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Phoenix Concert Band

Autumn Concert

Phoenix Concert Band
St Edmunds Church, Roundhay, Leeds
Saturday 14th October 2017
6:30pm

Nottingham Symphonic Wind Orchestra

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Nottingham Symphonic Wind Orchestra
Thoresby Riding Hall, Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire
Sunday 15th October 2017
3:00pm

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Conductor\'s Diary February 2008

29th Feb

The last show is over and the whole thing seems to have been a success from the point of view of the performers and the audience. The school people are happy as are the parents. The staff are tired and trying to catch up with work, sleep, marking, tracking, reports, oh, and teaching.

It was a bit of a rush to get from school to Leeds College of Music then back to school for the two shows last night especially in the light of the wall of road works and temporary traffic light en route. I made it with 10 minutes to go before curtain up. No problem!

Tomorrow it\'s off to Carnforth to pick up a 7.5 ton horse box (not literally) and then off to Nottingham to conduct the concert with NSWO. I am looking forward to the concert as it is full of little gems like Children\'s March, Colonial Song, and the Eb Holst classic.
I hope the traffic is not a problem, at least I won\'t worry about being stuck behind a horsebox.


25th Feb

The last few days have been very hectic with a residential for the school show. The little orchestra struggled a bit with the complexities of Miss Saigon, Les Mis and Grease but they worked very hard and the results should be excellent. Rehearsals took place from 9.00am till around 10.00 pm with short breaks and everyone was tired when we returned on Saturday.

NSWO worked well on Sunday morning; playing with an assurance and style which has been missing this year until now. The group had a very good session and is well prepared for the concert next week. This concert will feature my own \"Radio Days\" which the group are playing very well. I hope to get it recorded with a view to an attempt at publication.

Today is a full day. After driving back from Nottingham at 5.00am to get into school and set up for the dress rehearsal this afternoon, there is still a full timetable as well as some reports to do.

The show is on Wednesday at 7.30 and Thursday 7.00 and 8.45.

19th Feb

Managed to get hold of the microphones for the show after a foggy, traffic jam filled trip to Pudsey. I\'m using three mics to try to pick up the whole chorus rather than radio clip ons on the soloists. I hope it works and doesn\'t cause too many feedback issues. A full day followed by a parent\'s meeting for Y9. Still -5 C this morning. I don\'t mind a bit of cold weather when it looks as spectacular as the past few days. Today sees a freezing fog coating everything in white frost. No wind so the fog might last all day. We go off to Ingleborough Hall with the cast of the show and orchestra tomorrow and it will look great up in the Dales.

18th Feb

A busy day and a hard working rehearsal in the evening. YWO are starting to feel more like an established ensemble with sections playing more together and phrasing being carefully managed. Some excellent sax playing, horn, clarinet, and strong lower brass. It is a different pace from most groups as we have to prepare things quickly but try not to gloss over things that need rehearsal. I must say the attitude is largely positive, and full of professional determination.

17th Feb

NSWO had a good rehearsal with a few missing payers due to half term. The group worked hard and are showing signs of understanding the nuances of the Holst. The trip home was very busy as the sun came out and that brought out lots of Sunday drivers. Who\'d be out on the roads who didn\'t have to be?

Tomorrow the schools go back. I need to arrange amplification for the show prior to the residential on Wednesday, sort out the equipment to take away, check ticket sales, make sure the stage is ready as we return on Saturday morning for a run through at school. I have two year 9 classes a year 11 and a year 12 as well as a parent\'s evening, Yorkshire Winds rehearsal and the hairdresser is coming. Apart form that it should be a quiet week.

8th Feb


Thursday was very busy and non-stop. The LCM group now have a concert planned and although there were one or two missing, the rehearsal was enjoyable and productive.

The traffic was dead slow leaving Leeds and it took almost an hour to get home for the few minutes before leaving for Phoenix.

A good turn out for Phoenix showed the potential of this group. Still very short of trumpets and percussion and yet the band has a lot of players when everyone is there. I managed a 7.42 start; somewhat of a record. I knolw that this will improve if the players really want it to improve. I was able to get the ensemble into a pattern of improvement but it was hard work and I was knackered afterwards.

So now it is half term after some nightmarish Y 9 lessons where I was really just baby sitting and crowd control!

This sort of week drains every bit of energy and control from me, leaving little for the rest of Friday. Do all music teachers feel like this? I mean real teachers who were trained for it and want it as a career. Not ex professional musicians who thought that kids might want to learn the art of music from their experience and knowledge. We used to have an acronym for it; TTMAR. I wonder if anyone knows what that means?


February 7th

A hard working rehearsal in Wakefield with YWO showed very good progress in the music for the next concert. Phrasing and tight ensemble is becoming more habitual and apart from some high end intonation problems, things are looking up.

I rushed to Harlequin on Wednesday after a full day and a parents meeting. I was late but the group was already there and playing. Again we did a detailed and thorough rehearsal on some complex music. I did have to repeat most of it from last week but there were at least two players who were new to it at this rehearsal.

I arrive home to find a traffic light outside the drive due to some road works and the \"Anne Summers\" party still going on at the house. I am banished to the kitchen where the dogs are trying to telepathically levitate the party food on the table from there to their mouths. Clearly they have been banished too due to their love of chewing underwear and socks. I should think that the Anne Summers stuff likes to be revealing due to design and not because Toby has chewed the gusset out of the knickers.

I have recorded the England match on Sky+ but dare not barge into the lounge to switch it on because \"The girls are trying things on\". I listen carefully but never hear the words \"does my bum look big in this?\" Soon they all depart in a jolly mood having had, I think, a nice evening. I wondered what the male equivilant of an Anne Summers party would be?


February 4th

Sunday\'s trip to Nottingham seemed very slow with more traffic and speed restrictions than usual. The group was slow to start and actually began about 10 minutes late; unusual for this organisation. There were many empty seats and under those circumstances I really have to squeeze the most out of myself to get the momentum going. The ones who attend, deserve both a good rehearsal and as little moaning about those who have not turned up as is possible. In the coming years I will be trying to concentrate more on composition and particularly on marketing my works and it will be empty seats at rehearsals which will finally make that decision for me. What is all the more amazing is that not everyone has the privilege of being part of a good musical group. There are so many players who would love to be part of something excellent and yet those who are on the inside don\'t always appreciate it.

As it happens I have to miss more rehearsals than normal at this time of year. After half term I have the school show/residential and then the following week the actual performances and this tends to cause me to clash more than once. No matter how it happens I hate letting people down and that blizzard last week didn\'t help the situation when it caused me to miss Leeds College of Music.

On Wednesday, Harlequin worked hard on some complex arrangements and made very good progress. They decided to follow up the idea of a workshop with the arranger.

Yesterday I was all set to rush to Leeds College of Music from Ilkley, when the heavens opened and dumped a huge blizzard on the area. It was chaos, and in the end I had to ring the college and simply cancell my session. Having skidded and slipped all the way to Otley a matter of 4 miles, I found that it was a localised problem and the rest of the area saw no snow at all. Apart from driving through the streets with a car covered in snow when everyone else was just a bit damp, it seemed like a poor excuse to miss a rehearsal. It was simply not possible to catch up the time. Later that evening the Phoenix rehearsal was full of empty seats. Was it the AGM or the snow, or the threat of snow? I\'m not sure but my report on attendance and punctuality was given to the usual players who were there anyway. The band worked well, although there are still sections for whom dynamics are an alien concept. I think that this group really wants to get to grips with the culture of underachievement that community bands often suffer from. They want to strive for funding to get hold of a set of percussion instruments, push hard to recruit the required players instead of over filling some sections, get a consensus on when to start rehearsals so that the vast majority of players are there on time, look at players who never appear and get them off the roll, in order to get some stability and continuity to rehearsals. It will be good to see this happen this year.

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