HelenEdith's Blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘orchestra’

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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Entry for October 22, 2008 – “Extended” Marlowe orchestra evening

Posted by HelenEdith on October 22, 2008

This evening was the occasional meeting of the extended Marlowe Ensemble. We tackle larger works than are possible on a weekly basis, when the orchestra is more of a chamber orchestra.

This evening, we started with the Merry Wives of Windsor Overture to the Opera by Otto Nicolai.

We then progressed on to the first of two Fifth symphonies: this one being the Beethoven one. Of course, I’ve heard it plenty of times, but I’d never played it before. I got taken by surprised on a solo bassoon entry and came in a bar late, and it was deemed to be an important enough bit that we went back so that I could have another go at it.

After our refreshment break, we moved on to Dvorak’s fifth symphony. We didn’t get all the way through, stopping after the third movement. That movement is a navigational nightmare. It’s got a first-time set of bars which don’t lead up to a repeat, but jump over a second-time bar which is actually the fine. Then you play the trio portion of the movement, after which you jump back to the sign near the beginning of the movement, playing through and this time jumping over the first-time bars and going to the fine. We did not get it right in one go!

However, the aim of the evening isn’t to work these pieces up for performance, it’s simply to get them down off the shelf and read through them for our own pleasure, and that aim was certainly fulfilled this evening.

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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.

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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.

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Entry for August 05, 2008 – String Orchestra with soloists

Posted by HelenEdith on August 5, 2008

This evening was the one Marlowe activity that I’ve been seriously practising for, as I was to be one of the soloists with this evening’s string orchestra.

We had a good range of soloists, and interspersed pieces without a soloist so that we had a good mix of pieces to play. Malcolm had set me up with cello parts for anything that didn’t have a bassoon part to keep me busy and out of mischief, so I had plenty to do, apart from when it was my turn to be the soloist. I did get caught out early on by a cello part which blossomed into treble clef, which is something bassoonists don’t see very often, but once I realised that such passages may crop up, I was ready for them, and even had the opportunity to play a passage containing a top D, which I nailed. 🙂

We heard Pergolesi arranged by Barbirolli for Evelyn Rothwell (who later became Lady Barbirolli) for the oboe, I performed Henry Hargrave I, then we had a trumpet concerto. After our refreshment break, we had a Vivaldi violin concerto, and then our oboe soloist switched to cor anglais and performed a solo on that.

The orchestra enjoyed the Henry Hargrave, which none of them had heard before, so my contribution to the evening went down well – and of course I was delighted to have that many people playing my accompaniment for me!

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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 10, 2007 – Full Orchestra

Posted by HelenEdith on August 10, 2007

Friday evening saw us gathered in the hall belonging to the Holy Redeemer Church in Days Lane, Sidcup for our final musical activity of Marlowe Music Week: Full Orchestra conducted by Malcolm’s son Nick.

The music on our stands consisted of Mozart’s Idomeneo Overture, arranged by Aubrey Winter, Sullivan’s Overture to The Yeomen of the Guard, Wagner’s Mastersinger’s Overture, and Dvorak’s 5th Symphony in F Major. The parts we were playing off predated the renumbering of Dvorak’s symphonies and proclaimed it to be his third, but that has been known to be incorrect for a good many years now. They were tattered dog-eared parts which have been through the hands of many musicians.

I nearly brought things to a halt during the Dvorak when I went to take a breath and my reed followed my lips instead of staying on my crook, and as I opened my mouth, the reed fell. I wasn’t wearing a skirt, so had nothing to catch it, and it went onto the floor and disappeared from sight. I dared not stand up to look for it for fear of stepping on it, but a sharp-eyed young trombonist behind me spotted it under my chair nestled up against my handbag. He leant forward and retrieved it and handed it back to me and as he sat back into his chair, he upset his music stand!

I gave the retrieved reed a bit of a wipe with my fingers, put it back on my crook and resumed playing. I hope they’ve cleaned the floor recently… 🙂

There was a presentation session after the tea break. Malcolm and Sheila got theatre ticket vouchers in recognition of their hard work in making the Music Week happen. There was also recognition for Mary, the hostess of Thursday’s barbecue, and for the various people who had served refreshments and washed up afterwards. Joyce, who was our “Party Pieces” hostess, and also hostessed a lunch on Tuesday, received a token of our appreciation at the end of the “Party Pieces” evening.

Stephen took along a laptop which I had loaded up with the pictures we’ve taken during the week, and it was a popular gathering point during the tea break. I think my website will be getting a few hits over the next few days. I’d better get Stephen’s pictures online!

Today’s picture is one that Stephen took during the Full Orchestra session. It shows the two bass players; who were both wearing blue shirts, the bassoon section consisting of Margaret and myself; and most of the brass section.

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Entry for August 09, 2007 – Classical Orchestra

Posted by HelenEdith on August 9, 2007

It was Thursday morning, so it had to be Classical Orchestra! It was a good-sized orchestra, and included eight cellos and two double basses. There were no clarinets (this was music written before the clarinet became commonplace) but there were flutes, oboes, bassoons, horns and trumpets. There was also one mandolin player at the back of one of the violin sections.

We read through Schubert’s Symphony No.5 in B major D485, Joseph Haydn’s Symphony 98 (Oxford) and Mozart’s little-known Symphony No.36 KV425. I have to say it isn’t one of the better Mozart symphonies, but the final movement was just about up to Mozart’s usual standards.

We nearly had chaos at one point. People had lost their place and the music ground to a halt and it turned out that the wind players had letters on their parts, the conductor had bar numbers on his, while the string players didn’t appear to have any rehearsal marks at all. It took a lot of discussion to get us all synchronised for the mid-movement restart!

The lady with the mandolin has a trumpet she would like to get rid of and I’d expressed an interest. She brought it along today and one of the horn players (who is also a trumpet player) looked it over for me. He doesn’t think there’s much wrong with it, but suspects that there is an obstruction in it somewhere. Anyway, I’ve brought it home, but wonder whether I’d do better to get Stephen a new or near-new student trumpet rather than spending money on getting the used one fixed.

Most of the assembled company attended a barbecue lunch, but I came home to take it easy for the afternoon. Well, sort-of easy. I’m doing some laundry as I’m running short of clothes! Plus catching up on this blog. I’m having a busy week and there’s lots to write about. 🙂

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Entry for May 16, 2007

Posted by HelenEdith on May 16, 2007

It was Wednesday today, so I home-worked. I breaks the week up if I lose the commute on a Wednesday, and I got lots of peace and quiet at home – most of the time. Stephen did call out some of the scores from the Mauresmo-Stosur match at the Italian Open, and I did take a break to watch the second set tie-break, which Stosur ended up losing. However, she won through in the end, which pleases me, as I had my Australian hat on. 🙂

This evening I went to my occasional orchestra evening. A group based on the Marlowe Ensemble, but with some extras like myself added in, meets about once every six weeks to read through some of the Classical and Romantic orchestral repertoire. There is no rehearsal about it as it doesn’t lead to a performance. It’s just a group of people playing through some of the orchestral repertoire for the fun of doing it.

This evening’s playing started with Mozart’s overture “Titus”, which warmed us up nicely to attempt Brahms’ Serenade No.1 in D Major. We took a break in the middle of it, as it was quite taxing stuff. I personally didn’t manage to play all the notes when confronted by tenor clef, five sharps, and a passage with lots of leaps in it which went down to the lower end of the tenor clef. All I could do was count the bars and make sure I knew where to come in when something within my capabilities appeared on the stave in front of me. We finished off with Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony. We were just going to play the first movement, but decided to play the other movement when we got to the end of the first movement. I’m pretty sure the second movement of the “Unfinished” accompanied the Del Monte Man in a TV advertising campaign a few years ago.

…Which leads us neatly to today’s picture, which is of apples so fresh that they’re still on the tree!

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Entry for May 13, 2007

Posted by HelenEdith on May 13, 2007

We were watching something on the Performance channel this evening. The orchestra was the Polish Chamber Orchestra, and judging by the hairstyles, the performance was filmed about 20 years ago.

When we tuned in, they were playing Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nacht Musik” but they moved onto something else without putting up a title and I didn’t recognise it, although I thought it may have been Haydn.

Did he write a “Farewell Symphony” by any chance? The reason why I ask is that the musicians picked up their instruments and departed one by one. The last to go were the two violin section leaders, who finished the piece, closed their music, and departed. I think the conductor just sort of wandered off afterwards.

Judging by the lack of applause, I would say that it wasn’t recorded in front of an audience.

Or should I say, “I hope it wasn’t recorded in front of an audience!” 😀

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