Category Archives: gigs

Concert today with Dame Emma Kirkby!

Concert today with Dame Emma Kirkby! Sat 28th Sept, 7pm, Holy Trinity Church, St Andrews

Come along to Holy Trinity Church tonight at 7pm for a baroque and classical feast of choral music to celebrate Tom Duncan’s 50th year as organist and choir-master of Holy Trinity Church! With Dame Emma Kirkby, soprano and Ben McAteer, baritone (and me playing viola as part of the Heisenberg Ensemble!)

Programme:

Mozart – Laudate Dominum

Palestrina – Alma Redemptoris Mater

Haydn- Paukenmesse

Handel – The King Shall Rejoice

Bach – Suite in B minor (for flute and orchestra, solo Julie Duncan)

Gibbons – O Clap Your Hands

Heisenberg Ensemble and The Celebration Chorus, conducted by Gillian Craig

Tickets £10 on the door or by calling 01334 478317

With a little help from my friends… An open invitation!

An Open Invitation: ‘With a little help from my friends’

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Thursday 29th August

St Andrews Church, Queen’s Terrace, St Andrews

1.30pm

PROGRAMME:

Cello suites/Scottish Music/Surprise!!

Who, me?

Who, me?

You will need:

FRIENDS…….
FAMILY……..
CAKE……
MONEY…..

Tea/wine/champagne…….

Your ears!

The plan:

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The charities:

Heisenberg (Jill Craig)

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Families First (St Andrews)

Sistema Scotland/In Harmony

Arts in Fife/Dundee

Drake Music Scotland

Music in Hospitals

Military Wives Choir (Gareth Malone)

Scottish Ensemble {insert group here}

Rokpa/Tibetan Children’s Villages/ICT

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Brooklands College

Signpost International (Dundee)

Just Made/Gillian Gamble

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Pragya (India)

RSPCA/RSPB/Big cat rescue

SUGGESTIONS WELCOME!! Answers on a post card to: Jess Long!

Concert of Seven Last Words by Haydn, 7.30pm on Sunday 17th March in Holy Trinity Church, St Andrews

On  Sunday 17th March at 7.30pm in Holy Trinity Church, St Andrews, St Patrick’s Ensemble will perform The Seven Last Words of Our Saviour on the Cross by Joseph Haydn. The work is a moving reflection on the ‘Seven Last Words’ and will be performed in Haydn’s own arrangement for string quartet. The movements will be interspersed with readings of the ‘Words’ and spoken reflections.

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The quartet will consist of Paul Livingston and Daniel Rainey, violins, Jessica Wyatt, viola, and Robert Anderson, cello – all outstanding young players who have studied in Scotland as well and internationally. Based in Glasgow, the St Patrick’s Ensemble has performed throughout Scotland, including performances of the Vivaldi Four Seasons at the Usher Hall, and an evening of chamber music by James MacMillan at Glasgow University, introduced by the composer.

This promises to be a reflective and moving concert in a beautiful and atmospheric church, ideal for the Easter season. Tickets are priced at £10 (£8 concessions) and will be available at the door. Please encourage friends and relatives to attend!

Lunchtime concerts in St Andrews on 27th Feb and Dundee on 8th March

Lately I’ve been working really hard preparing for a couple of lunchtime recitals that are coming up soon. As before, I’m playing with Audrey Innes, a pianist who teaches at St Andrews Music Centre and with whom I have played for a number of years – I hesitate to call her my duo partner, as she regularly plays with many others and is in high demand.

Anyway, this time we’re playing a programme of Schumann’s beautifully lyrical Adagio and Allegro (originally written for horn), paired with the fiery and powerful viola sonata Op 11 No 4 by Hindemith (himself a viola player). These are both highly romantic works, with the Schumann written in 1849 and the Hindemith in 1919 but displaying many backward looking features as well as forward looking ones such as whole tone scales.

This is the first time that I am doing more than one recital of the same programme – I don’t want to call it a series, as it is only 2 concerts, but still! It is also the first time that I will have one of my concerts recorded professionally – the father of one of my pupils is a recording engineer, and he has kindly offered to bring some of his students over to record the St Andrews concert, which is very exciting but a little nerve wracking!

Here are the details of the 2 concerts:

St Andrews

Weds 27th Feb at 1.10pm (not 1.15pm as it used to be) in the Younger Hall, North St, St Andrews- details here although the start time is wrong

Dundee

Friday 8th March at 1.20pm in Dundee University Chaplaincy – details here

Hope to see you at one of them!

Save The Byre Theatre!

Over the weekend came the awful news that the Byre Theatre in St Andrews is facing closure due to lack of funds (its funding had been cut by Creative Scotland in 2010, and a refurbishment in 2001 left it struggling financially). The Byre is a cultural hub for not only St Andrews but the surrounding areas of Fife and to see it go would be tragic and a total waste – not only of talent but of a very beautiful building that stands out among the old buildings of south street.

My friend the artist and photographer Gillian Gamble (who else?) has started an incredibly successful grassroots community movement to save the Byre, which has gone from nothing to 4000 supporters on facebook and national news coverage overnight. Have a look and click ‘like’ here:

http://www.facebook.com/SaveTheByreTheatre

There’s also a petition on change.org here:

https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/save-the-byre-theatre#share

News coverage of the campaign:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-21211928

http://www.scotsman.com/news/arts/byre-theatre-rescue-bid-underway-1-2763241

http://www.thecourier.co.uk/news/local/fife/thousands-join-bid-to-save-the-byre-theatre-1.66067

http://news.stv.tv/tayside/211738-battle-to-save-closure-threatened-byre-theatre-in-st-andrews/

 

 

2013 projects

I still can’t believe we’re in 2013! It all sounds so space age…

I’ve started my new job and it’s going well – I am learning a lot about obesity and literature searching, and I have discovered the joys of Endnote and never having to write out a reference again! Academics and essay writers take note: Endnote or a similar referencing manager (there are free ones) will save you literally hours  of tedious referencing and bibliography writing. (I sound like they are paying me to advertise them, which they are not!) Anyway, I think I will really enjoy my work at the medical school, even though it is quite weird being a ‘staff’ member where I used to be a student (I’m now in a different dept though, so not as weird).

One of the brilliant things about my job is that it it so flexible, which allows me to continue teaching and playing in stuff while still doing the work I need to do. This year, I have resolved to do more playing, especially chamber music, so with that in mind I have arranged a trio with some friends which I hope will work out really nicely. Other things I am doing this year are:

  • I will start going to the baroque orchestra at the St Andrews Music Centre, run by my good friend and amazing cellist Claire Garabedian; I think I will get to borrow a baroque bow which will be fun!
  • I’ll continue helping out at StAFCO (St Andrews and Fife Community Orchestra), taking occasional sectionals
  • I have two lunchtime concerts coming up in February and March, both with experienced pianist Audrey Innes who I have played many a concert with! For both concerts, we are playing a programme consisting of Hindemith viola sonata Op 11 No 4 which is very romantic and fantastical as well as being incredibly dramatic and a huge piece to play, combined with a short piece by Frank Bridge (also a viola player) and Schumann’s Adagio and Allegro (originally a horn piece), a real gem of a piece. The concert in St Andrews is Weds Feb 27th at 1.10pm in the Younger Hall (note 5 mins earlier start time), and the concert in Dundee is on Friday 8th March at 1.20pm in the University Chaplaincy.
  • Along with a friend, we are trying to organise concerts in St Andrews and at a stately home near Broughty Ferry of Haydn’s Seven Last Words for string quartet, to coincide with Lent. Hopefully we can confirm these soon.
  • Of course, I’ll continue with my teaching. I’ve got a new pupil (an adult learner interested in fiddle) starting on friday!

Monty is still being incredibly sweet – he’s dozing on my lap, purring contentedly. His latest trick is to attack packets of loo roll, creating a large amount of mess and very holey loo roll, but he seems to think he is saving us from a terrible tissue monster…

New music at PLUG…

This evening I went to hear some of my fellow masters students’ work at PLUG VII: Electroacoustic Event. PLUG is a 5 day music festival at RSAMD which showcases the work of composers at the Academy, with the pieces being performed by Academy students and professional musicians. My friend Matthew Whiteside’s piece Dichroic Light for solo cello and live electronics was premiered by a friend of mine, Lydia Whittingham, as well as pieces by Daniel de Gruchy Lambert (trumpet), James Hodges (bassoon), Nikola Kyosev (flute/piccolo), Tim Cooper (with Helen Douthwaite, sackbut) and Jonathan Wettermark (trombone).

Some quick notes on what I heard and issues raised by the performances:

  • The contemporary definitions of “music”, “performance art”, “organised sound” and the grey area between them. What makes a given piece “music” and another simply sampled sounds in rhythms? (with respect to Tim Cooper’s work The Sound of Letters, the Voice of the Page)
  • The relative success of composers writing for instruments that they don’t play themselves, versus the success of compositions by composers who are writing for their own instruments and performing their own compositions* – instrumentalists know their own capabilities and strengths and the limits of their instruments better than those who don’t play them, and can therefore write very idomatically (wrt Nikola Kysosev’s virtuosic piece ‘Mind Cell’)

Some of the techniques that I identified were:

Distortion/reverb/delay/multiphonics/sound and vocal sampling/voices/ambient sound/pedal switches/feedback loops/multitracking

I really enjoyed what I am going to call the ‘alternative listening experience’ of the concert – the stage was covered in microphones, laptops, wires, gadgets and a myriad of speakers on tall wooden stands, giving it a very different feel to normal concert platforms.  I sat behind the mixing desk so had a priviledged view of the composers controlling the audio output in real time!

* NB Composers, please don’t take any of this personally!

Preparing Scottish tunes for my cousin William’s wedding

My cousin William recently asked me to play at his wedding in the Lake District this Saturday (9th april). I’ve been spending quite a lot of time preparing what to play, and I thought I’d take you through the process I’ve been through so that I can make it a bit easier the next time I have to do something like this!

Step 1: Decide on which broad category of music to play (eg classical/folk/popular)

I chose Scottish tunes as William met his fiance at Edinburgh university, and they are having a ceilidh at the reception, plus scottish fiddle tunes work well on the viola

Step 2: Choose specifics of music (eg which piece/tunes)

This took me a wee while, I must say…

Eventually I settled on traditional scottish airs, reels and strathspeys from a book I own called ‘Scottish Folk Tunes’ edited by Kevin McCrae and Neil Johnstone. However, all the tunes are written in Bass clef- an added complication when figuring out keys and how they fit together with other tunes on the viola, which uses alto clef! Good thing I play the cello too sometimes so can just about transpose/forget about the fact that I’m reading bass clef on the viola, which messes with my head slightly!

Step 3: Edit tunes to my own requirements: fingerings, bowings, slurs, dots and ornaments.

Like all traditional music, fiddle tunes are subject to constant interpretation by players and so one printed version may not be exactly the same as another printed version. This is mainly due to folk music being passed down from family to family via oral tradition – fiddlers and pipers simply learnt pieces by ear from their parents or contemporaries, and usually no one bothered to write them down, or in some cases couldn’t write them down as they were unable to read music or write notes on a stave.

In my case, the book I mentioned above is pretty good and is very well laid out and interpreted, so there wasn’t too much re-editing to do, just some ‘hooked’ bowings to work out and fingerings to write in.

Step 4: Figure out an order to play the tunes in which makes sense to me and the listener

I’ve changed my mind several times over this! It all depends on the speed of the tune (eg a slow air is obviously pretty relaxed in tempo, and a reel or strathspey is faster) and the keys and whether the modulation sounds ‘right’ to the listener’s ear. I’m not that practiced at this yet so I hope my ‘set’ is going to make musical sense on saturday 🙂

Here is the ‘finished version’ of my set:

1. Farewell to Whisky by Niel Gow (for those of you who know William, this is particularly appropriate 😀 )

2. Laird of Drumblair by J Scott Skinner

3. De’il Amang the Tailors – not sure, I think this is traditional

4. Auld Lang Syne – traditional tune used at Hogmanay

Encore if necessary – Spey in Spate by Scott Skinner

A guide to orchestral playing (part I)

At the moment I’m involved in the Academy’s Chamber Orchestra, which has involved a fair bit of rehearsing in the past few days. The concert is on 25th March at 1pm, in the Academy Concert Hall, if you’re interested and want to come along. The programme is:

Mahler – Adagietto for strings
Elgar – Introduction and Allegro for strings and string quartet
Schumann – Cello Concerto in A minor (soloist: Duncan Strachan)
Beethoven – Piano Concerto No 3 in C minor (soloist: Hanna Choi)
Conductor: David Watkin
(The facebook event is here)

During rehearsals and whilst reflecting on the process of learning to be a better orchestral player, I came up with the idea of creating a (slightly tongue-in-cheek) ‘guide’ for musicians on how to play in an orchestra – for my first attempt, see below.

DISCLAIMER: I don’t want people (particularly musicians) to think I’m being obsessive or diva-esque – these are just comments from my own experience of playing in many different orchestras and ensembles and as such are not personal or directed at any individuals in particular)

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Issues while rehearsing: (aka ways to annoy your fellow players!)

Turning pages: it’s really annoying when your desk partner turns a page either far too late or too early, ie turning the page before you’ve had time to read to the end of said page, including any rests that come right before the turn (this is an issue particularly when you are leading a section and you need to *actually count* them!) I know I have been guilty of this in the past – sorry….

Writing on music: sometimes, when you receive a part (eg from a hire library) it is so covered in pencil marks that you can’t actually read the music! Often hire libraries will try and remove as much as they can before they hire out the parts to another orchestra, but sometimes they don’t and it is a real pain to have to rub out everything the previous player has marked in. Also irritating is when players scrawl music with completely unnecessary marks (eg writing out the letter names above the stave!!) so that the music itself and printed tempo markings and bowings are completely obscured*

*This can also be quite funny, for example when players write their desk partners little messages on the music during a boring rehearsal, or encourage each other to play confidently (I’ve seen things like ‘you can do it!’ or ‘DON’T PANIC!!’ 😀 )

Sellenger's Round (cartoon is at the bottom left hand side)

“Sellenger’s Round” cartoon closeup – stingy!!

These pictures show a cartoon drawn by a player on the music – the piece is called ‘Sellenger’s Round’ and I suppose the thought of the pub after the rehearsal was uppermost in the doodler’s mind when imagining what Sellenger’s round would look like 😀

Counting rests out loud (very loudly and *at* your desk partner): no further comment needed… Just don’t…

Tuning (or playing) your instrument while the conductor is trying to say something important/people are rehearsing – there are times when this is necessary eg when your instrument goes out of tune in a hot room, but there are times when it isn’t!

There are also some guaranteed ways to make your colleagues in the orchestra laugh at you (again, I’m guilty of some of these):

Playing really loudly when it is marked pp or ppp and everybody else in the orchestra is quiet – I do this quite often, especially whilst sight reading, and it makes me cringe every time I do it!

Playing loudly during a G.P. (= General Pause) when the whole orchestra is silent. This is often called a “mars bar moment” by conductors – so-called as the person who spoils the silence gets an ironic ‘prize’ eg a mars bar; another version is that the person who is responsible should buy the other players a round in the pub afterwards…

Playing the wrong notes repeatedly when the conductor asks you to play the right notes (this often makes me giggle- sorry wind/brass players, I know transposing at sight can be hard! :P)

That’s all I can think of now… Goodnight!

Decemberists gig, Barrowland Ballroom, March 5th 2011

Last night, I went with Alex to the Barrowland Ballroom in the Barras area of Glasgow to hear one of my favourite bands, The Decemberists. See their amazing website for more details!

This is the second time I’ve seen them live and as always, Colin Meloy, the lead singer, was awesome at working the crowd and provided a very entertaining commentary between songs. Here are some pics from the evening:

For my fellow Decemberists fans, the setlist went something like this: (although I can’t remember exactly, and I didn’t know some of the songs as they were from their new album, The King is Dead)


California One/Youth and Beauty Brigade
?July, July!
The Gymnast, High Above the Ground
Los Angeles, I’m Yours
Some tracks from their new album, The King is Dead (I think one was Rox in the Box)
The Crane Wife Pt 3
Won’t Want for Love (Margaret in the Taiga)
The Rake’s Song
16 Military Wives (including audience participation!)
Son’s and Daughters

Encores:
Eli, The Barrow Boy
The Mariner’s Revenge Song

Right, I’ve got the concerto prelim tomorrow morning at 10.40am so better get some sleep…

EDIT: the band just posted their actual setlist on their facebook page. I’m pleased to report that my memory was pleasingly accurate, give or take a few songs! 🙂

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SETLIST – 3/5 – Barrowlands – Glasgow, UK

California One/Youth and Beauty Brigade
Calamity Song
Rox in the Box
…Rise to Me
July, July!
The Rake’s Song
Los Angeles, I’m Yours
Won’t Want for Love (Margaret In The Taiga)
The Crane Wife 3
January Hymn
Don’t Carry It All
Down by the Water
16 Military Wives
Sons and Daughters

Eli, The Barrow Boy
The Mariner’s Revenge Song

June Hymn