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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. 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 2017 for for 2017/2018. 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.

Latest News

From Lindsey Shaw-Miller, Diary Editor

Thanks to all of you who make such interesting contributions and organize great workshops and concerts. Here we are at the turn of the season, waiting for autumn to bring a bit of zing and clarity to the thick, dark end of summer; one day perfectly still, a little old before its time, the next a jumble of breezes and showers.

Now available on the SWEMF Events page is the application forms for the Cornish workshop coming up in November, directed by Clare Griffel. May I draw your attention to a couple of things on the form, which signal a change in our presentation of workshop opportunities? (Please see the guidelines on workshop organization for further details.) First, we shall always, from now on, offer the opportunity to ask for, or to give, a lift to any workshop; or to be collected or to collect from a nearby station. We hope by this means to make it easier to attend a workshop if you do not drive. Secondly, you will see that the form is very clear that the workshop will start at 10.30, with coffee and tuning from 10am. There has been a small lapse in clarity with some recent workshops, as to whether the start time really is the start time, or whether there is half an hour’s grace. In future, all forms will make this clear, as they used to do. Finally, all EMF workshops offer an advantageous rate for members, usually set at £18, rather than £20 for non-members. The actual rate may vary sometimes, depending on the expenses involved in a workshop, but the differential will remain the same. Recently some workshops have been charged at a flat rate. This was an oversight.

Clare’s editorial this time is a version of the report she gave to the AGM in June, and so a little longer than usual. Please do get in touch with her if you wish to comment on or respond to any of the points she raises.

Finally, I am considering writing a short piece for the December Diary on this vexed and fascinating discourse regarding authenticity, but from the point of view of an art historian. There are some interesting parallels. I flag this up now, in case anyone feels compelled to discourage me! Enjoy the rest of your summer.

- Lindsey

Frans Hals, Jester with a Lute, 1624–26, oil on canvas, 62 x 70cms, Paris, Musée du Louvre

From Clare Griffel, Chair

I’d like to begin by welcoming all our members — especially anyone who has joined within the past year. Membership is reasonably healthy, with numbers hovering around 200, though of course more members are always welcome, as that gives us greater flexibility with our events. We do have a handbill which we’ve used at the Early Music Festival at Greenwich, giving details of who we are and what we do, so if you think you could make use of this, perhaps by interesting members of your choir, recorder group or viol concert, do let us know.

We have had a busy and successful year, averaging around one workshop per month except in January, when there are concerns about bad weather impeding travel, August (holidays and summer schools) and December (too many choir concerts!). Many of the workshops have become a tradition—for example, the baroque chamber music day—and we are grateful to the members who, year after year, put in the work to organize these. We are trying out a few new venues this year—Peter Leech’s workshop in July will be in Yatton church, and the venue for this year's AGM (Thornberries, Thornbury, South Gloucestershire) was new to many people, though we did hold a baroque string day here a few years ago. Let us know what you think of our venues; one of the decisions made by your committee and implemented during the year has been an intention to take more care over questions of accessibility, and to provide more information about this in our publicity, so if you find any difficulties, we’d be glad to hear.

As recorded in last year’s AGM Minutes, we agreed that, given the healthy state of SWEMF’s finances, not every workshop needed to attract a large attendance, so some minority interests can be catered for. The workshop with Peter Leech being held in three weeks’ time is an example of a slightly experimental topic. Billed as a ‘study workshop’, it will include both performance and some discussion by Peter of the technical aspects of the music and its editing. Ideas for other ‘different’ workshops are very welcome.

My longstanding intention to visit all parts of our large region during my time as Chair resulted in my leading a workshop in West Bay last year, during which there was an opportunity for members who don’t travel to other workshops to put forward their ideas. I am happy to report that, thanks to Peter Crispin, I will be visiting Launceston in November to meet our Cornish members and conduct a workshop for voices and instruments.

It only remains for me to thank all those who have contributed to the running of the society during the year, especially all those who have helped in any way with the running of workshops, and all the members of your Committee, who make my life a great deal easier by their quick and sensible responses to the various queries which inevitably arise. In particular, we all owe our gratitude to Madeline, our secretary, Lindsey our diary editor, Sara our webmaster and Jonathan our treasurer, all of whom keep things running smoothly in an unobtrusive and efficient manner. Finally, thanks to all of you for supporting SWEMF and its activities – it’s your society!

- 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: 02 November 2017