We have already had three stunning workshops this year with Robert Hollingworth, Sally Dunkley and David Hatcher. What a privilege to work with such amazing Tutors, and it was good to see such a large turnout for all of them. The year continues with Paul Spicer introducing us to Dominique Phinot later this month, ‘Lions of St Marks’ with Jamie Savan (a well known Tutor, but new to MEMF) in May and the welcome return of Theresa Caudle for a string workshop in June. Get booking!
Get set for a new year of wonderful music. First off Robert Hollingworth of I Fagiolini, back by popular demand, with some Renaissance music for Epiphany. February brings Sally Dunkley, a founder member of The Sixteen, to study some sacred Tudor music and in March David Hatcher will guide us through Handel’s exuberant Dixit Dominus. See the events page for a whole year of exciting workshops.
The new season begins with selections from Purcell’s King Arthur under the tutelage of John Hancorn, with opportunities for some solo singing and a special request for the Chorus of Cold People!
October features the Noodle Factory – the art of Improvisation, Ornamentation and Decoration with the excellent Paula Chateaneuf. Singers and instrumentalists should avail themselves of this opportunity to overcome natural bashfulness and have a go.
In November we welcome back the ever popular Philip Thorby for a two day workshop on movements from Benevoli’s Missa Tiracorda – a rare opportunity to experience this little known multichoral work.
Then it’s December and Ali Kinder will be serving up some lesser known Christmas music for voices and instruments interspersed with mince pies and stollen – can you resist?
Another excellent workshop on Saturday with the irrepressible Richard Wilberforce guiding us through some Spanish Renaissance vocal Villancicos. The manuscript from which these delights were taken is the Cancionera di Upsala. Any relief that we didn’t have to sing Swedish was quickly swamped by the realisation that summer holiday Spanish wasn’t a lot of help! However, although Richard spent some time going over rough pronounciation (more to get some sense of style and some consistency), he was much more concerned with bringing out the beauty of the music.
The Villancicos are a mixed lot; some sweetly longing for the lover who never turns up, much praise of the Virgin Mary, and in one case a stern warning against becoming a cuckold! All share a definite sense of the strong tune (usually from a popular song) and often a chorus with a strong beat crying out for a backing group of percussion and plucked strings. We were encouraged to sing keeping in mind “the sun beating on the back of our necks and the colour of red tomato that you only get in a very hot climate”.
Looking forward; Heironymus Praetorius in Loughborough (June) and French music for the Baroque band in Warwick (July).
A sad day at the AGM as we bade farewell to our retiring Chairman Mike Ashley, who has stepped down after 3 years in the Chair preceded by 9 years as Treasurer. Heather Holt will take on the role as Acting Chair. David Yates also retired from the role of Secretary after several years. Two new Committee members were elected. Details will be in the minutes which will be circulated to members as usual.
Renaissance Fest in July was an excellent informal day with a long and delicious tea break! Members Sheila Koch and Jonathan Spencer organised the singers and viol players respectively and we sang and played some really lovely music.
The new season begins in September with Zielenski, the Gabrieli of Poland in Leamngton with Graham O’Reilly, followed in October with two days of the excellent Philip Thorby in Solihull. See the events diary for other treats.
Summer is nearly here and for the next three months we have something for everyone. In May David Hatcher will lead the Baroque Band, which is open to all players of Baroque pitched instruments and in June we have a Polychoral Tour of Europe (very topical) for recorders, voices and viols with Alison Kinder. In July, following on from the highly successful Madrigal Day last year, we have a Renaissance Fest for singers and viol players to make music together in large and small groups. During the afternoon we will be serving cake with strawberries and cream to celebrate Summer! Take your pick!
After a very well attended and interesting workshop on Gesualdo with Robert Hollingworth we look forward in February to Peter Leech, always a fascinating Tutor, sharing his research into some little known composers in 18th century Rome. In March we will be singing music by other little known Franco-Flemish composers active in Italy – Cipriano de Rore and Jacquet of Mantua – with Stephen Rice of Bristol University. Then in April renaissance instrumentalists and singers have a chance to explore some wonderful music by Johann Schein, perhaps a better known composer, with Peter Syrus. Hope you can come!
Baroque instrumentalists are invited to a workshop on 3rd October with Tutor Kate Fawcett, exploring music by Purcell, Blow and Scheidt and Philip Thorby makes a welcome return in November with a now familiar double act: a workshop on Saturday and Master Classes on Sunday. The workshop is on the music of Andrea Gabrieli, Giovanni’s uncle, who was organist and composer at St. Mark’s in Venice and whose music is considered to be more subtle and expansive than his nephew’s.Then in December everyone is welcome to sing or play in choruses from the Messiah. Bring your friends and family to join in – there will be punch and mince pies too!
The Kerll workshop was an excellent day. David Hatcher is a superb tutor who knows just how much to rehearse without becoming tedious and can get the best out of singers and players alike. The music is quite complex and was apparently much studied – and copied – by Bach and Handel. We had to work hard, but it was all very rewarding.
We have a break for the summer, but look forward to Will Dawes of Stile Antico introducing us to music by Giaches de Wert on September 19th.
Who has heard of Johann Casper Kerll? …………… neither have I, but David Hatcher clearly has. Come to Rugby on July 11th and explore his Missa in Fletu Solatium – some of the music with which he made a name for himself in Vienna in the 1640s and which influenced many composers such as Bach and Handel. All singers, string and wind players (pitch A440) welcome. See events page to book.