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Registered Charity No. 291319

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From Clare Griffel, Chair

There are a lot of unsung heroes (and heroines!) in SWEMF - the people who organize workshops, book venues, sort out teas and coffees, receive applications and generally make sure that our workshops run smoothly and enjoyably for everyone. The prospect of organising a workshop may seem a little daunting, but now, thanks to the work of your Committee and in particular our Secretary, we have developed extensive guidance for workshop organisers, which will be appearing on the website very shortly. Informed by the experience of committee members and others, the guidelines will, we hope, give a clear picture of what’s involved - though we’ll be glad to hear if you think there are any omissions. We hope that this initiative will encourage a wider range of members to organise workshops, particularly in areas of the region where you may feel there is insufficient provision.


I was saddened, as I expect many of you were, to hear of the recent death of Christopher Hogwood, a great pioneer of authentic performance practice who was, to judge from the universal tone of the obituaries, also a warm and generous personality. His passing will leave a notable gap in the early music world, but he leaves a rich legacy of recordings, both as keyboard player and conductor - not to mention, as I learned from his website, playing tabor, nakers and harp on early recordings with David Munrow! I wonder how many of his colleagues could demonstrate such versatility.


From Lindsey Shaw-Miller, Diary Editor

I hope you find some festive musical opportunities in the DEcember Diary and on the website, and some exciting workshops and concerts to look forward to in the dark days of January and February. We were very lucky in October at the Thorverton workshop, that the weather was mild and the church not too cold. Do see Heather Kershaw’s write-up of the event

We have a Purcell and Monteverdi workshop coming up in Glastonbury in February, directed in two separate sessions by Tony Bevan and Venetia Caine. In March we have the first of the West Bay workshops for instruments and voices, on Roman music of the 16th century, led by Nancy Hadden. In April we two very exciting opportunities, one vocal and one instrumental: Plainchant Vespers for the Feast of St Mark with Dr Emma Hornby in Clifton, and a splendid day for renaissance wind band in Gloucester, directed by Tim Bayley of the York Waits.

I am just back from my first visit to the Early Music Festival in Greenwich, and what a sensual feast it was. In the truly breath-robbing Painted Hall, it was especially piquant to run into Fenella Spiers, our membership secretary, cradling her purchase of a Mary Rose douçaine (based on a ‘still shawm’ found on the Mary Rose when it was raised from the sea’s bed). This was one of a number of new objects encountered and absorbed during my day in Greenwich (when I could hear myself think above the drone of bagpipes). While I managed (heroically, I like to think) not to come home bankrupt, I was spellbound by what was on offer, from a wide range of publications - music and journals - to second-hand harpsichords and spinets. I enjoyed a demonstration and recital on early harps by Bill Taylor of Ardival Harps, and now have a ambition to attend one of his courses in Strathpeffer next summer. I also heard playing of a thrilling standard by competition winners in the historical music category from Trinity Laban Conservatoire, in the splendid church of St Alfege. I travelled to the Festival along the Thames from Embankment Pier. Going back at dusk, at the end of a very good day, as bridges and buildings came into light, was truly magical.



The South West Early Music Forum (SWEMF) is a charitable organisation promoting all aspects of early music in the South West of England. Its constitution can be found here. It is one of ten regional Fora, which cover most areas of the UK, and are affiliated to the National Early Music Association, NEMA, who have recently produced a report on the future of Early Music in Britain.

The South West Early Music Forum region includes Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Bristol, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire and brings together amateur and professional musicians, musicologists, teachers and pupils, instrument makers, and early music enthusiasts.

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.

SWEMF also organises a number of social events including the Annual General Meeting in May which is sometimes combined with a residential weekend providing ample opportunity for music making and the 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.

Membership forms can be printed from the website. The next subscriptions are due on 1st April 2015 for for 2014/2015. For details click here.

A Membership List (last issued with the March 2012 Diary) gives information concerning members' particular interests, instruments played, voices sung etc. so that they may arrange joint activities outside those organised directly by SWEMF.

This site is maintained and Dick Little. Please send any comments or suggestions for improvements to webeditor@swemf.org.uk. Suggestions for additional links are particularly welcome.

SWEMF Home Page | SWEMF Events | Other (non-SWEMF) Early Music Events in SW | National and International EM Events
Reviews and Reports | Items for Sale and Wanted | Information for Organising SWEMF Workshops
Links to other Early Music Fora | Other Early Music Links | Officers and Representatives | How to join

Last modified: 23 January 2015