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January 2005

Happy new year to everyone.

First a couple of apologies. I failed to spot the minor error in the Christmas competition (correction is on page 5) so I have decided to postpone the closing date to 7th February to give another chance to anyone who may have been put off from entering by not being able to find an 8-letter answer to question 18.

Secondly, my Mailwasher programme, normally so reliable, has taken to marking perfectly innocent e-mails for deletion and I know that I have lost at least 3 that way, so I'm sorry if I seem to have ignored any messages. Please just send them again if it's not too late.

Thanks to our contributors this month, particularly to Jenny and Nicola for their review of the West Gallery Day. I was pleased to see that people enjoyed it. Personally I was a bit disappointed that we weren't able to do any of the more complicated baroque style pieces which I'd done with Peter Holman previously at an EEMF workshop. Apparently it was because we had no violinists - this shortage of violinists is getting to be a bit of a problem because it restricts the kind of workshop we can put on. As David says, the church was a good venue, and I'm glad to say that they are planning to improve the lighting. There is also a review of last year's Chalemie summer school. This is the time of year when people are planning their summer, so it would be good to have more reviews like this. May I just say that you can get the high quality meals they mention at the Oxford Baroque week which is held at the same school the following week. You can get a taste of the baroque week (but not the food) at our joint playing day on 2nd April.

I went to a couple of good concerts over Christmas. The Chiltern Baroque Orchestra concert in Chesham was as usual stylishly and sensitively performed. I'm mentioning it because it was an example of the sort of programming which I see more and more as I type out the entries for the Concerts list. Orchestras and choirs seem to feel compelled to mix in more recent music amongst the early works and, as I'm sure you've noticed, the majority of Radio 3's programmes are just a random mixture of periods. In this case baritone Peter Harvey, who had previously given a moving performance of Bach's cantata "Ich habe genug", chose to sing the carol Balulalow, complete with extra vibrato. Warlock's chromatic harmony seemed so alien after the Bach and Corelli that I found it quite painful to listen to.

The other concert was also local to me - Piers Adams and Red Priest doing their Christmas programme 'The Red Priest and the Virgin' in a very small theatre in Hemel Hempstead. I hadn't seen Piers perform for a long time, though I used to have recorder lessons with him, and didn't know quite what to expect. All four performers are of course technically brilliant, but this must be the most polished programme I have ever seen by anyone, not just musically but visually as well. The performance flows at such a pace - and I don't just mean that there were a lot of very fast notes, though of course there were - it really was absolutely electrifying, and as soon as I got home I looked at their web site to see when I could see them again. Unfortunately they are about to go on tour in America, but before they go there is the premiere of their new show Red Hot Baroque at the Hackney Empire (see the Concerts list). It's described in their press release as "a startling marriage of baroque instruments with modern sound and lighting technology… and special effects". The programme I saw didn't have much that a purist could object to, but I do wonder about this one!

We have several events in the pipeline, including workshops with Peter Syrus and Philip Thorby. Neil Edington is thinking about organising a Michael Procter weekend at St Augustine's Kilburn in June and would be glad to hear from singers who would be likely to attend. I believe the January event with Peter Leech is virtually full, but don't forget the renaissance playing day on February 26th organised by our chairman David. This is for singers and instrumentalists, and is a great opportunity to meet people with similar interests.

I've just been to the Come and Sing (Vivaldi Gloria, Mozart Ave Verum and selections from the Messiah) in Cambridge in aid of the Tsunami appeal. This was a great event. The church (Great St Mary's) was almost filled by the enormous choir and some of the potential audience had to be turned away. I imagine a lot of money was raised. Perhaps someone could organise something like this in Oxford or London, or both.

I picked up somewhere a leaflet called the London Organ Concerts Guide. There are far too many concerts for me to list, but they have a web site Early Music Review too has a lot more local concerts. I've just had time to put in the ones that have been sent to me plus a few more picked at random.

Back-numbers of Tamesis can be seen on
Victoria Helby

Chairman's Chat
The Broadway Baptist Church in Chesham proved to be a very welcoming place and both the acoustics and temperature were ideal - not always the case in churches. Car parking too is not a problem now we know the station car park is less than a 5 minute walk away. I imagine we shall use the venue again, though given the ban on wine, not perhaps for the Christmas event! Peter Holman brought along a large number of West Gallery pieces and we managed to get through them all, somewhat to his surprise. I enjoyed hearing some of them again on Radio 3 during the Christmas period performed with vigour by Peter's group The Parley of Instruments.

I was in a bookshop looking for Christmas presents when my eye was caught by a lavishly illustrated Encyclopedia of Music for a mere £4.99. It was published in 2004 in China - goodness knows how they manage it at the price. I bought it but decided to keep it for myself in spite of the article on the cornett which talks of "the indistinct wailing sound of the middle register". I don't know who the author had in mind - I hope it wasn't me! There were some compensating items, including the well-known quote from Mersenne who said that the cornett was like a ray of sunshine piercing the shadows. I noted a couple of useful pieces of advice - in the article on the triangle I learnt that of a regulation in Stuttgart in 1721 that stated that "Triangles and similar non-musical instruments are forbidden to cornettist, be they master or apprentice." So my debut on that instrument will have to take place elsewhere. Couperin offers invaluable advice to the harpsichordists: "One should have an easy manner at the harpsichord and avoid either staring fixedly at any object, or looking too vague." So no hope for me there either.

A happy and musical New Year to you all.
David Fletcher

Circular Quiz
Several people have pointed out that there was a minor error in question 18 - the answer has 7 letters and not 8 - so I've decided to give you another month to send in your entries or a revised answer. The closing date is now Monday 7th February. If you have sent your entry by email I suggest that you send it again as some of my emails have disappeared recently.

18.Unchanging composer ?(7)

Instrument thefts
The Musicians' Union has sent out a warning that people planning to sell instruments or equipment in a private transaction to third parties contacted through the press or internet should be aware that forged or stolen bank and building society drafts are being used by thieves. The seller is contacted by mobile phone, accepts the draft and only becomes aware that it is a dud when the bank refuses to honour it.

Christmas West Gallery music with Peter Holman
Saturday 4th December 2004
About 40 singers and instrumentalists gathered on a cold foggy morning in the warm and capacious surroundings of Broadway Baptist Church, Chesham - a very good new venue for TVEMF events with plenty of space for lunch and a large kitchen.

We began the day with familiar church music sung in a familiar way: "Lo, He comes" sung to Helmsley but with a difference and this set the pattern for the day. Peter kept us well informed about the background and development of this repertoire which overturned (Jenny's) pre-conceptions about West Gallery music belonging mainly to rural Dorset choirs. We were presented with two versions of "While shepherds watched" which interestingly was the only Christmas hymn accepted in the Church of England for the first 80 years or so of the 18th century. The first was by Michael Beesly, consisting of a quiet start and a joyful fuguing section and the second to the tune Cranbrook, by Thomas Clark of Canterbury, which was later used for the Yorkshire song everyone knows as "On Ilkley Moor". During the day we also sang two versions of a carol entitled "Nativity" by Jno. Reynolds and Thomas Jarman (from Northants), two settings of "Joy to the World", one the familiar 'northern' tune Comfort and the other "Come celebrate", for solo and chorus, by Joseph Key, a customs officer by trade and a member of the very large group composed at and around Nuneaton. We also sang "Arise & Hail" by Stephenson and "Mortals awake" by Jarman. All the music was very enjoyable to sing and although its being written predominantly for 3 parts led to some awkward vocal divisions at times, it was surprisingly varied and harmonically rich. Peter reminded us on several occasions to "forget about singing in the cathedral tradition" - as life-long choristers (both authors of this review) this was a challenge; this was very much music of the people written by the people for themselves.

Our instrumentalists played valiantly, following the tradition of this musical genre, i.e. instrumental introductions (symphonies) and short interludes between verses. Peter told us we were using the "new" style tempi with instrumental interludes only between verses, the "old" style being very slow with interludes between lines!! We would have needed another day to complete the selection of music at that rate"! The band was not perhaps exactly as would have played at the time - clarinets were usually included - and Peter exhorted the cellos to think they were bassoons! Our excellent organist Alison Bowler (who incidentally had found this location for us) played several solo interludes composed by Peter (with passing references to Handel!) on an electronic keyboard which would definitely not have been found in the West Gallery!

Our usual TVEMF Christmas lunch tradition was well up to standard. Jenny comments: I came away feeling I had had a jolly good sing at my first TVEMF Christmas event - an excellent day.
Jenny Robinson & Nicola Wilson-Smith

Chalemie Summer School of Early Music, Dance, Singing,
Commedia and Period Costume Making

We were attracted to the Chalemie Summer School by the variety of its courses: a bit different from other early music gatherings, resonating with our interest in theatre and dance, and the 'total performance' ethos of Chalemie. We were drawn to the new instrumental course by the tutors' expertise in hurdy-gurdy and pipe and tabor, instruments which Chris and I had been playing in folk music sessions but not much in early music contexts (though we are experienced singers and players of other early instruments).

We had a great time and hope to come again. We especially enjoyed:
* The international gathering and mix of ages - so many young people from all parts of Europe
* Warm welcome, very friendly atmosphere, getting to know several different people at every meal
* Barry and Joan Grantham's dance-based warm-ups - a fantastic way to start each day!
* High quality meals, especially the wonderful salad lunches
* Comfortable accommodation and considerate fellow-residents
* Watching some top quality music and dance performance, commedia and costume. We hope to fit in a bit more (simple) dance and commedia as well as the main course next time.
* The amicable and productive mix of abilities and experience in our instrumental group. We all learned from tutors Matthew, Bill and Jon and each other, had a lot of fun and rewarding performances. I loved meeting and playing with fellow hurdy-gurdy enthusiasts. Chris ended up playing less pipe and tabor than a borrowed bass viol, and very much enjoyed the opportunity to find his way around a new instrument in this friendly environment (he plays tenor viol normally).
* Being together with other musicians to sing and play in every corner of time we could find!
* The end-of course barbecue - a lovely way to round off the week, epitomising the organisers' warm approach.
Sue and Chris Benson

Playford dance course
There is a short (6 week) course on Playford dances at Aylesbury College starting on Monday 17th January. It costs £3 per session or £15 for all six, so I imagine that you don't need to go to all of them. For more information contact Judith Inman on 01628 486 845. After the course ends there will be "a grand Playford ball" on Saturday 26th February with music by the John Playford Players, including our own Treasurer Hazel, preceded by "a sumptuous banquet". For more information about this phone Alan Hamilton on 01844 208 048. The course and the ball are related but you can go to one without the other.

Opportunities to make music
Giltspur Chamber Choir - the 6 Bach Motets

On 11 March Giltspur Chamber Choir will be presenting the six complete Motets by J.S. Bach. We will perform four of them full choir, and two semichorus. We would welcome extra singers to join us for this concert. Rehearsals start at the end of January in central London. Further details please contact Roz Sherris (Chairman), 77 Walpole Road, Walthamstow, London E17 6PS. tel: 020 8223 0561 · email:

Cantores Chamber Choir - early music in Sandhurst
Cantores is a small chamber choir based in Sandhurst Berkshire, specialising primarily (though not exclusively) in early music. Recent repertoire has included various madrigals, Byrd's "Mass for Four Voices" and Victoria's "O Magnum Mysterium". The choir meets on Tuesday evenings at Eagle House School - rehearsals are informal in style - and we put on around four concerts per year. We would ideally like to recruit one new bass and two tenors. Contact is David Rhodes, 01344 761804,

Minutes of the TVEMF AGM
held in Chesham on 9th October 2004

1. Apologies for absence were received from Pat Field and Sarah Young.
2. The Minutes of the 2003 AGM were approved (proposed Hazel Fenton, seconded Johanna Renouf).
3.There were no matters arising from the minutes.
4. The Chairman's Report was published in Tamesis in October 2004.
5. Tamesis. The editor asked for contributions. Linda Hill suggested that there should be more competitions.
6.The Treasurer's Report is printed on page 16. The accounts were circulated with the August 2004 Tamesis. The Chairman added that if anyone's cheque had not been paid into the bank yet it was because event organisers liked to hand them over personally to the Treasurer in case they got lost in the post.
7. Election of Officers. The officers and committee were re-elected (proposed Jenny Gowing, seconded Fiona Weir). Johanna Renouf pointed out that being a member of the committee means that you are in on the plans, and it is not very difficult to organise an event. However, no new members were recruited. The list of officers and committee is to be found on the front cover of Tamesis.
8. Any other business.
There was a discussion about venues. The Chairman said that we have a variety of good ones. Pat Fryd said that getting to Chesham by train would become easier when the works on the line are finished and London pensioners get free travel. The Treasurer said that Chesham was much cheaper than Burnham. People felt that they would not want to pay considerably more for workshops at more expensive venues. The Chairman pointed out that anyone could ask to pay at a concessionary rate if they needed to.

Nicola Wilson-Smith asked when the subscription was last put up. The Chairman said that subscriptions pay for the magazine; events are designed to pay for themselves. Printing is cheap at the moment but the subscription might have to go up if he could no longer do it at work. It was pointed out that the Forum is incredibly good value for money.

Anne Tribble asked which events lost money. The David Allinson day made a small loss. People who are unable to attend an event do not have their money returned if they simply fail to turn up. The Treasurer said that the Forum was a charity and did not want to increase its overall bank balance.

Elaine Mordaunt asked about people who were turned away from events. The Chairman said that this was mainly for musical balance.

Johanna Renouf thanked the Chairman and the AGM ended with applause.

TVEMF Treasurer's Report 2004
(covering the year 2003)

We have had another successful year. Of 11 events, 5 have incurred a loss, 5 have made a profit, and one, the baroque day in conjunction with the Oxford Baroque summer school, does not involve us with any finance as Peter Collier runs it.

The large surplus income that appears on the accounts, (and the deficit for 2002), reflects the fact that the cheques for the previous Christmas event did not get into the system till January this year. Taken together they make sense, and the overall surplus is not great. As you know, when budgeting for the events we aim to break even.

Towards the end of last year the Building Society started charging for the cheque book account at £5 per month. This account has now been closed, so all our money is kept in a fairly high interest earning savings account
Hazel Fenton

The Accounts for this period were circulated with the August 2004 Tamesis.

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