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Registered Charity No. 291319


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.

Latest News

From Lindsey Shaw-Miller, Diary Editor

Friends of mine live on Alderney, and when they or their neighbours spend time on the mainland, be that France or Britain, they are referred to as being ‘off island’. I am currently on a proxy sabbatical in Cambridge and feel like describing myself in much the same terms, except that the geography here tends to encourage the reverse perspective. In Ely, where the opening prospect down the cathedral nave and up to the octagon never fails to raise a gasp, one looks down from its vantage point to the land below, and feels the sensation of being onboard ship, as the land stretches away to the mouth of the Great Ouse at King’s Lynn.

I am fortunate to be enjoying the hospitality of Eastern Early Music Forum and was impressed by their lunch arrangements at a workshop in January: a prompt and practised presentation of baked potatoes with various fillings, extremely welcome on a cold day in Saffron Walden. Outside caterers were used, so that participants had maximum opportunity to socialize. The music (Biber’s Requiem in A with Peter Holman) was pretty good too!

In our own region, there is lots on offer this quarter, in spite of being swamped by GDPR for the last three weeks (see Clare’s Editorial on this). Please do take time to peruse the summer ahead and to book well in advance for the lively and varied workshops on offer. For the first time since I took over as diary editor, I shan’t be able to make the AGM this year. I hope that many of you will, though, as we shall be saying thanks and farewell to our excellent secretary, Madeline Hayward, whose long and diligent service we shall miss. Enjoy your summer music!

- Lindsey

Venetian School, 16th Century, detail from A pastoral concert, with elegant figures playing a cittern, a clavichord, a cornett, a trombone and a violoncello, sold Christie’s 10.vii.15, lot 175.

From Clare Griffel, Chair

I have two pieces of news for you this quarter, one sad and one very exciting.

The sad news is that Wyndham Thomas, musicologist and former head of the Department of Music at Bristol University, died in February at the age of 79, after a period of illness. Although not a current member of SWEMF, Wyndham was one of its founders, and his Bristol Early Music Consort, of which I was a member, played at the inaugural SWEMF meeting at the Loosemore Centre, Buckfastleigh. He then ran regular workshops in Bristol, which were an introduction for many people, including myself, to what I might call ‘really early music’. I remember vividly, grappling with both the Mass of Tournai and the Mass of Toulouse among other works. Usually the editions had been prepared by Wyndham himself, and his publications, such as the Robin and Marion Motets series (published by Antico), made those parts of the mediaeval repertoire both accessible and attractive to non-specialists. He continued to research actively in his retirement, and at the time of his death had just completed his major work on the mediaeval music drama. The world of early music, in the south-west in particular, owes a great deal to his work, for which I am sure many of us have personal reason to be grateful.

Now to the exciting news: a small planning group, led by Bruce Saunders whom some of you will know as the conductor of the Bristol choir Nova, has been meeting to discuss the possibility of putting on an Early Music Festival in Bristol, and it now seems very likely that this will go ahead over the bank holiday weekend in early May, 2019. I was invited to join the group to represent SWEMF, and there are also representatives from SRP and other interest groups. All Saints church in Pembroke Road, Clifton will be the venue. The event will begin with a professional concert on the Friday evening, followed by workshops and concerts by local groups on Saturday and Sunday, and finishing with a concert by Nova on Sunday evening.
In consultation with your committee, it’s been agreed that SWEMF’s contribution will be a Sunday afternoon Chant workshop led by Professor Emma Hornby of Bristol University, ending with a performance of the music studied in the context of a sung Vespers, together with an exhibition on Saturday of as many early instruments as we can get together. There will be more details in due course, but in the meantime:
(a) Please note the dates in your diary for next year—May 3rd–5th.
(b) If you’re interested in taking part in the instrument exhibition—which will involve staying with your instrument for at least part of the time and being prepared to demonstrate it to interested people—then do let me know.
(c) The Festival is looking for Foundation Sponsors to contribute to the cost of the events; a donation of £100 is suggested, which will entitle the donor to a free ticket to the opening and closing concerts, plus a listing in the festival programme. Again, if anyone is interested in this opportunity, please contact me. Likewise, please pass the information on if you know anyone else who might be interested.

Finally, a bit of bureaucracy: several people have enquired about the impact of the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on SWEMF (you’ve probably had e-mails about this from other organizations to which you belong). At the moment I’d just like to reassure you that we have the matter in hand; there will be a full update in the next Diary, but you will be glad to know that the requirements for a small organization such as ours are not onerous, and we meet most of them already.

My apologies for a rather lengthy Chair’s piece—enjoy your summer of music-making!

- Clare

This site is maintained by Sara Scorey. 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 Early Music Events in the South West | National and International EM Events
Reviews and Reports | Items for Sale and Wanted | Players Wanted and Playing Opportunities Sought | Information for Organising SWEMF Workshops
Links to other Early Music Fora | Other Early Music Links | Officers and Representatives | How to join

Last modified: 13 June 2018