Recent Articles

Read through my most recent articles:

See a full list of articles.

RSS Feed Subscribe to latest articles.


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

See more upcoming events.



Listen to my thoughts, ideas and compositions via my new podcast.

+iTunes +ZENCast +Zune +My Yahoo!

RSS Feed Subscribe to podcast.

Article: Ongoing Article

Conductor\'s Diary July 2007

31st July

Back from a fantastic holiday! Sun, sea, sand, good food, nice wine, lovely place and guess what? Yes the rain in the UK has also gone. This time last year I was working very hard at NYWES after driving straight from the airport after returning from Italy. I feel 100% better this year and quite chilled.

21st July

Raining! Heavily!

20th July: The end of term! Today the school closes and I will get some rest for a while.

Last night, Phoenix had a good natured rehearsal, playing some interesting pieces. Brian Frost is going to the Canford conducting course and he has obtained copies of some of the repertoire to be studied. One piece, \"A John Gay Suite\" by Buxton Orr is full of interesting challenges for the conductor although they are all logical and musical. The middle movements can be quite haunting and uplifting. Hopefully it has been chosen for the interpretive challenges in the music rather than just a challenge for beaters of time! To be honest most people can learn the changes and stick them out, the challenge comes when they have to react to events; like a player taking too long on a crotchet in a 5/8 bar, then they have to know the score and have the experience to pull it all together. Canford is good for that if a tad prescriptive. This is the end of the conductor\'s diary for now as I am having a little break unless the LSO phone up! (hmmm) I will update articles and things throughout the holiday as my mind clears and I climb stiffly onto my high horse on a few issues. Thanks to those who have constantly fed back to me on email and guestbook. Even when we have disagreed I really need the feedback and the banter. Every word is simply the day to day thoughts of a busy conductor working and learning constantly striving against traffic, weather, schedules, musical challenges and trying to make a difference. I can say that in this academic year I have tried to please everyone and shown the inevitable impossibility of that task.

19th July: Still looking at repertoire for next year; both for the workshop in October and new works for the YWO to do. I also want to place Radio Days into a concert somewhere so that a recording can be made with a view towards publication of the work. I also need to research the issue of copyright regarding the three tiny radio announcements that link the work on CD. I also need to look into publication of the brass version of Harlequin Dances and Closure, as well as the very different saxophone version of Closure which is being played by Equinox at the moment. There is still no progress on the publication of the large sax version of Harlequin Dances, so I need to look into alternatives there, as YSC want to play it. The show written last year, \"Live at the Empire\" with Kathie McClelland is being considered for performance by a school in Dewsbury. I have sent them the Sib. files, a DVD and the script and Sally Stow, the head of music said that she wanted to perform it, so that is really good news. There is nothing worse than writing music which just doesn\'t get played or heard. I will deal with those things during the break and after a nice holiday.

Torrential rain predicted for tomorrow in many areas. Big surprise!

17th July: A rather rushed trip to the YWO rehearsal after Toby the Dog had to be whizzed to the vet as he was squeaking when he walked around. He has to go back on Wednesday.

The YWO worked very hard on some challenging repertoire but the music was taking shape enough to cause people to whistle bits of John McCabe on the way out of the venue!

The players have attended very well and improved as a unit with every rehearsal. It takes time to make an ensemble blend and the twice monthly rehearsal is still a new idea to us. We are all ready for a break until September but after that I am sure that the group will grow in stature and confidence.

16th July: Yesterday was the NSWO concert at Nottingham University\'s Djanogly Recital Hall. I set off allowing over two hours to get there and needed every minute. The M1 was a nightmare with standing traffic from J 33 down to 29.

After a short rehearsal to adapt to the room the group settled well and were clearly enjoying the performance. It is a good room for chamber music and a little bit small for a full wind orchestra. The band did exercise some control but it was inevitable that there would be some powerful moments. I do not mind that, as it is a part of the wind orchestra\'s voice, however, it is also essential to have moments of peaceful reflective playing and NSWO tried hard to ensure that this contrast was a feature of the evening. The temperature was rising by the end and this had less of an impact on intonation than in previous concerts. I really feel that this group goes from strength to strength and after the workshop in October; which I will write about in more detail soon, they should have stepped up yet another level.

Elements like full dynamic control, and careful control of intonation is easier for the the top players in a group. When the less experienced players begin to be more skilled in these areas, then the orchestra starts to feel and hear the difference.

I should like to thank all the players in NSWO, all the fantastic supporters who work tirelessly to make every rehearsal work, Margaret and David who live and breath NSW and all the stalwart audience members who support the group time after time. We had a good year; we will build on it!

If the M1 was a nighmare on the way, on the way home it was hell! Torrentail rain, lightening, standing water, spray, nutters, more nutters and more torrentail rain meant it was a white knuckle ride all the way to Leeds.

This morning my eyes and all my muscles are tired; not from conducting or rehearsing; just from driving through that deluge for two hours. Roll on the Summer! A few weeks of sun and fun, a glass of wine in a Jaccuzzi overlooking the Med, another chance to see if I can actually manage to mount a li-lo in a swimming pool. (I love a challenge.)

15th July: Raining!

The Phoenix Band park concert in Leeds has just been called off due to inclement weather. The band knew as everyone did that it could not happen and the weather info was quite clear. Leeds council insists that the group appears and stays until start time to qualify for the fee even though it was clearly never going to happen. Do they realise the distance people travel, the car journey from as far away as Barnsley? The huge, avoidable carbon footprint that might have helped save the planet if we all used a little more common sense. Still, it is a small part of a tiny bit of a drop in the ocean compared to the emerging nations omissions. Still , annoying! Off to Nottingham now for the Djanogly Concert. Now 3 out of 4 outdoor concerts have been called off or postponed this year! Even the ducks have had enough.

12th July: Still raining! Last night was a school Summer Concert. It all went quite well and I was home by 11.00pm but I had to miss the Harlequin rehearsal which was a full one. I hate thinking of a group having to go without a conductor but the school thing has to happen and the bookings depend on so many factors. Harlequin are pretty adept at making progress without me and they have a programme to prepare for a gig during my foriegn trip so it may not be a problem to prepare in this way.

There is now just one more concert before the summer break and I must say I am ready for a rest.

Tonight, Phoenix will be conducted by Brian Frost, who will take them in the park concert on Sunday whilst I travel to Nottingham. I hate clashes but they seem to be a fact of life and I just have to deal with them as best I can.

8th July: NSWO had the last rehearsal of the season before the concert next week. The concert programme is full of variety in both style and content. The group seem to thrive on diversity and make a real attempt to adapt to the stylistic complexities of each work.

They progressed in so many was over the last 12 months. They lend respect to each piece no matter how light the music may be, the sound is more mature and refined, there is a better phrase line now with smoother, more cohesive articulation. These are fundamental improvements which make the overall sound of the group more professional and mature.

We will be working next year to alert players to intonation and balance to further refine these elements and we shall return to more serious repertoire for the November concert and the workshop.

At the end of a session one tends to think, \"have I made a difference here? Would it be a lasting difference if I moved on and left the group as it is right now?\"

Somehow with this orchestra I think it would be a positive answer because they keep their players well and they have a great ethos and a very good attitude.

I am looking forward to a good concert next week and I hope that a lot of people come along to to support the event.

3rd July: YWO rehearsed a serious mix of music yesterday and it was plain that we have been missing the type of repertoire that the group used to specialise in. However it is clear that these works will not be all that audience friendly. I am sure that the Bedford will work as I have used it before and once the group settle into the style it will be good. I still need to strike the right balance between music for the players and music for the audience.

1st July: I feel like going to the pub to see if it looks different without the pall of smoke. I saw the results of the ban in Scotland and for me, it was very positive. Why though, is England always the last to bring in brave legislation?

The NSWO concert last night was cancelled and today we had lots of music to roll over to the concert in two weeks. The band worked hard and the programme is quite physically demanding.

Lucy had pictures of the floods in Sheffield and they can be seen on her website, a link to which is available here. There is a lot of enthusiasm for some sort of fund-raiser for the families who need financial help after these floods.

Site produced by
Pocketsite Design 2006-2013

© Keiron Anderson 2006-2020
All rights reserved