News of the week of July 29, 2014

Meeting report

We had an all-Dowland meeting this time:


We will not meet either on August 5 (when you should go to the West Gallery workshop) or on August 12.

The August 19 meeting will be dedicated to working on the program for the August 22 performance, so if you aren't planning on performing, you should count on being a test audience some of the time if you come.

After that, we resume our regularly scheduled meetings on Tuesdays at 7:45pm at 233 Broadway, Cambridge.

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2014 Hugo Award votes


This category was difficult this year -- they nominated the 14 volume sequence "The Wheel of Time" in it's entirety. It's about 6 times the length of War and Peace. I only had time to read 2 times the length of War and Peace between when they sent out the voter packet and when I had to vote.

It's possible that when (if, but I'm sort of enjoying it) I finish it, I will be bowled over and wish I had voted for it over the three I ranked ahead of it, but really, if anyone had ever said anything about it that made me want to read it, I would have read some of it by now. The first volume was imitation Tolkein by someone with a tin ear for language. I'm sort of glad I pushed on -- it improves pretty fast after that. But I'm not finding reading the online summaries is anything like reading the books, so I'm going to just continue reading them in order.

So my choices are:

  1. Neptune's Brood by Charles Stross
  2. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
  3. Parasite by Mira Grant
  4. The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
  5. Warbound, Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles

The first three of those are what I consider "normal" science fiction -- examinations of the impact of some kind of technology on the lives of the characters. The Stross got first place because I thought both the technology idea (how do you do banking over interstellar distances?) and the characters were a bit more interesting than the Leckie and the Grant.

I voted for "The Wheel of Time" over "Warbound" because if it does turn out to be a good fantasy series, it will be much more the kind of thing I want to read than the "Grimnoir Chronicles". (I should mention that in addition to the 14 volume series nominated as a whole, the publishers of Warbound also gave us all three volumes of this series, and I'm not sure I'd have wanted to read Volume III on its own.) It seems to be SF for the video games generation, and in spite of some good writing in between the action scenes, I found it difficult to slog through.

I considered voting for "No Award" ahead of "Warbound", but I decided that it was well enough written to justify an award if that's the kind of SF the voters really want.


  1. "Equoid" by Charles Stross
  2. Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente
  3. "Wakulla Springs" by Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages
  4. "The Chaplain's Legacy" by Brad Torgersen
  5. The Butcher of Khardov by Dan Wells

The top three of these are all excellent stories. The other two lack characterization. I voted for the Stross over the Valente and the Duncan because I thought the Science Fiction (a proposed life cycle for the Unicorn) was better. "Wakulla Springs" is a well-written story, but really not SF at all. "Six-Gun Snow White" is brilliant in spots, but doesn't really hang together at the end.


  1. "The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling" by Ted Chiang
  2. "The Waiting Stars" by Aliette de Bodard
  3. "The Lady Astronaut of Mars" by Mary Robinette Kowal
  4. "The Exchange Officers" by Brad Torgersen
  5. "Opera Vita Aeterna" by Vox Day

Again, any of the top three would be a good award winner. I didn't remember until I'd filled out my ballot that the Vox Day was controversial, but I figure it doesn't matter because I didn't like it without any political motivations.

Short Story

  1. "The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere" by John Chu
  2. "Selkie Stories Are for Losers" by Sofia Samatar
  3. "If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love" by Rachel Swirsky
  4. "The Ink Readers of Doi Saket" by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

Here, I do feel strongly that my number one vote is better than the others, although I certainly won't be surprised if something else wins. I don't feel strongly about the ranking of two and three.

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News of the week of July 22, 2014

Meeting report

We played:


We will meet as usual on July 28 at 7:45 pm at 233 Broadway, Cambridge..

We will not meet on August 5. Consider going to the West Gallery workshop by Francis Roads, instead.

I will be in Spain on August 12. Stuart has offered to host a meeting at his house in Somerville. Let him know if you want to come, and he'll post a message to the list if there's a critical mass.

After that, we will resume our usual Tuesday night meetings.

Performance opportunity

We have been asked to play at the Women's Lunch Place from 11am to noon on Friday, August 22. Let me know if you're interested in playing. I would expect anyone who wants to play to also come to the meeting on Tuesday, August 19, and we can decide on repertoire when we know who we have.

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Classes are going well

I haven't had time to post -- or at least, when I have had time, I"ve been tired. When there isn't a class or a meal or dancing or a dropin session, it feels like time for bed.

But on Wednesday, they take a much-needed break from the concerts and the evening is pretty free, so I decided to catch you up on what's happening.

Cornetto Class with Doug Kirk

We did more playing the first day than we did all week when I took the class 4 years ago. A lot of the advice I've gotten is goingn to be long-term beneficial rather than making me sound better instantly, but I feel like this class is a success.

I was initially a little disappointed that I ended up playing serpent in the ensembles instead of cornetto, but it really does make for better ensembles to have lots of sizes. The piece we'll probably play on the student concert is a six part piece with me on serpent, two tenor cornettos, one alto cornetto (in F) and two regular cornettos on top. I was having to work very hard to get the low F's centered and in tune, and then today Doug said, "I wonder if this piece would sound better a step up." And it did. Apparently the sixteenth century people were always doing that -- if they were playing an instrument that liked sharps better than flats, they transposed it.


This year there are nine people in the loud wind section -- two cornettos, 2 sackbuts (alto and tenor), 1 tenor and 2 bass dulcians, me on serpent, and a guy who switches between tenor serpent and tenor dulcian. I think it's going to be fun.

The conductor made parts for the major piece on the program from the score with partify, and didn't give the parts other than the top line the measure numbers, but keeps telling people what measure number he wants to start on. And I can't always follow his beat on mensuration chages. But he picked good music and is enthusiastic about performing it with a cast of thousands.

Afternoon: Gombert and others with Marilyn Boenau and Pervernage with Dan Stillman

This year, there weren't any famous brass players on the faculty, but there is a famous dulcian player, and the not-so-famous dulcian players have been recruiting new people faster than the brass or other reeds have. So although they didn't want me in any of the advanced loud wind classes, they have classes for the less-experienced dulcian players that don't mind me playing with them.

I was expecting to mostly play cornetto, since I can play cornetto a bit higher than anyone plays dulcian. But it turns out they like the serpent, too.

Marilyn even let me play the tenor serpent on a top line that would have been low on the cornetto, but was the right kind of soaring on theh tenor serpent. It turns out I sound pretty good if I hear good pitches to play with and am warmed up on cornetto.

Dan has been experimenting. Monday, I played cornetto higher than the dulcians could play. Then yesterday, he had me play serpent lower for longer than he'd expect a dulcian to play. It turned out not to be such a good idea on the serpent, either. But it was educational.

Today he found a 7 part piece with a top line he's playing on alto dulcian, and a bottom line that's fine for a bass dulcian. So he has me playing a baritone line. 7 parts in that range is pretty close harmony, and sometimes sounds pretty wierd, with the less experienced dulcian players playing notes their fingers or their reeds don't know what to do with. But it's a good class of people working really hard at something they really want to do.

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Dancing with the New London Assembly

I frittered away a lot of the free time I had today on napping and eating. I did manage a pretty full practice session, where I played parts to some of the music we'll be doing in the Collegium.

And at the reception after the orientation session, I introduced myself to the collegium director and told him how much I was looking forward to playing serpent with the group. He turns out to have spent an afternoon drinking with Christopher Monk, so he says he's looking forward to having a serpent. The director of the collegium loud winds looked right through me and walked away when I tried to introduce myself, though, so I can't tell whether he's as serpent-hostile as some of the other loud wind coaches.


So the only workshop-specific thing to do was the English Country Dance after the reception. I was a little dubious about it, since they billed it as being for experienced dancers. (They're having a dance program this year, so there are a lot of experienced dancers.) And the demonstration they gave at the orientation certainly did less teaching and calling than I'm used to.

But I went anyway. The caller certainly did less than at other dances I've been to, but the other dancers are quite good at filling in if you need it. There was one dance with a particularly unfamiliar "hey", where you had to either count something I didn't know how to count, or know where you were supposed to end up by some algorithm I hadn't absorbed. Luckily, my partner knew what she was doing. I was starting to get it, and thinking it must be about time to end since even I had figured it out, but it went on for two more times.

Unfortunately, my brain isn't up to learning patterns and listening to music at the same time. So I can't tell you how wonderful the music by Emily O'Brien, Shira Kamen, and Jacqueline Schwab was, even though they're all very good and I'm sure it was.

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[dorm room]

My dorm room, with pillow raising desk chair to right height for typing.


I decided to come on Saturday, and do the concert and party from the first week. So I did all the packing and unpacking yesterday, and today I can relax until the orientation this evening.

An unanticipated side effect was that I didn't have the help from the work-study students that the little old ladies who arrive this afternoon will, so I was actually pretty tired after getting all my stuff out of the car, up a few steps, and through several fire doors. No individual item was very heavy, but I kept trying to carry several at once. I guess when I've had more experience being a little old lady, I'll stop doing that.


It's utilitarian. My major problem is that the desk is the wrong height for typing. I am putting the laptop in the pencil drawer and adding my pillow to the chair, and it's almost good enough, but I should have brought the laptop stand. I should also have brought an extension cord, as there isn't a really good outlet for the window fan, but I'll manage.

I did manage to practice before supper, and the room is much more live than what I have at home, so the cornetto sounds gorgeous.

Evening activities

I was too late to hear the afternoon student concert, so after supper, I went over to the auditorium for the faculty concert and all-workshop collegium.


They had an a capella singing program the first week, so the madrigal singing had a large number of unusually competent people.

For some reason it wasn't enough to keep an unfamiliar Dowland in a recognizable key, but most of the other stuff went pretty well. We started with "Fair Phyllis". "Never weather-beaten saile" must have been from a different source than the one I transcribed -- the alto part had come completely unfamiliar ornamentation.

Unlike 2010, the person leading it arrived on time and kept things moving pretty well.

Faculty concert

The major problem was that it was too long. It was over an hour and a half with no intermission. It's good to let the faculty play what they're excited about doing, but the audience as a whole got restless, and I got a coughing fit which wouldn't have happened if I could have gotten hydrated 10 or 15 minutes earlier.

A high point was an arrangement by Danny Johnson of a folk song from Brittany for two flutes, viol, cello and solo voice.

The "Deploration on the death of Johannes Ockeghem" left me wanting the version the Cantabile Band does with the serpent on the Tenor line. In spite of having two good singers on that line, it was inaudible even to someone who knows it and was listening to it.


They're still calling it "The All-workshop Collegium", but they have the viol classes at 415 now, so there were almost no viol students. And they decided the recorders were at 8-foot pitch, so no recorder students who couldn't play tenor or lower were included. I don't know if there were other loud wind students first week -- the ones that played the concert were all playing dulcians, including one whom I know mainly as a sackbut player. Judging from the narrowly avoided train wreck on the dulcian group piece, this group, unlike the strings and recorders, did include some less-experienced players.

The music was all by Obrecht. The concluding 6 part "Salve Regina" was stunningly beautiful. It was written for Compline, which in monasteries was the last office of the day. So you had the Salve Regina echoing in your head as you went off to bed.

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News of the week of July 8, 2014

Meeting report

We played:


There doesn't seem to be a critical mass of people who want to meet on July 15, so there won't be a meeting.

Regular meetings will resume on July 22 and 29, starting at 7:45pm at 233 Broadway, Cambridge.

August 5 we will not meet so that people can go to Francis Roads' West Gallery workshop.

On August 12, I will be in Spain, but if people want to meet at Stuart's in Somerville, it can be arranged. But you do have to express your interest before I leave so that appropriate music can get there.

After that, normal meetings resume.

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First post about the Amherst Early Music Festival in 2014


You would think that after what happened last time, I wouldn't be anxious to go back. I did have a long conversation with Marilyn before signing up. It seems that what I want this year is something they're probably set up for. I've been working hard on the cornetto, and need a teacher, and one has heard of people who have learned something about cornetto playing from Doug Kirk, who will be the cornetto teacher this year. Marilyn thinks the chorus director will like the idea of a serpent playing with the chorus, and I think I can probably handle three cornetto classes, and if not I can sing or dance or something for one of them.


Here's what I told them on the class selections form:

Early Morning 1st Choice: Cornetto (Kirk)
Early Morning 1 Comment: I'm at the point in my cornetto playing where a teacher would be helpful, so this class is one of my reasons for coming.
Early Morning 2nd Choice: Shawm & Dulcian (Stillman, Verschuren)
Early Morning 2 Comment: I suppose if you cancelled cornetto, I could borrow a shawm and make noises come out of it.
Early Morning 3rd Choice: Brass Tacks (Ramsey)
Early Morning 3 Comment: Again, if you cancelled cornetto and wanted to teach a sackbut beginner, I could borrow an instrument and make noises.
Late Morning 1st Choice: All-Workshop Collegium for Reeds and Brass: Compere and Beyond Compere (Eisenstein)
Late Morning 1 Comment: I'm expecting to play serpent here.
Late Morning 2nd Choice: All-Workshop Collegium for Reeds and Brass: Compere
and Beyond Compere (Eisenstein)
Late Morning 2 Comment: I could play cornetto if the faculty were serpent-hostile.
Early Afternoon 1st Choice: Regensburg Manuscript (Kirk, Stillman)
Early Afternoon 1 Comment:
Early Afternoon 2nd Choice: Bassus (Verschuren)
Early Afternoon 2 Comment: This would require Verschuren to be non-serpent-hostile, and I expect he'd rather have all dulcians.
Early Afternoon 3rd Choice: Mouton adn Gombert (Boenau)
Early Afternoon 3 Comment: This is third choice only because I work with Marilyn all the time.
Late Afternoon 1st Choice: The Vermeer Project (Verschuren)
Late Afternoon 1 Comment: This is first choice because it's probably where the cool kids will be; I'm not really an advanced cornetto player.
Late Afternoon 2nd Choice: Pevernags (Stillman)
Late Afternoon 2 Comment:
Late Afternoon 3rd Choice: New London Assembly: English Country Dance... (Marsh)
Late Afternoon 3 Comment:

Since starting to write this, I've had a phone conversation with Marilyn, and it looks like I'll have my first choices in the morning, and work with Marilyn and Dan in the afternoon. Marilyn claims to be happy to have me play serpent some of the time; Dan would want cornetto.


I'm leaving tomorrow, and will take the laptop so I should be able to post from my dorm room the way I did last time. I don't know how much time I'll have for writing, with all the playing and singing and dancing I'll be doing, but I'll certainly let you know how it works out.

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News of the week of July 1, 2014

Meeting report

We played:


We will meet as usual tomorrow, July 8, at 7:45 PM at 233 Broadway, Cambridge.

Next week, July 15, I will be at the Amherst Early Music Festival. Stuart has kindly offered to host the meeting in Somerville, with air conditioning. Since the obvious way to get a suitable portion of the music library to his place is for him to take it tomorrow night, let me know by then if you're interested in going.

Longer term, we will meet as usual on July 22 and 29. We will probably not meet at all on August 5, so that people can go to the Francis Roads West Gallery workshop. On August 12, I will be in Spain, but Stuart has offered to host again. And then we resume our normal every Tuesday in Cambridge schedule.

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News of the week of June 24, 2014

At the meeting of June 17, we played the Picforth,In Nomine à 5 for our new piece.

Meeting report, June 24

We played:


Being dogless at the moment, I'm doing some traveling this summer. So we will be meeting as usual on Tuesdays at 7:45pm at 233 Broadway, Cambridge, except maybe when I'm not here.

The Tuesdays I won't be here are July 15, August 5 and August 12. If there's a critical mass of people who want to meet, the meetings will happen. We can arrange for them at my place, or possibly some other group member will want to host.

I'll be surprised if there's a critical mass on August 5, when Francis Roads will be leading a West Gallery Quire Workshop at 7:30 that day. But if you want to come to a Cantabile meeting any of those days, let me know, and I'll try to set something up.

Other events

The 7 Hills Renaissance Wind Band will be playing on the SOHIP Concert Series next week.

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