|Newsletter Issue 40 - April 2010|
|Written by Richard J Milner|
|Tuesday, 11 May 2010 14:06|
Welcome to Newsletter Issue 40 - with 4 a year I think that makes this the 10th anniversary newsletter! Those of you who missed coming to Bermagui will be envious on reading the reports of this wonderful workshop. For photos please go to Bermagui or just search Google web albums for the Australian Viola da Gamba Society. The Annual General Meeting was held during the Workshop and Victoria Watts was elected as our new President. We all wish her well. I was ‘demoted' to Secretary and Rosaleen Lovecontinues as our valiant treasurer. The reports are in the Newsletter. Miriam Morris has embraced the 21st century by teachingusing Skype on the internet a most welcome development for those of us who do not live in a city with a viol teacher. Anotherpiece I should draw your attention to is the final one entitled ‘Viol Doctor' - tips on keeping your viol working nicely from Sarah Mead as interpreted by me.
Easter Viol Workshop - 2010
The Easter Viol Workshop at Bermagui proved to be a very special event. It was blessed by good weather and the presence of acharismatic Paolo Pandolfo. Those who witnessed his amazing concert in the open air amphitheater with 1000 mesmerised fanswill never forget the experience. His fanatical approach was also evident when he came to the viol school and gave amasterclass. Also very inspirational, though in a quite different way, was our very fine overseas tutor in Sarah Mead from theUSA. She was always most encouraging and full of little tips to help us with our consort playing. She was also always willingto provide advice and help to get the best out of our instruments – not only during her 'viol doctor' session but also at othertimes. It was delightful to have Polly as a tutor for the first time and of course, Miriam, Shaun, and Victoria all worked veryhard to ensure the success of the workshop. In the end we had 30 participants, including a beginners class, and for quite a few itwas their first Easter Workshop. The costs of running the workshop in the relatively 'remote' venue of Bermagui meantincreases in cost and as expected it ran at a loss of about $1000.
Here are some short reports on the event:
From Sarah Mead
I was very happy to get the invitation from Richard Milner to come to Australia as the International Tutor for the 2010 Easter
Friends who had taught at the Viol School in the past had told me what an enthusiastic and welcoming group this was, and this
We were afraid that a short two weeks were way too little to see Australia (let alone New Zealand, where we spent all of 36
The Easter Viol School was an intense and inspiring four days of music-making, with players of all levels undertaking new
The AVdGS is a younger and smaller society than its American equivalent, which makes it possible for all the members to feel
If any AVdGS members are considering a trip to the States, be sure to be in touch, as there are viol players throughout the
I look forward to telling our membership about the AVdGS. I hope that more US players will take the opportunity to come to
From Joan Milner
The Easter Viol School 2010 was in a wonderful location at Bermagui on the South Coast. The most memorable features were
I really enjoyed playing tenor at EVS for the first time, and had two memorable big group sessions with Sarah Mead on
From Rachel Walker
I really enjoyed my first viol school. It was great to have the chance to play some consort music and really get a feel for
From Irene Rigon
The weekend in Bermagui was very helpful for me. I really enjoyed having all the day to play, to have people to play with and
From Early Music Association of Victoria Newsletter
Over Easter at the lovely coastal town of Bermagui, viol players gathered to consort under the watchful eyes (and ears)of Sarah
Mead from the US as well as Miriam Morris from Melbourne and Polly Sussex from NZ. Victoria Watts deserves special credit
Bermagui was chosen as it was the site of the Four Winds festival under the musical direction of Genevieve Lacy, and it
Paulo played some of his own compositions as well as the Bach Cello Suite Number 1, and some Marais and Abel. A
Annual General Meeting 2010, Australian Viola da Gamba Society, Bermagui Public School,
|Easter Viol School||5,744.85|
|Consort days & misc. wkshops||640.00|
|Cost of sales||nil|
|Bank charges & taxes||20.50|
|ASIC/Fair Trade compliance fees||189.00|
|Public Liability Insurance||241.00|
|Internet domain hosting fees||144.00|
|Net Profit/ (Loss)||2,214.53|
Balance of trading account at 3l/12/2009 - 5982.10
Balance of development fund at 31/12/2009 1616.31
Viol lessons on Skype
I started teaching on Skype a few years ago when one of my primary school-age cello students went to China for five months
and wanted to keep up the continuity of his lessons. This was a learning experience for both of us and the outcome was
successful with the student making good progress. It has been in the back of my mind since then that this would be an ideal
option for Australian viol players living too far from the major centres where there are no resident viol teachers. So, when
Bethan McDonald approached me early this year for weekly lessons on Skype, I was happy to oblige. Bethan lives in
Narooma, not far from Bermagui where, it goes without saying, there are no resident viol teachers! She has made good
progress in that period and when I gave her a private lesson at the end of the viol school, I reflected that the lesson would have
been totally different had it been her first lesson. As it was, I was able to check and direct and observe her playing in a tactile
way, while having a better idea of tone production than was possible on Skype. Because I had already gained a clear idea of her
musicality, posture and work ethic, this was an easy lesson to give.
I have just been reading the latest American Viola da Gamba Society Newsletter in which there are articles about educational
outreach activities that bring the viol to new audiences. This is a vital part of our brief as players of a non-mainstream
instrument and something I think, in addition to concerts including the viols, we need to do more of in Australia. One of the
Chapter Reports from Tampa Bay also caught my attention with the closing sentence, "Ahhh! The joys of finding teachers who
travel!!" This was in reference to Lisle Kuhlbach and Sarah Mead (our international tutor at the recent EVS) who both visited
Saratoga to coach consorts on their way to Florida. While there are many more viol players, both professional and amateur in
the US than in Australia, the US and Australia must both suffer from the same tyranny of distance, with a shortfall in terms of
resident teachers and coaches for some geographic areas. While there is no substitute for the one to one lesson in the same
room, Skype certainly provides a workable alternative and, apart from the educational gains, cuts down the isolation, giving the
feeling of belonging to the community.
Here is some advice for Skype students and teachers:
Have the room ready in advance with good sight lines of yourself playing, making sure the computer screen is at the correct
angle. Adjust the lighting. Both these things can only be sorted in the first lesson.
Work out some clear sign language when you want the other person to stop playing. I find that leaning forward towards the
computer screen and raising the hand usually catches the attention.
Go into Systems Preferences and set the timing for the screen saver to come on - ideally this can be at the end of the lesson.
There is nothing more annoying than losing the sight of the other person at regular intervals during the lesson.
Have the student's music ready before the lesson as it won't be on the stand in your studio!
Avoid interrupting and be succinct in verbal communication - more so than you might be in a normal lesson. As when one is
on the phone, it is more difficult to know when the other person wants to speak. However, with Skype one can raise a finger to
indicate that one wants to speak!
Demonstrate in the same way as you would in a normal lesson but be aware that you might need to angle yourself differently so
that the student can see the relevant part of your anatomy in relation to the instrument.
Be prepared for a nano-second time lag, which shows up clearly with the bow change. I seem to remember this was more
pronounced in China. Invest in a pair of speakers to improve the quality and volume of the sound. Mine cost under $100 and
Adobe has also been a revelation since then.
Glitches in the sound seem to magnify and there are occasional hiccups. Be extra vigilant regarding tension as it is more
difficult to ascertain this through tone production as heard on Skype. I haven't tried playing a duet over Skype but it might be
fun to try. It would certainly be a lesson in body language!
All you need is a computer with webcam. Skype is free and easy to download.
I would be very interested to share experiences with any teachers or students who have lessons on Skype.
Viols on the Web
Sales of CDs continue to fall while there is an increase in downloading from the web over both legal and dubious sites.
Increasingly one is able to download high audio quality files and also the booklet which you normally get with the CD. The
advantages are substantial for those of us living away from a major classical music store (which is just about everyone in
Australia) as it means you have a greatly increased choice, the cost is reduced considerably, you can get the CD almost
instantly and if you want you can just download a few tracks rather than the entire CD. Sites such as itunes, amazon.com and
classicsonline all have vast amounts of classical music for download.
There are also sites which enable you to listen to music on line. This really needs a good
broadband connection as well as the computer being linked to your HiFi system or at least to good
speakers. The sound card on computers today is usually good with the speakers that largely
limiting the sound quality obtained, provided the stream is at least 128 kb/sec (the higher the
better). Libraries of classical music that enable you to listen on demand include Naxos Music
Streaming (http://www.naxosmusiclibrary.com/) and classical.com (http://www.classical.com)
both require you to subscribe but it is a modest amount - about $15 a month. Unfortunately we are
unable in Australia to access some of the best sites such as Pandora and Spotify. I recently
discovered Deezer (http://www.deezer.com/en/index.php) which seems to be free for the basic
service. It does not have a lot of classical music but some of the viola da gamba albums I found
were - Bach Gamba Sonatas played by Bruno Procopio, Emmanuelle Guigues, a solo gamba
album by Wieland Kuijken and a Telemann and another recital by Skip Sempé, Capriccio
Stravagante. Another CD features the consort Fretwork playing music by Francois Roberday and
Louis Couperin. I was particularly pleased to find the latter having recently bought the printed
music as published by RipMeister Publications. It is hard to find what is actually on this site,
however one way to search is by the name of a composer. By searching on Marais for example I
came up with several albums including one by Josh Chatham, Julien Léonard, Skip Sempé -
"Marais - Sainte-Colombe: Pièces de viole". Happy hunting.
Polly Sussex in her talk at Bermagui spoke about the Renaissance viols made by Richard Jones.
His web page is at http://www.rjviols.co.uk/introduction.html and he says:
"I make early renaissance viols ©. 1540) to play early renaissance music. Players of the viol have
come to accept there are uncomfortable compromises to the music if they play Bach, Purcell,
Gibbons and Byrd on the same type of viol, and so they have acquired appropriate models. With a
properly set-up Renaissance Viol it is possible to extend this approach to the earlier repertoire of
Senfl, Verdelot, Ortiz and their contemporaries. My viols (see picture on left) , based on the
Francesco Linarol, now in the Kunsthistoriches Museum in Vienna, breathe new life into this
exquisite music. They have a plangent and incisive sound, which allows each line of a consort
piece to emerge clearly, whilst the overall sonority is warm and resonant. This velvet quality is
especially marked when used as a large set with tenor in A, two basses in D and a great bass in A,
though they also make clear solo instruments and sound well in mixed consorts. I am pleased to
offer this simple solution to players of the viol." Apparently he has a waiting list of about 2 years
but certainly his viols sound well worth the wait.
Technical Tip - Sight Reading
(an edited version of the 'Ask your Viol Teacher' article in VdGSA News March 2010)
Question: What can I do at home to Improve my sight reading ability so that I can play more music wIth my friends?
Answers: I've picked the brains of several stalwart sight-readers to help us with the complex task of getting the notes off the
page and into our heads, from our heads to our hands (hopefully with a little detour through our hearts), and finally from our
hands to the viol. Elin Soderstrom, who taught a whole class devoted to the subject at last summer's Conclave says:
The tricky thing with sight reading is that one is required to take in lots of information at once. You've got pitches, rhythms,
accidentaLs and rests, not to mention a tactus to keep going. Sight-'reading, especially in a group or consort setting, should be
considered an Olympic sport if you ask me. So as any athlete, you're going to want to train and divide up all these tasks to
make your training more manageable.
The first division we'll cover in our sight-reading training falls into the category I call "nesting." We viol players have a strong
cultural desire to make ourselves comfortable before we play. Before sitting down to consort, we always make sure to have the
perfect chair, proper lighting, an appropriate libation (beverage!), the right pair of eyeglasses, a little bowl of snacks, I mean the
list just goes on and on. Even our rather laborious tuning process is a nesting behavior; it has as much to do with centering our
sound and reminding our bow arms where the open strings' are as it is about the finicky instability of gut strings. Just as we
take care of these physical comforts, it's important to take a moment or two to "nest" with the piece of music in front of us
before we start playing. Here's how Sarah Mead does it:
First look at the clef and get yourself at home within it. Identify and finger your first couple of notes. If it's a clef you are not
completely at home in, give yourself some mental signposts. Look quickly through your part and determine what your highest
and lowest notes are, fingering them to set them in your mind. Now you know the range of your part and the borders you won't
be passing. Look for potential hazards, like large leaps or ledger lines. Check your route: Where do you go when you get to the
bottom of the page? Are there any repeats? Second-endings? Segnos? Look for entrances after rests and make sure you can
quickly identify the note and the fingering. A few minutes of mental preparation will help you be ready for surpr!ses.
It's also helpful to ask yourself whether there are any obvious sections to the piece. Does it start out with long notes but then
transition to a tricky fast bit in the middle? Getting the lay of the land is important before setting out on a journey as formidable
as most fantasias. We often ask each other who has me first note of a piece, but knowing who comes in second and what
rhythm they play can be even more important in establishing me tempo. John Mark Rozendaal says about this delicate task:
Before starting a piece, consciously decide whether it will be best to count in whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, eighth
notes, whatever, and commit to sticking with that unit until and unless you have reason to change. Learning to subdivide, and
to count in units other than the quarter note are not optional skills.
Even before we come face to face with a piece of music, there are things we can do to improve our sight-reading. This is the
type of training we'll call "conditioning" practice. Most of the mistakes we make in sight-reading involve playing a wrong note
or a wrong rhythm, so in our conditioning phase we're going to isolate these issues.
The best way to avoid wrong notes is by strengthening our familiarity with me geography of our instrument. And the best way
to do this? We ask John Mark Rozendaal:
My next prescription will not be popular, but it is my favorite. Practice scales and intervals, such as are found in Martha
Bishop's Vade Mecum. If we learn the whole instrument, we wilt be less likely to be caught off guard by high notes, low notes,
accidentals, unusual key signatures, unfamiliar intervals.
Make sure to spend some time navigating the third between your middle strings and learning how those frets correspond to the
notes on the page. This is especially important if you're working to improve your sight-reading on a different size of viol (hello,
Now that we know the finger board inside out and upside down, we turn our attention to the elusive beat. A sense of corporeal
involvement seems to be a popular prescription for overcoming a hazy sense of rhythm, as Sarah Mead tells us:
When you practice consort parts at home, focus on the pulse during long notes and rests, moving your body, breathing
rhythmically, or quietly counting aloud to establish an internal sense of steady, regular beats.
Elin Soderstrom assigns this eurhythmic exercise to get the blood flowing from top to toe:
1. Play a scale in quarter notes (or even open strings if you find it challenging to keep the left hand going in the scale) while
using your right foot or toes to tap quarter notes.
2. Add your left foot/toes, tapping eighth notes. Play around with different rhythms in your bow and in your left foot, while
always keeping that good old beat going in your right.
John Mark Rozendaal says:
It is also important to practice taking one's eyes off of the page (to look at a colleague for a cue, or occasionally at one's own
hands, or whatever), and to return to the page witlwut becoming lost. One acquires the habit of making a mental note of where
the eye left the page, anticipating coming back.
The third form of sight-reading practice is the "deconstruction" method, in which we look at a particularly troublesome piece
and try to determine exactly why it's throwing us for a loop and what we can do about it. Sarah Mead approaches it thus:
Analyze for yourself the kind of passages that tend to trip you up, and then make an exercise that embodies the issue. Most of
the time it is not the notes but the bowing that gets in our way and holds us back. Take the phrase apart into its components,
starting with just the rhythmic contour, played all on one pitch. Where do you need to start in your bow to come out where you
want to be at the end of the gesture? Can you do the same gesture repeatedly? Now try adding back in the rhythms that
precede and follow it in the phrase. Do these add any new problems that you can solve? Once your right hand is comfortable
with the rhythmic shape, add back in the pitches. If this causes problems, you may need to focus on the pitches witlwut the
rhythm for a moment. Is it a string.crossing problem? Are you having trouble deciding whether to use an open string or a
finger? Does it involve a shift?
John Mark Rozendaal:
A smart music teacher once observed to me that fluent music reading, like reading text, is a process of memory. Just as when
reading we take in words and phrases that we have learned rather than processing each word phonetically, so when we read
music we recall the meanings of notations that we have seen before. Better sight-readers have more fluent recall of a larger
vocabulary of musical notations. So, simply, read a lot of music, and do it regularly.
Sometimes our anxiety over reading a new piece can distort our sense of pulse, and our internal clock takes off at a different
tempo from the other players. Try to use rests and long notes to pay attention to the players around you and reestablish for
yourself the pulse of the ensemble. Listen for cadences and homophonic sections and use the clues contained in the music to
help establish your place within the ensemble. This idea of feeling the "pulse of the ensemble" is crucial to good sight-reading,
and to good consort playing in general.
G150 J.G. Graun, Sonata in B minor, GraunWV Av: XV: 50 (27 Wend), First Edition, Edited by Michael O'LoughlinVdG +
harp-if, score, 2 parts, 36 p., ISMN 50174-150-2 € 15.80
This subtle and complex work is a significant addition to the rather small repertoire of sonatas for viola da gamba and obbligato
harpsichord. The slow, poignant first movement is followed by a rhythmically intricate Contrapuntal Allegro, and the work
ends with an extended sonata movement on a minuet-like theme. The sonata is an arrangement by Frederick the Great's gamba
virtuoso Ludwig Christian Hesse of a trio concert by his master, Graun. It shows the strongly emotional style typical of the
composer and his Berlin colleagues, combined with a certain brilliance, but is not as demanding as techically the works which
Graun wrote directly for Hesse.
G157 M. Praetorius, Puer natus in Bethlehem, Christmas Settings, volume 5 (five-part), Cons-5, score and five parts, 88 p.,
ISMN 50174-157-1 21.50 €
G158 M. Praetorius, Puer natus in Bethlehem, Christmas Settings, volume 6 (five-part), Cons-5, score and five parts, 88 p.,
ISMN 50174-158-8 21.50 €
G159 M. Praetorius, Puer natus in Bethlehem, Christmas Settings, volume 7 (six-part), Cons-6, score and six parts, 76 p.,
ISMN 50174-159-5 19.80 €
G160 M. Praetorius, Puer natus in Bethlehem, Christmas Settings, volume 8 (seven-part), Cons-7, score and seven parts, 44 p.,
ISMN 50174-160-1 15.50 €
The 8-part settings will be published in the first half of 2010.
The settings by Praetorius have for a long time been a part of Christmas music-making. With a new comprehensive practical
edition we would now like to warmly recommend this wonderful music to all interested singers and instrumentalists. This
music was presumably mostly sung, and played colla parte. However, it is just as attractive when performed by voices alone,
by instruments alone, or by a mixed vocal-instrumental ensemble. Moreover, the original voice ranges can be adapted to the
needs and capabilities of the performers by means of octave transposition.
The Six Fantasias of Thomas Brewer (b. 1611), for viol quartet (2 trebles, tenor and bass) are published for the first time in this
forthcoming (summer 2010) edition by Virginia Brookes: VC078; Price to be announced
Franz Xaver Hammer (d. 1817), one of the last virtuosos of the viola da gamba, composed, and used to perform these 5
sonatas, for viol, bass instrument and keyboard: edited by David Rhodes. The sonatas may be heard in excellent performances
on a CD, Christophorus CHR 77303. Edition CL008; score & parts $35.00
Continuing our program of re-issuing the editions of the Santa Ynez Press, here are the first two volumes of August Kühnel's
Sonatas and Partitas for bass viol(s) and continuo, in George Houle's 1998 edition: Volume I, 3 Sonatas; B054, Score & Parts;
$26.00 Volume II presents three partitas for 2 bass viols and obbligato B.C. 3 Partitas; B055, Score & Parts; $20.00
Completing our series of Madrigals for voices and viols by John Ward are his Songs of Six Parts, edited by Virginia Brookes:
VC073; Score & 6 parts, $45.00
Among the many suites for viols and organ by Hingeston are several for which only the organ part exists. Composer Harold
Owen has recreated the parts for 3 and for 4 viols, giving us 8 "new" fantasy-suites, 6 for 2 trebles & bass, 1 for treble, tenor &
bass, 1 for 2 trebles & 2 basses. Score & parts, $35.
SM69 - Duets for bass recorders, Vol. 1 is at the printers and will be ready this week. 14 pieces by Morley and Lassus, suitable
for experienced intermediate players. $24 ($26.40).
* SM70 - Duets for bass recorders, Vol. 2 is now available. This contains 9 pieces by Lassus, Anon, Gibbons and Morley and
is for intermediate and advanced bass recorder players. The Gibbons and Morley pieces in this one are quite challenging. $24
* Saraband Music has now produced 133 publications including three books. More coming
SM67 - The Bass Recorder Book, Vol. 4. Music of Henry Purcell. 43 great solo pieces, also playable on bass viol and cello.
SM68 - Angelo Maria Scaccia: Two sonatas for violin and continuo, edited by Heath Landers. An urtext, first edition from a
MS in Cambridge University Library. Score and parts $30 ($33)
FC2 - William Byrd: Haec Dies. That wonderful Easter motet for 6 voices. Now nominally arranged for viols TrTrTTBB or
TrTRTBBB, but with text included so voices can sing along. Alternative clefs available too.
The latest edition for tenor viol players is available now. SM71 Lassus - Motetti e Ricercari arr. for 2 tenor viols. $33 Two
scores. Intermediate to advanced duos which are very pleasant music.
New Free downloadNew Free download New Free downloadNew Free download New Free download A duet by Giamberti is
on the downloads page of my website. It will suit bass recorders, bass viols, cellos or anything basso. Intermediate level, bass
Published by Waynflete Music and distributed by Fretwork:
WM1: Orlando Gibbons, The Second Service (Morning) edited and reconstructed by David Skinner for voices and 5-part viol
consort: Full score £8.00 (for 5 scores or more £6.00 each)
WM1a: Orlando Gibbons, The Second Service (Morning) Full score and parts £12.00
WM2: Orlando Gibbons, The Second Service (Evening) edited and reconstructed by David Skinner for voices and 5-part viol
consort: Full score £5.00 (for 5 scores or more £4.00 each)
WM2a: Orlando Gibbons, The Second Service (Evening) Full score and parts £7.50
- Icking (free on internet) - http://icking-music-archive.org/ByComposer/Jenkins.php
New Editions of music by John Jenkins edited by Martin Grayson:
• Fantasy a 4 - Version for Viols - parts for Treble viol, Tenor viol 1, Tenor viol 2, Bass viol [MG]
• Fantasy a 5 - Version for Viols (and string quintet) - parts for Treble viol 1 (Violin 1), Treble viol 2 (Violin 2), Tenor viol 1
(Viola 1), Tenor viol 2 (Viola 2), Bass viol (Violoncello)
• 3 Two-Part Pieces for Treble- and Bass viol - Corant (Dodd 31) - Air (Dodd 154) - Rant (Dodd 157) Original version - parts
for Treble viol, Bass viol
Boismortier - ?XIV OEuvre contenant VI sonates à deux Bassons, Violoncelles, ou Violes 1726
| Sonata I - Separate parts
Edited by Marc Lanoiselée - with Lilypond source files
| Sonata II - Separate parts
Edited by Marc Lanoiselée - with Lilypond source files
•Coprario - Fantasia à 3 for three viols - Original version - parts for Treble Viol, Tenor Viol 1, Tenor Viol 2 / Bass Viol (edit.
1. Sydney - The Marais Project
Concert 2 - 4.00pm Saturday 5th June, Recital Hall West, Sydney Conservatorium, Macquarie St, Sydney. Limited seating,
advanced bookings recommended.
"Love Reconciled" CD Launch Tickets $35, $25, $80 (family)(+ booking fee).
Don't miss the festive launch of "Love Reconciled". Guest gambist Daniel Yeadon will join us to perform some old favourites
by Marais and Bouteiller with a few surprises!
Belinda Montgomery – soprano
Daniel Yeadon, Jennifer Eriksson & Catherine Tabrett – viola da gamba
Tommie Andersson –theorbo
Concert 3 - 3.00pm Sunday 24th October, Mosman Art Gallery & Community Centre, Cnr Gallery Way and Myahgah, Rd
"Across the Channel"–Directed by Jennifer Eriksson and Tommie Andersson"
Tickets - $35, $25, $80 (+ booking fee)
Our focus is typically French music. In this concert we "cross the channel" to perform some of the greatest English works for
lute and viol.
Belinda Montgomery – soprano
Fiona Ziegler -baroque violin
Tommie Andersson – lute & theorbo
Jennifer Eriksson & Catherine Tabrett – viola da gamba
Shaun Ng – tenor viol
2. Melbourne - Latitude 37 with Laura Vaughan
Sunday 23 May at 3.00pm - ABC Sunday Live, Iwaki Auditorium, ABC Centre, Southbank Blvd, Southbank (listen to it live
on ABC FM radio and internet)
Together with guest soprano Louisa Hunter Bradley, Latitude 37 will give a performance of stunning 17th century Italian songs
and instrumental music, broadcast live on ABC Classic FM.
Saturday 19 June, A Latitude 37 Winter Solstice at The Vines
sometime in the evening ...TBC
The Vines of Red Hill winery,150 Red Hill Rd, Red Hill
A culinary and musical celebration of the winter solstice - what better way to spend a chilly winter's night than with a fantastic
meal, wine and music.
News from USA and UK
News of the oldest livimg viol player fromSuzanne Ferguson, Ft. Myers, FL. This January 2 , Theron McClure of Sarasota,
Florida, celebrated his 98th birthday. Just about a year earlier, he bought a new tenor viol and bow from Charlie Ogle, which
he has been learning to play. Well known for his publications on the bass over many years, Theron has also contributed to the
VdGSA News and The American Recorder. For the past several years, Theron has loaned viols—as have several other
members from the Sarasota and Ft. Myers areas—for Board members to play upon during the winter Board meetings in St.
Petersburg. This year, Theron was brought by his loving companion, Pat Sindlinger, to the meeting to retrieve his own and
several other viols, and was duly serenaded and congratulated on his birthday by the Board members, some of whom
remembered him from past Conclaves and some of whom knew him through his publications and correspondence, but had
never met him.
Theron is tremendously proud of his grandson, Joshua MacCluer (an earlier spelling of the name), who plays trumpet in the St.
Louis Symphony and on holidays at Sarasota's Church of the Redeemer, so he can visit his grandfather. Theron practices piano
and tenor viol every day and confides to all the secret of his longevity: "Music has kept me 98 years young."
The VdGSA's website, vdgsa.org, contains a plethora of useful and interesting material for visitors. There is a searchable
database of photos from the past decade of Conclaves on the website? That's right— every photo is captioned and every person
identified (whenever possible), and you can type in a name or type of photo to return all the relevant results. Say you're feeling
a little rusty when it comes to reading a particular clef, or have planned to stretch your technique by picking up a new size of
viol. The VdGSA website is home to numerous pieces of free online sheet music, from Jenkins fantasias (in scores and parts)
and tablature solos, to arrangements of Bach cantatas and a library of simple pieces designed to help teach your neighbor (or
yourself!) as well as many educational videos. Visit Music/Music and Recordings for easy downloads.
Sad to report the death on January 3 from a heart attack of Bruce Bellimgham who was Vice-President (1975-76) and
President (1977-78) of the VdGSA and Professor Emeritus at the University of Connecticut .. Born in Hamilton Ontario, he
received his Bachelors, Masters and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Toronto. The string bass was Bruce's earliest
instrument and he performed in jazz ensembles and with orchestras throughout his life. When in 1966, he enrolled as a
graduate student in music at the University of Toronto, he found there a chest of six viols (the Hart House Viols), that included
a Barak Norman bass which he began to learn to play. In 1969, he joined the faculty of the Eastman School of Music in
Rochester, NY. The following summer, he honed his skills by attending John Hsu's workshop at Cornell, and soon after began
attending VdGSA Conclaves. In 1974, Bruce became Professor of Music at the University of Connecticut Storrs. He was editor
or coeditor of several published editions of early music, especially (with Andrew Ashbee) the four-part viol consorts of
Alfonso Ferrabosco the Younger. He was an enthusiastic participant at the Pan Pacific Gamba Gathering in Honolulu, HI in
2007 where he introduced "Ferrabosco Fantasias—Stylistic Observations" which now appears on our website under Resources,
Research and Scholarship. One friend decribes him thus:
"Bruce was the most ebullient, energetic, extroverted musician I've ever known. He needed to play music, and he needed to
play with other musicians. "If I don't play, I just shrivel up inside," he said once, contorting himself into a mock posture of
shriveled misery. For the last twenty years, I was lucky to be one of Bruce's "fellow scrapers" in Eastern CT. For at least
fifteen of those years, we met on a weekly basis to read consort music. Consort sessions with Bruce were often magical
mystery tours into the structure of Ferrabosco the Younger's fantasias" Carrie Crompton, Andover CT
(His analysis of the Ferrabosco fantasies was the subject of an article in a previous Newsletters of the AvdGS)
Viol Rules gets a welcome from Martha Bishop who says Alison Crum's latest publication is a handsome, smallish (148 page)
notebook aimed at the student (or teacher) who needs clarification on almost any technical issue of viol playing. Spiral bound,
it lies open easily and has color-coded page edges so that one can immediately find viol basics, bowing, fingering, music
preparation, and other specifics. About a third of the book is dedicated to interpretation—technical and musical—of much
standard consort literature. There are great color pictures—ones I've never seen before—and good ones of Alison as well. Her
husband Roy Marks has provided some clever caricatures throughout.
In her introduction, Alison explains that in the 25 years since writing "Play the Viol," she has taught well over one thousand
people to do just that, and in the process, she has gained reasons or why certain techniques work better than others, as well as
more concise ways of stating why they work better. It is clearer to her that some things work well for some, but different things
work better or others so much so that one cannot be too dogmatic in making rules.
Alison states that she doesn't believe in rules, but that is essentially what the book is: rules. Each chapter ends with a "Little
Rule" which is actually a Big Rule, because it is to be observed at all times (boldface by Alison). The little rule is easy to find
because it is always in blue print. There are many other rules contained in boxes. Bold colors signify rules to be followed; light
colors signify ideas to be considered, and the bolder the color the more important the rule. Alison has organized the notebook
splendidly: if you are looking for anything specific, it's not hard to find it.
The notebook was inspired in part by Alison's returning to the sources and one of my favorite quotes is Loulié's wry, "Some
rules that may be given for mastering the viol are useless for persons who have no ears, because they would not know how to
avail themselves of them."
The notebook is packed with good information: the height of a chair or a tall person vs. a short person; the way to choose rosin;
ideas or articulating different bow strokes through words; dotted notes played in ensemble vs. solo music; and how to practice
effectively. Some of the information comes from quotations, e.g. Rousseau's endorsement of wood from China for the best
bows, Ganassi's trill of a third or more (slurred) to be used for "lively emotions," LeBlanc's description of playing high notes
as "being on a steeple weight (with good imagery of dragging a heavy box across a carpet).
Of extreme value to the consort coach are the many pages on playing the traditional consort literature. Fantasias by Byrd,
Gibbons, etc. are discussed, sometime with an eye to potentially problematic spots such as dotted note passages, and sometimes
with reference to difficult parts for the various instruments.
The book concludes with a brief discussion of solo playing, including divisions and lyra playing. The book is intended as a
reference manual, and to that end it is very successful.
Martha Bishop, Atlanta, GA
Patrice Connelly recently published new edition of Simpson is given a glowing review by Brent Wissick. This is a wonderful
resource as well as a practical and beautifully produced edition. For years many viol players have been familiar with the
Curwen facsimile of the later 1667 Division Viol with its introduction by Nathalie Dolmetsch first released in a very limited
hardcover edition that was purchased by research libraries and a few collectors. A few years later, Curwen re-released it in
paperback (that's what I bought in the late 1970s), but even that has been out of print for quite a few years. And, because it did
not stay open on a stand, you had to photocopy pages for practice. King's Music, Clifford Bartlett's publishing firm, also
released a facsimile of the 1665/7 edition as had a German publishing firm back in the 1960s, with a German translation on
facing pages. Yet while a few individuals had copies of Simpson's earlier 1659 first edition, it was generally hard to get, if only
to compare the engraving of the player with his Puritan hat in 1659 and without hat by the 1665/67 Restoration edition. But of
course it is worth far more than that, fun as the comparison might be.
Patrice herself has extensive training as a musicologist, librarian/ bibliographer, viol player/teacher and publisher of high
quality, practical editions. All of these elements come together in the preface, scholarly apparatus and layout. The spiral
binding is particularly useful for staying open on a music stand. You can actually practice from this book. And the additional
divisions not published in the facsimile, but presented in modern print in the back of the book, are a delight. Most had been
manuscript versions, copied into the back of historical copies of Simpson, showing how the books had been living tools and
exercise books. Some have been released by others, such as Simpson's own on "John come kiss me now" that had been done
by Charivari Agreable back in 2001. But to have some additional repertoire by Simpson and significant contemporaries like
Daniel Norcombe (see PRB editions as well) all in one place is a treat. I have always loved playing and teaching Simpson, but
this has made things much easier.
As usual there are several pieces of music reviewed and one which intersted me was the William Byrd. The Second Service,
Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis, edited and reconstructed by David Skinner . A Waynflete Music publication, distributed by
Fretwork Editions WM5, c2007 . ISBN 978-1-898131-92-2 . Full score and 5 parts, £7 .00 .
Rachel Cama-Lekx, says although there is some debate as to the exact uses of viols in liturgical settings, both church choir
directors and viol players can enthusiastically thank Fretwork Editions for creating practical and well-researched editions of
sacred music for multiple voices and viols. This particular publication, edited and reconstructed by David Skinner, is yet
another example of the beautiful verse anthem repertoire.
The Second [Evening] Service, Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis by William Byrd has a complete score that indicates writing for
five voice parts (treble, tenor 1, tenor 2, baritone, and bass, with occasional treble line splits) and five viols. There are also five
separate viol parts in the edition. The score, intended for the choir director, has the voice parts written in a larger typeface than
that of the viols. Contrasting sections of "full" choir and "verse," which generally indicates a reduction to one singer on a part,
are clearly delineated in both the score and the parts. The viol parts also contain the singers' texts, an invaluable addition to a
work for voices and viols. Parts for choir members, which are not included, can be purchased separately.
Brief notes by editor David Skinner are included in the score. The notes are taken from a CD of the work released by Harmonia
Mundi in October 2007 (William Byrd: The Second Service & Consort Anthems, The Choir of Magdalen College, Oxford with
Fretwork, directed by Bill Ives; HMU 907440). .I wholeheartedly recommend it with hopes that more collaboration between
viol players and church choir directors will occur. The entire verse anthem repertoire is both approachable and exquisite, and
listening to or performing Byrd's Second Service is a particularly sublime experience. I urge everyone to embrace, with the
help of Fretwork Editions, these treasures.
The October meeting of the Viola da Gamba Society was a day of consorts performed by 5 volunteer consorts. Music included
a fantasy for 6 viols by William Cranford, a Matthew Locke 4 part fantasy, Four Jenkins aires for 4 viols, a sextet by Peter
Seibert, and trios by Lupo, Bassano and Locke. The next meeting was held in Oxford in March and included a talk on viols in
the Ashmolean Museum (the museum has recently been refurbished and the collection of instruments which include 7 viols
re-displayed), and a reading from Tristam Shandy with viol playing by Susanne Heinrich. Apparently Abel used this section of
the book as a starting point for an improvisation on the viol.
There is also a long and interesting article by Suzanne Heinrich about making her new solo CD of music by Hume. Here is
some of the article:
The Music on my CD of Abel's solo music and the Gramophone award in 2008, Hyperion thought 'another one' would be nice.
Short of offering a whole disc of 'Anonymous' I was hard-pressed to do something attractive to record that was 'Single
Composer' and solo. Hume (c. 1579 - 1645) was the obvious choice and I sat down with his first
" Captain Humes Musicall Humors, 1605. I probably in a similar situation as many viol ·layers at that point: we all love and
play his better, own pieces, the Spirit of Gambo, one of the Pavans perhaps and Touch me lightly. We don't rend to much look
beyond that, except perhaps for some amusement due to the titles which are often those as well. Luckily there is at least three
CDs' worth of music in that book, so there was a lot to boose from. I must say that I was quite amazed at the variety of music in
this volume, and especially the quality, once you really get into it. We do Hurne a great injustice by describing him as an
amateur, and putting him in the same dusty drawer as most other lyra viol composers. Wherever you look, Hurne is described
as a prankster and amateur, a dilettante, who very likely spent his free time in brothels and who basically cannot be taken
seriously. I wish this perception of him would change.
Up until the early 17th Century music that was written down mainly performed a function, at court or in church. At home it
fulfilled the need of the string quartet or the piano a few centuries later: pleasing the ear, enjoying it most when you are playing
and 'in it', and perhaps challenging the player a little, but not too much. A new development was ahead for instrumental music,
culminating in the Concerts Spirituel in Paris in the early 18tth Century: music became a much more public affair, it was
fashionable to go to concerts ( just like the theatre a little earlier), showing off the latest wig and frock. Having a chest of viols
in your manor house became outdated as a status symbol. With this newly found public music consumption came a need for
music to express itself in a new way. Music had to convey emotion to an outside listener. It became important to establish a
key to set the mood, the speed and spirit of the piece had to be clearly defined and the personality of the performer and his/her
input became an essential ingredient to achieve the goal of getting emotion across. With it the freelance professional musician
was invented and virtuosity became important to show off their abilities (also made possible through the advancement in string
making and the invention of wound strings). This is far ahead as far as lyra viol music and Hurne's time is concerned, but I feel
very strongly that Hurne was someone who wanted to reach out with some of his pieces and express emotion in a different and
new way, being one of the first viol players aspiring to more. The viol was the perfect tool to achieve this. He wanted more
from the viol and he knew there was more to be had.
I was fortunate enough to have access to two lovely original instruments for this recording, only made possible through the
generosity of their owners. I was going to use my modem 6-string viol for the recording and ordered some gut strings from
George Stoppani. The NRl catlines I had could not quite cope with the lower tuning in F for Loves Pastime and 1am
Melancholy. There was a bit of a stringing, pitch and tuning crisis in preparation for the recording. The lower tuning meant that
my bass had to be in 440 in order to make the bottom gut strings work when tuned down, but the pieces in F scordatura had the
wolf note on the tonic ( F sharp in 415, as on most basses). My tenor, which I was going to use for some pieces, could not cope
with 440 in G and gut strung, so it had to be tuned down, and I discovered that it sounded much better anyway at a lower pitch.
I emailed Professor Laurence Dreyfus to find out whether he had a decent bass which I could use for the scordatura pieces, and
the reply was 'Why don't you use my Meares?'Gulp. I went to try it out and ended up taking it home with me on the bus.
I then had a chance meeting with the original of my Merion Attwood 6-string, just before the recording. Jane Julier had made
another copy for Francisco del Arno (known as Patxi) of the anonymous instrument owned by Dr Lucy Robinson. I have
known the original for a long time and always thought it was quite special, and I am glad that it has been copied again.. I met
with Lucy and Patxi in Cardiff to play trios and compare the instruments which were all quite different from each other (of
course the original was the best, but the copies sounded great too!) Somehow I came away with Lucy's viol and used it for a
large part of the recording.
Hyperion have now released this disc – CDA 67811 the tracks are:
Loves pastime; A jigge; Harke harke; Now I come; Rossamond; Touch me lightly; The Duke of Holstone's Almayne; A
Soldiers Resolution; I am melancholy; Tickell, tickell; A French ayre; Deth; Life; The spirit of gambo; Tinckeldum,
tincheldum; Captaine Humes Pavan; A souldiers galliard; Loves farewell.
You can download an mp3 file from : http://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/dc.asp?dc=D_CDA67811&f=Hume&vw=dc
Tips from Sarah Mead as interpreted by Richard Milner
Bridge – check everyday that it is straight – the side away from the fingerboard should be vertical while the other side slopes
away a little. Can carefully pull the whole bridge back or nip the bridge at each string to move back a little (safer option).
Loosening strings risks moving the bridge back off straight when they are tightened. Put graphite from a 3b pencil for the
bridge grooves and the top grooves to help string slide when tuning.
Body – wipe off loose rosin powder from under the bridge every day. If required use sweet almond oil to clean the wood.
Pegs – use beeswax (candles are a good source) on the pegs to facilitate smooth movement and also good holding power. Make
sure string windings are neat to the edge of the peg box and not touching other strings
Frets – use a piece of wood dowel to move. If loose then use toothpicks or remove top fret, move all the others up one and
replace the first fret. Sarah uses nylon fishing line of a suitable gauge and uses the same gauge on all frets. Tighten new frets
using two pairs of pliers to ensure they are really firm.
Bow hair – can wash with baby shampoo. However remember that rehairing is not very expensive and so get your bow