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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 June 2008

June 24th

It was a nice sunny evening last night when I arrived home from a rather dull meeting.

Take the dog out for a nice walk! Stress busting, good exercise, fresh air, just the thing.

Off to the woods! Toby the dog is snuffling around in the ferns. He\'s got something big in his mouth. what is it?

Ah, a large hedgehog! The hedgehog has followed the hedgehog health and safety code rule 1. He has rolled up into a ball. Toby has said ball in his gob and is extremely proud of his new prickly toy. So we continue through the woods with the poor hedgehog in the poor dog\'s mouth.

The hedgehog, having employed strategy No. 1 is not too sure how well this is working and rings the hedgehog HSE on his mobile which is safely tucked under his arse with his head.

\"I\'m being carried away by a large dog!\"

\"Have you rolled into a ball?\"

\"Of course I have, but what now?\"

Hmm let me see, yes, roll up into a ball. That\'s it really!\"

\"But He\'s taking me away!\"

\"Look don\'t panic, the strategy always works, what can you see?\"

\"What do you think I can see, my arse is all!\"

\"Sounds like you have the situation in hand, goodbye!\"

Eventually the dog who seemed to be so proud of his capture, stops and looks perplexed (actually his only expression). Somehow his gums hurt so he drops the hedgehog and forlornly leaves it behind.

The hedgehog now has a 3/4 mile walk back to it\'s little grassy home but apart from being covered in drool, it is safe and well.

The moral? Well sometimes a tried and tested strategy may not appear to be working but with reasurance, perseverance and confidence all will be well. Oh and if that doesn\'t work roll up into a ball and phone a friend.

June 22nd

A Nottingham Symphonic Winds rehearsal this morning and a lot of traffic to negotiate on the way down. The group have had a week off and that does have an impact at this level. They have a big programme to prepare and I needed to get through as much as possible so it was a good thing to get them playing and not interfere too much. The group will get to grips with their individual parts over time and it does them good just to play together and get their ensemble back.

This group have had a very very good year and I want their final concert of the season to live up to the others. The last concert in Derby has really made an impact and they are probably going to be invited back to the cathedral for an even bigger event next year.

In the end I didn\'t get through everything which makes me think we might have too much material but the cohesion of the group gradually improved and we can get down to details again next week.

Traffic was mad on the way home and the wind and rain made it look like....well June, or something. I had to rush as after about three hours it is off to Sheffield to conduct Harlequin Brass. Tonight being the world premiere of Closure; I hope it goes well!

June 20th

Last night the Phoenix band had a break during the rehearsal. This was a first! I had never considered a break because the group was very poor in terms of punctuality. Now that there are a lot of new players and a better collective ethos about the group, the rehearsals tend to start within a reasonable time scale. If that is the case then it seems a good idea to have a little social time to get the group to communicate with one another. It seemed to work well last night although because the group are not used to having a break they took a little while to get their focus back after it. Groups who habitually stop in the middle of rehearsals tend to pick up where they left off with ease. It\'s all down to practice.

Looking around the band I see many players who have been in groups with me for over twenty years; a frightening thought yet a nice one. Two or three players in the group have been with me in more than three or four groups. They have even been involved in the technical side of City Lights, the band I started in 1977. There is a real cross-section of the local wind player community in the Phoenix group who have played music and enjoyed the process for a very long time. It should be an encouragement to the younger players to know the value that these people place on their music making and how much it enhances their lives. There are a lot of players in the group who play more than one instrument and in more than one ensemble. Other groups attended include the Yorkshire Wind Orchestra, the Yorkshire Saxophone Choir, The Leeds Symphony Orchestra, Otley Brass Band, The Wharfedale Symphony Orchestra, Leeds College of Music Orchestra, a variety of sax quartets and big bands, amateur dramatic shows and probably a few that I don\'t know about. With that amount of talent and commitment we ought to be able to bring the band up to a high standard.

June 18th

Tonight is the final rehearsal for the Harlequin Brass concert on Saturday in Sheffield. The group has included both Harlequin Dances and Closure in the programme as well as some other sophisticated pieces like Masques and Fugal Symphony by Shostakovich. This should be a very entertaining concert for the educated listener and the music presents the group with a host of challenges which I am sure that they will rise to and overcome. I would welcome any players from other groups to come and hear the brass group and also hear the world premiere of the original version of Closure.

June 8th

Well it has been a frantic couple of weeks and rushing around conducting sometimes takes its toll on the poor conductor. Things are calming down as the summer approaches. LCM rehearsals have finished and YWO has done all rehearsals for this term. It might be a chance to do some more composition.

This weekend saw a rehearsal and concert in Derby followed by a rehearsal in Nottingham and an outdoor performance by Phoenix in Leeds. I literally had to abandon the car at the Leeds venue as there was no time to fight for a parking place. It was 27C and sunny at the location and the band was roasting. Some new players were struck by the odd sound of playing in the open but the band coped well even with some important players missing.

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