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Phoenix Concert Band

Autumn Concert

Phoenix Concert Band
St George's Church, Great George Street, Leeds LS1 3BR
Saturday 14th November 2020

Leeds College of Music Wind Ensemble


Leeds College of Music Wind Ensemble
Monday 30th November 2020

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Article: Ongoing Article

Conductor\'s Diary May 2007

27th May

Now on a nice break! It gave me quality time to work on the new piece and it is now over 100 bars long and has what I think is an ending. I have a few alternative views of how the ending should work but I emailed one version to Eduard to see what he thinks of it. I have put a Sibelius File here which might play. When I tried it, it sounded like a koto group was playing the music. By all means take a look though.

It will probably lend itself well to alternative instrumentation as well. Maybe another sax version, as Harlequin Dances transferred to the genre quite well. I will email a copy to Equinox perhaps!


Well I listened and listened and then decided to write a version with a more reflective ending. I wonder if groups would like both endings so that they could choose according to the audience. Maybe one for the local Conservative club and the more serious one for the WMC. I don\'t know. I will try out both with Harlequin after half term. Bartok had two endings for his Concerto for Orchestra although they rather add on to one another; and who, in their right minds would miss out on an extra bit of his music??

25th May

Last night was the last of the conductors\' assessments at Phoenix and by the end the group was responding to every conductor in a totally different way; even on the same pieces. Some conductors verbally requested more dynamics and contrast then proceeded to conduct everything ff. The band simply played as directed and it really has done them good. Not only that, they gained a new player, as I had hoped.

It was hard work but it will certainly show benefits in a great many ways.

This week I started writing a new work for Harlequin Brass which describes a S Yorks mining village in the 21st century with it\'s industrial wasteland and people who were scrapped also in the late eighties. The subject is close to the hearts of all brass players and I am happy with the results so far.

Soon it will be half term and time to really recharge the batteries. It has been very tough recently to keep all the plates spinning.

23rd May

A slightly easier Wednesday as LCM have finished for now and all the students are involved in exams. I can catch up with some CPD at school and whiz down to do Harlequin in the evening; provided they have a full turn out. An enquiry has come in from BASBWE about a possible appearance for one of the groups at the conference in July at the academy in Glasgow. It would be nice to do it but I fear that the short notice might make it difficult for a large group to get itself up there, stay overnight, play a great concert then rush back. I have put it to the management of NSWO and YWO. Part of the problem is that both groups have no rehearsal this weekend as it is spring bank holiday. We shall see.

In many ways the opportunity would have been good for the National Saxophone Choir of Great Britain as they are used to whizzing around and doing concerts. It depends what sort of state they are in and whether they could get a programme up to scratch for such an occasion.

22nd May

Good rehearsal in Nottingham at the weekend! The band is preparing for another concert and a lot of new music is appearing on the stand. We spent a long time cleaning up parts of an old arrangement which was quite heavily scored. Part of the skill in playing these pieces with a symphonic style wind orchestra is to create space in the score by carefully prioritising parts, not playing right through longer notes, balancing and phrasing. This one took much longer than expected to clear the clutter up.

The ofsted report has come out very well. Maybe now we can concentrate on teaching rather than proving that we are teaching.

18th May

Last night Phoenix played really well for the Leeds College of Music conductor assessments. They showed patience resolve and stamina and to their credit the young musicians did very well.

Today at IGS year 13 left the school for the final time. My tutor group were all around to thank the staff and myself with some nice cards and presents. We had cake and snacks and off they went to the pub. Some of them even came to the last orchestra rehearsal.

They are lovely young adults now and it made me quite proud to see them looking so assured and confident on a day when the school received a very favourable OFSTED report.

In the afternoon, GCSE listening for year 11 who have also left. They also came to orchestra on the same day as the exam. True, future GNUs in training!

17th May

Yesterday was another busy day with the ofsted inspection going on at the school and the rehearsal in Leeds followed by the YWO concert in Sheffield. I think everything went well and I will report on the concert in another article. In the end it was over 16 hours of work or driving and the M1 was awash with spray. Some of the orchestra went for a curry in Ranmoor after the concert. I would have liked that but with another busy day today I made the sensible decision to head for home.

15th May

A good rehearsal last night with the YWO!

Things are starting to fall into place and some players are starting to fall by the wayside. It will take time to get the group settled with the most effective and reliable players and it is great to see the ones who take over showing such musical skill and fortitude. Last night some of the magic of the YWO returned. Bits of the Moorside second movement were excellent with Jayne and Brian showing why they have been there since day one. We need to sort out some intonation and balance issues but saying that, the room is very tough to play in and exposes rather a lot.

I recommend hearing the YWO at Ranmoor on Wednesday evening!

14th May

Two good concerts at the weekend and quite a lot to report. I will update as soon as time will allow.

12th May

To the already busy week; add a visit from ofsted. Or did I just dream it?

11th May

A busy week with exam coursework deadlines, sending off work for moderation, and recovering from Germany. Most students\' work came in on time but some late submissions have caused extreme stress.

Phoenix hosted some more LCM conductors and again treated them with tremendous empathy and warmth, even though the players have almost had enough of October; which is a shame because it is a quality piece. One conductor conducted so low down that it might have been some knitting that was happening. The bad simply played through the tempo/metre changes anyway, probably sending the message that this conducting lark must be really easy after all.

A message to the Phoenix players:

There can only be benefits to the group from helping these young musicians. Reputation, publicity, community profile and recruitment all come to mind. I know how hard these sessions are and you have grown in stature as a result of the two so far. The next two sessions are simply an assessment for each conductor. Thanks K

There has been some guestbook input from Germany. All messages are welcome!

There are still three concerts to do and some rehearsals before this time next week. No rest for the wicked!

7th May

Back from Germany, stiff, tired; much to report. Updates to the site will follow very soon!

The concert in Germany

5th May

Off to Germany, slightly stiff after the football.

4th May

Last night, the conductors from LCM enjoyed conducting the Phoenix band and the players responded warmly to their efforts.

They were given encouragement, advice and guidance; also a warm welcome. It is interesting that in wanting to do their best for the students, the band played extremely well. The whole experience was beneficial to all.

The rest of Friday was a nightmare of prizing coursewrok out of year 12 students. I never stopped literally from 8.00am till 4.00pm.
Then a nice game of footie and two goals scored through pent up frustration.

3rd May

Leeds College of Music rehearsal went quite well with a reasonable attendance for a busy Wednesday. The traffic on the way home was a nightmare as was the champions league match.

I met Bob Ashworth and it was nice to see him after afew years. I also met Richard Ingham who is really enjoying his visits to China. We had a nice chat about NSC.

Tonight, John Anderson will bring some trainee conductors to the Phoenix rehearsal which I hope will be very good for the players in the band; and the conductors of course. I am pretty happy with the music for the concert on May 12th and it is all pieces that we have played out many times so it will be good to give the band a different challenge for a few weeks. They will bring three pieces along which the band will enjoy playing.

1st May

Mayday! Well at least May morning. Last night, YWO rehearsed in Wakefield. One or two missing players, actually too many for my liking. There were deps but they can cause problems of their own sometimes: double whammy!

The orchestra had to work hard last night and people were certainly tired and hot. Perhaps the inertia of the first concert is over and now we have to get down to serious work on tuning, ensemble, phrasing, thinking and physically getting to know the orchestra\'s character. I too was tired after a long day and I can understand the sort of pressure players are under. I need to turn this into a quality ensemble for Ranmoor.

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