The Consortium has a Patron

We are  delighted to announce that Brian Whitehouse has agreed to become the patron of the Consortium.  Brian is director of the Classical Guitar Centre in Birmingham.  He has had a long teaching career, having held appointments in the music departments at many of England’s universities and colleges. Recent publications are The Ramirez Collection – History and Romance of the Spanish Guitar and The Tárrega-Leckie Guitar Manuscripts –  Lessons with the Maestro. Currently in preparation is a further book and recordings relevant to Tárrega and Dr Leckie.

Brian Whitehouse with Andres Segovia in 1986.

Brian Whitehouse with Andres Segovia in 1986.


The 2016 Andrew Britton Fellow

To commemorate the sad loss of Andrew Britton, the members of the Consortium agreed to create an Andrew Britton Fellowship, the holder to be a young scholar working in the Consortiums field of interest and to have all accommodation and meals paid for attendance at the biennial colloquium. We are delighted to report that the first holder of the Fellowship was Dr. Vinciane Trancart of the University of Grenoble. Her 2014 Ph.D. (Foreign Languages and Literatures, La Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3) was entitled “Harmony and Disharmony. Guitar Practices and Representations in Madrid and Andalusia from 1883 to 1922”. We were delighted to welcome Vinciane to the conference where she read an excellent paper. Details on the colloquium page.

The Fellowship for the 2018 Colloquium will be advertised in due course.

Dr. Vinciane Trancart

Dr. Vinciane Trancart

2016 Conference

The 2016 biennial conference of the Guitar Consortium was held in Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, from the 10-13 April, and was a great success. For the papers presented see the Colloquia page. Those attending were Thomas Heck, Jelma van Amersfoort, Brian Jeffery (Honorary Member), Gerhard Penn, Christopher Page, Panagiotis Pouloupolos, Richard Savino, Luis Briso de Montiano y Ruiz de la Sierra, Paul Sparks, Erik Stenstadvold, Taro Takeuchi, Vinciane Trancart (2016 Andrew Britton Fellow) Ulrich Wedemeier and James Westbrook.

At the business meeting which closed the conference, Gerhard Penn and Luis Briso de Montiano y Ruiz de la Sierra were unanimously elected as Ordinary Members.

Plans for publication of selected papers are afoot.


Clara Ross

During 2017, Paul Sparks will be setting up a web site devoted to the life and music of Clara Ross (later Ross-Ricci, 1858-1954), a pioneering British female composer of music for mandolin and guitar, and leader of “Miss Clara Ross’ Ladies Mandoline and Guitar Band” during the 1890s. The site will include biographical information about the composer, a history of “ladies mandolin and guitar bands” in late Victorian and Edwardian Britain, and free downloads and recordings of Clara’s instrumental music for mandolin and guitar (and for mandolin and piano), as well as her songs for female voices with piano.

Dr James Westbrook receives the 2015 Terence Pamplin Award

Dr James Westbrook has received the 2015 Terence Pamplin Award for Organology given by the Musicians’ Company. This biannual research prize of £1,200, is to assist further research into x-braced guitars by the Roudhloff Brothers and to make a replica instrument.
James receiving the award from the Master, Andrew Morris, at a Musicians’ Company banquet, at Merchant Taylors’ Hall, one of the great Livery Halls of the City of London  (photo: Peter Holland)

James receiving the award from the Master, Andrew Morris, at a Musicians’ Company banquet, at Merchant Taylors’ Hall, one of the great Livery Halls of the City of London  (photo: Peter Holland)

Arnold Myers, the Chairman of the judges said: “I am delighted that this year’s winner James Westbrook has been awarded the prize. Undoubtedly Terence Pamplin, in whose memory this award is made, would have approved. It is good to see that Cambridge is encouraging organological research and the award for the first time has gone to someone from other than London and Edinburgh.”

James received the cheque, and certificate, at a Musicians’ Company banquet, at Merchant Taylors’ Hall, one of the great Livery Halls of the City of London.

Andrew Britton: RIP

On a beautiful Autumn afternoon, the 14th October 2015, Andrew’s memorial service took place in the church where he worshipped as a boy. The church of St. Bartholomew, in a quiet suburb of Bristol, lies very close to where he was raised.

By two o’clock friends, family and colleagues had gathered to hear fond and loving reminiscences.Andrew BrittonThere were brief and affecting addresses by Andrew’s three sisters, another from his partner Judith and another from a lifelong friend. There were some hymns, a brief homily by the vicar on the theme of homecoming – taking the parable of The Prodigal Son as a text – and an accomplished performance of a piece by Sor (Op. 6, No. 9) given by another of Andrew’s many friends.

Those present learned a good deal about him from the various interventions: for example, that the little finger on his right hand was accidentally cut off by shears when he was a child and sewn back on (!), that he wrote his superb thesis longhand (scorning computers) in various Bristol cafés, and that his degree was in Scandinavian Studies with a special emphasis on Swedish. What came over most of all was the love and respect in which all present held his memory.

On the first page of the service booklet Judith used part of a larger photo of Andrew relaxing with members of the Consortium in Café Nero in Cambridge.

Fernando Sor on the move in the early 1820s

A new study of Sor by Erik Stenstadvold 

During his last months in London in 1822, Sor was busy composing music for the stage. The ballet Cendrillon was premiered at the King’s Theatre in March that year. Less known is that Sor was also involved in another scenic production, the five-hour long operatic drama, Gil Blas, which was premiered a few months later. Sor was partly responsible for the music. These works were mostly well received, but notwithstanding his success and the general recognition he had attained in London, Sor left Britain soon after. It has been generally assumed that the reason for his departure was the young ballerina Félicité Hullin, with whom he became romantically involved and who was invited to Moscow as prima ballerina in 1823. This study questions that assumption and presents two other possible causes that may have prompted Sor’s departure from England. Furthermore, it examines a previously unknown subsequent six months interim period in Paris during which he, with great success, appeared in a number of concerts in addition to preparing for the Paris premiere of Cendrillon in March 1823.  For details, see Publications page.