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Music for Renaissance Wind Instruments

Workshop directed by Tim Bayley, Gloucester, 4th March 2017

A goodly mixed band of recorders, shawms, dulcians, a sackbut and even a great bass crumhorn, met in the Parliament Room, Gloucester Cathedral, on Saturday 4th March 2017 under the excellent, knowledgeable, and kind direction of Tim Bayley of the York Waits. The room was warm, the coffee welcoming and the company friendly and talented.

We began with a piece from the newly published (and apparently very expensive) Regensburg Partbooks of 1579, Jauchzet Dem Herren alle Wellt, an enjoyable piece in eight parts that had just enough, and not too much, challenge. Tim told us a little about this new source, originally compiled for the Archducal Court at Graz and one of the most significant sources of vocal music selected and copied for instrumental ensemble in the second half of the 16th century. The parts show instrumentation chosen by the original wind players who played from the books. The composers represented are some of the greatest names of the century and most of the works have never before been made available to modern performers.

We played several more pieces from this collection through the day enough to seriously whet the appetite for more! We also tackled music from the Lerma Codex, another rich source of material, and a selection of Susato dances. Several of the pieces called for two choirs: the most successful division of the company pitched the loud winds against the recorders, allowing both choirs a coherence and resonance in opposition that was sometimes lacking when mixed together. A highlight of the day for me was a piece by Guerrero which alternated plainsong (beautifully sung by Simon Pickard) and polyphony, as was often done at that time.

Thanks to Tim for a day that gave us access to exciting new sources of music, and provided great encouragement to the players, and to Simon for quiet behind-the-scenes organization that made the day run so well.

- Nicky May




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Last modified: 06 June 2017