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.
After 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.
Owen 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!