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Sunday 17th September 2017
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Article: Conductor\'s Diary October 2007

October 2007

October 2007

31st October

The cold finally got me; or at least the lack of quality sleep and fatigue. I had to ring in sick! I don\'t believe it! Of course colds of mine are much worse than anyone else\'s cold. It stands to reason! Not just a runny nose; a full all over complete and thorough cold. I had to miss Harlequin too. It is so annoying!

29th October

The success or failure of the NSWO rehearsal workshop was always going to depend on four things: The attitude of the players, the quality of the tutors, the functionality of the workspace and the quality of the music. I was sure that we had everything right and that the weekend would prove to be beneficial to the group as players and as an ensemble.

The planning and organisation was done brilliantly. The tutors were excellent, the players made a huge and honest effort to get the very best out of the venture. The venue was very good and the music grew in quality as the course progressed.

In the light of what I wanted to see achieved, this weekend has to be declared as a resounding success. The final rehearsal showed the orchestra to be mature and musical, controlled and intelligent with an assurance that will surely serve them well in the 20th anniversary concert next week.

The tutors enjoyed working with NSWO, describing them as having a real integrity about their approach to their music. They were inspired by the honest effort and hard work done by their sections and this brought out the best in these accomplished players and teachers. The tutors were full of praise for the organisation, the organisers and myself which has helped to assure us that we are all doing our jobs properly.

Socially, the weekend was a terrific experience only dampened slightly by my annoying sore throat which really did not help at all. That, however, is the only negative thing I can think of to add. There had to be a \"but\" didn\'t there?


22nd October

If you want to buy a copy of the Equinox CD, and I do recommend it; here is a link to Alistair Parnell\'s site where you can buy online.

http://www.aparnell.com/

21st October

Last night I thought it might be nice to go to the theatre and once the Sky+ box was set to record the rugby we set off to see Don Quixote at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. I was shocked to see so many empty seats in the place for a production at one of the North\'s top venues but perhaps it was due to the rugby match clashing with the final performance. It was partly that and partly the fact that a lot of the play was quite awful. Some of it was quite good but none of it was great. It was one occasion when I felt that the actors thought that an empty house wasn\'t so bad as the fewer people who remembered them in it, the better.

This morning I headed for Nottingham driving into the blinding sun for 90 minutes. I found it hard to see the scores properly after the drive. A lot of players were away as it is half-term. Again it took some time to get an air of concentration going at the rehearsal and there was a little too much chatting going on. I think there is an air of tension about big events coming up. The orchestra need not worry about having external tutors in next week. They will find it to be a great experience and can be assured that the tutors will be sympathetic and reassuring throughout the workshop, having only come to help everyone to continue to improve as a musical unit.

The traffic was busy on the way home but at least the sun was not in my eyes. I was given a copy of the Equinox CD. It is named after a charming Nigel Wood composition which shows off Alistair\'s electronic wind instrument. It is a very nice piece and opens the CD well. The group have made a very entertaining but musically challenging CD here and I enjoyed all of it. The Grainger Linconshire Posy retained all of its quirky humour in the sax version, the James Rae is great fun and the baroque pieces are played with stylistic assurance. My own Closure is handled with real dignity and the players exploit all of the gritty pathos in the score.

The production of the music is very good but essentially it succeeds because of the efforts of the players to build from basic ensemble skills to a sophisticated well rehearsed unit with a cohesion that ensures each piece sounds quite different. Well done! People have tried to tell me that sax players don\'t take easily to large ensemble disciplines. Well the proof is in the Partial Eclipse.

19th October

I can\'t believe another week has gone by without updating the diary. Have I been doing nothing at all? No, in fact I\'ve been really rushed and busy. Rehearsals with LCM, Harlequin and Phoenix and all the things involved with running a Creative Arts Faculty.

It was nice to see Harlequin again after the tour and they are energised and keen to do some recording.

The Leeds College of Music group is up and running with some good players and very nice young musicians in it this year.

Phoenix are working on ambitious music at the moment and seem to be enjoying the experience.

Soon it will be half-term and I will reap the benefits of a week without school commitments. All the other rehearsals will probably run and the NSWO rehearsal weekend is next week too.

Now you know why I had not updated the site; it\'s all rather repetative. Oh well, perhaps that is because it\'s all rather repetative.

12th October

Yesterday was a very full day with a rehearsal at Leeds College of Music, where the students are incredibly pleasant and enthusiastic, and afterwards the Phoenix Concert Band rehearsal, where they worked really hard all evening. It has been a tiring week and this is a really busy Friday with a full timetable ending with the same two year nine groups as yesterday. One of which comes in last period of the week. I will be hiding in a very small cupboard making gibbering sounds and drooling madly!

9th October

The Yorkshire Wind Orchestra worked in a different room last night showing much more of their musical potential. There are some fine players in this group and the dead sound in the other room has been quite hard for them. Even dynamics were more effective and general ensemble within sections and throughout the group improved greatly. We played Tomlinson\'s English Folk Dances; a work that I would recommend to any group who want to improve lyrical playing, creative balance and ensemble.

Arrived home at 10.00pm to an email from Eduard wishing me a Happy Birthday!

8th October

My birthday and a dull wet Monday morning. Oh well!

Yesterday I arrived at NSWO and could not find my baton case I also forgot to bring the traditional Waitrose assortment bought for the orchestra. Events on Saturday had rather overtaken my forward planning. It took the group a long time to settle into real work. Anyone would think it was a Sunday morning.

We had a short debate about what happens when players might not actually like a piece in the repertoire or even part of a piece. I am always uncomfortable about such judgements as some pieces have benefits which may not be immediately apparent. Amateur players can take a long time to get a piece up to the right standard for such judgements to be made. On most occasions the piece vindicates itself in performance; hopefully. Sometimes I am a little too honest about my own feelings on these matters and this can influence people against some pieces. Once orchestras think that they can influence the choice of repertoire it can open up a huge can of worms. It is best to take on every challenge and play what ever music is put on the stand as well as is humanly possible. That is a healthy philosophy for any musical group.

Sunday afternoon/evening and off to perform in a memorial concert for Annie Lawrence, a dear friend from the 1980s who recently died of cancer. She was a cabaret singer who we met on the cruise ship \"Calypso\" and she actually worked with City Lights in later years. She was a unique person who was well loved by her fellow artistes.

Alan, Molly and myself were in the programme to perform two songs. It was a challenge for us because Alan now lives in Spain and we have not worked together for over three years. It was also a bit fraught as Alan didn\'t actually arrive until 15 minutes before our spot. As it was, our auto- pilots were still functional and we performed well for Annie\'s concert; which was a sell-out and it was nice to get together with Alan again. The drive back was quite rainy and I needed fuel again(aargh), so not much time to recouperate before the start of the week. I can\'t see an opportunity to go out and celebrate this birthday so I probably just have to wait till half term or something.

5th October

Friday!!

That rather says it all, don\'t you think?


4th October

Still busy. Today is the open evening at school so I have to miss my Phoenix Concert Band rehearsal. This will be taken by Brian Frost. I also have a rehearsal at Leeds College of Music which will have to finish a little early; even then, I may be a little later than I would like at the open evening. I will end up rushing around like crazy, only to find that no one is all that happy with my efforts in the end. I noticed a fuel light come on in the car just as I arrived this morning so that will delay me too. We did cancel this week\'s Harlequin rehearsal to give the group some chance of recovery.

I am so proud of Harlequin Brass! They are \"officially\" a group capable of playing any big venue, any important event and I know that they will be musically excellent, well turned out and able to handle the pressure. It is reassuring to know this and I hope that they feel equally proud of their achievements. As everyone knows I am usually brutally honest on this site and that makes this paragraph very significant. I hate sites that simply promote everything in a way that is just hype. Groups deserve praise? They get it!

1st October 2007

The picture shows me conducting at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam...yes the guy at the front....in the middle....white dinner jacket....should have gone to Specsavers!

A link to more pictures

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