HelenEdith's Blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘week’

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 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”.

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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!

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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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Entry for August 05, 2008 – Light Music Rehearsal

Posted by HelenEdith on August 5, 2008

This morning’s Marlowe Music Week activity was a rehearsal of light music in preparation for tomorrow’s Coffee Morning, which is a fundraiser for the church whose hall we are using all week.

The first half of the rehearsal was rather Viennese in flavour, without a Strauss in sight though. We moved on in the second half to include Eric Coates, The Pirates of Penzance and The Sound of Music.

I was one of the last to arrive, and Margaret was already seated by the time I got there. All the music seemed to be in one pad, and I commented that it had been a bit of a waste of time to put my music stand up. Then Margaret decided that she needed a drink of water and stood up and we discovered that she was sitting on the second bassoon pad and that we had two copies of all our music!

I’m afraid that I interrupted the rehearsal with a little bit of Von Suppe’s “Light Cavalry” Overture, which is the ring tone on my mobile phone. At least I realised that it was my phone going off, so putting the “Light Cavalry” on there seems to have worked. I switched the phone off. I don’t know who called.

The other disruption to the rehearsal came when Malcolm got a bit too enthusiastic with his conducting and knocked the music off the leader’s stand! Things ground to a halt while sheet music was fielded off the floor, and before recommencing, the two at the front desk moved their chairs back a bit to keep out of Malcolm’s range.

Many people went back to Joyce’s place for lunch, but I came home, where Stephen was waiting for me. I had some seasoned grillsteaks in the fridge and we lunched of those, done in the George Foreman grill, with some sliced potatoes and a can of baked beans. I added a bit of coarse ground pepper to the top of the grillsteaks, but we didn’t think they were as good as peppered grillsteaks, so I’ll have to watch out for those in Asda.

Now I’ve got to do a bit of practising, as I’m attending the String Orchestra With Soloists session this evening and I will be the soloist in Hargrave I. When not being the soloist, there will be cello parts to play, and Malcolm assures me that I’ll be kept busy. I’ve been wondering whether there will be anything to sit out, as I could take my camera along tonight if I think I’ll get the chance to use it.

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Entry for August 04, 2008 – Wind Chamber Music

Posted by HelenEdith on August 4, 2008

This evening, ten wind players assembled at Gerry’s and Mary’s place. The assembled company’s instruments were two flutes, two french horns, two bassoons, one oboe and three clarinets. However, one of the clarinets was a C clarinet so that its owner could play oboe parts, making us a standard dectet.

We started the evening off with an arrangement of “La Calinda” by Delius, which was a very pleasant start to the evening. In the course of the evening, we progressed on to Dvorak, and we finished off with Gounod’s “Petite Symphonie”, which generally gets an airing at some point during Marlowe Music Week.

Margaret and I shared out first and second bassoon parts between us, although I got first if it had a significant amount of tenor clef on it because Margaret says that I sight-read tenor clef better than she does. Actually, I sight-read it so well this evening that I played something in tenor clef which was actually written in bass clef. It sounded horrible and we had to stop and go back so I could play it from its proper clef!

We played continuously for two hours and then enjoyed the refreshments which Gerry and Mary provided, before going our separate ways. Most of us will be seeing one another again in the morning for a light orchestra session which is a rehearsal for the Coffee Morning to follow on Wednesday morning.

I must go to bed at a sensible time tonight, as I’ve got to get up in the morning for that! I’ve been late to bed the last two nights and my body clock is somewhere out in the Atlantic. Nytol to the rescue…

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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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Entry for August 12, 2007 – Marlowe Music Week pictures up!

Posted by HelenEdith on August 12, 2007

I’ve now put up all the pictures Stephen and I took during Marlowe Music Week. There is one big index which will take you to all of our Marlowe pictures, and not just this year’s: Marlowe Ensemble pictures by Helen Stephenson and Stephen Andrews

Some of my pictures this year aren’t very good, as I relied too heavily on the shake reduction facility of my new digital SLR camera and tried to take pictures at ridiculously slow shutter speeds.

Many of Stephen’s pictures could be improved by editing, but if Stephen wants them edited, he will have to do it himself, as I’ve got plenty of unedited pictures of my own to worry about without taking on his as well! 🙂

The picture is of me playing away on Friday evening during our Full Orchestra session.

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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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