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.

This year’s Learning Disabilities Week (17-24 June, 2018) is all about health, with a big focus on the Treat Me Well Campaign. This aims to transform the way the NHS treats people with a learning disability in hospital.

There is much evidence that singing is good for EVERYONE’S health and wellbeing – physically, psychologically and socially.

Music for Everyone determined to offer aDf9GpFbXcAAbdL5 vocal programme – Open Voices – particularly suited to adults with learning disabilities. When the first group started in Sherwood, led by Cliff McArdle and Victoria Barlow, it wasn’t known how many people would come along or whether it would work, but they did and it does! Cliff and Vic engage the choir members in singing an enjoyable range of popular songs. Many singers know the words already, some read them from the projection and others hum along, tap their toes or sway to the music. The group has a mid-session break for a cuppa and chat.

With the success of the programme’s format in Sherwood, a second group opened in West Bridgford, and now there is a third in Beeston. Angela Kay’s younger daughter, Sarah Trevers, has joined the Open Voices music leaders’ team. Singers, volunteer helpers, carers and staff head home feeling that the world is a better place for music and friendship, and with spirits uplifted.

Here’s what Open Wings has noticed about their friends who come to sing at Sherwood Open Voices:

An individual who would never smile now carefully spreads her mouth wide shows her teeth and let’s out a little giggle. An individual who uses a wheelchair, has no verbal communication, but sits next to the piano taking in every single note the wonderful pianist plays, her eyes alight with joy. A unique individual that communicates only through verbal noises volunteering to sing a solo and being so clear when singing Hallelujah! An older man with Aspergers, joining in and singing Let’s go fly a kite, arms up in the air, and clapping his heart out to Lilly the Pink the pink the pink, and a Spoonful of sugar, as he remembered days gone by. A solo of Don’t you want me baby and another of Joseph! Absolutely wonderful to watch the joy on every single participants face.

Such is the power of music! This wonderful project has been made possible through our partnership with Open Wings and Reach and by generous donations from groups and individuals. We are delighted that Mapperley Open Gardens 2018 has made Open Voices one of its three charities this year. The East of England Singers will be singing at one of the participating gardens – 31 Richmond Drive, Sunday 8 July – to assist with the fund-raising.

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.

This week sees the first session of a NEW Open Voices group. These singing groups are particularly suited to adults with learning disabilities – those who come along have a fun time singing, making friends and acquiring new skills and confidence. The first choir started in Sherwood last year, the second in West Bridgford earlier this year, and now – fanfare please – a third begins in Beeston on Tuesday 19 April. Open Voices’ sessions brim with joy and everyone goes away from them feeling uplifted – singers, staff, volunteers and care workers.

The picture above says it all!

I’m getting more and more confident and singing is really helping with my speech. When we perform it’s scary, but I love it and when you’ve done it for a while you get better at it.”
Toni, an adult with learning disabilities, writing in the Guardian.

Below is a link to the full article, which we feel sure will leave everyone eager to spread the word about these groups and to support Open Voices – sometimes volunteers are needed and donations to sustain the project are always welcome.

Guardian article: Music can transform the lives of people with learning disabilities

For information about the times and locations of the Open Voices choirs, click here.

Saturday 3rd February 2018, 7.30pm | Albert Hall

Angela Kay MBE | Artistic Director

Victoria Barlow | Guest Conductor, East of England Singers

Nottingham Festival Chorus, East of England Singers and Nottingham Concert Orchestra

What’s interesting about this concert:

  • The Nottingham Festival Chorus of 220 singers is likely be the largest choir to perform a choral work of Carmina Burana’s scale in Nottingham this year. Experiencing this music (often used in films and TV) from a seat in the audience is a thrilling and uplifting experience.
  • Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll, peformed by the orchestra, and Whitacre’s Five Hebrew Love Songs, sung by the East of England Singers, are sensual works born of love: Wagner’s for his wife, Cosima, daughter of composer Franz Liszt, and Whitacre’s for his then girlfriend, now wife, the poet and soprano Hila Plitmann.
  • Carmina Burana, meaning Songs of Beuern, is the title of both the collected 13th century poems Carl Orff used as his text and of his composition. The choir sings words in Latin, Middle High German, Old Provencal and Old French. (We always provide translations in our programmes.) The themes of the poems are as familiar in the 21st century as they were when first written: the fickleness of fortune and wealth, the mystery of life, the joy of the return of Spring, and the pleasures and perils of drinking, gluttony, gambling and lust.
  • Singing in a choir and listening to classical music have been shown to improve mental and physical wellbeing. During rehearsals our singers are learning useful Latin phrases from the poems, such as ‘In taberna quando sumas non curamus quid sit humus’, which means ‘When we are in the pub, we do not think how we will go to dust!’

Click here for further information and tickets.

You did it! THANK YOU for all your votes for our Aviva Community Fund bid, Sound Waves. Because of you, we are through to the next round – the judging panel. We’ll hear their decision at the end of January and will let you know.

image1So HAVE A BISCUIT – baked by EOES alto, Karen – at the jolly East of Singers concert, ‘A Village Christmas’ in St Mary’s, Bunny, 7.30pm Saturday 2 Dec. There will be carols spanning 600 years, a wassail cup and biscuits, readings, and carols for you to join in singing. Tickets online here today and tomorrow, or by phoning the office on 0115 958 9312  From Saturday, tickets on the door only, so book early to secure a seat.

MfE 2Music for Everyone is supporting the CHRISTMAS TREE FESTIVAL at All Saints Church, Steeple Row, Loughborough.  Pop along to visit the stunning church, decorated with over 130 trees, plus craft stalls and the all important coffee and cake stall! Ends this Sunday. You’ll find a warm welcome, and we hope we’ll inspire more folk join our Loughborough Daytime Choir on Mondays 10.00-12.00, or our Daytime Orchestra, Tuesdays 10.00-12.00. For more information on these groups please visit our website

And talking of SINGING, why not come to the Market Square – the steps of the Council House – to sing traditional carols and entertain the city? 10.30am-12noon on Saturday 9 December. There will be no need for you to bring Carol books as you will be provided with the brand new MfE Carol Collection! All singers welcome, bring your friends. Angela Kay will be conducting – perhaps with the help of a grandchild or six. The fair leaves us to entertain customers and kindly turns off its own music. Nothing stops us, so wrap up warm!

 

 

 

peter-kleinau-424349We are delighted to announce that the winner of the first Music for Everyone writing competition is Christine Cleave, with her beautiful poem, Lorica. All entries were works inspired by the East of England Singers’ October concert ‘Southern Suns, Northern Lights’.

A Lorica, taking its name from the Latin for a shield or armour, is a prayer for recitation before battle engraved into the shield or breastplate of a knight. The story goes that St Patrick and his followers evaded ambush in a forest by reciting such a prayer, which miraculously led to their foes not seeing them as knights passing by but as a doe and twenty fawns, hence this Lorica’s other name, The Deer’s Cry, which the choir performed in a setting by Arvo Pärt.

Lorica

I had thought content a warm thing,
As I sat at the back, fresh from the colour of carnival.
But, in the place where music severs the kite string,
I was caught in the sway of sound
And rode the wave that stretched across the sanctuary.
I heard the eerie bird call in the gloom, saw the rush of the sea with scarcely visible glint,
And the shiver of sea pebbles relaxing against one another.
It was all there in the hearing.

Then I was a deer moving among the straight forest trees,
Each step crisp, then suddenly freezing,
In safety when I should have been afraid.

At the end I watched a stone drop near the lake’s edge.
Knew the long hush, the slow exhalation,
As the ripple spreads, reaching the shore
At the very moment when it is no more.

I touched all these things in my soul.

To lose oneself in the cooler harmonies – that too is serenity,
The calm of a Northern soul’s content.

Christine Cleave, 2017 ©

The judges were impressed by Christine’s imaginative response to the various contemporary pieces comprising the Northern Lights section of the programme. They particularly liked how her words captured the chordal structure and alternating sung and silent passages of Pärt’s The Deer’s Cry, likening them to the trees of the forest, and the movement then sudden stillness of the deer. The effect of Christine’s poem is similar to that of music itself – it carries the reader, the listener, beyond the moment to be uplifted and changed. Many congratulations, Christine.

Heather Hawthorn, with her pictorial poem Memories Return, is awarded a runner-up prize. The many locations of the concert’s programme transported Heather back to holidays past, which she captured in both words and pictures, showing how ‘music brings back memories’.Memories Return by Heather Hawthorn

Heather Hawthorn, 2017 ©

This will be very short because we’d love you to hop over to the blog of Open Wings and discover what Open Voices means to their amazing community. Take a tissue with you.

But before you go… Have you voted to enable us to form more Open Voices groups in other locations, to take music into the Teenage Cancer Trust unit at Nottingham Children’s Hospital, QMC, and for other music for wellbeing projects? Thank you if you have, but if you haven’t you have ONE DAY left! Voting for the Aviva Community Fund closes first thing Tuesday. So vote, vote, vote.  CLICK HERE to do it now. Ask your family, your friends, your cat (who just needs an email address) etc to do it too.

Voting done? Fly off to Open Wings.