EASTERN EARLY MUSIC FORUM
Epiphany Party 2007
O Great Mystery - Seasonal and sumptuous 16th century settings
Saturday 6th January
The Methodist and UR Church, Beccles
Tutored by Philip Thorby
ITH great anticipation I set off from
FOOD was the first thing I saw as I entered (and very promising it looked, too). Then the main hall, bustling with a cornucopia of early music enthusiasts - singers, violists, violinists, cornettists, recorderists, sackbuteers, curtalists (apologies if I've missed any -ists off my l-ist). In a world where singers are often a cappella, violists consort with other violists and cornetts and sackbutts do their special thing together, it was really quite an unusual opportunity for all these to play and sing together.
IF I'd had any preconceptions about an Epiphany Party being some post-Saturnalian excess of drinking and debauchery with the occasional bawdy ballad sung to the accompaniment of shattering goblets, then these had been mostly dispelled by reading the report of the 2006 bash. Nonetheless, I was still surprised by just how much music we managed to fit into the day. About 4.5 hours of playing in all! Starting off with a single choir setting of "O Magnum Mysterium" by Clemens non Papa, we moved on to more elaborate polychoral works by Gabrieli and Marenzio. The music was perfectly chosen to be satisfying without being too technically difficult. Due emphasis was placed on the correct approach to interpretation - this was far from a simple run-through and the results, in a relatively short time, were remarkable. Philip Thorby is, quite simply, a superlative musical director - he is a consummate musician and one of the funniest stand-up comics on the circuit! My memory isn't up to storing details of the many spontaneous and perfectly timed Thorbyisms, but perhaps fans could send their favourites in to this newsletter? Suffice to say that Philip has the unique ability to make it quite clear when you sound like a flatulent gerbil in a drainpipe without being in the slightest bit offensive.
THIS was not only a very satisfying day of music making, it was a chance to relax, forget the pressures of 21st Century life, make new friends and renew old acquaintances.
OH, and that lunch really was wonderful - a huge array of dishes of all descriptions and the most sumptuous selection of desserts one could wish for. A tribute to the culinary talents of all the members who contributed and to the marvellous organisational skills of Jennie Cassidy, to whom my heartfelt thanks for what was pretty much a perfect day.
JUST a pity it's only once a year.....
Extracted from EEMF Newsletter 64, February 2007