Learn online during Lockdown We are collecting a few links to online resources (mainly videos) for learning the viol online. This is a new venture started during the global Covid-19 lockdown. Don't stop playing - keep going and enjoy your instrument!

The Viol - Back Page Ad Offer to recording artists The back page of ‘The Viol’ offers a full A4 advertising space to accommodate a full colour ad in return for the donation of 10 CDs from the artist, group or recording company for sale at a prices set by VdGS for VdGS funds.
The CDs should be sent to the Administrator by a date agreed with the Editor of ‘The Viol’ and the 10 CDs will be sent to the Administrator: Susan Challinor, VdGS, 12 Macclesfield Road, Hazel Grove, Stockport SK7 6BE, United Kingdom by the date agreed with the VdGS Administrator. Any further requests for CDs will be forwarded to the contact provided with all payments direct to them. A PDF or JPEG image of the advertisement will be sent to the VdGS Administrator at admin@vdgs.org.uk within 14 days of the publication date agreed with the Editor.

How is your Italian? We are looking for someone to review a book on the Viol, but it is in Italian. If you can help, please get in touch with the Administrator

2019 JOURNAL The 2019 Journal is now downloadable from this site (look under 'Publications').

Going on a course? Doing research? Get assistance from the Joy Dodson Music Fund - download the guidelines

VdGS Music Editions - print your own! If you own an A3 printer, have a large tablet, or have a local printing service then you may prefer to purchase VdGS music editions in PDF format at half the price of printed editions (so for members that is one quarter of full price) - these files are for purchasers’ use only and not for re-distribution in any form. The PDF files will contain the cover, score and parts as A4 pages for use on a tablet and with instructions for how to print these in booklet form on an A3 printer duplex printer using Adobe Acrobat Reader. Order as usual by emailing Stephen Pegler - details under 'Publications > Music Editions'.

  • Cathy Gaskell
    click here to read (and to close)


    14 March 1956 - 30 October 2019

    Cathy was one of those people who, even if it was the last thing she wanted, immediately attracted attention with her infectious smile, vivacious personality, vibrant sense of humour and ability to communicate with everyone at all levels. We first noticed her on a pre-formed group course at Benslow in our early days of viol playing nearly twenty years ago, when we asked who the people were at a far dining table convulsed with laughter and having so much fun. We had also noticed that they were very good players. We were told it was Cathy Gaskell and her sisters. Little did we think that we would later become regular playing companions of Cathy and her husband Ian and members of their wide circle of friends.
    Cathy was the middle daughter of Theo and Kitty Wyatt and was born in Wimbledon into a house of music. Kitty was a primary school remedial teacher and a busy local violinist and string quartet player, whilst Theo, a civil servant by day, was by night and at weekends not only the cellist in the quartet but also rapidly becoming known in the burgeoning world of the recorder. He was to become legendary not only as a future chairman of the Society of Recorder Players but also as a teacher, course organiser, editor and publisher, creating the Oriel Library to make a large repertoire of well edited early music available to amateur recorder players, more or less at cost.
    Theo recalled in his memoir "Through the Rear Window" that he first noticed Cathy's love and talent for music when she would hold up her books in her cot and sing their stories, making up the tunes but always ending with a rising semi-tone!
    All three girls, Margaret, Cathy and Barbara, were given early encouragement to try the piano, strings and other instruments, but none appealed. Theo remembered that when Cathy was 8 or 9, she and Margaret came to him and said what they really wanted to learn was the recorder, and they asked him for lessons. He told them he hadn't time to teach them individually but, if they would get up earlier, he would play with them for half an hour each day before going to work. They did get up and he said he never had to teach them, but he just "showed" them and they copied him instantly. Soon there was a Wyatt Family recorder consort, with Kitty on bass, occasionally performing in local concerts. While still at school, the girls joined the adult recorder class at Morley College and Cathy also became a member of the Sutton Baroque Ensemble, performing as far afield as Glamis Castle.
    In 1971, Theo started what still flourishes as the Anglo Irish Recorder and Viol Course at Termonfechin, on the east coast of Ireland near Drogheda. The family would all be taken there in summer, as they would to many other music courses and events.
    Perhaps because music was so ingrained as an amateur activity, Cathy didn't seek a musical career but instead left Willows High School to train as a nurse at Kings College Hospital, unusually acquiring a cat called Butch and a moped. After qualifying she spent two "gap years" with Community Service Volunteers and as a nanny for a family of decaying Anglo Irish gentry in a peeling mansion (with two redundant floors of empty servants' rooms) in County Waterford. She then returned to nursing, at Booth Hall Children's Hospital in Manchester where she rose to become a ward sister in Intensive Care.
    Cathy was always interested in politics, social justice and what makes people tick. Wanting to improve her education, and as the stresses of the intensive care ward were beginning to take their toll, she applied to Salford University to study Politics and Contemporary History. After getting her degree, she went on to take a further course in Occupational Health, which led to a series of posts in industry before she was invited by Keele University to become their Occupational Health Manager. She remained there until taking early retirement in 2013. Ian, a mine surveyor whom she had married in 1993, had already retired early when the coal industry closed down. Not only was he a successful landscape and portrait artist but he was also a viol player, so they were now able to indulge their love of music to the full and the number of viols increased in their comfortable Market Drayton home.
    Not that it was lying fallow before that. In addition to making many friends for life in the course of her work and studies, and taking up many other leisure pursuits, music was always at the top of Cathy's list and, like both her sisters, she had learnt to play the viol. In the mid-nineties she was a member for a time of the renaissance group Scaramella and she tutored at recorder courses at Pendrell Hall. She played until recently in the recorder consort Parsley's Clocke and (with Ian) in Chester Viols for their annual performances in Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral.


    Most of Cathy's playing was not in performance, however, but with friends for a day, or at house parties or sometimes on courses (including the Irish one whenever possible), frequently with her beloved A alto baroque viol as her instrument of choice. Her musical skills in a viol consort were remarkable. Not only did she love and live every note of her own part, but she was alive to everyone else's, smiling, encouraging, exchanging cues, and she could often explain, without a score, whatever had gone wrong. Her ear could detect an editorial error a mile away. All this put her in great demand as a consort player, but she always rationed it to leave room for other things.
    These included organising the Gamba Music Club, which used the Oriel Library resources between 1997 and 2003 to produce a short annual list of otherwise unobtainable viol pieces, in return for a small membership subscription. The collection is now available online, free to download from the Swedish gamba society (www.vdgf.se). Cathy and Ian later acquired the Oriel Library itself from Theo, whose sight was beginning to fail. They did so chiefly to preserve it, but they also increased the catalogue, with Ian demonstrating enviable music editing, publishing and printing expertise. A few years ago it was sold to Recorder Music Mail, who described the transaction as "a total delight".
    Cathy's early love of books continued through her life and she was a staunch member of her book club, as well as her bridge club, and other local groups for country dancing and theatre outings. With Ian she was a keen walker, cyclist and a key member for many years of the Market Drayton church bell ringers. She went birdwatching with knowledgeable friends. She loved crosswords, puzzles and games. Yet behind it all, she always made time to be a wonderful aunt or friend to the younger members of her family.
    Wherever an activity involved catering, other chores or an emergency, Cathy would be the first to volunteer to help. A friend in Scaramella remembers losing her voice before a concert in Stourbridge and so was preparing to perform the part on a recorder - until Cathy recommended she tried some of her special milky coffee, laced with whisky. Miraculously, the voice returned.
    As if all this wasn't enough, she and Ian decided after retiring to fulfil a long held wish to try more wind instruments, especially brass. Cathy first took up the saxophone, joining Shrewsbury Concert Band. This was so enjoyable that she next bought a trombone, and Ian a baritone horn (to be superseded by a tuba) and they were both welcomed into the Wellington (Telford) Brass Band. This became a source of huge pleasure as they immersed themselves in practice, performances - always in uniform and sometimes marching - and competitions, usually with the judges behind a curtain. A different world, so important for the preservation of local culture, and they loved it.

    In the band

    The two worlds were soon bridged by the purchase of two very beautiful sackbuts. And then, in 2015, Cathy was diagnosed with breast cancer.
    Without hesitation, she picked herself up, started the treatment and decided to carry on as before, even adding to their agenda two wonderful holidays, one with us, driving in convoy by circuitous routes over the Alps to Tuscany and back (with hilarious communication by walkie talkie) for a week's viol playing, and another seeing Canada with Canadian friends, spectacularly crossing the Rockies by rail on the Rocky Mountaineer.
    Theo and Kitty were now well into their nineties, still living in the same large house in Wimbledon, with Theo having little sight left (yet still contributing to Merton Music, the rare chamber music reprint collection he had founded after Oriel) and Kitty increasingly struggling with dementia. So, as her sisters were both working, Cathy and Ian moved in to look after them, leaving their own music, painting and other activities behind. After Theo became ill and died, they took Kitty home to Market Drayton where as a result of their care she quietly flourished - and was a delight whenever brought to visit us - until she died peacefully in February 2019.
    Cathy and Ian began to resume their former life, and in May went with the brass band to Paris, where Cathy played a concert in the picturesque bandstand of the Jardin du Luxembourg. But she was becoming unwell again and tragically, only a few weeks later, advanced tumours were discovered in her brain. Seeing the scans, she decided against treatment, knowing it would be difficult and could offer only short term relief at best. Ian again prepared for his hospice role and for the next four months provided the most wonderful care imaginable until Cathy slipped away, at home, on 30th October.
    There was no funeral because she left her body for medical teaching and research, just as her parents had done, but shortly before Christmas a memorable concert was given by the brass band in her honour in Market Drayton, organised by Ian for a large audience of family, close friends (some even from her early nursing days) and members of her many local clubs and groups, formal and informal. It was a joyful occasion overall, but powerfully emotional when, with her empty chair on the stage and her trombone on its stand beside it, they played "Silent Worship", a piece in which she had been their soloist.
    Cathy will be missed in every facet of her busy life.

    Andrew and Penny Banks

60 pieces for solo bass viol from the Manuscrit de Foix
Francoise Enock has published 60 pieces for solo bass viol from the Manuscrit de Foix, and also sells a Method for VdG (recueil de pieces faciles), and 120 pieces from manuscrit of Kassel for 1 and 2 violas da gamba (tablature transcription)
Lost Kessler Treble Viol
Michael Hobbs writes:
By some complete aberration I have lost my Kessler treble viol. I cannot even work out exactly when it happened; I became aware of the loss some 10 days after I might have last used it. I checked with those whom I had visited by car in the hope that I’d forgotten to bring it away, but to no avail. The sad conclusion is that I abandoned it on a train or bus travelling to or from a playing session in Greenwich on 3 or 10 March. Further bad news is that Transport for London keeps lost property enquiries open only 4 weeks from the date of loss; the Metropolitan Police have directed me to a loss reporting agency.
Details of the instrument are: Oblong black crocodile-pattern rexine-covered case c.8 by 10 by 32 inches lined in steel-blue velvet. Leather label inside lid: ‘Paxman case makers'. Treble viol with carved mustachioed male head, double-purfled, and with a purfled decoration on back. Label inside: Dietrich M Kessler/of Zurich/London/No 54 1963. Two fluted snakewood bows with ivory fittings [51 & 57 g]. If you have any information about the instrument, please email michael@michaeljhobbs.co.uk tel. 020 8693 6989
Michael Fleming and John Bryan Early English Viols (Routledge, 2016)
Winner of the Nicholas Bessaraboff Prize
Musical repertory of great importance and quality was performed on viols in sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century England. This is reported by Thomas Mace (1676) who says that ’Your Best Provision’ for playing such music is a chest of old English viols, and he names five early English viol makers than which ’there are no Better in the World’. Enlightened scholars and performers (both professional and amateur) who aim to understand and play this music require reliable historical information and need suitable viols, but so little is known about the instruments and their makers that we cannot specify appropriate instruments with much precision. Our ignorance cannot be remedied exclusively by the scrutiny or use of surviving antique viols because they are extremely rare, they are not accessible to performers and the information they embody is crucially compromised by degradation and alteration. Drawing on a wide variety of evidence including the surviving instruments, music composed for those instruments, and the documentary evidence surrounding the trade of instrument making, Fleming and Bryan draw significant conclusions about the changing nature and varieties of viol in early modern England.
Andrew Ashbee The Harmonious Musick of John Jenkins. Volume II - New Book in 2020! available here
Cambridge Instrument Agency Own a period instrument? Would you like to share it with younger generations? Cambridge Early Music has teamed up with Cambridge Music Hub and the Academy of Ancient Music to conduct a pilot to compile an inventory of period instruments (used or unused) which could be lent and borrowed by young artists and students in the locality. If the response is positive we aim to expand this pilot on a national level and produce a national online inventory.
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About the Viola da Gamba Society

The Viola da Gamba Society was founded in 1948 with the aim of advancing the study of viols, their music, their playing, and their making. Since then the Viola da Gamba Society has gone from strength to strength and has now over 500 members worldwide. The activities of the VdGS include three meetings a year and the distribution of a popular quarterly newsletter, and extend to hosting a bi-annual beginners' course, a busy viol hire scheme, an annual online journal and a fund to help young players attend courses.

A 'History of the Viola da Gamba Society 1948-1998' by Dr John Catch is available for purchase from the administrator.
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