Opening Remarks

By Anne Smith

It is amazing and wonderful that so many people have come to these Renaissance Flute Days, particularly for someone like me who has been involved with the instrument for so long. I was talking with Hans Martin Linde recently and we both agreed that if we had tried to organize this when I began my work on the renaissance flute that maybe two people would have come. I personally wonder who the other one would have been.

I would like to tell you a little bit about how this whole weekend came about from my own point of view, starting with my first contact with the instrument. I came to the Schola in 1973 to study recorder and with a love of renaissance music. I joined a medieval ensemble taught by Thomas Binkley of the Studio der fr�hen Musik. He absolutely hated the recorder and aksed me to learn to play the flute, which I did, my first teacher being Peter Reidemeister, who was then the assistent director of the Schola.

One of the most startling revelations for me upon coming to the Schola was that the standard renaissance recorder ensemble was not, as I had always thought, f-c1-f1-c2, but was a F- c1- c1-g2 combination. I still very clearly remember asking myself in January of 1973, that if this were true for the recorder, what was it like for the flute. And then I went to the literature and found that very little had been written on the renaissance flute: the Joscelyn Godwin article and then later Raymond Meylan's book. That was when I began my passionate three-year search in the three wonderful music libraries in Basel for information about the instrument. This eventually found its way into my diploma thesis and thereafter appeared in the article published in the Basler Jahrbuch and in a revised and abridged fashion in John Solum's book, The Early Flute.

I also remember my first attempts at consort playing, buying instruments and radically changing the bore and finger holes so that I could play them according to the fingering charts in the sources. Peter Reidemeister was also involved in some of these first experiments.

After I began teaching at the Schola, I was given a regular opportunity to experiment with flute consort. In those years I learned so much from and with my students, trying out many instruments, many solutions. But somehow it never really clicked.

I also had the wonderful opportunity of experimenting with the flute in an English broken consort in the years with the Anthony Bailes Consort. I learned an immense amount there too, but still felt very much alone with the instrument.

To be sure there was an exciting couple of years when Kate Clark was in Basel specializing on the renaissance flute. It was wonderful to be able to share one's thoughts with someone who was so excited about the instrument. I learned so much from her attitude towards the instrument, from her questioning. During that time Liane Ehlich, Kate, Michele Dorner and I played consort, from which I - at least - gained great profit.

After that in the mid-90's the little interest there was in the renaissance flute just seemed to die out. I was depressed enough about it all to decide that I would not touch the renaissance flute again, would make no further effort for the flute unless somebody came and demanded it of me. That somebody was Sarah van Cornewal. She also convinced many others to join her. These people now form the basis for our consort, I Fifferi di Basilea. Here, too, I have learned an immense amount from them, on all sorts of levels.

In speaking of my personal history in relation to the renaissance flute, what emerges for me is how much I have profitted from the work of other poeple, from the sharing in projects with others over the years, whether these people be teachers, students, colleagues, flute makers, whatever. This is also what I hope to see emerge from this weekend. I hope we can all profit from hearing what others have done, seeing and hearing how they approach the instrument, both from the point of view of the player as well as the maker.

This is why I am so happy and grateful that you are all here. I am looking forward to widening my horizons.

There are, of course, many people and institutions who have helped make this event possible.

First of all, we have to thank Liane Ehlich, whose idea this was. It took her over two years to convince me that it was a good one, but she finally succeeded. And it is her imaginative approach to it all that has turned into something so special.

Then there is the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, as represented by its director Peter Reidemeister, whom we have to thank for the immense amount of cooperation and generosity. We were given use of the rooms and infrastructure of the Schola, an extraordinarily felicitous place to be able to hold these Renaissance Flute Days.

The Gesellschaft f�r das Gute und Gemeinn�tzige Basel sponsored our advertising. That they did this is due to the labors of Renate Sudhaus who was active in searching for sponsorship.

Jacqueline Spengler was a former student of Liane's. As a result of this the Jacqueline Spengler Stiftung also gave generously in support of the project.

Enter AG, a computer company with which I am affiliated, set up and maintains the website for us.

And then, of course, I would like to thank all of you who have come to participate. Without you it would also not have been possible. I would like to extend particular thanks to a few people who stepped in and helped although they don't really have any direct connection with the renaissance flute.

And in retrospect I would like to thank everybody for helping make the renaissance flute days the success they were.