The Summer School short concerts by visiting musicians, and the masterclasses each of them P1110261gave, were a different experience for those of us who sing or play regularly with Music for Everyone. They enabled us not only to hear wonderful performances but to then learn how to improve our own technique and performance.

Carris, a mezzo-soprano, read history at Cambridge while also singing as a choral scholar with the excellent Trinity College choir. Afterwards she studied singing and performance at the Royal Academy. She performed Robert Schumann’s song-cycle Frauenliebe und Leben for us with great expression and to the delight of the audience. Timothy Uglow accompanied her with great sensitivity. Such a beautiful performance that emphasised again points made by many of the tutors – the importance of posture, facial expression and engaging the audience.

Four singers (apologies if I missed anyone, I slipped out to the strings for a time), bravely sang their solo pieces to the whole choir. Carris helped each of them points of difficulty in the music or their vocal technique, be that breath control, enunciation or performing rather than singing the notes. The difference Carris’s suggestions made could be heard as the delegates sang again some or all of their pieces. Inspirational, and a big bravo to them all!

Joan, Jeanne (whose hand Carris is holding to swing at the breathing points!), Catherine and Paul.



Three masterclass opportunities are included in the Summer School. A masterclass is where an individual receives tuition while others watch, listen and learn. Sarah Watts offered a masterclass for wind and brass players.

P1110221Before the masterclass, Sarah gave a concert of contemporary music for the clarinet, including a piece for bass clarinet. Her enthusiasm for performance drew us, the audience, into sounds and styles that were new to many of us. She played with vibrancy, delicacy, force, percussively, with the use of harmonics (sounding two notes at once) and always with great musicality.

Sarah’s second piece was Pierre Boulez’ Domaines pour Clarinet. It requires 7 music stands. On one is the anchoring music, and on the other six sections of the piece that shift yet relate. The music of these stands, placed around the performance space, are to be played from left to right or in another direction. The musician chooses the order in which to visit each stand, revisiting each a second time to play the score in the other direction before returning to the ‘facing the audience stand’ for the close of the piece.  I imagine no two performances of the piece can ever be the same, a true collaboration between the composer, musician and audience, who travel the path of composer and musician both with eyes and ears. Goodness, that was hard to describe! I can assure you it sounds extraordinary and amazing. Google it if you would like to know more.

Yesterday, in Back to Basics, we talked about time and key signatures, bar lines etc. Boulez has ‘liberated’ the piece from these. Here’s a picture of Sarah’s score. NB – this is what a pencil is for! P1110224

When I dropped in on the masterclass, Sarah was offering advice about genres of music suited to a particular stage of learning, and the use of the breath.

Here with Sarah are clarinetists Jennifer and Angela, and trumpeter Richard:

To find out more about Sarah, visit her website.

Did I say this would be a blog sandwich? Make that a triple decker. Owen Cox and the string masterclass will follow after coffee.