HelenEdith's Blog

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Archive for the ‘Marlowe Ensemble’ Category

Sidcup-based orchestra where I’m a regular “occasional” player

Marlowe Music Week 2009: A few pictures

Posted by HelenEdith on August 15, 2009

Stephen took loads of pictures on the two occasions when he attended a Marlowe Music Week activity. I need to put everything that’s in focus up, but here I’ve selected out a few pictures of me in my pink floral outfit from the Coffee morning; and a couple of pictures trimmed out of the group photos taken prior to the final Full Orchestra session, when I was wearing my red t-shirt.

Me in my pink floral outfit at the Coffee Morning - with Jerry's clarinets visible in the foreground!

Me in my pink floral outfit at the Coffee Morning - with Jerry's clarinets visible in the foreground!

Me in my pink floral outfit at the Coffee Morning

Me in my pink floral outfit at the Coffee Morning

Me in my pink floral outfit at the Coffee Morning

Me in my pink floral outfit at the Coffee Morning

Me in my pink floral outfit at the Coffee Morning

Me in my pink floral outfit at the Coffee Morning

Me in my red t-shirt before Full Orchestra

Me in my red t-shirt before Full Orchestra

Margaret Fernandez and me before playing in the Full Orchestra

Margaret Fernandez and me before playing in the Full Orchestra

I seem to be having a bad hair day in some of these. Maybe it’s time to seek professional help and visit a hairdresser… 😕

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Marlowe Music Week 2009: Friday Full Orchestra

Posted by HelenEdith on August 14, 2009

The playing part of Marlowe Music Week came to an end this evening with a full orchestra session. We were missing trombones this year and the call has gone out to see if some can be recruited. I think that the trombonists from past years have relocated and are therefore no longer available.

We had an interesting programme of music on our stands to read through:

  • Beethoven – Egmont Overture
  • Schumannn – Symphony No.4 in D minor
  • Wagner – Flying Dutchman Overture
  • Bizet – L’Arlesienne Suites Nos 1&2

We played our way through the Beethoven and Schumann before stopping for a refreshment break. Most people went outside, where it was cooler. We really have been blessed with summer weather this week.

After the break, we played the Wagner and all of L’Arlesienne Suite No.1 plus the Intermezzo and Farandole from Suite No.2 before Nick put his baton down for the night and Jim stood up to offer this thanks to Malcolm and Sheila for organising the week and also to present them with theatre tokens as a token 🙂 of our gratitude. The hosts and hostesses who provided lunch during the week; and those who opened their homes and hosted musical events were also thanked.

There is one remaining social event: Sunday tea in the garden of one of the Marlowe Ensemble members. I can’t attend, as it clashes with my appointment on the bandstand at Horniman Gardens.

If you have been following my blog, you will know that I have attended a lot of musical events over the past week. It has been a thoroughly enjoyable holiday, and what’s more, it didn’t break the bank, as this year’s contribution was a mere £10! I’m also pleased to report that my lip has survived and I didn’t have to have recourse to the Bonjela! 😀

Now I’ve just got to stay in practice…

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Marlowe Music Week 2009: Friday chamber music

Posted by HelenEdith on August 14, 2009

I went out for four nights in a row, but stayed in last night, missing “Party Pieces” at Joyce’s place. In fact, I decided to watch some tennis on the TV and next thing I knew, I woke up just as the match was over. 😳

Earlier in the week, I had asked Malcolm if there was any chance of playing some music for bassoon and strings, and he said that there would be a string quartet at his place this morning and suggested that they were starting at 10:30 and to give them time to play some quartets and to come along a bit later.

That gave me the chance to get my bassoon out at home and have a look at the music that I was interested in playing. Then I went over to Malcolm’s place at about 11:30, just as they were stopping for their refreshment break. That gave me a chance to get my bassoon assembled and then I joined the other musicians in the garden and enjoyed a glass of apple juice.

When we reconvened, we started with Three Arias from Mozart’s Don Giovanni, transcribed for bassoon and string quartet by Michael Campbell. I had looked at these at home earlier in the day and only the third of the three was familiar to me, but as soon as the music arrived on peoples’ stands, they commented that we really needed a mandolin! It turned out that the whole of Deh, viene alla finestra was played pizzicato! Not having studied the score in much depth, I hadn’t realised that, so it came as quite a surprise to me. However, it was a nice surprise. 🙂 Then five string players (because we had two violas sharing a part) picked up their bows to play Dalla sua pace and Il mio tesoro intanto.

Then I got out Henry Hargrave’s Concerto No.IV in B flat. Henry Hargrave was an English composer who was active in the second half of the 18th Century and his set of five wind concertos (three for bassoon; and two for oboe and bassoon) are available from Phylloscopus Publications. Concerto No.IV has five movements: con spirito, allegro, siciliana, gavotta and minuet – allegro. It was nice and lively with all of those dance movements, but not too difficult for the string players to read through, although I’d had a quick look at the bassoon part ahead of time. 🙂

We had a little bit of time left, so I got out Henry Hargrave’s Concerto No.I in B flat. I played that last year with three different groups, but haven’t touched it since, so I had a little look at it this morning, too. 🙂 It has a more conventional Allegro – Adagio – Vivace concerto structure and is a typical baroque concerto where soloist and strings converse. It really doesn’t work well with a piano reduction, so I greatly appreciated the opportunity to play it through with strings.

The string players said that they enjoyed it too, as it was something fresh for them to play; and some different music is always welcome.

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Marlowe Music Week 2009: Thursday classical orchestra

Posted by HelenEdith on August 13, 2009

The Marlowe Ensemble gathered this morning for a classical orchestra session. This music does not require clarinets, so one clarinettist stayed home to get the BBQ hot for those people who were adjourning for a BBQ after the orchestra session, while the other clarinettist brought his double bass instead.

We commenced with Schubert’s Symphony No.5 in B major. I think I may have played it before, as it seemed familiar. As one who took up orchestral playing relatively late in life (in my mid-thirties) there are large gaps in my orchestral playing experience which the “old hands” who have been playing since their childhoods don’t have. Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed playing the Schubert.

Then we stopped for a refreshment break – and also to allow the first oboe to nip back to his house as he’d taken his parts home to study and had arrived with only two of the three pieces that we were intending to play. 😳 Malcolm’s comment was that he should never lend parts from a set! At least we knew where the first oboe part was and reunited it with the rest of the set, which is more than can be said for the stray bassoon part I came across tucked inside one of my other pieces of sheet music. I asked Malcolm if he’d put it there intentionally, but he hadn’t. We just hope it came from the same library as the bassoon part it was tucked inside of, or it might be very difficult to reunite it with the rest of its set of parts.

After tea, coffee and biscuits had been consumed, we reconvened, and with all the music present, we played through Mozart’s Symphony No.36 and then Haydn’s Symphony No.98. This latter piece gave me a couple of interesting moments, as the first bassoon part had a cigar burn through it and I had some rather charred notes to decipher!

Now I’m having the afternoon to chill out in; and possibly to look at some music for tomorrow. I finished my diced turkey, having yet another “compost heap”, but reverting to sweet chilli sauce; and tomorrow I will probably move on to beef sausages for lunch, as I have a pack of them waiting in the fridge.

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Marlowe Music Week 2009: Wednesday chamber music

Posted by HelenEdith on August 12, 2009

Today’s evening activity for Marlowe Music Week was a wind dectet session. (I expect that there was string chamber music going on somewhere else.) We gathered at the home of one of the participants and worked our way through a set of short dances, the theme from Delius’ Koanga, a Tchaikovsky arrangement, and the Souza Washington Post march, among other things. We were a horn short, but we managed. We also had a conductor. She would have loved to have been playing, but a recent broken wrist had made that impossible. Her skills as a conductor were much appreciated, though. Keeping a group that size together is much easier with someone out the front to direct matters. 🙂

Margaret and I shared out the first and second bassoon parts, although I think I ended up with more first than Margaret did. She reckons that I sight-read the tenor clef better than she does, so anything with tenor clef on it comes my way. I expect that turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy, but I still have to admit to not reading every note I saw on a tenor clef this evening. (I left a few quavers out in the interests of staying with the beat. 🙂 )

I’ve got two reeds going this week. I tried out my new reeds on Sunday afternoon and got an idea of how they played, picked the worst one and scraped it and decided that it was much improved afterwards; and have been playing chamber music and orchestra on it ever since. One of the reeds is very free-blowing and loud. That one I’ve reserved for band use. I used it on Tuesday evening, and it will come out next Sunday when I’m on the Horniman Gardens Bandstand. I think it might overpower an orchestra or chamber group, but it’s great for holding one’s own when in the company of euphoniums and other heavy brass.

I’ve put my plastic reed away and not had recourse to it at all. Unlike my late lamented one which split last year, this one has not yet mellowed to the point where I would choose to use it for orchestral playing or for chamber music, although I have used it for orchestra when I didn’t have a cane reed that worked. I quite like the plastic reed. Maybe it is because it has such a long life and I can become more attuned to it, but when the plastic reed is on the end of my bassoon, I can feel as if the whole instrument becomes one with me. I don’t quite get that feeling with cane reeds, but I think that it’s a state that I should aspire to, as the feeling that my instrument is an extension of myself is a truly satisfying experience.

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Marlowe Music Week 2009: Wednesday coffee morning concert

Posted by HelenEdith on August 12, 2009

This morning we gave the concert that we rehearsed for yesterday. The rear part of the church hall was set out with tables and chairs and our audience enjoyed tea or coffee and biscuits while being entertained by our light music programme.

I meant to bring the playlist home with me, but Stephen needed to get back home to grab his vehicle and get to the charity shop, so I packed up in rather a hurry and forget to grab the playlist, so I won’t mention everything that we played, but just say that during the first half we performed a Stephen Foster medley, and I thought of my friend Jeanie when we got to the “I dream of Jeanie with the light brown hair” tune. 🙂 The second half ended with a medley of tunes from the Gilbert & Sullivan light opera HMS Pinafore.

We had a somewhat unusual seating arrangement for the orchestra. As mentioned, the audience were at the rear of the hall. The string players occupied the front of the hall, while the wind players were up on stage, with one long line of woodwind at the front and another long line of brass behind them. Bassoonists don’t usually get to occupy the front row, so it’s nice to be in a prominent position. However, it does mean that one’s attire needs some thought. I have any number of pretty summer outfits, but unless they have a long skirt, they’re just not suitable for sitting at the front of a raised stage. 🙂

For this reason, I sometimes choose to wear trousers when playing in an orchestra configured in this way; but today I enjoyed the opportunity to wear an outfit I bought on eBay last year but thus far hadn’t had an occasion to wear. It’s a pink two-piece outfit with a large lace and rose print over it; and crucially, the skirt is ankle length. 🙂

Stephen was in a rush to go to the charity shop this afternoon, but I’ll have to see if he’ll let me have his memory card later, as he took quite a few pictures at this morning’s concert. I might post one of my outfit – and if Stephen asks me nicely, I might upload the contents of his memory card to PhotoBucket or some other location of his choice so that the rest of the orchestra – or at least the ones with access to an Internet connection – can have a look, too.

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Beckenham Concert Band: last rehearsal before Horniman Gardens Bandstand

Posted by HelenEdith on August 11, 2009

This evening, I took some time off from Marlowe Music Week and went to the Beckenham Concert Band rehearsal. The Marlowe activity was string orchestra with soloists, and I wasn’t involved with that this year. Last year I played Henry Hargrave’s Bassoon Concerto No.1 with the string orchestra, but I didn’t practise anything for this year – and Malcolm turned out to have plenty of would-be soloists, so my absence wasn’t a problem. 🙂

The Beckenham Concert Band are performing on the bandstand in the Horniman Gardens next Sunday, so attendance at their rehearsal was a good thing. I got to sort out both the Bassoon 1 and Bassoon 2 pads, as the other bassoonist couldn’t make it this evening, although he will be there on Sunday. I’ve brought both pads home with me, so I have the option of practising in the next few days. Maybe I should do so: there’s an exposed bit in Jesus Christ Superstar involving a tricky D flat!

I had my mobile phone switched on, which was a bit naughty of me, and it went off during the rehearsal. I answered it before anybody recognised the Light Cavalry Overture (my ringtone) and it was Stephen to say that he’d come home without his house keys and could I please not be too late home. When the last rehearsal piece was announced as The Symphonic Beatles, I took the opportunity to pack up and go home a bit early. I can play the piece, so I didn’t really need to rehearse it, but it’s not a piece I would play from choice, as I don’t like The Beatles. I think that a harmony used by Paul McCartney offends my ears.

With my head start on packing up, I left the rehearsal just before 10pm and was home shortly after ten past ten. Stephen emerged from his car and I let him in. He took his diabetic pills, emptied the washing machine for me, and went straight up to bed. Now that I’ve hung up my washing and written this piece, I’d better follow him. I’ve got a concert tomorrow morning!

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Marlowe Music Week 2009: Tuesday light orchestra rehearsal

Posted by HelenEdith on August 11, 2009

This morning was the one session of Marlow Music Week which is an actual rehearsal for something, rather than being simply a group of musicians sitting down to play purely for their own pleasure. The rehearsal is on account of tomorrow morning’s Coffee Morning, which takes place in the hall of the Holy Redeemer Church in Days Lane Sidcup, and raises funds for that church.

The concert programme consists of light music, and has been carefully chosen this year to reflect a paucity of trombone players. 😦 However, Margaret, my fellow lady bassoonist 🙂 is going to play some of the trombone parts on her bassoon, so the parts will not go uncovered.

Malcolm seems to have an almost unlimited supply of light music filed away at his house and I don’t think I’d seen much of tomorrow’s programme before. He’s got a medley of HMS Pinafore numbers to end the concert, and I had a quick extra look at that before packing up my bassoon and leaving the rehearsal. I did think about bringing the music home and having a look at it this afternoon, but a quick extra look at the end of the rehearsal felt like it had done the trick.

I came home via Sainsbury’s, as I decided that I would like a “compost heap” for my lunch. This is Stephen’s term for a stir-fry, in case you’re wondering! While in the High Street, I also picked up a prescription waiting for me at the pharmacy, and it came with much more paper attached to it than usual. It turns out that I’m taking something which has caused the doctor to require me to have some blood tests so that they can monitor me. I was pleased to see that the thyroid function box was ticked. I’ve got quite a few relatives with thyroid problems, and if I’m going to have a blood test, that’s definitely something I want to have checked!

Oh, and the “compost heap” was lovely. I also bought some white grape and peach juice while I was in Sainsbury’s, and that was lovely and cool with it. I do have to moan though: my diced turkey was 2 for £5 but a lot more than £2.50 for just one tray; and my juice cost 95p but I could have had three cartons for £2.25. I didn’t want three cartons! I have enough wastage in the fridge from not finishing things without going out and buying three in the first place when I only want one. 😡

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Marlowe Music Week 2009: Monday chamber music

Posted by HelenEdith on August 11, 2009

I got a lie-in this morning, as the string players had a string orchestra session in the morning, but the wind players didn’t have an activity planned. I finished reading the Nora Roberts book I’ve been devouring over the past few days (and will post a book review, possibly next week) did the cryptic crossword out of The Glasgow Herald and did the Greater than killer from my favourite killer sudoku site. I got the greater than killer sudoku solved, but had a couple of left-over clues for the cryptic crossword.

This evening I was in a mixed wind and string group at Terry’s place, where we played nonets. I actually counted more than nine people present, and wonder whether the two violins were doubling on the same part. There was also an extra clarinettist, but he was conducting, which was something of a necessity for a group of that size playing music with which they were not very familiar. 🙂

The music we played was:

  • Mme Louise Farrenc – Nonetto Op.38
  • C.V.Stanford – Serenade in F Op.95 (1905)
  • Josef Rheinberger – Nonet Op.139

Jeanne-Louise Farrenc-Dumont | Classical Composers Database is an informative article about Mme Louise Farrenc. She lived from 1804-1875 and became a professor of music, no mean achievement for a 19th Century woman! We enjoyed her music, and will probably try and persuade Terry to make it available again next year.

The evening at Terry’s finished very agreeably with a nice sociable supper where we enjoyed a glass of wine or fruit juice and a few nibbles.

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Marlowe Music Week 2009: Sunday chamber music

Posted by HelenEdith on August 9, 2009

Marlowe Music Week kicked off today. There was a planning coffee morning this morning which I didn’t get to, but I spent some time at home this afternoon going through my new reeds and adjusting them and making sure I had some that were playable for this evening as I’m not sure that my plastic reed has mellowed enough yet to be up to chamber music. 🙂 Then I went along this evening for the first session of music, which was chamber music at Malcolm and Sheila’s house.

I played wind quintets all evening in the back room upstairs, but we had a change of clarinettist half way through the evening as there were two clarinettists present; and each took a turn with the string group downstairs in the front room. 🙂

The wind quintet music included pieces by Gordon Jacob (Swansea Town), the Bizet Jeux d’Enfants suite arranged for wind quintet, a Mozart Divertimento, and an arrangement of tunes from Fiddler on the Roof. I’d never seen the Mozart or the Fiddler on the Roof arrangement before and it was enjoyable to have some different music on my stand, particularly as both were approachable pieces.

It was a good way to start the music week off, and despite spending a good hour or more working on my reeds this afternoon and then two hours playing this evening, my lips are still alive. It just goes to show that my move last year to soft cane reeds was a good idea. I might put some lip balm on before I go to bed, though, as the lips do need a bit of care while I toughen them up.

Maybe this will be the year that once I’ve got my lip toughened up with a week of concentrated playing that I will then take up regular practice and keep my lip toughened up – plus get some repertoire into a state where I can actually stand up and play it!

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