CheeseWineRehearsals over, and before the Showcase Concert, the delegates, tutors and volunteers enjoyed cheese and wine on a glorious summer’s evening. The University of Nottingham has been a generous and helpful host of an amazing few days of music making. What a rich experience has been had by all – rehearsals of repertoire perhaps not encountered before, small ensemble workshops for instrumentalists, a singing masterclass with Carris Jones followed by a recital, insights into ensemble playing from the Cox Quartet and Equinox Saxophone Ensemble open rehearsals and concerts by both groups, a fascinating talk about Shakespeare and music by John Florance, developing technique sessions, the opportunity to ask advice from the experts in voice and instruments, making new friends, and performing in a concert.

0OrchThe concert gave each group an opportunity to showcase its Shakespeare inspired repertoire to the other delegates of the School and a small audience (fire regulations limiting the number of people allowed in the space). A slight hiccup preceeded the concert,  which led to some relieved and kindly singing fun – Oh dear, what can the matter be… etc etc!

0choirThe full orchestra played a medley from Kiss me Kate, Mendelssohn’s incidental suite A Midsummer Night’s Dream (often known as The Wedding March, sometimes played as the couple leave the church), music from William Walton’s Henry V suite (for the Olivier film of the same name, and with a movement for the String Orchestra only), and Vaughan Williams Serenade to Music. The last two pieces included the choir. The windband played both within the orchestra and on their own with a lively performance of a medley from Westside Story, Bernstein. As well as singing both the choir and solo parts of Serenade to Music, the choir performed two of Rutter’s Birthday Madrigals, Emma Lou Deimer’s Three Madrigals, The Agincourt Song from Walton’s Henry V and William Harris’s tender and poignant And Will A’ Not Come Again. 

We hope all the delegates enjoyed the Summer School as much as we all did. Thank you for your hard work, friendliness and for making it such a wonderful few days. Here’s to the next one!

If you use Facebook, you’ll find more photos and videos from the Summer School on the Music for Everyone Facebook page. ‘Like’ us, and news will pop up in your feed. You can also sign up to follow this, the MfE blog, by email (see box to the right).


And so to the final day of the MfE Summer School 2016. For the choir, full and string orchestras and windband, today was a day of polishing in readiness for the evening showcase concert. The saxophones were in for a added treat.

Equinox 2The Equinox Saxophone Ensemble, led by Alistair Parnell and founded by him in 2005, gave an open rehearsal masterclass. There were many similarities with the points made in Owen and friends’ string quartet rehearsal – listening, discussing, resolving and settling on a way to perform a piece and convey it to an audience. Alistair spoke of the time needed to warm an instrument properly, how the duration of that period increases with the size of the instrument. This is key to tuning and intonation, both of which are notoriously difficult with the saxophone. We marvelled at the six sizes of sax played – two other sizes exist, the contrabass (very low) and soprillo (very high).

SaxEnsembleAfter a quick change, Equinox entertained us with a concert that both astonished and inpsired. It converted saxophones sceptics to huge admirers. The ensemble showed the versitility of the instrument through their wonderful playing of arrangements of music from Mozart to Ravel to Oscar Peterson, arrangements made by Alistair and other members of the ensemble.

Members of the group then led a workshop with the saxophone delegates of the Summer School. They provided the players with either the Ensemble’s normal parts or simpler parts. A hugely inclusive approach that led to a rich sound in a very short space of time. Later, the combined ensemble performed to an appreciative audience – the rest of the Summer School.

“If you like an instrument that sings, play the saxophone. At its best it’s like the human voice.” Stan Getz

MikeWhat a day! The choir beavered away at their repertoire under the tution of Guy Turner, Mike Gregory, Jane McDouall and MfE’s Artistic Director, Angela Kay. Works being rehearsed are by Rutter Birthday Madrigals, Harris And will ‘a not, Deimer Three Madrigals and Vaughan Williams Serenade to Music. The choir then split into upper and lower voices for sectional rehearsals, where tips were also given about technique. The ladies particularly know a lot more anatomy than before they came, and about posture, breathing, core muscles, etc. Singers who normally sing in larger choral societies have expressed enjoyment in singing more intimate works, often sung by chamber groups.


The full orchestra rehearsed first thing under the baton (newly purchased from the Winblowers stall in the rehearsal hall) of Phil Smith, and played a medley from Kiss me Kate. Instrumentalist split later into the string orchestra and the windband. More about these groups tomorrow. And more in a second post about the Cox Quartet open rehearsal (masterclass in quartet playing) and their concert.

The sun shone again, so coffee, lunch and tea were taken outside by many. Times to chat with old friends and to make new ones.

After lunch, John Florance, a raconteur with a PhD in English Literature and Drama, and former Radio Leicester presenter, explored the importance of music to Shakespeare, and in his plays. He chose a Shakespeare inspired piece from each musical era from the Bard’s time until today, and showed how his words have inspired music of all genres – opera, song, orchestral, ballet, jazz, musical, rock and pop.

JohnFloranceThe man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils;
The motions of his spirit are dull as night
And his affections dark as Erebus:
Let no such man be trusted. Mark the music.

The Merchant of Venice, William Shakespeare.


Today the strings rehearsed with Owen Cox. Owen, like Sheku Kanneh-Mason, came to Music for Everyone’s Stringwise as a boy. He has played in the CBSO and many other orchestras and chamber groups, and teaches at Chetham’s Music School, Manchester. Owen has been a member of several quartets and brought three players along to the Summer School to perform as a quartet, which they do when time and geography permit. The Cox Quartet.

Owen1The four of them gave an open rehearsal. This was a masterclass in chamber music playing. They discussed their working processes to decide on the interpretation of the music – understanding the composer and background to the piece, considering technique to convey the performance both technically as an ensemble and, most importantly, emotionally. They explained how many quartets prefer just to be together to work intensively on the music rather than to socialise. This group is unusual in that Owen is married to Katie Stillman, violinist, and Joe and Ken Ichinose, viola and cello, are brothers. Their enjoyment in being together was evident. Each player highlighted a passage to discuss from either Haydn’s Quartet in E flat Major – Op.64, No. 6 or Mendelssohn’s Quartet in F minor, Op.80. They played a version of it that was perhaps more legato or more articualated, and asked the audience which they preferred and why.

It was a hugely engaging, unique and fascinating experience, and striking that so many of the techniques used in chamber playing apply across all instruments, including the voice. For example, Ken explained that when all four parts are marked forte, it dconcert1id not mean all instruments strived for the same volume. Rather they had to understand the music vertically and work out which part’s forte should be louder, and which parts should play a less loud forte so that the melody or theme was not drowned out. Listening to each other and understanding the music being key.

Katie has an extensive carreer as a soloist, chamber musician and an orchestral principal. She is a member of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, co-leader of Manchester Camerata and regularly leads the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group.

Joe has established a varied freelance career as a violist, playing regulary at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, and period playing with Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique. He will be playing in a Prom performance later in the series.

Ken co-founded the Galitzin String Quartet, which toured internationally. He is co-artisitic director of the annual ‘Accord et a Cordes’ cheamber music festival near Montpellier, France. Before joining the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra as Associate Principal in 2014, he enjoyed 10 years of freelancing with London orchestras, including the Philharmonia, Academy of St Martin in the Fields, and the Royal Opera House.

As the second day of the Summer School came to a close, the Quartet gave a concert performance of the two quartets rehearsed earlier. Their playing took the audience through the story the music conveyed and touched every emotion imaginable, from reflective to sad, to playful and joyous, all enhanced by their huge delight in playing together. It was an enormous privelege to hear the rehearsal and the performence. Both will stay in the memory for a long time.



CarrisLibby0Carris Jones, mezzo-soprano, studied at Cambridge University and the RAM, graduating with a DipRAM Distinction, the Academy’s highest performance award. Operatic experience includes cover Cornelia Julius Caesar (ENO), Mother/Witch Hansel and Gretel (Co-Opera), cover Susanna (Ilford), cover Hippolyta A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Il Turco in Italia, The Magic Flute (Garsington), Dido Dido and Aeneas (Eltham Choral Society). Other experience includes Elgar Sea Pictures and Mahler Kindertotenlieder (North London Symphony Orchestra) and Verdi Requiem at the Sheldonian in Ozford. In 2013 she made her Royal Festival Hall solo debut as Renee in the European premier of Shostakovich Orango, with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia.

Libby Burgess accompanied Carris with great sensitivity. Libby is dedicated to the fields of song and chamber music, collaborating regularly with some of the finest singers and instrumentalists of her generation. Her diverse schedule ranges from song recitals in the UK’s major concert halls and festivals, to chamber music in obsure venues around the country or appearances on Radio 3. She is Artistic Director of New Paths, a major new festival of concerts, outreach, and education events in Beverley, Yorkshire.

The Shakespeare theme was taken up by Carris, here’s her varied and delightful programme.

CarisLibby1Schubert – An Silvia

Haydn – She never told her love

Korngold – Willow Song; Blow, blow thou winter wind; Come away death; Adieu good man devil, Hey Robin

Quilter – Three Shakespeare Songs

Cheryl Frances-Hoad – Two Shakespeare Songs

Dring – Take O take those lips away; It was a lover and his lass; Come away deathThe cuckoo

Carris applauding Rachel's performance.

Carris applauding Rachel’s performance.

The second MfE Summer School got off to a glorious summery start at the Music Department of the University of Nottingham today.

There are 150 delegates at the School – the furthest travelled coming from the USA. Some delegates are singers, others instrumentalists. The players gathered first as a full orchestra, and then split into windband and string orchestra, the latter accompanying with the choir during the afternoon. In this the 400th year since his death, the repertoire for everyone has been chosen with Shakespeare in mind.

Carris Jones, mezzo-soprano, travelled up from London to give a masterclass followed by a recital.

Carris asking Richard to select an audience member to sing to.

“Choose someone out there to sing to.”

Two masterclass ‘victims’, Rachel Bacon and Richard Flewitt, both members of the East of England Singers, first sang through a song of their choice. Carris then helped them with technique, interpretation and performance – conveying the song, its story, emotion and meaning, to the audience. This was followed by a beautiful recital – the professionals inspiring the singers and players for the rest of the day.

In the early evening, drinks were enjoyed in the Pope Garden, followed by a delegates dinner before everyone headed home. (For more Olympics? Yes, a few tired folk had stayed up to watch Andy Murray’s golden triumph…!)