The third and final day of the Summer School saw all groups putting finishing touches to the pieces they would be playing in the evening Showcase Concert, open to friends, family and members of the public. This meant some joint rehearsals with choir and orchestra; percussion, piano and choir; orchestra and soloist etc. Brass, as requested by players attending previous Summer Schools, was also a feature of the day. Many music groups and organizations run Summer Schools but we think ours has a pretty unique offering. Not only do we ask top professionals along to give short concerts, but we also ask them to give workshops or masterclasses for appropriate delegates, today being the brass section. Any delegate can come along and listen in, and delegates often say they learn aspects of performance or about music that they can apply to their own but different instrument or voice.

DSC05130Tim Thorpe (horn) and Simon Baker (trombone) have played in more professional orchestras than we have space to mention. Simon is currently playing in the West End show Kinky Boots! Each of them performed several pieces in the showcase concert, admirably and sensitively accompanied by our répétiteur for the School, Richard Cox. Simon opened with Kenny’s Fanfare and then spoke about his Nottingham roots, being a trombonist, the types of music he enjoys playing, and his friendship (and golfing rivalry) with Tim. Tim’s varied selection included a beautiful arrangement of Erik Satie’s Gymnopedie No 1. In both performances we were treated to the colours, ranges of sound and technical expertise of two wonderful performers.

The School’s brass section was joined by a few other players, including youngsters, for a workshop that led to a performance in the Showcase Concert. The importance of listening while playing (or singing) has been a thread running through all the workshops this year. Simon talked about the need for each player to listen out for when they had the tune, bring it out but ease the sound back when the tune passes to a different instrument. His top tip: Play confidently when sight-reading – blow through the notes – and don’t worry about the odd wrong one! He and Tim discussed the difficulties of finding a balanced the sound in a brass group given the different directions instrument bells point in – up the tuba and baritone etc, behind for the French horn, in front for trombones and trumpets.

DSC05164We discovered on YouTube that Tim had performed an arrangement of Bernstein’s Somewhere from West Side Story. He very kindly supplied the orchestral parts and performed it with the orchestra in the Showcase Concert, picking up this year’s theme of Music from the Americas. And what a showcase it was of music spanning north and south America, from the 1600s right up to the present! Two of our young volunteers joined the party that was the percussion section in Sparkling Samba, conducted by Gill Henshaw. The Amercian theme opened the concert with a lively and fun performance of The Liberty Bell and closed it with the choir and orchestra thrilling the audience with a chorus from Bernstein’s Candide, conducted by MfE’s artistic director, Angela Kay MBE. There was much applause and appreciation from both audience and Trent College staff.

We were sorry to say goodbye to two tutors who have been very much part of the MfE family but are now moving on to pastures new – Victoria Barlow (choral) and Ann-Marie Shaw (strings). Thank you so much, and all the very best!

This year’s School came to a close with a social time over a hot buffet cooked by College staff. Trent College made us feel so welcome and facilitated what we hope was a great experience for all.

 

 

 

Instrumental players are members two groups at the Summer School – windband and full orchestra or string orchestra and full orchestra. This gives instrumentalists the chance to experience both a wider range of music and the expertise of several different tutors and guests. We were delighted to welcome young conductor Devon Bonelli today, who rehearsed Rhapsody in Blue, by his fellow American George Gershwin, with the full orchestra. Devon is studying for a music degree at the University of Nottingham, quite some way from his Arizona home!

The choir was also treated to three different tutors throughout the day, each guiding them through a range of techniques and pieces in preparation for tomorrow’s showcase concert. Late in the afternoon they went to hear the orchestra and Devon perform Rhapsody, with one of the delegates playing that famous clarinet solo opening.

DSC05114After lunch violinist Owen Cox and pianist Hilary Suckling gave a much anticipated workshop. They demonstrated their rehearsal process, and Owen highlighted some of the differences for a violinist when playing with a pianist rather than with other stringed instruments in say a string quartet. The piano’s tuning is, at the moment of playing fixed and ‘tempered’, whereas string players can adjust the pitch of a note by a tiny fraction with a slight movement of a finger. This might be done to suit either the mood of a solo piece or the ensemble of a group of stringed instruments, but it can’t be employed when playing with a piano. He also discussed the challenges of slow works and long notes for a stringed instrument, saying how these are much more taxing than runs of quavers as it is difficult to sustain the right quality of sound. Each note has to be imbued with meaning, and the player has to be sure not to run out of bow length in the process! A handy tip, he said, is to ensure the bow is rosined all the way to its ends.

Hilary talked about the position the instrument player chooses to stand in relative to the pianist and how she likes to feel more connected to the player, able to make eye contact with him or her, by them standing closer to her rather than in front of the piano itself. This was Owen’s choice, too. They agreed how important it is to rehearse in a concert venue as the acoustic affects so many aspects of the sound – what worked well in one venue is unlikely to be as successful in another.

IMG_9112Owen talked warmly of his time in Stringwise at the opening of the early evening recital. The two of them then gave a thrilling performance of a very varied programme: Elgar’s Violin Sonata, three movements from a recent arrangement for violin and piano of Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring, and Messiaen’s Theme and Variations. The music was imbued with so many colours and emotions in a seemingly effortless way. We listeners were captivated and transported – rapturous applause brought the day to a very satisfying close.

We’re excited to be welcoming two new professionals tomorrow – French Horn player Tim Thorpe and trombonist Simon Baker. The list of famous orchestras they have played with is VERY LONG. Come and here them in a lunchtime concert that’s open to the public – 1.30pm, Trent College Chapel.

And finally… One of our double bass players showed us a neat solution to that tricky issue of instrument spike vs slippery floor: play in your socks and stick the spike in your shoe. Sorted!

IMG_8969Well we can hardly believe a year has gone by since the last Summer School, but it has! This year we’ve moved from the University of Nottingham to Trent College. We wondered if those few extra miles out of Nottingham might put people off, but no! Bigger and hopefully even better than ever. A choir of 70+ and an orchestra of 80+ meeting together for three days of rehearsals, specialist workshops, Music in the Chapel concerts by visiting professionals, and the delegates’ showcase concert on Wednesday. With Trent College offering B&B, some folk have opted to stay over even though they live locally, making a mini holiday of it. Accommodation has also enabled others to come from further afield. There’s a cooked lunch for any who would like it and plenty of parking. We hear at least one person is staying not far away in a caravan. We’ll leave you to guess who…!

DSC05077The guest tutors today were choral specialists Blossom Street. Tomorrow there is a violinist, and on Wednesday two brass players. Blossom Street, a chamber choir, formed 10 years ago when the singers were still students. They are now a London based and much praised choir, usually of 8, but sometimes 16 or even only four, directed by one-time singing member, Hilary Campbell. Another member is local Ellie Martin, who conducts one of our Daytime Singers groups. Five members gave a lively workshop that proved entertaining and informative. It improved the choir’s sound by helping singers give a more nuanced performance. Hilary spent a few minutes talking about the importance of diction, that it is part of the music, and just as the choir blends the pitch and timbre of its notes, it needs to do the same with pronunciation, matching vowel and consonant sounds not only within a section, e.g. tenors, but between sections when singing the same words at the same time. It’s all in the listening, just as it is with the notes themselves. Blossom Street also had delegates singing rounds. Not, however, a round of the same tune, rather five different tunes and from memory! Three other members arrived in the late afternoon to bring the first day to a close with a beautiful concert, picking up this year’s Summer School theme of music from the Americas. We went home uplifted and relaxed. Their interpretation and rendition of Holst’s I love my love and Whitacre’s Sleep were sublime.

owen-cox (002)And for the others… there were rehearsals for the full orchestra, string orchestra and windband with a variety of tutors. More about those groups in the coming days. Two more Music in the Chapel Concerts, open to the public, take place tomorrow and Wednesday. Tuesday, 5.15pm, Owen Cox, violin, and Hilary Suckling, piano perform a programme that includes Copland’s Appalachian Spring and Elgar’s Sonata. Owen is a great favourite at the Summer School. As a boy he played in MfE’s Stringwise, he now teaches at Cheetham’s School of Music and performs around the world. You don’t want to miss it. Nor Wednesday’s concert by two superb brass players at lunchtime 1.30pm. Click here for details. 

Link to Blossom Street’s website – hear them on Radio 3 sometimes, CDs available.

Last year’s MfE Summer School brass players requested a workshop and concert from specialist brass players. So for 2018, here they are!

We are delighted, and know you will be too, to have engaged some ‘top brass’!

Simon-Baker-e1520865327106-242x300Nottinghamshire born Trombonist SIMON BAKER studied Music and Performance at Birmingham Conservatoire (now known as Royal Birmingham Conservatoire), followed by a Masters in Performance at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. As an in-demand freelancer, he performs regularly with most of the country’s leading orchestras, including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.

Simon has also played in many West End shows including Matilda, Lion King, Book of Mormon, Shrek, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and War Horse. He is currently the trombone player for Kinky Boots, showing at London’s Adelphi Theatre.

Tim-Thorpe-2-e1520865387883-259x300TIM THORPE, b.1983, first heard the French Horn in a concert at his primary school. From that moment onwards he determined to become a professional musician. He is gaining recognistion as one of the most accomplished horn players of his generation. In 2002 he was the UK finalist in the Paxman International horn competition and in 2004 won the Royal Over-seas League award for Wind and Percussion and the Philip Jones Memorial Prize for an outstanding brass player.

As an orchestral player he has played Principal Horn with all the major London orchestras and with other UK orchestras including the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the Northern Sinfonia. He also enjoys chamber music and has performed with many ensembles including The London Sinfonietta, The Nash Ensemble, Fine Arts Brass and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. He has given many solo performances including a number of concertos and solo pieces with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales which have been broadcast on Radio and television. Tim is actively involved in coaching and masterclasses for aspiring French horn players both in the UK and abroad. He teaches regularly at The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

BRASS PLAYERS: Be inspired! Register now for Music for Everyone’s Summer School to participate in a workshop masterclass to be given by Simon and Tim. Ask them for guidance and tips on how to develop aspects of your playing and performance. Enjoy their virtuoso concert, which will include  Guilmant’s “Morceu Symphonique” , “Fanfare” by John Kenny, and Weber’s “Romance”. And of course take part in the rest of the Summer School, including playing in the windband and full orchestra, and meeting likeminded players.

We are excited about the School’s new venue of Trent College, Long Eaton. It offers the added option to prebook and purchase hot meals at lunch time. Bed and breakfast accomodation is also available at the College.

Anticipation of the evening concert built throughout the day. It wasn’t possible for all the groups to play every piece studied during the School at the concert, but they enjoyed playing or singing through them for one last time. The orchestra waltzed its way liltingly through Strauss’s Blue Danube.

IMG_5552Baritone Marcus Farnsworth was Wednesday’s guest professional musician. As a local born boy, he sang as a chorister in Southwell Minster.  In 2009 he won first prize in the International Song Competition, and the Song Prize at the 2011 Kathleen Ferrier competion. Marcus arrived fresh from playing Ned Keene in a highly praised staging of Britten’s opera Peter Grimes at the Edinburgh Festival. Five folksongs arranged by Benjamin Britten opened his lunctime recital programme, followed by Gerald Finzi’s song cycle Earth and Air and Rain. The audience was delighted by Marcus’s skilful characterisation of the narrator of each movement. His synthesis of word and music appeared effortless in interpretation and disclosed the true art of performing the musical form, the song. Stefan Reid, who had played for the choir throughout the week, accompanied him with great sensitivity and style.

After a short break, Marcus led the singers in a choral workshop, helping them to develop their technique. A notable point was made about singing consonants. Consonant must be pronouced to convey the lyric, but not in a manner that chops up the phrase. He suggested thinking of consonant as little pegs on a continuous line to anchor rather than break up.

DSC04412Delegates, tutors and staff made their way to the Great Hall in the University of Nottingham’s Trent Building in the late afternoon. After a short break following a final rehearsal, the audience arrived and the singers and musicians took their places. The choir sang such a variety with delicacy and exuberance, including Rutter, Bartok and three songs by our very own Guy Turner. The windband played Old Castle and, combing with the strings, one of Brahms’ Hungarian Dances. The string orchestra and Owen Cox gave a stunningly beautiful performance of Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending. You could have heard a pin drop in Owen’s closing cadenza. Haydn’s The Heavens are Telling, played and sung by all the Schools’ delegates and conducted by Angela Kay, MfE’s founder and Artistic Director, made for an exhilarating end to a wonderful few days of making both music and new friends.

How fitting that the concert took place on the day Nottingham announced its bid to become European Capital of Culture 2023. Catherine Hocking, the University’s Head of Music, Lakeside Arts, said how well the Summer School fitted this brief. As does all the work of Music for Everyone, with its inclusive policy of arts for all.

We are enormously grateful to the University of Nottingham for their generous hospitality. More photographs of the Summer School can be found on Music for Everyone’s Facebook. Summer School will return in 2018!

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DSC04309 (1)The singers began the morning with exercise! MfE’s Vocal Animateur, Victoria Barlow, helped the participants discover the right muscles to engage for good breath control and a supported, rich sound. It certianly did the trick. Notts TV came along and recorded the Windband and interviewed various people. More to follow.

In the afternoon, all who wished to, instrumentalist or singer, attend an open rehearsal with the Cox Quartet. Owen Cox, a former Stringwise participant, his wife Katie Stillman, violist Joe Ichinose and cellist Vanessa Lucas-Smith are world class players, playing with both top orchestras and in smaller ensembles. The session was enthralling as the shaping of the piece, with explanation and discussion, progressed. A rare and privileged insight for the delegates. Owen will be playing the solo in Vaughan Williams’ Lark Ascending, one of the items in tomorrow’s Showcase Concert. This will be a public concert in the Great Hall, Trent Building, University of Nottingham at 6.30pm. Tickets £6. All welcome.

IMG_5515A busy day of rehearsals for all groups – orchestra, string orchestra, Windband, choir – ended with the Cox Quartet performing Beethoven’s Quartet Op. 18, No 6, followed by the contrasting Ravel Quartet in F major. The rich and varied sound qualities of each instrument, the agility and finesse of the players produced electric performances of emotional variety, with that magic that’s made when musicians find something beyond the sum of their individual talents to touch something deep within the listener. A most memorable 45 minutes.

DSC04261140 singers and instrumentalist arrived at the Music Department, University of Nottingham, for the first day of the three day School, now in its third year. After a welcome to all, the players went off to rehearse, and the singers began with a brighten-the-day burst of Haydn’s The heaven’s are telling the glory of God, from his oratorio Creation. Later the strings rehearsed separately, working on Vaughan Williams’ Lark Ascending, while the windband made a great sound with their own repertoire.

The rain dampened the coffee preparations but dried up in time for to the morning break to happen outside, as didIMG_5435 drinks and nibbles followed by lunchtime picnics. John Hess, Chair of Music for Everyone, gave a short talk to begin the afternoon – more about that to follow.

In the afternoon, choir and orchestra put together the instrumental and vocal parts of The heavens are telling. This was a new experience for some of the players, accomapanying asks for different listening and sensitivity skills. There were a few empty chairs in the orchestra as the flute choir – 15 in number – attended a separate workshop with one of the School’s guest musicians, flautist Rachel Holt. She helped them to focus on the detail to be found within the music, sometimes not by actual markings but by what can be felt as the composer’s intention. She highlighted technical aspects of pitch for certain tricky to tune flute notes, articulation and expression.

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After further rehearsals, the day ended with a short concert given by Appasionata, flute and harp duo Rachel Holt and Anna Christenson. Both have played for leading professional orchestras, and the programme included pieces that showcased each instrument. They delighted us all with music from the baroque Benedetto Marcello to the more modern John Marson, himself a renowned harpist.

Music Background.

Do you play a musical instrument or recorder? Then join this summer’s Blow the Dust off Your Instrument on Saturday 10 June for a day of ensemble playing – string orchestra, windband, full orchestra, recorder consort. An addition to the programme this year is guidance in the Alexander Technique to ease the aches of practising and performing. We know we’ll all find it beneficial. Music for the day is sent out in advance and we make sure there are parts for players of all abilities between Grades 2 (or equivalent) and 8 and above. Click here for more information and to book your place. An informal concert for family and friends begins at 5.00pm.

If you’re a singer, then  sign up to be part of the Nottingham Festival Chorus (NFC) for a weekend. Perform a range of works accompanied by the Albert Hall’s mighty Binns organ. This is a rare and not to be missed opporunity. Singing Parry’s ‘I was Glad’ will be a spine tingling, exultant experience. Workshops take place on Saturday and Sunday 24/25 June culimating in a splendid concert of music performed by the Festival Chorus, conducted by Angela Kay, the East of England Singers, with guest conductor Jakob Grubbström, and organist Michael Overbury. There will be an informal and unticketed concert at 3.00pm on Sunday 25 June (note the earlier than usual start time).

Our annual, popular and praised Summer School for adult singers and instrumantalists is now open for booking. This rich three-day experience includes workshops, concerts and masterclasses from visiting professionals, and social events. It takes place in the easily accessible and pleasant surroudings of the University of Nottingham and University Park. Each year the School has been greatly enjoyed by participants both local and from as far afield as the US and Australia! Take a look at the programme and book your place. We look forward to seeing you there. Accommodation for delegates from further afield is not part of the package but the luxury Orchard Hotel located at the other end of the campus is currently offering great rates – £189.60 for THREE nights bed and breakfast.

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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