The viol was popular during the 16th-17th centuries and music for consorts (groups) of viols was written by a number of well-known composers. Music for consorts was very popular in England during the Elizabethan times and was composed up until around the 1680s.
During the 1700s the bass viol gained prominence as a solo instrument (becoming a favourite instrument of Louis XIV) and acquired a strong French association. Many composers wrote highly virtuosic music for the bass viol, however viols fell out of use as concert halls grew larger and the louder, more brilliant tone of the violin family became increasingly popular.
During the early-mid 20th century, the viol and its repertoire were revived by early music enthusiasts and the interest in historically informed performance and authentic instruments has continued to grow in popularity with amateur and professional musicians all over the world. The Viola da Gamba Society of Great Britain was established to encourage people to take up the viol and still provides an invaluable source of opportunities to members from publications, instrument hire, music-making events and general networking of viol players.
Being a relatively new addition to the viol scene, the Glasgow Viol Consort was established in 2014 with the primary aim of encouraging as many new people as possible to take up the viol. Although Scotland has a relatively small viol population compared to other parts of the country, the sense of community is strong and our successes so far have only been made possible by the commitment of our members as well as the support from our fellow viol-playing colleagues.
As a group, we are enthusiastic and passionate about the promotion of the viol and consort music and offer an inclusive approach to music making regardless of age or previous musical experience. As the viol was traditionally a domestic instrument we are proud to continue this convention and our beginner/intermediate groups meet weekly to explore the wide range of music available for viol consorts while continuing to develop our individual abilities in a relaxed and enjoyable rehearsal setting.
We are completely non-profit and involvement in consort rehearsals as well as individual tuition on the viol is completely free of charge. We have a small collection of viols for rehearsal purposes and are in process of seeking funding from Creative Scotland to allow us to acquire more instruments which would allow us to encourage new members to take part. If successful, prospective funding would also allow us to have a greater number of professional lessons/coached sessions with visiting tutors as well as enable us to cover venue hire and promotional costs to increase the frequency of performances.
Our Facebook and Twitter pages will be used to keep members and sponsors up to date with our progress so please check in on us regularly to find out what we've been up to!
Performing at St. Bride's Church during the Glasgow West End Festival, June 2017