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New Beginnings…

It’s that time of year again, when the shops are full of ‘Back to School’ displays and students, young and older, return from their summer breaks. Most have had (at least) a few lessons over the summer but some will return ready to remove the rust from their playing.

I am excited to be welcoming at least four new students at home, in addition to several more in school. Some are just beginning their musical journey, while others are rejoining the path after an extended break – all are welcome!

The Lincoln Music Workshop Recorder Group will return to their weekly sessions and are already planning their next performance, in November. Similarly, the London Recorder Orchestra will be starting the new season.

September is a great time to start something new. Learning an instrument, or joining a new group is the best way to pass the winter evenings…

London Recorder Orchestra Concert

On Saturday evening, the London Recorder Orchestra gave their Summer Concert at the Holy Apostles Catholic Church Hall, in Pimlico.

The orchestra played a full and varied programme of music, ranging from medieval to modern. My personal highlight was a performance of ‘Songs of the Woodlands’ by Nicholas Wynne for which we were joined by the soloist, Catherine Jennaway for a world premiere!

The playing was very well received by a most appreciative audience, some of whom had never heard a recorder orchestra before. They were amazed by the sound of around forty, high-level players and, of course, fascinated by the sight of the great-bass and contra-bass recorders.

The London Recorder Orchestra usually has 30-40 members but always welcomes new players. Prospective members should have a good standard of playing and sight-reading and be prepared to play any of the usual sizes of recorder (descant, treble, tenor or bass) as required. Players of larger instruments (great bass and contrabass recorders) are particularly welcome.

The orchestra normally rehearses from 10.30am – 1pm on the second Saturday of each month. Rehearsals are held at Macaulay School, Victoria Rise, Clapham, London SW4. The new season will begin in September – after a well-deserved summer break! Do get in touch if you would like to join us…

Willobie Abroad

Willobie Press has been on the road over the past few months!

Having missed the annual visit to Sheffield, the first trip of the year was to Essex SRP in February where we were made to feel very welcome. In April we then made a trip to York for a Playing Day hosted by York Guildhall SRP.

In May we made our first trip overseas to attend the SRP National Festival in Dublin – a whole weekend when we were available to recorder players from across the UK. The National Festival is always exciting for us, as it marks the launch of our new catalogue and our birthday!

Two weeks later we were off again to the Scottish SRP Festival in Edinburgh where proceedings were led by the Flanders Recorder Quartet.

Most recently, we have spent a weekend in the Cambridge area. First we attended a conference hosted by the European Recorder Teachers Association (ERTA) where we met a small but apreciative group of teachers. The following day, we attended the Playing Day held by Cambridge SRP – an excellent group of players who were very keen to stock up with new recorder music!

Do look out for us if we are coming to an event near you. Failing that, you can always visit the Willobie Press website…

End of another successful term!

All though you would never guess from the weather, we are now approaching the end of the spring term. It is already four weeks since the latest batch of exams and everyone is enjoying working on new repertoire. Everyone was pleased with their exam results, which reflected the hard work that they had put into their performances.

It is only a week since the Lincoln Music Workshop Recorder Group retained their silver trophy at the local music festival – in spite of last minute illness! They presented a most enjoyable programme at the festival and are already looking towards their next performance…

Well done, all of you and enjoy the Easter break!

Conducting the Society of Recorder Players…

As a member of the Society of Recorder Players, I am regularly invited to conduct SRP branches across the UK. The Society of Recorder Players (SRP) brings together recorder players of all ages all over the UK.

At ‘ground level’, it operates as a network of branches – groups of (mostly amateur) recorder players who meet together once a month to make music on an informal basis. There is a large social element to the branches, which can act as a sort of ‘musical dating agency’ for newcomers to an area – recorder players are a friendly lot!

As a visiting conductor, I often find myself in different parts of the country where I know few people in the branches – but I always know that I will be made very welcome. There is a element of mystery to these visits: How many people will there be? At what level do they play? Are there any bass players/people who only play descant? What sort of music do they like?

I always try to take a real mixture of music with me, with enough parts to cover all eventualities. My hope is that there will always be at least one piece that each player enjoys – hopefully, more than one… My most recent visit was to the Essex branch, where I was delighted by the standard of playing from a good-sized group. We played music ranging from the 15th to 20th Century, including the music of Handel and Brahms in between! I had a fantastic afternoon, and I’m already looking forward to my visit to West Riding branch, later this month…

A great evening!

Yesterday evening, members of Lincoln Music Workshop Recorder Group were the guests of the beautiful Greetwell All Saints Church (“All Saints over the cowpats”) to provide musical entertainment in a Celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee given by the Lincolnshire branch of the Betjeman Society

The group played a short programme of music in keeping with the theme of the evening. The playing was very well received by a most appreciative audience, who were ready to join in and sing along where appropriate. Everybody enjoyed the evening and we can honestly say that we played to a packed house!

Willobie Press – new catalogue launched today!

Today sees the launch of the new Spring Catalogue of the highly successful¬†Willobie Press to mark the 10th anniversary of Willobie’s first appearance at the 2002 National SRP Festival.

The Willobie Press catalogue contains nearly 150 arrangements and original compositions for recorder ensembles of all sizes – from duets and trios to full recorder orchestra and multi-choir works. The music covers all styles: classical to jazz – medieval to modern. There is music written for school recorder groups while other pieces are intended for keen amateur ensembles or more experienced consorts playing at a high level.

The new titles can be purchased today from the online shop, or order by post using the downloadable order form. Don’t worry if you are not in the UK – we regularly send music worldwide!

If you would like to see us in person, we will have a ‘shop’ at the next SRP National Festival to be held in Dorking on 21/22 April 2012.