Alan Shellard drills his new regiment at St Mark’s, Bromley!
Our unsuspecting audience at Musical Offerings on Wednesday 26 October found themselves marching and playing “Turkish ” percussion too.
It was lovely to see Whitgift House Chapel filling with lots of familiar friendly faces at the start of our new Music Matters season on 13 September. Nicoline Kraamwinkel and I set feet tapping with a programme of dances that started in medieval Europe and finished in New Orleans, our musical journey taking in Russian Jewish Klezmer and Argentinian Tango.
Richard Suart has chosen to call his presentation on Tuesday 27 September “Generally G&S” or “I should Ko-Ko”, a typically Gilbertian double title. Richard has recently completed a run of performances of “The Mikado” at the London Coliseum in the latest revival of English National Opera’s hugely successful production. If you look carefully at this picture of Richard as Ko-Ko the Lord High Executioner, a role that Richard has made especially his own, I think you may be able to see the “little list” poking out of his pocket!
The full autumn series of Lecture-Recitals at Whitgift House, 76, Brighton Road, South Croydon, CR2 6AB in The Chapel, 7 for 7.30 – 9.30p.m. costs just £64. It’s not too late to take out a subscription, or you can simply pay £10 on the door on each occasion.
Tuesday 27 September: Richard Suart “Generally G&S” or “I should Ko-Ko” – an evening of reminiscence and song, with baritone favourites from the operettas accompanied by Margaret Archibald at the keyboard.
Tuesday 11 October: Jorge Jimenez “Contrapunctus” – Polyphony for solo violin.
Tuesday 25 October: Alan Shellard and Margaret Archibald “Two of a Kind” – costumed clarinettists in marches and much more.
Tuesday 8 November: Alan George “Beethoven’s last quartets: absolutely contemporary for ever!”
Tuesday 22 November: Stephen Bingham “Lines and Loops” – for violin, electric violin and live-looping.
Tuesday 6 December: Katie Clemmow and Margaret Archibald “Imitation” – exploring a favourite device in the composer’s armoury.
Tuesday 20 December: Gerald Place “Searching for Shakespeare’s Songs” – Gerald sings songs Shakespeare would have known, accompanying himself on the viola da gamba.
There is a second chance to hear Richard Suart, Alan Shellard, Stephen Bingham and Gerald Place who will each appear the next day in our 2.30p.m. Wednesday afternoon series of Musical Offerings at St Mark’s Church Room, Bromley.
Details from Margaret Archibald: 07970 123105; email@example.com
Sarah Stuart and Margaret Archibald were at the Children’s Trust on Monday 23 February before the canteen opened for breakfast, so the bacon sandwiches had to wait! Both were keen to get the large percussion instruments in place for two full days of workshops enabling children and young people with profound and multiple learning difficulties to explore large orchestral percussion instruments. These workshops form part of a series supported by the Lucille Graham Trust and the Red Socks Charitable Trust, their generosity enabling us to visit four schools for children and young people with special needs.
Margaret Archibald writes:
Our hello song had a Latin-American flavour, and Sarah kept the momentum going with a large guiro while I played a short riff on the clarinet as we skipped from one learner to the next, and then sang in harmony with Sarah as we greeted each learner in turn.
Sarah began her demonstration of percussion with the side drum, and we were able to involve learners and staff in joining our marching band with small percussion, and also with two suspended cymbals that hung comfortably just above the level of the tray on each learner’s wheelchair.
Claire and Tim, the resident Music Therapists, both commented that moving wheelchairs across the room in order to get really close to the tam-tam and the bass drum gave learners the cue that something new was about to happen. The muffled thunder resonances of these very large instruments created a palpable change to a darker mood, and when our next item came it was a relief to imagine ourselves jumping on a sleigh with everyone playing bells to accompany the clarinet and xylophone in a musical ride across the Siberian snow.
Having encountered the xylophone the learners were invited to relax and simply listen to a piece featuring the xylophone and clarinet, and then it was time to take part again in “team timps”, with groups of learners in their chairs clustering round each kettle drum to share in creating an exciting and festive noise.
We rounded the session off with a return to our Latin-American song, this time to say goodbye, with everyone playing a favourite percussion instrument.
One of our aims was to create a sense of rehearsal leading to performance.We wanted to establish this pattern early in each session and develop it with each successive repertoire item.
There was a trade-off between allocating time to allow individuals to explore instruments, and covering the full range of musical items to give variety. At our first Monday session, perhaps because everyone was fresh, and with a smaller group of just four learners present, we covered all the items. Later in the day, especially with slightly larger groups, we found we were making choices between items, lingering more on items where learners were taking turns to play large instruments such as the tam-tam and the bass drum. By the Tuesday we found that a pattern had begun to establish itself whereby we spent a lot of time early in the session exploring sounds, and then gathered momentum towards a climax with everyone playing the timpani together.
The hypnotic effect of soft sounds on the tam-tam and bass drum, separately and together, seemed to capture many of the learners, and several showed especial pleasure on hearing the clarinet tones set against the deeper rumble of these very large instruments. Nearly everyone experienced the physical sensation of the tam-tam or bass drum vibrations, either by touching with hands, or through beaters, or from close proximity to the source of the sound through careful positioning of wheelchairs. We were told that this experiencing of vibration tied in with other resonance work that the learners undertake in school.
Wherever possible we created ensemble effects, and at the last session on Monday we discovered that we could effectively cluster groups of learners around each kettle drum, creating a very effective Indian War Dance with everyone drumming together. This was such an exciting sound that we developed this at almost every session on the Tuesday, and one of our morning sessions on Tuesday finished with especially rousing versions of La Réjouissance and the Indian War Dance, the kettle drums giving so much pleasure to staff and learners alike that we continued to use them for the ensuing Goodbye Song.
The Music Therapists told us that the learners are not used to music sessions that last as long as a full hour, but that on this occasion it was good for them to have time for a wide range of activities.
The lunch-time session on the Monday was spent playing folk fiddle music to a large group in the hall, with maximum participation from hand percussion led by the two Music Therapists Claire and Tim who were both able to give their lunch-hour to share this time with everyone. The lunch-time therapy session on the Tuesday was also devoted to folk fiddle and clarinet; we worked in a therapy room with a smaller group of learners who were mostly lying down, some on resonance boards, and for these learners staff were energetic in drumming rhythms on the boards to match the tempo of each new jig or reel.
The school has an open door policy for parents to share time with the children, and it was delightful that one of the younger boys was able to share his session on the Tuesday afternoon with both his parents who took great delight in the chance to play the wide range of instruments. It was lovely to see how much their mood was lifted by sharing in the fun.
Sarah and I were impressed throughout by the willingness of all the staff to engage with each activity; staff help was invaluable in enabling each individual learner to access the different instruments and the different playing techniques to best advantage. We realised that it was important for us as the visiting musicians to make it clear to staff that we really did want them to take part in the music-making in their own right, and not just as support for the learners, as we wanted them to enjoy themselves too. In this way everyone in the room was contributing to the music, lifting the mood and giving greater energy to the results.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 390 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.
Music Matters “Gala Night Viennese Style” Tuesday 18 November 2014 at 7.30p.m. Generously hosted by Whitgift House in the beautiful Chapel that stands just to the left of the main house through the gate to the garden. Mozart wrote his sublime Quintet for Clarinet and Strings towards the end of September 1789. He had first encountered clarinets as a young man on a visit to Mannheim and he wrote to his father in great excitement to tell him how wonderful the orchestra sounded with clarinets in it. Later he was to be inspired by his friendship with clarinettist and fellow freemason Anton Stadler to write a series of great masterpieces for the clarinet, and his Quintet K.581 was referred to by Mozart himself as “Stadler’s Quintet”. On Tuesday 18 November you can explore Mozart’s inspirational work in the company of string players Nicoline Kraamwinkel and Martin Smith (violins) Chian Lim (viola) and Julia Desbruslais (‘cello) with Margaret Archibald (clarinet). The evening will begin with a movement of Mozart’s Quartet in C major K465, the so-called “Dissonance” completed in 1785 and the last of a set inspired by Haydn. Mozart enjoyed playing quartets with other musician friends and colleagues who were resident in Vienna at that time; after hearing the line-up of Haydn, Wanhal, Dittersdorf and Mozart playing quartets together, one mutual friend commented afterwards that “there was no little science among them!” Wanhal, who played ‘cello in Mozart’s quartet of friends, was himself a composer who wrote a number of charming pieces for the clarinet, including a Quartet for clarinet, violin, viola and ‘cello of which the Finale will be performed this evening. The inner workings of a musical score can be fascinating and apparently mysterious, but we hope to draw out the strands that make up the texture of Mozart’s Quintet K. 581 to show how magically he weaves his musical fabric. Mozart wrote lots of music for social occasions, dances and parties, and he would surely have applauded our desire to discover some fine Viennese wines alongside his wonderful music. Our Gala night features two wines grown and made in Vienna and especially chosen for us by the Wine Society whose tasting notes seem irresistible: Schloss Maissau Weinviertel Grüner Veltliner 2013: from the Weinviertel DAC this grüner has a mineral, white-pepper, spice and quince aroma.There is a little spritz adding to the fresh crisp mouthfeel, lime and more white pepper on the palate and finish. Hans Igler Zweigelt Classic 2011: generous, rounded blackberry and spice-fruited Austrian red with typical hint of pepper on the palate. Cakes by Rita, made in Bromley using traditional Viennese recipes, will complement the wine, and juice and sparkling water will also be available. Whitgift House, 76, Brighton Road, South Croydon CR2 6AB in The Chapel, 7 for 7.30 – 9.30p.m. Entry £20 – Cash, or cheque payable to “Everyone Matters”, in advance or on the door. Enquiries to Margaret Archibald on 020 8464 1645; 07970 123105; firstname.lastname@example.org All proceeds from ticket sales and from refreshments will go towards Everyone Matters for its informal concerts in nursing homes, day centres and community venues for older and disabled people, for its workshops bringing participation in live music-making to children with learning difficulties in special schools, for its intergenerational projects where young musicians share their music-making alongside professionals for audiences of older people, and to develop the current series of Music Matters lecture-recitals of which this evening forms a part. Finding Whitgift House Chapel Whitgift House stands in the grounds of Whitgift School, but with its own gate on Brighton Road. Do not go up the hill to the school. If you are standing on the drive facing the house, you will see to the left of the house a large wrought iron gate leading through into part of the garden. The chapel is accessed by going into the garden through this gate, and then going through the very first door on your left. Everyone Matters: a company limited by guarantee no. 07450130; registered charity no. 1143445
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