Friday 25 January 2013 and full details can be found on the National Centre for Early Music website at www.ncem.co.uk/youngartists2013.