140 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 did 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.
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.