SWEMF workshop
22nd April 2023

The arrival of spring each year not only indicates fairer weather and longer days ahead, but for early winds and brass enthusiasts in the South West it also signals the annual renaissance winds workshop in Gloucestershire, led by Tim Bayley. This year welcomed a change of venue and the players gathered at St Mark’s Methodist Church in Cheltenham, starting off the day with a brief catch up while everyone settled in for a day of rewarding music-making.

This year’s workshop was as enjoyable as ever, with Tim expertly leading us through a total of eight works over the course of the day, with the playing punctuated at regular intervals by tea breaks (usefully doubling as lip breaks). During the course of the day, we played pieces by Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli, Trombetti, Hassler and LeFebure. Our numbers were slightly smaller this time round, totalling to fourteen, but this did not deter participants from giving their all and allowed individual instruments to shine through even more. The size of our company gave the perfect opportunity to explore twelve-part repertoire, with occasional doubling, and even a chance for one to a part action in Giovanni Gabrieli’s fourteen-part Nunc Dimittis

For some works, we were split into three choirs of SATB (mainly one to a part), which provided the opportunity to try out different combinations of instruments for each choir and see how they worked together and changed the sound. A particular highlight from one of these pieces was having a choir made up entirely of crumhorns. The characteristic crumhorn buzz created a refreshing distinction in sound when each choir took their turn in the spotlight, and all choirs bounced off each other splendidly in their differing timbres. 

Having worked gradually at each piece in turn, at the end of the day we revisited a couple and played them straight through to finish. We packed up basking in the good feeling of a successful workshop day and all headed off until next time. Great music, brilliant company, and as ever, excellent direction and joviality from Tim.

Eleanor Carr