HelenEdith's Blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘Music’

Beckenham Concert Band at Coolings

Posted by HelenEdith on July 22, 2009

Assembling my bassoon at Coolings - photo by Stephen Andrews

Assembling my bassoon at Coolings - photo by Stephen Andrews

The Beckenham Concert Band played an outdoor concert at Coolings in what has become an annual event in Arthur’s Garden, located behind Arthur’s Coffee Shop.

He is our playlist:

  • 001 Blaze Away
  • 070 Bandology
  • 128 Semper Fidelis
  • 197 Fantasia on British Sea Songs
  • 216 Instant Concert
  • 275 Costa Brava
  • 282 Irish Rhapsody
  • 376 King Cotton
  • 432 Wizard of Oz Fantasy
  • 454 Songs in the Key of Life
  • 511 The Magnificent Seven
  • 632 Tony Bennett Unplugged
  • 658 The Symphonic Beatles
  • 679 76 Trombones
  • 681 Queen in Concert

It did clearly state on the end of the playlist that it was just that and not a running order, but I wasn’t expecting to see that at the end and didn’t notice it and started the concert with the wrong pieces on my music stand!

The numbers against the pieces on the playlist are the band’s internal catalogue numbers. This band has been in existence since 1977 (that’s over 30 years!) and in that time it has built up a huge repertoire of sheet music.

It was very windy last Sunday. I lowered the legs on the tripod portion of my music stand until they were flat to the ground and firmly anchored the two nearest to me by putting my feet on them. I also had my foot on my pad of sheet music until Viv, the baratone sax player, who was my neighbour, commented that she was sitting on her pad of music. That seemed like a good idea, so I emulated her. Viv was very impressed by the performance of our new perspex music holders. They definitely did better than clothes pegs in the windy conditions, although I did put a peg across the windward side of my music holder to make sure that the wind didn’t get inside and rip my music out.

We finished with the Fantasia on British Sea Songs, and when we got to the end of the Hornpipe, we got a round of spontaneous applause. 🙂 This was great, as it gave me a moment to catch my breath for the rest of the piece. 🙂

We brought Stephen’s Mum with us. She always enjoys a trip to Coolings – with or without music! She probably spends less money when she’s listening to music though, but I think she has plans to return for some plants that she’s got her eyes on. 🙂

Posted in Beckenham Concert Band | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Book Review: Jane Yardley – Dancing with Dr Kildare

Posted by HelenEdith on June 13, 2009

This book came from the general fiction shelves in the library, and I found much of it to be rather pedestrian. It wasn’t that there was a lack of material: just that things happened rather slowly.

The plot of the book concerns Nina’s recently deceased father, who was a Finnish exile, and in whose locked desk Nina has found a score and parts of Sibelius’s Eighth Symphony, all in her father’s hand.

There are plenty of turns along the way – ballroom dancers and aficionados of the tango, plus Nina’s lifelong love of the actor Richard Chamberlain, particularly in his alter ego of Dr Kildare, which is where the title comes from.

We are drawn on a journey of discovery about the symphony. Initially, Nina wants to suppress it because she cannot see how it can reflect well on her father, which will in turn upset her mother; but then she starts to have doubts about its worth.

This was a well-researched book with a sizeable list of acknowledgements of sources at the end, and puts up a good if fictional case for why there never was an Eighth Symphony by Sibelius.

Posted in Book Review, General Fiction, Music, Musical theme | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Book Review: Susan Hepburn – Ghost of a Chance

Posted by HelenEdith on January 3, 2009

This book came from the “Crime” category in the library, and although it took about half the book before we had much in the way of obvious crime being committed, it was so entertainingly written that I have no complaints about that.

The main character in the book is Mike Brodie. Mike is actually a woman, Christened with the name Michal by parents who wanted a boy. Mike plays the saxophone. Well, actually, she plays the whole family of saxophones. She is in numerous bands and groups and has an agent called Paul Barnett who is always booking her up for slightly more than she really wants to do.

The book opens with Mike taking a short holiday visiting her friend Maggie at a minor stately home. She gets off to a bad start when the local re-enactment group think she’s an intruder and scare the life out of her. Then Paul shows up and talks her into stepping into a band making their television debut and in need of a sax player to replace their one, who has a broken arm. Paul “persuades” Mike despite the black eye she’s carrying from her run-in with the re-enactment group. Some holiday it’s turning into!

Mike has a ward Raffi, short for Raffaela. She’s a young adult and she pops up in the story quite a bit. In fact, she turns out to be quite important to the story. The owners of the minor stately home where Mike is staying are also important to the story, as is Jake, a powerful member of their staff. Some of the other staff are quite important to the story, too.

Thngs start unravelling when the elderly gentleman who has been writing a history of Berwick Grange and was on the trail of the priests’ holes within the building turns up dead in the village pond. It doesn’t seem immediately that this event is causing things to unravel, and Mike goes on about her life, and seems to be performing just about as often as if she weren’t on holiday. However, this does prove to be a turning point in the book, and things start getting really nasty.

A host of other characters are creeping around, including at least one who’s supposed to be dead but isn’t, and by the end of the book, we discover the significance of the priests’ holes and finally tie up all the loose ends.

The title of the book, by the way, is the name of a racehorse owned by the Grange’s owners. The racehorse plays quite a minor part in the story, but it’s a good title.

Posted in Book Review, Crime Fiction, Music, Musical theme | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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!

Posted in Marlowe Ensemble | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Mensa Music Weekend 2008 Bassoonist’s Report

Posted by HelenEdith on August 20, 2008

As I had to work on Thursday, I was unable to arrive in time for the ice-breaker, but headed out from the office at about 5:30pm, checking in at my B&B in Brookmans Park on the Great North Road on my way by, and arriving at the John Lill Centre at the University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield in time for the Friday evening session, where I met Judy waiting outside, as it transpired that those who were staying on campus had discovered that having dinner in half an hour was a bit optimistic and hadn’t yet returned!

When the main contingent got back from dinner, Dave Silver helped me bring my rolling shopping trolley of sheet music inside, and the weekend’s musical activities began for me.

As I didn’t sing, my time was divided between the orchestra and chamber music.

The orchestra worked on three pieces over the course of the weekend.

The first piece was the Bach A minor violin concerto, for which Robert had augmented the original string orchestration to include our wind section. I had a cello part, but Robert had been busy in Sibelius creating parts for the upper woodwind to play.

The second piece was Alison Keep’s arrangement of Vaughan Williams’ “Greensleeves Fantasy”. Alison brought her laptop and printer with her, and made a few adjustments to various bits of music during the weekend. In fact, she did a couple of tasks in Sibelius which were rather more substantial than a little bit of adjustment!

The third piece we worked on was the first of a charming set of five little wind concertos by the 18th Century Nottingham composer, Henry Hargrave, for which I supplied the music. Like the Bach, it was only scored for strings, and Alison kindly entered the viola part in Sibelius and got it to print out parts for the B flat clarinets and E flat saxophone so that the whole orchestra could play. It worked out very well giving the viola part to the clarinets and saxophone, as Wendy was our only “real” viola player and the ensemble was better balanced with some more instruments playing the viola line.

Although there were more than six people at the weekend with wind instruments, some of them also played a stringed instrument or sang, and when we divided into smaller groups, the wind group consisted of just six of us. We sometimes needed to get people to double on a part as we had insufficient sextet music for the combination of Cyndy on flute, two clarinets played by Dave and Don, Sally’s alto saxophone, my bassoon and Alison’s trombone. We made ourselves at home in the gamelan room, where we played Alison’s arrangements and a selection of music borrowed from the library by Dave or brought from home by myself.

The highlight of Friday evening was a jam session. Dave Silver brought his shiny red accordion, Hilary got out her recorder, and one of the flautists (Cyndy) also got out her instrument. Dave allowed several other people to have a go on his accordion in the course of the evening. There was singing, both with Dave’s accompaniment and without; and we were treated to a handbell performance, with the performers learning from Joyce as they went along.

I detached myself from the wind group on Saturday morning as Vivien had volunteered to play through my Danzi bassoon quartet. We were joined by Wendy and Stan, but very quickly discovered that we just couldn’t get the piece started. Fortunately Robert, our conductor for the weekend, was in the kitchen area with Monica, who was also at loose ends, and both came and joined us, with Monica doubling the violin part and Robert doubling the viola part. (He plays the viola as well as conducting!} We weren’t sure whether we needed Robert more as a conductor or as a viola player, but he managed to get the group going, although we did abandon the first movement, which Robert deemed not to be sight-readable. We did get through the other three movements, though, and the whole piece turned out to be very democratic and not just a bassoon solo with an accompanying string trio, and so was musically interesting, albeit a little too challenging, for all who were present. Vivien told me that if I send her the violin part to practise that she will have another go at it next year, which is very kind of her, as she was speaking rather incredulously about seventh position at one point!

I did manage to fit in enough time with Hilary, our recorder player, to play through a Boismortier trio sonata, with David playing the piano part. I would have loved to play through the Quantz trio sonata I had with me as well, but there just wasn’t time. Nor was there time to gather the personnel together for the Telemann Concerto a 6, which is effectively a double concerto for recorder and bassoon. We would have needed a string quartet and David to pull it off, although interestingly, bearing in mind that more people in the group play the violin than the viola, a third violin can be substituted for the viola. Maybe next year…

I was also hoping to join up with Alison for some trombone and bassoon duets; and would have liked to get together with one of the cellists for a play through of the Mozart sonata for bassoon and cello. However, there just wasn’t any time for either of those two activities to happen. Maybe next year for them as well…

On Saturday evening, we went to Frankie & Benny’s for a meal. Some people drove down from the University to the Galleria, but I was one of the ones who elected to walk. I had a lovely dinner down there, where I ate too much food, and did lots of talking. I hope I did some listening, too! I certainly got to know my dinner companions better, so I think I managed to shut up sometimes and listen. We were joined for dinner by Jo Sidebottom, our Mensa Special Interest Group Secretary, and it was good to be able to put a face to the name that appears on our Intermezzo newsletter.

Having spent Friday and Saturday working on our orchestral music and playing through different pieces of chamber music (or singing, if you were a singer) we spent Sunday morning brushing up what we were going to play in the afternoon for our end of weekend concert. Then we made one last visit to the refectory, where I enjoyed a swordfish steak for my Sunday lunch. It was just as well we had to walk back from the refectory, as I needed to walk off the swordfish before I was ready to play again.

The afternoon concert started with the Hargrave Bassoon Concerto No.1 and I stood up out the front to play it. I slipped up a couple of times, but made sure I kept going! Then we played Alison’s arrangement of “Greensleeves”. Each group of players then presented a sample of what they had been working on during the weekend, with my contributions coming in Alison’s arrangement of Fucik’s “Florentine March” and the first part of the opening movement of a quartet by Walckiers, which were both played by the wind sextet from the gamelan room. I also played in a trio written by David Dreebin specially for Sally (oboe), Dave (clarinet) and myself (bassoon) and which we had rehearsed with the composer present. David also composed a flute trio which was performed during the concert, although that performance wasn’t a World premiere. There were solos from Dave Silver and Alison Keep; two different string quartets performed; and the choir did two sets of numbers. The choir sang a capella – I was impressed! We finished with the Bach A minor violin concerto, performed to a very high standard by Helen Cass.

Then we all packed up and went home, hoping that we’ll be able to meet up again next year for some more of the same.

Posted in Music | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Entry for August 08, 2008 – Full Orchestra

Posted by HelenEdith on August 8, 2008

The playing part of Marlowe Music Week came to an end this evening with a Full Orchestra session in our usual church hall, although many people are going to dinner next Sunday to round off the week. I’m awkward to feed, and I’m ducking out of that. I also didn’t make it to “Party Pieces” yesterday evening. I’d been out every evening since last Sunday, and decided that I needed an evening in.

This evening’s orchestral session started off with Schubert’s “Manfred” Overture, and then continued with Benjamin Britten’s Matinées musicales, after Rossini. I’d never seen the music to either of these pieces before, and wouldn’t mind having another go at them another time, but that isn’t really the point of Marlowe Music Week. We don’t rehearse pieces and perfect them: we take the music out of the library, play it for our own enjoyment, and then move on to the next piece.

We did the first movement of Dvorak’s 6th Symphony before the refreshment break, and then played the other three movements after stopping for tea, coffee or squash. The Scherzo was conducted by Nick (Malcolm’s and Sheila’s son) in one. Margaret (my fellow bassoonist) was a bit sceptical about whether we’d manage to read it through in one, but we did pretty well and only had to stop a couple of times to regroup.

As this was the last occasion when we would all gather, after the music was over for the evening, we had a speech from Jim Kelly, who thanked Malcolm and Sheila for their efforts in putting Marlowe Music Week together. He commented that we did it for £10 each, but if this week was put on by an organisation, it would probably cost over £200 each, and if it was put on by the Government, the cost would probably be nearer to £400 each! We did have to smile at the list of personnel that Jim said would be required, but he made the very good point that Malcolm and Sheila work very hard to pull the week together, and that we get unbelievable value.

Malcolm and Sheila were presented with theatre tokens and Sheila also received a large bunch of flowers. Gerry and Mary, who hosted a BBQ, received a bottle; and Arthur, the churchwarden received a small wrapped gift. Joyce, who hosted a lunch and “Party Pieces” usually receives a token of our thanks at her “Party Pieces” evening.

Posted in Marlowe Ensemble | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Entry for August 07, 2008 – Cataloguing my sheet music

Posted by HelenEdith on August 7, 2008

It is to be hoped that I won’t be all musicked out after Marlowe Music Week, as I’ve got a Music Weekend planned for later this month. I have to go away for this one and I’ve got my accommodation all sorted out as I’m staying off-campus due to missing out on a spot in the on-campus student accommodation.

I’m planning on taking quite a bit of sheet music with me, and this afternoon I had my music down off the shelves to find out what I had that wasn’t in my Chamber Music spreadsheet. I’ve now updated it with everything except bassoon solos. They’re not of particular interest to other players, but the music for two, three and four players is of interest, and that’s what I was updating. Really I should download the database module of Open Office and put it in there rather than on a spreadsheet, but by the time I’ve learnt to use Open Office, that would take a lot longer than just updating a spreadsheet.

While I had the music down, I should have checked whether it all had my name stamped on each part, but I didn’t do that, so it will all have to come down again. The stuff I’ve had for a while is mostly named, but some of the newer stuff isn’t – and it all needs a name on each part before I let anyone borrow it during the Music Weekend!

I got so carried away with this project that I lost track of the time and realised that I wasn’t going to make it to “Party Pieces” tonight. It’s a shame to have missed it, but I’ve been out every evening since Sunday and I really needed a night in.

I had hoped to find time during my week off to edit my pictures from our Yorkshire holiday last October, but there just hasn’t been time. Maybe tomorrow morning… If I go to bed now, I might not have to use tomorrow morning for sleeping, and might therefore have time to look at some pictures. And go to the library. And do some laundry. Yes, there’s plenty to do!

Posted in Marlowe Ensemble, Music | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Entry for August 07, 2008 – Classical Orchestra

Posted by HelenEdith on August 7, 2008

Our Thursday morning session was Classical Orchestra. We had a good turnout, including one lady who comes along and plays the mandolin at the back of one of the violin sections.

We started with the Mozart overture to “The Impresario”, which I didn’t play much of because I was a few minutes late. Margaret had to hold the fort in the bassoon section by herself. The bassoon part was written as as a single part, but it divided at times, so once I had my act together, I was able to add a bit.

Then we moved on to Haydn’s Symphony No.94, also known as the “Surprise”. Arthur, the church warden said afterwards that it wasn’t entirely successful, as his wife, who suffers from narcolepsy, had dropped off to sleep and the surprise bit didn’t wake her. However, from a playing point of view, I think we produced a highly satisfactory rendition.

We took our refreshment break after we’d played Haydn, and then we tackled Mozart’s Symphony No.41, also known as the “Jupiter”. That’s a long symphony, and kept us playing until it was time to finish. I thoroughly enjoyed playing it, but have to admit that the quavers in the final movement, which should be tongued, were played slurred by today’s bassoon section. That was better than struggling with the articulation and getting left behind. Actually, I’m not sure whether I’d manage to articulate those notes properly even if I had time to practise. I’ve never mastered double tongueing on a double reed instrument, and those quavers move really fast.

Many people went on to a BBQ lunch, but I came home for a quiet afternoon.

Posted in Marlowe Ensemble | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Entry for August 06, 2008 – Wind Quintets

Posted by HelenEdith on August 7, 2008

There was chamber music organised for Wednesday evening. Last year, I think I went to Terry’s place to play with a combined strings and wind group, but this year Margaret did that and I went to Gerry’s and Mary’s place, where we had a wind quintet.

We started out with Agay’s “Five Easy Dances” to warm up, and then moved on with varying degrees of success to an Iolanthe arrangement by Graham Sheen, a set of variations by Gordon Jacob, and an arrangement by Emerson of one of Mozart’s String Quartets for wind quintet. Our horn player, Janet, has violin as her first instrument, and she commented that it was obvious that the piece wasn’t originally written for wind. It made enjoyable playing though, and as the classical repertoire for wind quintet is a bit on the thin side, it’s always nice to get an arrangement which will “work”.

Posted in Marlowe Ensemble | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Entry for August 06, 2008 – Coffee Morning

Posted by HelenEdith on August 7, 2008

As usual, the Coffee Morning was held on Wednesday morning. We had a good audience, including a contingent from Ivor Newton House, the Musician’s Benevolent Fund home for retired musicians. Leonard Davis (who conducted the Orpington Symphony Orchestra for many years and played the viola with Marlowe after he’d ended his professional career as a viola player) now lives there, and he was one of the retired musicians who attended. I’ll write more separately about Ivor Newton House.

We played the programme of light music that we’d rehearsed the day before, and one of our double bass players, Carl, stepped out from behind his bass to sing a solo. We’re a multi-talented lot!

Much of the sheet music we play from is old, as light music has fallen somewhat out of favour. One of my parts was almost falling apart as it was obviously much-played. The Marlowe Ensemble enjoy light music and like to keep these lighter items in their repertoire. On the other hand, one of my obviously old parts was in pristine condition and could have almost come out of a music shop last week, except that it had its price on it. 1s 3d. That’s a bit over five pence in New Money!

Posted in Marlowe Ensemble | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »