HelenEdith's Blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘concert’

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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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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Beckenham Concert Band – NSPCC Concert at Halstead

Posted by HelenEdith on June 23, 2009

The Beckenham Concert Band performing at the St Barnabas Church Fete, 4th May, 2009

The Beckenham Concert Band performing at the St Barnabas Church Fete, 4th May, 2009

For a musician without a “regular” band, I had a busy weekend last weekend. Having spent Saturday in Maidstone rehearsing and then performing numbers from the movies with Maidstone Winds, on Sunday I had a somewhat more local engagement with the Beckenham Concert Band, with whom I played regularly for a number of years.

The Beckenham Concert Band provided part of an open air benefit concert for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children which was held in the grounds of a private house in the village of Halstead, which is near Knockholt in Kent.

The band started arriving at 5pm, and we were in position in our marquee by 5:30pm. A singer kicked off the concert, after which the band played a programme consisting of:

  • Blaze Away
  • Sullivan – Pirates of Penzance numbers
  • The first two of Three Paintings by Toulouse-Lautrec
  • Symphonic Beatles
  • Blue and the Gray
  • Tony Bennett Unplugged
  • Instant Concert
  • Queen – “We will rock you”, “Another one bites the dust”, etc
  • Irish Rhapsody

After the band section of the concert was a complete, another singer performed.

It was an ideal early evening for an outdoor concert: dry and warm, but not too hot – and to make life easy for the musicians, there wasn’t even a gentle breeze to play havoc with our sheet music. I still managed to turn a page and end up with the sheet music in my lap once, but that was my own fault!

After leaving the venue at Halstead, I popped down the hill and called in on Stephen’s Mum. I took the precaution of taking some clothes to change into, as I just knew that the cats would want to sit on my lap, and it was better that I wasn’t dressed in my good black and white clothes for that!

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Entry for December 07, 2008 – Marlowe Ensemble Light Music Concert

Posted by HelenEdith on December 7, 2008

I’m only a week late in posting this: the Marlowe Ensemble did a light music concert in the Holy Redeemer Church Hall at Days Lane, Sidcup last weekend, and I was the bassoonist. I would have been welcome to show up for a few Wednesday rehearsals, but I’ve just been too occupied with my job to be able to do that, so I went along on Saturday afternoon for a rehearsal and went back in the evening for the concert.

Here was the programme:

  • Folk Songs from Somerset (No.3 of English Folk Songs Suite) – Vaughan Williams
  • Last Love – Eric Coates
  • Water Music Suite: Bourree and Hornpipe – Handel – the bassoon part turned out to be quite important in this, so I was glad of the run-through in the afternoon to clue me in on where the important bits were!
  • a) Jazz Pizzicato – Leroy Anderson
    b) A Trumpeter’s Lullaby – Leroy Anderson
  • Songs sung by Arthur: a) On a Januairy Morning
    b) Boys of the Old Brigade
  • Selection: The Mikado – Arthur Sullivan – I got a couple of solo bits to do in this – as with the Handel, I was glad for the afternoon run-through to know what was going to be expected of me!


  • Selection: The Maid of the Mountains – Harold Fraser-Simson, with additional numbers by Jas.W.Tate, who apparently wrote all the best stuff in the selection!
  • a) Valse Bohemienne (No.1 of Four Characteristic Waltzes) – Coleridge-Taylor
    b) Demande et Reponse (No.2 of Petite suite de Concert) – Coleridge-Taylor
  • Songs sung by Arthur: a) I’ve Got a Motter
    b) The Shark
  • Selection: Fiddler on the Roof – Jerry Bock
  • Tik Tak Polka – Strauss – this was surprisingly hard – it had both first and second written on the sheet music and I elected to play second, which was a bit less twiddly. I could keep up with that!

Stephen came along and sat in the audience, and I think he enjoyed the concert. He loves people-watching, and is inclined to take note of and get entertainment out of who visibly counts their bars of rests. He also mouthed a private joke at me when I just had to hitch up my bra strap while onstage!

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Website update: Interior Pictures of St Peter & St Paul Parish Church, Charing, Kent

Posted by HelenEdith on September 16, 2007

I’ve just transferred my pictures of St Peter & St Paul Parish Church, Charing, Kent, taken on December 11th, 2005, from Yahoo Photos to my website.

They were taken during the interval of an Invicta Wind Orchestra concert, so there was not time or space to set up a tripod, and I used my manual focus prime lenses with wide apertures and a high ISO setting on the camera to take these pictures.

Click here to view them.

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Entry for August 08, 2007 – Coffee Morning concert

Posted by HelenEdith on August 9, 2007

Wednesday morning’s Marlowe Music Week activity was a coffee morning, which took the form of a light music concert where the audience enjoyed light refreshments while we played.

Here was the programme:

  • Tik Tak Polka (Strauss)
  • Chanson de Matin (Elgar)
  • George Gershwin Melodies
  • Among the Poppies (Second movement of ‘From the Countryside’ by Eric Coates
  • Stephen Foster Fantasy
  • Second New Sullivan Selection (well it was new about 80 years ago!)


  • Arcadians Overture
  • Capricious Hoe Down (strongs only)
  • The Lost Chord (Sullivan – sung by Carl, who emerged from behind his double bass for this number)
  • Cavalleria Rusticana
  • The King and I
  • The Dam Busters

The audience had a good time and we raised nearly £200 for the church whose hall we have been using all week.

The picture shows Margaret and myself conferring prior to the start of the concert.

The orchestra configuration for this concert was that the string players were at the front of the main hall, with the woodwind players in one line across the front of the stage and the brass players in a second line behind the woodwind players. This configuration does mean that it’s a good idea not to wear a short skirt! As you can see, my yellow outfit covered up the parts that should remain covered up, as did Margaret’s black trousers.

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Entry for August 07, 2007 – Light music rehearsal and band rehearsal

Posted by HelenEdith on August 7, 2007

Today’s Marlowe Music Week activity was a rehearsal of the light music to be performed tomorrow at the coffee morning where we have our one and only paying audience for the week. We ran through the whole programme and ironed out a few bumps and wrinkles.

Most of the musicians then headed off for lunch with one of the cellists at her place, but I returned home, where I discovered that Stephen had gone down to his Mum’s, so I was home alone.

I made myself some lunch and sat down with a Greater Than Killer Sudoku (here’s the latest one: http://www.killersudokuonline.com/#gtkweekly) and it didn’t seem long before Stephen was home again. As this week is a holiday, if I spend the afternoons chilling out with a Killer Sudoku, then so be it.

As the Marlowe Activity this evening didn’t require bassoons, I put in an appearance at the Beckenham Concert Band’s rehearsal. We spent the evening working on Dvorak’s Slavonic Dances and Falla’s Ritual Fire Dance. After mostly playing things straight through with the orchestra earlier in the day, it was interesting to sit down with the band and really dissect some quite challenging music.

I took back the purple band jacket I wore on the bandstand in Greenwich Park the other weekend. The band’s next outing is in Surrey and I’m undecided about whether to put my hand up for it. I’ve been on that particular gig for the past two years, and as I’m not a “regular” in the band, I don’t feel that I have to do it if I don’t want to this year. By taking the jacket back, I don’t have it hanging up at home acting as an influence making me do that gig (and travelling there!) but if I change my mind and decide nearer the time that I want to go, the wardrobe department will be happy to lend it to me again. Meanwhile they’re just as happy to have it hanging up in the band’s wardrobe than at my house.

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Entry for July 29, 2007 – Greenwich Park Bandstand

Posted by HelenEdith on July 29, 2007

This afternoon I joined the Beckenham Concert Band on the bandstand in Greenwich Park.

We played from 2pm to 5pm with a half hour break in the middle.

Fortunately the weather decided to be kind to us, and we had a good audience spread around the park. The organised ones had brought something to sit on, and the rest just sat on the grass.

My bassoon attracted a certain amount of attention, with several people coming up to the bandstand and asking me what it was.

The picture was taken by Stephen during a trombone solo, for which Trevor the trombonist was standing up.

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