Florentine Spectacular

In May we have another spectacular weekend workshop with Philip Thorby, who just gets better and better. This time the music will be from the Florentine Intermedii, originally written for the grand wedding of Ferdinando de Medici and Christine of Lorraine in 1598, The music is based on Mythological stories and culminates in a wonderful toe-tapping dance tune, a big hit in its day! Many fine composers contributed including Cavalieri, Malvezzi, Marenzio, Peri, Bardi and Caccini. As well as voices there are parts for many renaissance instruments including lutes, sackbuts, curtal, harpsichord, guitar, 2 violins, bass viols and even 4 recorders. Instrumentalists in particular need to book early so we can get the right balance.

Charpentier in Leamington Spa

We are delighted to welcome back Graham O’Reilly to run the next MEMF workshop.
Graham O’Reilly, founder of the “Ensemble William Byrd”, has lived in France for more than 30 years. Originally from Australia, he studied at University of Sydney before coming to England to work as a Singer and Music Director. Graham continues to Direct “Ensemble William Byrd”, with whom he has made many highly acclaimed recordings. He also works throughout Europe as a Choral Conductor and Vocal Trainer, and is in great demand to lead masterclasses and workshops. Graham has run two previous workshops for MEMF, which were very successful and enjoyable:- Carissimi’s “Jeptha, and more recently, a wonderful Portugese Polychoral workshop..

The music we will be studying on 22nd February is Polychoral music of Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1643-1704), which was very much influenced by the years he spent studying in Italy with Carissimi. We hope to include Extremum dei judicium (H.24) for double Chorus and Baritone solo; and Salve Regina (H.24) for 3 Choirs.
We need plenty more singers for the 2 and 3 choir pieces, but we already have enough  instrumentalists (unless there is a keen keyboard player who would like to help out with reading figured bass on the second keyboard part!).

Bookings please by February 8th.

For a sneak preview, go to Amazon where Graham’s recording of Charpentier choral music is available as an mp3 download.

King’s Coronation Anthems

On the 16th November the Internationally renowned Robert King, of the King’s Consort, will conduct a day workshop for singers, instrumentalists and continuo (A415)  on Handel’s Coronation Anthems; ‘My Heart is Inditing’ and ‘The King Shall Rejoice’. The venue is Selly Oak Methodist Church, Langleys Road which is well served by buses and trains from the City Centre and has plenty of parking nearby. this should be an exciting day.

The Russian Baroque experience on 28th September

It was an absolute privilege to be part of the group of singers assembled at St Nicholas Church in Warwick to be led by such an inspiring tutor. He knew exactly how to structure the day, beginning with simple yet heavenly music so that we could experience singing in Russian, then each new piece set new challenges, the previous ones having laid down the essentials of singing in this unfamiliar language. There was just the right amount of singing interspersed with interesting stories of life in the Russia of Catherine the Great. There was just the right amount of sitting and standing and the music he selected for us was just unbelievably sublime, a good mix of homophonic and contrapuntal textures.

I am so very glad that I attended. That workshop and Peter’s CD have opened up a whole new world of music for me that I had previously not experienced. Let’s hope he comes again to inspire us.

Susan Francis

Peter Leech was masterly. He handed out a wealth of music, assured us that singing in Russian wasn’t all that difficult and managed to sing tenor, conduct and play the piano simultaneously! His enthusiasm was infectious and his praise generous. I found the pieces themselves very interesting, musically and historically. We were treated to humorous anecdotes and relevant developmental facts from someone manifestly an expert in his field. The final rendition of the pieces we had been studying was quite stirring. I heard a few murmurings that the attendance was low (about 30, I think), but I don’t think the workshop suffered from that. I certainly enjoyed it and am considering attending the Handel and Purcell workshop in Birmingham on November 16th.
Chris Prior.

Joyful Bach

Close on 60 people spent a glorious day singing and playing Bach Cantatas on Saturday 27th April under the expert direction of Paul Spicer. Cantatas 77 and 150 were chosen not only for their lusciousness, but also because they have a lot for the chorus to sing – not that we minded listening to some excellent soloists. What heaven!

We now look forward to the Dowland weekend in June – come and listen in on Philip Thorby’s Masterclass on the Saturday or take part in small singing and playing groups on the Sunday. See the Events Diary for details.

Bach Cantatas

The next workshop on 27th April is with Paul Spicer who is well known as an outstanding choral conductor, composer and musicologist. This will be a rare and exciting opportunity to sing or play Cantata BWV 150 with baroque orchestra and another to be decided. The venue is Warley Woods Methodist church and details and booking form can be found in ” Events Diary”

Come and sing large-scale Tallis/Mundy

Next workshop to look forward to is on 2nd March.  Here’s an opportunity to work on some less familiar pieces by two great masters of English renaissance music, Thomas Tallis (1505-85) and William Mundy (1529-1591). Tallis is much the better-known of these two, having composed some of the best-loved and most-performed music of its period; his music has in the last decade been recorded in its entirety and his celebrated forty-part motet Spem in Alium has become almost a pop classic. Mundy, a generation or so later than Tallis, is a more obscure figure, less of whose music has been performed and recorded, undeservedly so, since he was a fine composer. A final selection of pieces has not yet been made, but we hope to look at one or two large-scale works by these composers, or at any rate by Tallis. Possibilities include the motets Suscipe Quaeso, Videte Miraculum, Forgive me Lord my Sin, Gaude Gloriosa (we could easily spend a whole workshop on this piece alone), and Magnificat (Anglican Latin setting) all by Tallis, and Mundy’s Adolescentulus Sum Ego, In te Domine Speravi, and Nunc Dimittis to Mr Parsons. Some of these are pieces which, perhaps because of their difficulty and sheer length (Suscipe and Videte last about ten minutes, Gaude fifteen or more, and the middle sections of Gaude are reduced voices) get less of an airing than they should.

 

Our tutor for this event is Alistair Dixon, founder and director of the vocal ensemble Chapelle du Roi and an experienced conductor and workshop director. Alistair and Chapelle have together recorded all of Tallis’s music on ten CDs, a monumental achievement, so his expertise and authority in this repertoire is unquestionable. Alistair has directed a number of successful workshops for MEMF over the years but none recently, so it is good to welcome him back now.

 

Singers will be required in all voice parts. Scores will be provided.  Booking form is available to print off from the Events Diary.

Ye Olde Quill and Parchmente is no more…

Some time ago I set up a “bulletin board” as an experiment, to allow MEMF members to get in touch with each other online and discuss eg what the last workshop was like, perhaps arrange to meet up for some music-making outside workshops, etc etc.

Since this has had little use, but spammy fake sign-ups are cluttering up my inbox, I have removed the facility.

However your committee would still be very happy to have your feedback, which you can send either by using the contact form on the site, or by leaving comments on the News items.

If you wish to get in touch with other MEMF members and interested parties online, then the MEMF Facebook page is the place to go. “Like” MEMF on Facebook and join in!

Caroline Hogarth – Web Tzarina

Start Advent with a Song (or several…)!

Hopefully you have already booked your place on the December 1st Vocal Workshop with Steven Rice in Harborne. Steven will be taking us through works by Clemens (non Papa) and Mouton and if it lives up to previous vocal workshops he has tutored for us, we will enjoy some lovely music spiced up with interesting background information. 2012 is believed to be Clemens’ 500th anniversary (though this is disputed) so he’s an appropriate choice.

Note for your diaries for something to provide a soothing antidote to the rigours of January sales; on 26th January, John Hancorn is our tutor for a workshop covering Scarlatti’s Stabat Mater at Selly Oak Methodist Church. This event is for singers and continuo, booking forms available soon. As ever, we urge you to book early and in this case it will be particularly important as the particular score to be used is not too easily available and arrangements will have to be made.

Please do remember that we’d love to hear your feedback on workshops.  You can either leave comments here on the News page, or if you use Facebook, why not “Like” the MEMF page and leave comments on our wall. Yes, MEMF goes wildly techy!