The National Early Music Association of the United Kingdom was
founded as the result of a conference in 1977 entitled The Future of
Early Music in Britain. At that time there was a strongly-felt need
for a coordinating body for the many strands of early-musical
activity in Britain and elsewhere and NEMA was set up to meet this
need and to promote the appreciation and performance, amateur and
professional, of Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque music.
In the intervening three decades, the ‘early music
movement’ has grown out of all recognition and the needs of
scholars, performers and listeners have changed. Today NEMA works
alongside the regional Early Music Fora, which run practical
workshops and courses, and the National Centre for Early Music in
York. NEMA has also established links with early music organisations
throughout the world.
NEMA is still conscious of its role as a voice for the early music
community in the UK when this is needed, for instance in the recent
debate on the changes to UK law on licensing of performance
NEMA, in conjunction with Ruxbury Publications, produces
Early Music Performer, a twice-yearly magazine which the
Association’s members receive as part of their annual subscription.
The magazine is edited by the Leeds University musicologist Dr Andrew Woolley, with
an editorial board of well-known scholars and performers; this
successor to NEMA’s former magazine, Leading Notes,
makes available the most important new scholarship to practising
early musicians, and keeps its readers up to date with the latest
news from the world of historically informed performance.
In recent years, NEMA has organized conferences on early keyboard
instruments, the hornpipe, on the development of wind instruments
and the change from renaissance to baroque (proceedings published by
Ashgate), and the problems of historically-informed singing.
For some twenty years NEMA published The Early Music Yearbook,
a comprehensive handbook including
- A Directory listing sources of information, societies, music
publishers, providers of performing material, concert promoters and
artists' agents, record companies, early music fairs and courses,
including summer schools.
- A Buyers' Guide to some 600 makers of early musical instrument
- A Register giving names and addresses of over 2400 individual
early-music enthusiasts, including details of their instruments and
- A Performers and Artists Directory.
This information is now available on this web site via the Links and Search pages.
Note that NEMA members and those who have submitted entries for the Register are given more information in their search results.
NEMA news and events:-
An annual NEMA Day takes place in November, with a practical
workshop directed by a leading performer. In recent years the NEMA day has taken place in
several different regions, hosted by the local early music
NEMA’s founder president was Dr John Mansfield Thomson, the
New Zealand-born writer, editor and musicologist, whose enthusiasm
and vision for early music also led to the foundation of the
magazine Early Music which he edited until his return to New
Zealand in 1983. John Thomson died in 1999.