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We are delighted to bring you the first edition of our monthly newsletter including our latest news, events, offers as well as news and features from the Early Music world.

The Early Music Shop e-Newsletter - July 2017 

Camac Harp Weekend at Saltaire; The Early Music Shop Tour; Interview with this month's Featured Artist, Palisander; New and Featured Products; and a look at the *NEW* ABRSM Recorder Exam Syllabus!

Upcoming Events


Saltaire Camac Harp Weekend

 Early Music Shop on Tour

This popular event is now in its fourth year and if you have ever dreamed of owning and playing a harp then Salts Mill, Victoria Road, Saltaire, on Friday 22nd - Sunday 24 September, is the place to be!


Visitors to the showroom can expect to see a fabulous display of Camac lever and pedal harps and the Camac France team will be present throughout the weekend to offer expert advice on their range of harps. If you are lucky enough to already own a Camac harp, free service and regulation can be arranged over the weekend (reservation required).

We will be embarking on our Early Music Shop tour as usual this summer and autumn. Even if you're not attending the festivals or courses it may be an opportunity to try out some instruments closer to home at one of our pop-up shops!


Featured Artists - Interview with Palisander


 Recorder Quartet, Palisander, are a vibrant young ensemble made up of graduates from Guildhall School of Music and Drama that are taking the recorder world by storm. Hannah, Lydia, Miriam and Caoimhe pride themselves on presenting imaginative, historical programmes with a wide range of repertoire; performing largely from memory, on recorders up to 6 feet tall. The group were selected for the prestigious St John's Smith Square Young Artists' Scheme 2016-2017 and have have been chosen as Making Music UK Selected Artists 2017-2018.


What was the inspiration behind your debut CD 'Beware the Spider!' released earlier this year? Whilst we were on BREMFS Early Music Live! scheme we were given the opportunity to perform a short programme as part of a showcase of young artists on Halloween, and after looking for an appropriately spooky theme we settled on Tarantism (the phenomena of spider bite victims who could only be cured by music.) As a group we became fascinated by this topic and the wealth of music it inspired, so it grew first into a full length concert programme and then, based on audience reactions, became the base of our first CD. You can watch a short video on our website explaining a bit more about the basis of the of 'Beware the Spider!' here.  

What's in your recorder collection? At the last count, we own nearly 50 recorders between us! Some of our favourites include our consort by Tom Prescott, and the recorders at each end of the spectrum by Kung, our Contrabass and tiny Garklein. But as every recorder player knows, the shopping list is ever growing and we're always on the look out for new instruments! 

What's been your favourite reaction to people seeing your recorder collection? Often when we reveal the Contrabass, the spectacle of standing up a 6-foot recorder can prompt gasps from the audience, and in one memorable workshop the garklein was met with a shout of 'No way!' For us it is such a buzz when the audience are as excited about our instruments as we are. 

As a fundraising event you recently did a 24-hour recoderthon - How did you survive?! A lot of caffeine and friendship- we were lucky not to drive each other round the bend I think! We were overwhelmed by the response to this event, and the generosity of everyone who supported us certainly powered us through the early hours! You can see first hand how we survived the experience here.

You've commission several new pieces as St. John's Smith Square Artists - What are the key points you discuss with composers? Whilst as SJSS Young Artists we commissioned 3 pieces by the amazing Toby Young. As an ensemble, we are extremely passionate about our instrument, and that was what we asked Toby to reflect in his writing: exploring the wide variety of recorders at our disposal and experimenting with timbres and styles. We also ask that the composition is reflective of our style of performance, and Toby's mix of Purcell and Pop music did that perfectly. 

If you had to, could you pick a favourite? Our favourite is probably the third piece, Recorder Revolution!, which encompasses every size of recorder we own within a seamless 3 minute performance! We feel this will be a great introduction for audiences to the wider recorder family, and look forward to performing it again at Union Chapel on the 25th July!

What's been your performing highlight as a group so far? We have really enjoyed performing live on BBC Radio 3 In Tune twice this season- that has definitely been a highlight for us as it is unusual that all our friends and family based in different corners of the world are able to listen to a performance simultaneously! 

You've been performing Dr. Dee's Daughter and the Philosopher's Stone with the theatre and puppetry company Rust and Stardust Productions - has that been a challenge working in a different setting?  Yes- to enable us to interact fully with the other performers almost all of the music has had to be played not just from memory but in a way that means we can be mobile- a bit of a challenge with the larger instruments. We already tend to play from memory quite a bit in more formal concert settings anyway, but it has certainly been an added challenge to also remember what to do with your feet, where you should be on stage and which puppet you're interacting with all whilst playing! As a group we have really enjoyed exploring this new dimension of our performances, and of course we have enjoyed the chance to get stuck into new choreography! Dr Dee has been our first experience of collaborative story telling and we hope it  won't be the last.

What's your favourite piece to perform at the moment? At the moment we love playing the arrangement of The Nightmare Concerto from our CD 'Beware the Spider!' Miriam arranged this piece specifically for Palisander and tailored it to our playing styles- it has quite a diverse sound world featuring a majestic solo adagio from the Contrabass as well as extended techniques and lightening fast semi-quavers in the Allegros. We love the drama of Vivaldi's writing and really enjoy performing this one! 

You do a lot of your own arrangements - what's next on your list to tackle? After a busy year as St John's Smith Square Young Artists we've just finished creating a number of new arrangements, and next on the list really is just to enjoy sharing these with new audiences in the coming season. Of those we most enjoyed giving Tempesta di Mare, another of Vivaldi's programmatic concertos, a recorder make-over! Next we are in the process of brainstorming a brand new programme concept that has inspired a number of ideas for new arrangements- but you'll have to wait and see...

Do you think the recorder is becoming 'cool' again? Of course in our opinion the recorder has always been cool! But yes I think it is- there are more and more fantastic players helping to raise the instruments profile in this country. For us working with young people in our ongoing project Recorder Revolution! has been our effort to help ignite a passion for the instrument in young people- and hope one day they will elevate it to 'cool' status!

Next performances: You can catch Palisander performing Dr Dee's Daughter in Cheltenham on Sunday 16th of July and the Lake District Summer Music festival on August 5th; or learn about curing spider bites with music in Ryedale on the 18th July.


New and Featured Products


*NEW* Moeck Rondo Knick Great Bass

New Publications

We were excited to receive the latest recorder from Moeck earlier this month - Moeck's first Knick Great Bass Recorder! Following on from their Knick Sub Bass released two years ago, they've included the new Great Bass in their ever-popular Flauto Rondo series.

 This attractively designed recorder is available in stained maple, with a leather carrying case and accessories.


Featured Product - Gemshorns

One of the most frequently asked questions in the Early Music Shop is 'What is that?', a question that the gemshorns do not escape! This month we've decided to go a bit more in depth about these instruments as this month's featured product.


Gemshorns date back to the early renaissance period, but most likely earlier. They are first illustrated clearly in Virdung's Musica Getutscht (1511). The gemshorn is a flute-like instrument with a sharply tapering conical bore. Its shape is determined naturally since it is made from the horn of a chamois or ox.  The tone has a sweet color somewhere between a soft recorder and an ocarina. Its haunting delicate sound is even more impressive when one considers the ordinary material from which it is constructed. Shepherds probably used its gentle tones to calm animals. 

As they were primarily a pastoral instrument they were not widely known after the mid-to-late 16th century. With resurgent interest in early music in the 19th and 20th centuries, they have received new attention. Horace Fitzpatrick developed a form of gemshorn which adopted the fingering method of recorders and produced them in consort families, which have proven very popular since the 1960s.

Makes available from the Early Music Shop: Cip and Wiener, as well as various second-hand instruments. 


*NEW* Recorder Syllabus (2018-21) from ABRSM


The New Woodwind Syllabus for 2018-21 was released on Thursday by ABRSM. We've uploaded the new syllabus to our website with recommended title links for quick and pain-free ordering!

The new syllabus is always a welcome change for teachers and the syllabus lists now offer a larger range of pieces with much more variety, making it easier to find pieces for every musical taste. Each list now has 10 pieces with a wider range of musical styles being included, with some more popular tunes and show pieces.

The scales have changed to focus less on repetition, but more on progression. There are fewer scales and arpeggios to learn at each grade. Grades 7 and 8 focuses more on technical development and consolidation than an 'all-key' approach.