Monday, 18 August 2014

Song Free Zone......

It will be a little quiet in Paradise for a week or so as I'm going South to spend some time with family and friends.........bear with me !

It will be a singing free time, in readiness for starting the term on Sept 1st ! Lots to come in the new term, a ladies concert, always fun combined with excellent food, and a big concert later in the term.

Some changes in pupil personel, some moving on and some changing schools. September is always full of surprises !



Saturday, 16 August 2014

Annabel's Day

We had a lovely short concert this afternoon. It was a day organised by Chris, the husband of our Inner Sound member Annabel, who sadly passed away earlier in the year. This was not meant to be a repeat of the darker musical moments at her funeral, but a joyful time full of good food, good friends and good music !

We put together 30 mins of song which reflected the last concert at which Annabel was a singer, and even though there were only around a dozen singers available, they did me proud ! It was informal, happy and fun as well as requiring some small amount of concentration for the part songs. I also broke my life rule in teaching, and let the singers use files with music in them. For 12 singers to sing the Verdi Va Pensiero from Nabucco was a big ask, so I felt the security of having the Italian text was a judicious move !

All the choral pieces were very good, and the sound rang around the Ardvaser Village Hall which delighted me. Naomi gave us her beautiful old chestnut 'Fly Home Little Heart' by Novello, and brought tears to many of the eyes of the listeners, and Laurie gave his final pre Conservetoire Skye performance, singing a decisive 'The Vagabond' by VW. Morag and Pam sang a lovely 'Evening Prayer' from Hansel and Gretel but Humperdinck, and even given a few lost words, it was a beautifully controlled performance.

We had a super flute solo and a Durufle Requiem aria performed by two of Annabel's god daughters, which were delightful, and it was so appropriate that they joined in the performance.

All in all, a fitting and quietly pleasing way to remember Annabel. The spread was typically Highland - delicious cakes and pastries, non of which I could eat, so I cheated rather and took some of the rolls and surreptitiously removed the tuna and ham fillings and enjoyed eating that along with some excellent Skye Salmon pate !

Thanks to everyone who could make it, and be pleased with the way you performed. Sometimes, doing these things for reasons other than 'applause', makes for great and memorable occasion.

Annabel and friends after a concert.

Below, today after the music stopped !

Naomi and Naomi - same birthday, same name.........will the tiny one become the singer her namesake is ?

(Daughter of a god daughter....)


Thursday, 14 August 2014

Sir Peter Maxwell Davies and other charming chaps in the music business !

I was at Cromarty yesterday to see a past pupil sing in an opera specially written for children with the addition of a couple of more mature roles. It was a version of 'Cinderella' written on this occasion by Peter Maxwell Davies. It was very interesting indeed. The company obviously apply for Arts Grants to put on the show so they had a small orchestra and a percussion department of around 6 people !

I don't know if any of my readers know Britten's 'The Little Sweep', but if anyone does then it would be fair to say that this opera was the 21st century equivelant of that children's opera written over 60 years ago !

It had parts and choruses for all ages and there were some delightful 5 and 6 year old cats, as well as some very amusing teenage roles for the, in this story, three ugly sisters each with a stupid and funny male follower !

M played the mother of the ugly trio, Widow Grumble, and did a fine job with the Brittenesque writing. It definitely needed a bigger and more resonant voice for this role, as sometimes it was tricky to hear the slender voices of the teens over the orchestra. That meant a few words were somewhat lost. Given it was the well known fairy tale, we all still got the gist, but I felt that there were probably some very witty lyrics which I missed. The ever present problem with children's productions is that whilst the young singers are very well prepared, accurate and in tune, they simply do not have the resonance to sing over a gaggle instruments played by adults.

The music was such fun, pastiche jazz, along with some gorgeous 5/4 melodies which were tricky and creative, and then some catchy waltzes and lots of simple chorus tunes for the very young singers. They used simple scenery which magically transformed from kitchen to ballroom very quickly, but on the whole it was a non complicated and clever use of the church building.

The work had its premiere as part of the St Magnus Festival on the Orkney Isles in 1980 using pupils fom the primary and high schools of Kirkwall. Coincidentally I have a good friend and past colleague at the JRAM whose partner, and thus also a friend, is the now Director of the St Magnus International Festival ! Alisdair Nicholson is a fine composer and conductor himself who has promoted much music making in this part of the world, as well as being a well known London musician ! His partner David Knotts is also a masterful composer, conductor and all round wonderful accompanist.

Actually my strongest memory of David is of a petite and sweet teenager with a huge shock of curly hair, who studied at the JRAM when I was teaching there ! I am told we travelled up on the same train, as he came from Chichester, but I don't recall seeing him on my many journeys.

Most likely I was fast asleep after blindly stumbling on the train at 6.35am ! Sorry David !

Sir Peter Maxwell Davies

Alisdair Nicholson ( not yet quite a Sir !)

David Knotts (minus curls!)


Monday, 11 August 2014

The Mikado for your delectation !

I thought I would put up those photos that I have of the show ! Ups and downs on the journey, but a total triumph, and boy was I proud !

PS It is Aug 11th and on the tail of Hurricane Bertha is it 11degrees, windy and torrential rain so I have put the stove on ! Must be a record !












A midsummer flame ?!? Climate change or what !