There is a whole host of tempting workshops to choose from with this edition of the Diary. First we have a lovely new Devon venue for our singing day with Tomos Watkins; then we return to familiar territory in Backwell, and a favourite tutor in the form of Peter Leech, for our AGM workshop. And in September, unusually, we have two workshops on the same date; however, as one is in Dorset and for singers, while the other is the ever-popular instrumental chamber music day in Cheddar, we hope that not many people will be conflicted as to which to attend! The Dorset workshop is a new kind of venture for us—part of the day with Vivien Ellis will be devoted to a walk around Bridport (weather permitting!), learning about the history of the town and exploring some of the associated music. We’re keen to know if you would like more events of this kind which depart from the ‘normal’ workshop format and type of repertoire, so whether you attend the day or not, do let us have your views.
I’m writing this just two weeks after the Bristol Early Music Festival, of which SWEMF was a sponsor. The Festival was a huge success, with far larger audiences for events and workshops than we had anticipated. We had some excellent concerts, both from professionals—the ensemble Sounds Baroque and a memorable late-night viol recital by Jonathan Rees—and from local groups. The exhibition of instruments and associated talks attracted many people interested in trying a viol, a clavichord, a lute, a harp … while Jane Francis, introducing her young cellists to the viol, achieved great progress in a fairly short session. I hope some of those who tried an instrument will have been ‘hooked’, and as we gave away quite a lot of flyers about SWEMF, we may be seeing some of them at future SWEMF events. The polychoral workshop for voices and instruments led by Bruce Saunders and Theresa Caudle gathered a remarkable collection of Renaissance winds, including no fewer than five sackbuts, and we had a veritable recorder orchestra for Annabel Knight’s workshop. There is a report of Emma Hornby’s chant workshop here; this was ‘officially’ a SWEMF event. And the Gloucester Waites, including both our membership secretary and our former treasurer, gave a lively costumed entertainment during the Saturday lunch break. All Saints church in Clifton proved the ideal venue, not least because of the excellence of the cake provided by its team of caterers! So SWEMF can feel proud of having helped to bring this event into existence. Now all we have to do is to plan when and how to repeat our success!
– Clare Griffel