I hope this finds you all well, having survived the rigours of Storm Eunice which has just passed as I write this. SWEMF, like all aspects of our lives, is getting back to something like normal – or at least, in that over-used phrase, the ‘new normal’ – with a busy programme of face-to-face events in the next few months (respecting, of course, whatever Covid precautions need to be taken at the time). However, as a number of members have indicated that they have really valued the online meetings, your committee has decided that in future we will aim to arrange at least two such events per year. We also felt that the online AGMs allowed more members to take part than our previous AGMs held hastily in the lunch-break of a workshop; we will therefore continue to hold the AGM via Zoom, so please put Saturday 24th September at 2.30 pm in your diary as the date for the next one.

The geographically widespread nature of our membership has always been a challenge. We do of course make efforts to ensure that we hold events in different parts of our region, and members travel considerable distances to support our workshops, but this sometimes just isn’t practical. So in the next few months we are experimenting with holding the same workshop twice, once in the north of our region (Cheltenham) and once in the south (Thorverton near Exeter). This is being made possible partly through the support of the music publisher Stainer and Bell – Angus Smith, who is tutoring the workshops (and who is a member of a number of leading vocal ensembles including the Orlando consort) is S&B’s ‘choral ambassador’ and they are therefore helping to fund the events. Of course, there is nothing to stop members from attending both workshops!

And on the subject of finance, we would like to encourage you if at all possible to make payments for workshops (and for subscriptions which become due soon – see the item about this later in the Diary) by BACS transfer. Our bank details will be provided in the application forms for events.

Finally, I hope you will forgive me for giving a ‘plug’ to the Bristol Early Music Festival, which will take place from May 6th – 8th. After 2020 when the Festival had to be cancelled at short notice, and 2021 when we held a virtual Festival, it is great to be bringing BEMF back as a faceto-face event. SWEMF is sponsoring a workshop for winds and strings to be given by members of His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts, while I 2 myself will be leading a session for singers exploring the rich repertoire of rounds and catches. Head over to www.bristolearlymusicfestival.uk for more information and a full programme.

Thank you as always for your continuing support of SWEMF.

– Clare