HelenEdith's Blog

The minutiae of my life, plus website updates and book reviews

Posts Tagged ‘bassoon’

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: 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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Royal Academy of Music Bassoon Ensemble – Friday 24th April 2009 – David Josefowitz Recital Hall

Posted by HelenEdith on June 30, 2009

St Marylebone Parish Church, opposite the Royal Academy of Music

St Marylebone Parish Church, opposite the Royal Academy of Music

Once again time has flown by, and something I meant to review in April is still unreviewed at the wrong end of June – which I’m rectifying right now!

I attended a short concert given by the Royal Academy of Music Bassoon Ensemble in which the students showcased their talents. Such concerts are open to the general public, and many of them (including this one) are free.

I hadn’t been to a student concert like this before, but was lucky enough to hear about this one via a contact on FaceBook, and now I know that by visiting the Royal Academy of Music website, I can download a diary of such events.

I had thought that most of the audience members would be students, but this turned out not to be the case at all. There are dedicated concert-goers who attend such performances and appreciate the chance to listen to good music on a budget – and good music it is. If you think that the talented teenagers who appear on Young Musician of the Year are good, well these students take talent to the next level. In fact, these are the musicians who will be joining our professional orchestras and generally gracing our concert platforms on more than an occasional basis within a very short time.

They opened their concert with Horn Bluff by Alan Civil (1928-1989) and as the name of the piece suggests, this was originally written for eight French horns (plus a tuba), but it works amazingly well on eight bassoons and a contra bassoon. If you ever get a chance to hear this piece, do so.

The ensemble then worked its way through pieces by Richard Bissell, George Gershwin (arranged by their professor, John Orford), Leonard Bernstein, John Addison, Geoffrey Hartley, John Addison and even Abba!

The ensemble expanded and contracted according to the instrumentation required for each piece; the players took turns at playing the upper parts and the harmony parts; and the contra bassoon changed hands with each piece.

I was particularly interested to hear Suite for Three Bassoons by Geoffrey Hartley (1906-1992) as this is a piece for which I own the sheet music; and which I usually attempt once a year. These players had no problems at all with the chromatic run at the end of the piece which invariably gives my own trio trouble, and it was satisfying to hear it as it should be heard. 🙂

The concert ended with Toccata by Charles-Marie Widor (1844-1937) arranged by Sarah Jackson for eight bassoons and a contra bassoon. Before playing it, they put out a plea to the audience for anybody with a contra to join them on stage (that plea had previously gone out on FaceBook 🙂 so there was every likelihood that someone would just happen to have a contra with them) and one audience member took up the call. I wasn’t totally convinced by the bassoon rendition of the upper keyboard parts of this organ Toccata, and wonder whether those parts would play better on clarinets, if a bit of cross-department co-operation could be arranged, but the pedal notes played on the contra bassoons were absolutely wonderful and it was well worth listening to this arrangement just to hear the contra bassoons playing those long low notes.

The members of the Academy Bassoon Ensemble are:

  • Debbie Barnes
  • Georgina Eliot
  • Sophie Fox
  • Karen Geoghegan
  • Rhonwen Jones
  • Éanna Monaghan
  • Hayley Pullen
  • Joanna Stark
  • Dominic Tyler

The fact that seven of these nine students are female is interesting, but the problem of encouraging male bassoon students is worthy of its own article and I won’t go into it at length here.

I took my camera up to town with me and after the concert I indulged in a spot of photography. The St Marylebone Parish Church which I have pictured at the top of this article is handily placed for organ scholars at the Academy, while Regents Park, where I photographed the tulips included at the bottom of this article, is just around the corner from the Academy, and is deserving of a longer visit when I have more time. Maybe I should find a summer concert to attend when the daylight hours are longer!

Tulips in Regents Park, a short walk from the Royal Academy of Music

Tulips in Regents Park, a short walk from the Royal Academy of Music

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A rather busy week

Posted by HelenEdith on June 27, 2009

My new Bonmarche outfit

My new Bonmarche outfit

I have had a busy time over the past 7 days. You may have already read about my exploits with Maidstone Winds and the Beckenham Concert Band which took place last weekend. Knowing that I wasn’t going to get a “Saturday”, I prearranged to take Monday as Annual Leave so that I could have my “Saturday” then and chill out a bit.

In the event, I managed to sleep a little later on Monday morning, but wouldn’t say that I had an entirely restful day as Stephen and I went shopping. We started in Orpington, where we fortified ourselves for our foray into the shops by visiting McDonald’s. Suitably fuelled, we visited the Asian supermarket, where I can usually find something nice. I stocked up on sweet chilli sauce this time, and found a Thai curry paste which didn’t contain coconut. I also found a jar of coriander paste. I love coriander and this looks so much more interesting than ground coriander but not nearly as much work as growing my own.

When walking along the High Street to McDonald’s, we noticed that Bonmarche appeared to have some good deals, so when we came back by their shop, we went in. Stephen was forebearing in a manly sort of way while I admired clothes and tried some on, but he did go and check the sale rack at the back of the shop and came up with a pleated floral skirt in sage green tones. It was a 24 rather than a 22 and was a fraction loose when I tried it on, but it’s not going to fall off me and at the price, if I ever manage to lose sufficient weight so that it does start falling off, I won’t mind listing it on eBay. I also chose two tops from their “buy 2 for £12” range. One is an earthy green which goes perfectly with the skirt, while the other is brown, and goes pretty well with a pair of stone trousers I’ve had sitting on the shelf at home. My final choice in Bonmarche was a swimsuit. It’s black with hot pink stripes radiating across it. All I can say about it is that it fits. I cannot say it flatters, but I suspect that no swimsuit will. Now I’ve just got to get up the nerve to appear in public in it. Maybe if I use it, I can shrink my stomach to the point where the swimsuit becomes more flattering! 😀

Then we hit the Walnuts, where we had several targets in mind. The first was Wilkinsons where I wanted to stock up on multipacks of tights. I also got myself a half dozen ballpoint pens, and when I got home, I found I still had 3 left from the last time I’d stocked up! Never mind, I get through pens as I do the cryptic crossword from the Glasgow Herald and I do a selection of the Killer Sudoku puzzles from Killer Sudoku Online and this keeps the ink flowing! Stephen managed to add some items to the basket while we were in Wilkinsons as well, but chip-and-pin at the checkout was frighteningly easy. 😯

We managed to bypass Thorntons but next door is Julian Graves and that is a place I definitely can’t pass. I had a pack of aniseed balls and several packs of my favourite vanilla filled fondant sticks. I can’t find a link to them right now, but they’re gorgeous. 😛

Next in our line of sight was the 99p Shop. You can tell that we’re the last of the big spenders! 😀 I’m sure I found some nice Jalfrezi sauce in there last time we were there, but there wasn’t any there this week. 😦 That’s the trouble with such establishments: they pile ’em high, sell ’em cheap, but when they’re gone, they gone! They did have some cans of beef stew which looked like a useful addition to our larder shelf, so I had a few of those. I hope I like them, as I think I’ve got four to get through. Stephen will help me with them, though. Stephen found some compost starter at a fraction of the price that it costs in a garden centre, so we had a couple of boxes of that, and Stephen’s going to get around to putting our new compost bin into service. We’ve got a queue of curled-up lettuce, soggy cucumber, limp carrots and black bananas to start it off. 😎

By this time, we’d accumulated as many carrier bags as we wanted to carry, so we decided that it was time to head back to the car. Stephen had been meaning to put in an appearance in Biggin Hill at the Harris HospisCare shop to help with the heavy lifting, but we’d spent so long trawling the shops that he realised that he wasn’t going to make it. He also needed to visit his Mum, and as Orpington was already half way there, it didn’t make sense to return home for his vehicle, so we decided to both go and visit his Mum.

Our route took us past Polhill and we decided to go in there and have a look around. A coachload of visitors were just leaving as we arrived. People actually go on days out to Polhill! It’s got a good cafeteria and there’s a lot of retail space there as well. We phoned Stephen’s Mum from the car park to see if she wanted anything, and she did, but most of it wasn’t stuff that we could find at Polhill. So we went into Polhill on our own behalf. I like browsing in the shop at the front. I think it was originally a farm shop, but I wouldn’t describe it as that now. Funnily enough, they were also selling coriander paste, but I think I may have got a better deal at the Asian supermarket in Orpington.

Out in the garden tools section of Polhill’s extensive retail space, Stephen found a hoe attachment for a system he owns, so we had to pay for that on our way out. (The shop where I browsed has their own tills. I expect they run as a franchise within the complex.)

Then it was down the hill. All the routes heading towards Westerham and Sevenoaks go down a significant hill. I assume that the hill we went down is called Polhill. If you go through Knockholt, you go down Star Hill, while if you go through Biggin Hill, you go down Westerham Hill. Stephen doesn’t like taking his Reliant Rialto up Westerham Hill. It’s reasonably steep, and I think the Reliant won’t climb it in 3rd gear but 2nd gear is a bit too low. My Nissan 200SX sails up it in 3rd gear unless I get stuck behind a slow-moving vehicle, in which case even my Nissan needs to go down into 2nd.

We detoured into Riverhead to Tesco to pick up some things for Stephen’s Mum. We picked up some things for us, too, with the combined grocery bill coming to around £50.

Then we actually made it to Stephen’s Mum’s place! Minnie, one of the black cats, came out onto the footpath to greet us. Minnie seems to have adopted me, and I wonder whether she has learnt the sound of my car. We delivered the groceries and put things away. Stephen loosened the top on each milk container, as Jessie has trouble unscrewing them otherwise. Stephen tries to make sure that he loosens lids and caps of anything Jessie is likely to want.

We gave all of the cats a cuddle and then we came home. I’m not sure that you would describe the day as exactly “chilling out”, but I quite enjoyed it anyway.

The rest of the week could have been an anticlimax after all that, but actually continued to be really busy. I attended the office on Tuesday and then went out in the evening to a Beckenham Concert Band rehearsal. I am trying to attend rehearsals regularly for the Summer as I’ve signed up to do a concert in mid July and another at the start of August. When we get to the end of the summer, I’ll take stock and consider whether I want to continue attending regular rehearsals. It just wasn’t possible when I was doing the car commute to Basildon for my job, but now I’m London based again, I hope that I may have the capacity, and it’s a fun and enjoyable thing that I could be doing.

The musical activities didn’t stop on Tuesday. It seems that I’ve played as much in the past 7 days as I’ve played for the whole of the rest of this year, and on Wednesday I attended a Marlowe Ensemble play-through. This is held about every six weeks, when the regular ensemble members are augmented by players such as myself in order to attempt some larger scale works. We aren’t rehearsing for a concert: the aim of the evening is to borrow music from the library, play it through, and then return it. Our fare on Wednesday night was:

  • Beethoven – Symphony No.2 – 2nd and 4th movements, as we’d done the 1st and 3rd movements last time we met;
  • Weber – Oberon Overture;
  • Mendelssohn Bartholdy – Symphony No.3 in A Minor

I was fortunate enough to recruit the services of a second bassoon for the evening. I’d seen him the night before at Beckenham and found that he didn’t have to rehearse for the Hayes Symphony Orchestra this week, and he was pleased to come along. He was just glad that I’d warned him about the roadworks in Sidcup at present, or he would have had trouble finding the place where we play!

I did try using my one remaining cane reed, but it just wasn’t working well. I tried adjusting the wires with my pliers, but it needs more than that to get it going as a couple of notes were horridly unstable. I didn’t really think that my plastic reed was up to orchestra yet, as I haven’t been playing on this one for long and plastic reeds take time to mellow, but it was any port in a storm and with all the playing I’d already done this week, I’ve apparently gone some distance down the mellowing process, although I still don’t think it’s the equal of the one that split at about this time last year, which I’d played on almost exclusively for about six or seven years. (Yes, I did say years. I haven’t been playing a great deal, but the longevity of a plastic reed appears to be pretty good provided that you don’t abuse it.)

On Thursday, all I had to do was go to work, which was a bit of a relief! 🙂 We had our Monthly Staff Briefing in the afternoon, and I put my hand up and asked a couple of awkward questions, whose content I won’t go into here. I did get reasonably satisfactory answers, which was encouraging. I stayed quite late in the office and finished off the job I was supposed to be doing last week but got interrupted so that it slipped into this week.

Friday was another routine day in the office. Or in the case of a lot of people, I think it may have been a routine day at home. Friday seems to be a popular day for home-working and the office was a bit like the Marie Celeste. I rarely home-work on a Friday, but then the rationale behind my home-working is to break up my commute, so I usually have a day at home in the middle of the week. However, I have to admit that I arranged to work at home on the day most convenient to me this week, which was Wednesday, when the Marlowe Ensemble were starting at 7:30pm and my time was at a premium! 🙂

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Entry for August 03, 2008 – Marlowe Music Week begins

Posted by HelenEdith on August 3, 2008

Marlowe Music Week 2008 kicked off today. I didn’t get to the coffee morning at the Youngs’ place, but I did go along this evening for chamber music, also at the Youngs’ place.

We divided up into two groups. Three violins, two violas, a cello (and their respective players) plus one pianist repaired to the front room downstairs, while six wind players ascended the stairs to Malcolm’s Den (the former back bedroom) where we proceeded to play some quite obscure music arranged for our combination of instruments. We had flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, bassoon (me!) and bass clarinet. Much of our music was purchased from Phylloscopus Publications, who specialise in wind chamber music and make the effort to publish lesser-known composers.

One of the most successful pieces we played this evening was by L. J. A. Lefébure-Wély (1817-1869) and was Sortie in Eb arranged for wind quintet with optional bass clarinet. It was arranged by A. R. Cuninghame. It is described as lively music, originally for organ. It had quite a fairground organ feel about it, and we liked it so much that we left it on our stands when we went downstairs for mid-session refreshments and played it again later on. 🙂

I did a bit of reed work before going out this evening, and I’ve brought the least good of the three soft cane reeds I purchased recently up to a playable state. I played on it for a while this evening, but it’s still not as good as the best of the bunch, although a bit more playing on it might improve it even without further work with the scraping knife. I also blew my two remaining plastic reeds and decided that one could stay in my bassoon case but that the other needed turfing out. I need to work on that one to try and bring it up to standard.

Even the playable plastic reed isn’t as good as the one that split recently. That one was very well blown in and had mellowed over the years. (Yes, I did say “years”. That plastic reed and I have been together for a good ten years, maybe longer! Having it split is a disaster.) If I play with a band, I will probably get out the plastic reed that stayed in my case, as it wouldn’t be out of place in a band, and might mellow. It’s a little way off being acceptable for orchestral or chamber music use – unless my lip gets so tired I can’t manage the cane reeds – but that’s an emergency! 🙂

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Website update: Putney Bridge and Fulham Palace Pictures

Posted by HelenEdith on June 19, 2008

Stephen and I went to Karen Geoghegan’s bassoon recital last week, and I’ve just now got around to putting up the pictures I took along Putney Bridge and in the courtyard of Fulham Palace with my cameraphone.

You can find them here: Putney Bridge and Fulham Palace Pictures, 10th June 2008

The cameraphone didn’t do a bad job, although my Pentax K10D would have done a much better one. I’d be pretty upset if it wouldn’t!

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Entry for June 11, 2008 – Karen Geoghegan’s Bassoon Recital

Posted by HelenEdith on June 11, 2008

I went to Fulham Palace yesterday evening to hear Karen Geoghegan’s bassoon recital. She is the young bassoonist who reached the final of “Classical Star” last year and who subsequently signed a recording contract with Chandos – which was completely independent from the recording contract prize on offer to the winner of “Classical Star”, which went to a pianist.

I went along to support a young bassoonist at the start of her career and I came away a fan. Her playing knocked my socks off. I think I heard one cracked note in the course of a concert-length recital which included six complete works and a single movement from a seventh piece. Once or twice I thought that another year or two with John Orford may develop extra colour in her playing, particularly when she plays a sustained note, but there’s so much there already that she was well worth the £10 ticket price. I came away with two copies of her CD: one to keep, and one to send to my sister. I probably should have opened them up and got them autographed. They might be worth money one day!

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Entry for March 14, 2008 – Music, Tractors and Wind!

Posted by HelenEdith on March 14, 2008

It’s a month since I last wrote anything here. Where has the time gone!

Last week I had musical activities two nights running: on Tuesday I took my bassoon to work and went straight from work to the home of a cellist who had arranged for me to meet up with her string quartet to run through some 18th Century bassoon concertos by the Nottingham composer Henry Hargrave.

These are charming but fairly lightweight pieces, and the same thematic material crops up more than once in the course of the three bassoon concertos. We ran through all three concertos for bassoon and strings and came to an agreement to offer Concerto No.I for performance at Bromley Music Makers in May, when the programme is going to consist entirely of British music. The music secretary has lots of offers of 20th Century music, so she’s intrigued by this piece, which should be different from most of the rest of the concert.

Now I’ve got to practise the bits in the final movement that give the bassoonist a bit of a workout!

During the Tuesday night session, my bassoon wasn’t playing bottom F properly. I found a workaround, but on Wednesday I had a good look at the bassoon and discovered a spring-loaded wire which had unhitched from behind the little post it should have been tensioned on and put it back, and hey presto, my usual fingering worked again!

It was just as well, because Wednesday evening I was meeting up with the augmented Marlowe Ensemble for an evening of music making. I figured I’d never manage to sandwich a day’s work between two evenings out, so I took Wednesday off. It paid off, as I felt full of energy for my evening’s exertions, which turned out to be:

  • Haydn – Symphony 104 “London” in D Major
  • Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy – Overture “Meeresstille und glückliche Fahrt” Op.27 which my clarinettist neighbour Terry who knows German translated for me as “Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage”, which is a little easier to say without sounding rude!
  • Mozart – Magic Flute Overture
  • Johannes Brahms – Symphony No.4 in E Minor Op.98 – which we didn’t play all the way through. We had clarinets in C that evening, so we made sure we did the third movement, which requires them (or requires the clarinettists to take the parts home to transpose)

Now, on to the tractors. I’ve been admiring the tractors that roll off the production line at the New Holland tractor factory at Basildon. I can see part of the factory from the office windows, but when I drove up Cranes Farm Road the other day and went past the other side of the factory, I passed the parking lot where the completed tractors are parked.

Last Friday, I took my camera with me, and at lunch time I drove my car to the Cranes Farm Road end of the Festival Leisure Park, where I parked it and went for a walk up the road to the tractor plant. I took a few pictures of the Festival Leisure Park and found evidence of spring along the way, but eventually reached my goal: that parking lot full of tractors. I would have liked one red one to add a touch of something different, but the red ones aren’t parked in that lot, so I got a picture of a sea of shiny new blue tractors. That’s the picture at the top of this entry. More of my pictures from last Friday can be found here.

The weather forecast for this week wasn’t good, with high winds forecast. Having seen the forecast on Sunday evening, I’d pretty much made my mind up that I would need to work from home on Monday, and in the morning the traffic reports confirmed that. The huge cable-stayed QEII Bridge over the Thames Estuary was closed and M25 traffic from both directions was having to use the tunnels at Dartford. Trying to fit eight lanes of traffic into four lanes doesn’t work very well and there were delays of an hour to cross the River. Working from home was the only sensible solution.

The wind dropped on Tuesday and I made it into the office. Going home, the Bridge was open, but only just: there was a 30mph speed limit in place, and I wouldn’t have wanted to exceed it.

Wednesday’s my usual home-working day, and with the winds picking up, I didn’t volunteer to attend the office as I’d home-worked earlier in the week. It was actually just as well I was home that day as Stephen’s Mum called us a bit after 6:30pm to say that she was on the floor and couldn’t get up and Stephen can’t get her up unaided. She wasn’t hurt, just stranded, so we piled in the car and went and rescued her.

Come Thursday, wind wasn’t the problem, but a multiple vehicle collison was. Two northbound lanes were closed at the Dartford Crossing, so we were back to 1-hour delays. I emailed work and said I was signing on from home and would come in later if the traffic improved. It hadn’t done so by 1pm, so I ended up working at home for the day. That was fortunate, too, as the doorbell rang and it was the delivery man with my order of Permajet papers, which had to be signed for. I’d been on the lookout for them, and as Stephen had an unexpected extra shift at the Hospice Shop, had I not been home, my paper would have had to go back to the depot and been tracked down later.

Today I logged onto the traffic reports and they were unbelievably good. There were no little speedometer signs on http://www.trafficmap.co.uk/ anywhere along the stretch of the M25 that I use. They even had a matrix sign switched on somewhere down near Sevenoaks announcing 12 miles to Dartford in 12 minutes! http://www.trafficmap.co.uk/ is great for finding out information like that. I got a good run all the way to Basildon and managed to show my face in the office for the second time this week.

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Entry for January 26, 2008 – Concert: Performing Pleyel

Posted by HelenEdith on January 26, 2008

I performed the second and third movement’s of Pleyel’s Bassoon Concerto in B flat as the final item in this evening’s Bromley Music Makers concert.

The preparation of this piece hasn’t been ideal: a chest infection over Christmas put paid to practising over the holidays, but Rosemary Chater (my accompanist) and I have been meeting to rehearse regularly during January and we had our interpretation synchronised and everything coming together a week and a half ago.

I continued to worry about the piece, as it seemed to be going downhill in the final week, but it turned out all right on the night. 🙂 Rosemary’s main worry was a page turn. She prefers to turn her own pages, but one of the turns was tricky, and this afternoon she was at the Bromley High School and had access to a grand piano and practised her page turn there, as a grand (which is what she played on tonight) has a different music stand from an upright, which is what she has in her own front room. Her page turning this evening was flawless!

It was the 250th anniversary of Pleyel’s birth in 2007, but we couldn’t quite get the piece onto a concert programme at the end of last year, but as I said tonight, Pleyel’s birthday wasn’t until June, so he’s still 250 in January 2008, and it’s therefore still valid to perform his music in celebration of his 250th.

If you want to know more about Pleyel, there is an informative Wikipedia article; and the Pleyel Museum at Ruppersthal in Austria, where Pleyel was born, has a website which can be viewed here in German, or here translated into English by Google.

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Entry for August 03, 2007 – on holiday at last!

Posted by HelenEdith on August 3, 2007

My holiday has officially arrived! 😀

I am so pleased to be away from the office for a whole week. I’m going to enjoy making music all week, and as my musical activities will all take place in or near Sidcup, I won’t even have to travel far to get to them.

Having not been much for practice lately, I haven’t really broken my lip in for this amount of bassooning, so where most people prepare for their summer holiday by purchasing sunscreen, I have prepared by purchasing Bonjela!


Today’s picture is an orchid picture I took at Kew Gardens a couple of years ago. I came across it while transferring my Kew Gardens pictures from Yahoo Photos to my own website and decided that it was a picture that grew on me.

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