Here are some testimonials written by participants, who have told us why they enjoy NORVIS.
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I enjoyed NORVIS 2016 so much! I had been recommended to come and experience what NORVIS had to offer from a variety of musicians and I am so glad that I followed their advice. As it was my first year at NORVIS, I didn’t know what to expect, but I can honestly say that it totally exceeded my (already high) expectations! A highlight was learning to play with a different group of people, other than the youth viol consort I currently play with. At the start of the week I found adapting my playing a slightly challenging task but with the help of the extremely informative and inspiring tutors it felt so comfortable and natural playing with other players by the end of the week. This made the course very rewarding for me! I especially enjoyed Andrew Fowler’s viol technique class every morning, where I made a lot of new friends and learnt how to adapt both my bow speed and my finger pressure to get different tones on the viol. I also liked how there was a range of activities to do on different instruments. For example, I played in the baroque orchestra every afternoon and also tried the lute in one of the choice of delights, which kept me busy! I am already looking forward to what NORVIS 2017 has to offer for me.
Beth – viol
I’ve been coming to NORVIS for three years and every year I’ve taken away invaluable advice and useful tips from the technique class, even though the style and approach of each of the tutors has been very diverse. This year I particularly enjoyed a Choice of Delights session exploring Latvian church music for voices and instruments. At my first NORVIS I had only been playing the viol for 18 months and had barely started consort playing. I have to admit that I was nervous that everybody would be better than me. Obviously many people were, but consort groups are carefully chosen and the number of people attending means that participants can be matched to players of comparable experience. In retrospect there was nothing to fear, and this year I even took my embryonic treble viol skills out for a spin! There are lots of opportunities for formal and informal performance, and the daily evening concert is a splendid mix of music from tutors and participants.
Sam, Yorkshire – viol
As a family, the five of us have been to NORVIS in various combinations for the past 10 years – so we are newbies by some standards, old-guards by others! The tutors are in the top flight: performers and scholars, expert teachers and enthusiasts for their craft. A wide age range, people playing several instruments, trying new ones, forming ensembles, enjoying trips out into Durham or walks along the banks of the Wear. Meeting old friends, making new friends. New students, feeling at home straight away. Doing more practice than usual… enjoying listening to other students’ efforts. Spending (or trying to resist…) money at the sheet music shops.
Thea, Birmingham – singing and recorder
2014 was my first NORVIS and it was just great! I’m a pianist and had a brilliant time with excellent tuition discovering just what a different discipline harpsichord is from the piano. It was also great fun doing lots of accompanying, including trio sonatas which I love. As a singer I also really enjoyed the choir every day and my absolute highlight was a session singing with viols. The tutors were of the highest calibre both in their teaching skills and as performers, so another unexpected bonus was being treated to some wonderful performances every evening. I’ll definitely be back!
Ailie, Yorkshire – harpsichord
I came to the very first NORVIS in 1971, and have come back regularly ever since, as often as possible. It means the whole world to me! I value Norvis for its high musical standards, great variety, friendly atmosphere, and the beautiful environment of Durham City. The technique class provides essential advice on instrumental practice and interpretation of the repertoire, and I go home with enough food for thought for several months. I thoroughly enjoy playing trio sonatas in the second session, and after tea there are so many “delights” to choose from that it is sometimes difficult to make up one’s mind. In the evening, I enjoy the opportunity to listen to lectures that are both instructive and entertaining, and it is a wonderful treat to be able to attend a concert every night. The meditative music, readings, and silence of “epilogues” in the chapel can be very soothing. Extra-curricular activities are one of the places where many durable Norvis friendships are born. I keep in touch with several NORVIS friends and enjoy their support throughout the year, so the influence of the course lasts for much longer than one week. The “last night” in the bar, when tutors and students display skills and interests that extend far beyond the realm of early music, is not to be missed on any account. In short, I highly recommend this course!
Françoise, Paris – solo recorder
I enjoyed another good week at NORVIS 2014, catching up with old friends and making new ones. Playing Bach in Alan Davis’s recorder technique class was challenging, and playing Holborne in our recorder consort class was satisfying. There were lots of other great musical moments throughout the week.
See you all again at NORVIS.
Janice, Cheshire – solo recorder
NORVIS is virtually the only opportunity I have to play the most interesting part of the consort music repertoire (5- and 6-part) and the second session, where I was privileged to play with five experienced and skilled viol players, was especially stimulating and rewarding. It also provides me with a rare opportunity to sing in a choir. In an increasingly ugly world, a week of concentrated music-making under the guidance of eminent experts and in the company of like-minded people somehow recharges one’s human as well as one’s aesthetic values.
Jonathan, Geneva – viol
We have been going to NORVIS as viol players for the last four years. Everyone is friendly and welcoming, the standard of teaching is excellent and it is great to spend a week with people who are just as enthusiastic about early music as we are. NORVIS has helped us to develop our existing skills in the technique and consort classes, and has also given us the opportunity to try new things, such as the Renaissance Band, or the lute, in the late afternoon “Choice of Delights” sessions. The evening concerts are a wonderful entertainment, with performances not only from the students but from the tutors as well, who put a huge amount of time and effort into making every aspect of the course a success. We can thoroughly recommend it!
Alison and Stephen – viol