Sat 29 Sep 2018

From verse anthems to consort songs: an untutored day of music for voices and viols

Clements Hall, York

NEEMF invites singers and viol players to an untutored day of music for viols and voices, a combination which was particularly popular for domestic music in 17th Century England. There will be three concurrent groups:

Group A: Consort songs, (one or two solo voices + a consort of viols), were often adapted from lute songs, or written specifically for viols. (

Group B: Verse anthems were verse (solo singer) + chorus settings of religious texts in English, rather than Latin. They could be performed in church, with an organ, or in domestic settings with a consort of viols. (

Group C: ‘apt for voices and viols’. Many new C16-C17 compositions would be advertised for sale as “both apt for voices and viols", and Group C will look at some examples where each voice will be doubled by a viol.

Groups will be allocated beforehand so that everyone samples each genre, with the proviso that singers wishing to sing a consort song or verse anthem solo should be fairly confident sight readers, or prepare in advance. Please indicate your preference for this when booking. Depending on numbers, it may be possible for viol players to take a turn at singing, if desired. Music will be provided, but if you have any music that you would like to bring, please contact the organiser well in advance. Viol players: please bring a music stand.

Please book early if possible as it may be necessary to cap numbers. More info/queries: Jo Green, 07939 841 749 or

Pitch: recent research suggests that pre-restoration verse anthems would have been sung at A=466. Rather than asking viols to tune so far up, pitch for the day will be at A440.

Download application form

Sat 27 Oct 2018

NEEMF AGM and workshop

A Briton in Brussels:

motets and madrigals for voices and instruments together, with a dance or two for instruments alone,

by Peter Philips (c.1560-1628)

conducted by John Bryan

Peter Philips is a composer whose varied output deserves to be better known. Trained as a choirboy at St Paul’s in London, and probably a pupil of William Byrd, Philips left England in his early twenties to follow his faith as a Catholic, working for three years as organist at the English College in Rome. He then travelled widely with his English patron Lord Thomas Paget before settling in the Spanish Netherlands as organist to the Archduke in Brussels. His published vocal music ranges from intimate motets for two voices and continuo to large- scale pieces in the Venetian cori spezzati style, as well as some deeply expressive five-part examples that combine his understanding of strong contrapuntal textures with more up-to-date Italianate word-painting. Philips also published Italian madrigals in six and eight parts, and a number of beautifully crafted pavans and galliards also survive in manuscript.

This workshop will explore pieces from all these genres: we will concentrate on some of the larger motets and madrigals, using voices and appropriate instruments (viols, violins, recorders, cornetts, sackbuts, well-behaved dulcians) and there will be scope for lute or harp to supply continuo if players are happy to work from bass parts and/or scores. The instrumentalists will also have the opportunity to give the singers a breather by working on one or two dance pieces.

John Bryan is a performer, teacher and researcher into early music. He is Professor of Music at the University of Huddersfield, where he directs the University Chamber Choir and Early Music Ensemble. In 2015 the University awarded him the higher doctorate (DMus) for his performance-based research into viol consort music, and he has recently co-authored (with Michael Fleming) a book resulting from a five-year AHRC-funded project: Early English Viols: Instruments, Makers and Music (Routledge, 2017). As a member of the Rose Consort of Viols he has given concerts throughout Europe and in the USA and Canada, and made more than 30 recordings for Naxos, Signum, cpo, Deux-Elles and Delphian. The most recent is Exiled: motets, dances and fantasias by Richard Dering and Peter Philips (Vox Regis VOXR004, 2017). Founder of NEEMF back in the 1970s, John is an artistic adviser to York Early Music Festival, and has also contributed to BBC Radio 3’s early music programmes.

Application form later.

Sat 10 Nov 2018

NEEMF workshop for singers and instrumentalists with Peter Syrus. 'Seven' - Lassus, Tallis, Sheppard, Wert, Pipelare, Sutton, Pevernage - seven composers, all represented by 7-part music. Each item has a fascinating story to tell, generally relating to some aspect of number symbolism.
St Bartholomew's Church Hall, Station Road, Benton, Newcastle upon Tyne NE12 8YY. Details later.