About the Society
The mission of the Viola da Gamba Society of America is to support activities and resources relating to the viola da gamba, other early bowed string instruments, and the music for these instruments in North America and beyond. We are a Society of players, builders, publishers, composers, scholars, restorers, and others sharing a serious interest in these beautiful instruments, their history, and their music, both old and new.
The VdGSA is a not-for-profit national organization, founded by George and Eloise Glenn and incorporated in 1962 by a small nucleus of enthusiastic viol players who frequently met to play consort music in rural Maryland. The concept of an annual Conclave was born at that time, when the group was small enough to be accommodated in private homes. As membership increased, Conclaves began taking place at educational institutions across the country.
Throughout the years, the Society's membership has grown to about 1100 individuals and institutions worldwide. Beyond the national organization, we have more than 20 official Chapters and over 30 Area representatives that cover more loosely organized geographical areas in the United States, Canada, and abroad. Our Chapters and Area groups organize consort playing, workshops, and other activities on the local level.
The VdGSA News is the Society’s newsletter, distributed quarterly to members. Members also receive our biennial Journal which contains scholarly articles and translations as well as reviews of books, music publications, and recordings—all relating to the viol. The Society has issued recordings, offers reprints of consort music, and owns a collection of viols donated to or purchased by us and made available for rent to individuals and consorts. Our wide variety of grants and programs aim to broaden access to the instrument and its repertoire.
You can learn more about the history of the Viola da Gamba Society of America in a three-part article in the Journal (vols. 30 & 31) by Phyllis E. Olson and in her book, Pastime with Good Company (1998), which provides an extensive examination of the background, founding, and success of the Society. Its sequel, Pastime with Good Company II (2013) by Suzanne Ferguson and Jean Seiler, continues the story through the 50th anniversary in 2012. These books and back issues of the Journal can be ordered from our store. If you are a member of the Society, you can read more about our lifetime members on the wall of fame page.