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Latest News

From Clare Griffel, Chair

Just a brief note this time, written in the short gap between getting home from the Norvis summer-school and departing on a holiday to the Faroe Islands (no sunny beach holidays for us!). One of the highlights of Norvis for me was the singing by the choir of an unaccompanied motet by Gottfried August Homilius, a pupil of Bach of whom, Iím ashamed to say, I was previously unaware. The music was wonderfully effective, quite emotional (Homilius was an exponent of the empfindsamer or Ďsensitiveí style) but not too difficult or complex. A reasonable number of his works are available from IMSLP, so he may be one to keep in mind for a possible future workshop.

In the more immediate future, following suggestions made at the AGM, Iím happy to be able to tell you that your committee is in the process of arranging a workshop on Chant with Emma Hornby of the University of Bristol on 25th April. There is also a dance workshop being planned (thanks to member Sallie Ranken who picked that one up and ran with it), and possibly a singing day with A Very Distinguished Conductor - I canít say more than that at the moment, but I hope that by the time the December Diary appears, full details of all these events will be available. Keep an eye on the website - and meanwhile we have a full programme for the autumn term, so if you havenít signed up for a forthcoming workshop yet, please get those diaries out!

I end with an apology: it seems that for some time the forwarding of messages from my e-mail address chairman@swemf.org.uk to my personal e-mail has not been working properly, so if you have sent me a message at that address recently and not had a reply, please donít think Iím ignoring you - I probably didnít get it!

Happy music-making!


From Lindsey Shaw-Miller, Diary Editor

It has been a summer of surprises for the new editor of your diary. I knew nothing, when I took over, of the Clifton Music Festival, based in Clifton Cathedral. Not only did The Sixteen produce a beautiful programme of music by English composers John Sheppard, Richard Davy and William Mundy, there was also William Whiteheadís innovative OrgelbŁchlein Project. Nine of the miniature chorale preludes for organ, from the 46 that make up this tiny, paperback-sized manuscript from Bachís early Weimar period, have been transcribed by Fred Thomas, whose piano trio played them in dialogue with the organ. In addition, three new pieces for organ by Gareth Moorcraft, David Matthews and David Bednall were premiered. The performance worked as a palindrome, with the three new pieces, written on the same miniature scale as Bachís originals, forming the centrepost of the concert. Bachís nine were played either side, with trio and organ swapping parts in the second half. If this sounds confusing, the effect was to enwrap the attention as one listened for echoes and connections in both original pieces and new ones. To quote from the programme: Ďit is not exaggerating to say that we hear in these exquisite little pieces Bach moving from a dutiful servant of the church towards a profound commentator on life and art. They are huge pieces in a small skin. Ö The idea for each composer is to reflect and refract the techniques and Affekts of OrgelbŁchlein for the modern" age.í www.orgelbuechlein.co.uk

A further surprise came in July with a concert at St. Georgeís by very young South African musicians from the townships, Soweto Strings. Led and taught by the redoubtable Rosemary Nalden, from the music school she established in Soweto in 1997, they play with an astonishing passion and energy for the music. Nothing predictable, either, in their unusual opening programme: Rameauís Overture to Castor and Pollux and Georg Muffatís Passacaglia from Armonico Tributo Sonata V. The standard was extremely high. Not only is Nalden a superb conductor and teacher, with a personality that can command a varied group of youngsters from very deprived and troubled backgrounds, she raises all the funds and sponsorship herself, through a project called Buskaid. If you are thinking of supporting a new musical charity, I would strongly persuade you to look at them. www.buskaid.org.za. There is also a very good documentary, made by Bristol film director Mark Kidel: www.buskaid.org.za/store/soweto_strings.html

Meanwhile, coming up are some great SWEMF workshops in Cheddar, Thorverton and Compton Dando (forms went out with the last diary: if you forgot to register, please contact the organizer). Don't forget English Touring Operaís performances in Bath and Exeter of Handelís Ottone and Haydnís Life on the Moon (Il Mondo dell Luna). They are winners of the 2014 Olivier Award for Outstanding Performance in Opera, so these are performances to get to if you can. Finally, Lacock Scholars are putting on a beautiful series of free concerts in London, and Musick in the Ayre are also performing in Bristol and Bath, with a free concert at St Stephens (see concert listings). Enjoy your Autumn music



The South West Early Music Forum (SWEMF) is an organisation promoting all aspects of early music in the South West of England. 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 2012 for for 2012/2013. 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 | Officers and Representatives | How to join | Programme of meetings | Reviews and Reports
Information for Organising SWEMF Workshops | Early Music Events in SW | National and International EM Events
Items for Sale and Wanted | Links to other Early Music Fora, Wales & Ireland | Other Early Music Links

Last modified: 6 September 2014