The South West Early Music Forum (SWEMF) is a charitable organisation promoting all aspects of early music in the South West of England. SWEMF brings together amateur and professional musicians, musicologists, teachers and pupils, instrument makers, and early music enthusiasts. The SWEMF region includes Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Bristol, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire. The constitution can be found here.
Throughout the year a series of workshops and playing and singing days are organised within the region where members have the opportunity to study works under the guidance of early music specialist tutors. These activities include Baroque chamber music playing days, singing days focusing on particular composers or periods, and workshops preparing larger scale works for both voices and instruments etc.
An Annual General Meeting is held each summer. This provides an opportunity for members to voice their views and suggestions on the future operations of the Forum.
Members receive a quarterly Diary of Events announcing future activities of SWEMF, and other EM Fora, and also concerts and other events both within the region and elsewhere. Application forms for forthcoming SWEMF events are included in the Diary of Events mailing and are also available on the website.
Subscriptions are due annually on 1st April. Membership forms can be printed from the website. For details click here.
A Membership List (which can be downloaded here - password required) gives information concerning members' particular interests, instruments played, voices sung etc. so that they may arrange joint activities outside those organised directly by SWEMF - it is not to be used for any other purpose.
SWEMF is one of ten regional Fora, which cover most areas of the UK, and are affiliated to the National Early Music Association, NEMA.
SWEMF is on Facebook here. There is also a UK Early Music Fora joint Facebook page here.
I wonder how many of you are, like me, disappointed by the demise of Early Music Today? As a subscriber I was not happy to receive the winter edition with the news that it would be the last, and that my subscription would be absorbed into Classical Music Magazine. To add insult to injury, this closure coincided with the 25th birthday issue of EMT. Adrian Horsewood writes: 'I will curate a new monthly early music section, along with a dedicated early music issue of Classical Music each autumn.' This month, the content consists of a few Top Tips, a bit of What’s On, an article about the Handel vocalist Giulia Frasi, a few adverts, and reviews of just three CDs. This is barely 'a section'. I know it is very difficult for small, specialist magazines to keep going, but I wonder how hard they fought? This has happened before, of course: they were absorbed under the same umbrella in 2010, but were rescued after only one edition of Classical Music. Could it happen again? Or are publishing white knights as rare as unicorns these days?
Speaking of knights, I attach here the cover of a new study of the mediaeval romance Sir Bevis of Hampton, the Middle English version of which was translated from Anglo-Norman c. 1300. Rather like mummers’ plays, it existed in various oral and written versions, and in many languages. It is of specialist interest, of course, but none more likely place to find that than among our membership.
Thanks to our web editor, Sara Scorey, SWEMF is now on Facebook! Do please visit our page and 'like' it.There won’t be anything on the page that isn’t on the website, so if you are not on Facebook, don’t worry, you will not be missing out on vital information. Neither do you have to be a Facebook subscriber to look at our page. It will repeatedly ask you to log in, but just press the 'not now' option and you’ll be fine.
Finally, to balance my ‘grumpy of Somerset’ comments about EMT, I will say that one of the three CDs reviewed is a release by Gawain Glenton’s group In Echo, of music from Hanseatic Europe (see here for Rachel Berger’s review of his excellent workshop in Keynsham). It glows!
|Vielle player, from Cantigas de Santa Maria, Spanish manuscript, c. 1300.|
I was at a meeting recently where someone raised the question 'What time period does the term 'early music' cover?' Most of those present were happy to agree that the starting date could be as far back as written musical records go (did anyone hear the interesting programme on Radio 3 about Ancient Greek music recently?), but opinion was much more divided about where we should end. When I specify the 'free choice' piece for my class at the Norvis summer school I ask for pieces written before 1750, which neatly covers Bach but would exclude a few years of Handel and quite a bit of Arne, among others, were I to apply the limit strictly. Many distinguished artists once identified as part of the 'early music' movement, such as Roger Norrington and Sir John Eliot Gardiner, now interest themselves in historically informed performances of Berlioz and other 19th-century composers.
That set me thinking about the repertoire we cover in our SWEMF workshops. A quick scan of the events page on the SWEMF website shows that recent and forthcoming workshops include nothing much earlier than Josquin or later than Schütz (apart from the Cheddar baroque workshop). We are hoping to have another workshop on chant with Emma Hornby before too long, and at the other end of the timescale a day of Zelenka is in the planning, but if there are other repertoires which you feel we should be covering, please do let us know—suggestions are always very welcome.
I look forward to seeing many of you at our AGM in Backwell on June 9th (further details here); until then, I wish you a spring filled with good music.
This site is maintained by Sara Scorey. Please send any comments or suggestions for improvements to firstname.lastname@example.org. Suggestions for additional links are particularly welcome.
Last modified: 13 February 2018