Viola da Gamba Society - New England SpringWorkshop 2011

Viol Player
Viola da Gamba Society—New England
Spring Workshop 2011

The Early English Viol Enters
The Court Of Henry VIII

Slosberg Music Building
Brandeis University, Waltham MA
Sunday, April 17th, 2011

Music Director: Laura Jeppesen
Coordinator: Betsy Bayer

When the Henry VIII Songbook was compiled around 1520, the viola da gamba was a recent immigrant to England. "Vyolles" or "vyalles" are mentioned with increasing frequency at the start of the 1500's, arriving from Spain in the retinue of Catherine of Aragon, from the Burgundian Netherlands with musicians like Matthew van Wilder, the King's minstrel and player upon lutes and “veoldes,” and from Dutch and Germanic regions when the Emperor Charles V visited England in 1522. The music played on this new instrument was considerable, at its origin cosmopolitan and stimulated by immigration. Henry VIII’s active participation as composer and performer in the new musical trends is not surprising since political and social philosophers of the Renaissance seemed to be in agreement that involvement in the arts was a necessary attribute of a ruler and an important component of civilized society. In Baldesar Castiglione's "Il Libro del Cortegiano," (ca. 1518) the question is posed what kinds of music should be performed by the courtier. After a list of ways to accompany vocal music, the reply continues, " less delightful is the music of four bowed viols, which is very sweet and artful." As to when the courtier should engage in the pastime of music-making, the best time is "when he finds himself among friends, without urgent business and especially when ladies are present."

Coaches for the workshop will include members of the Carthage Consort, Jane Hershey, Laura Jeppesen, and Emily Walhout, with Carol Lewis. Please join us on Sunday, April 17th, 2011 to continue this time-honored tradition, in an exploration of music from the beginnings of the English viol consort repertory. Classes will be small in this repertoire of mostly 3- and 4-part music. Beginner, intermediate and advanced players are all welcome and will be placed in consorts appropriate to their levels. Preformed groups might want to tackle some of the more ambitious pieces of the Henry Songbook, such as Fa la sol or Tandernaken.

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