Dark Peak Music Foundation
…. a bright musical future
Welcome to our Blog.
Here we will put up stories and news that we think may be of interest to our members, partners and supporters.
We are really pleased to say that all ensembles are returning to live rehearsals next week.
Your Ensemble Director will be contacting you directly with specific information for your group, but I have attached the schedule of rehearsals as they stand now. The schedule is very similar to September, although there are a few changes to note:
- Chinley Junior Wind Band will be moving to Chinley Community Centre. Rosie will be sending you full details.
- Flutz will run for an hour from 5.30-6.30 on Fridays and the Clarinets and Saxes will now be at the slightly later time of 7-7.45pm
- The brass ensembles and percussion have been reconfigured – you should have received the new groupings, but I will be sending it out again over the weekend.
Please note final sessions this year will now be Friday 2nd July and Monday 5th July.
The plan is for each ensemble to present its own short concert towards the end of the term. This will be with a small audience and will be in compliance with current Covid regulations at the time. All the performances will be recorded and broadcast in a YouTube Summer Concert on Sunday 11th July.
As a reminder of requirements and expectations I have attached a copy of the Covid rules which all students and parents must read carefully. Please remember that students come from a number of different schools, so our distancing rules must be strictly observed.
We can also confirm that Theory classes will be recommencing in Bradbury House 4.15pm on Fridays. We have vacancies and strongly recommend the course for players who have reached Grade 3 on their instrument. It is a requirement for progressing to ABRSM Grade 6 and beyond on an instrument that students have passed Grade 5 theory.
We are looking forward so much to seeing you all again and working towards some wonderful performances at the end of June.
|Bradbury House||5.00-6.00pm||Intermediate Wind Band – Kinder Brass and Percussion||Jeff Snowdon & Lisa Callaghan|
|6.30-7.30pm||Horn Club||Jeff Snowdon|
|Victoria Hall||5.00-6.00pm||Intermediate Wind Band – Wind||Sarah Hind|
|Glossopdale||5.00-6-00pm||Junior Strings||Helen Parkes & Isobel Wren|
|5.00-6-00pm||Intermediate Strings||Emma Dixon|
|6.30-7.30pm||Senior strings||Emma Dixon|
|Chinley Community Centre||3.45-4.45pm||Chinley Junior Wind Band||Rosie Crook|
|Victoria Hall||4.15-5.00pm||Glossop Junior Wind Band||Simon Lodge & Maria Snowdon|
|5.30-6.30pm||Concert Band – Flutes and Bassoon||Maria Snowdon|
|7.00-7.45pm||Concert Band – Clarinets and Saxophones||Rachel Whibley|
|Bradbury House||5.30-6.15pm||Concert Band – Bleaklow Brass and Percussion||Jeff Snowdon|
|6.45-7.30pm||Concert Band – Derwent Brass and Percussion||Jeff Snowdon|
|Supertonics – Details direct from Emma||Emma Dixon|
|Bradbury House||4.15-5.15pm||Theory Class||Hephzibah Isherwood|
Summer Music Course and Concert Tour
The Dark Peak Summer Music Course and Concert Tour 2022 is to Krakov and the Tatra Mountains in Southern Poland. Giving three performances in amazing venues, this will be an opportunity to experience this fantastic part of the world, with three days in the stunning mountains around Zakapone, followed by three days in Krakov, one of Europe’s most fascinating cities.
The core of the group will be the Dark Peak Concert Band and Orchestra, although there will be spaces available for other players of Grade 3 and above (including past members) to join the course. We hope to present a varied programme, including wind and string chamber ensembles. The programme will accommodate all playing levels.
The course will start with a day of rehearsal during the week preceding at home before setting off by coach to Zakopane in the beautiful Tatra Mountains, where we will be staying for three nights in the amazing Hotel Kasprowy. With its two thermally heated swimming pools (one outdoor and one indoor), sauna suite, tennis facilities and surrounding woodland, the hotel provides the perfect base for our rehearsals and to enjoy some leisure time in the Tatra Mountains.
Taking the funicula up to the mountain top, we will have time to enjoy outdoor activities such as dry tobogganing, or just walking in Poland’s own version of the Alps. We will finish the day travelling by cable car straight to the door of the hotel.
For the second half of the trip we will transfer to the Hotel Chopin, which is ten minutes walk from the city centre of Krakow. Depending upon uptake there will be the chance for a group to visit the holocaust museum at Aushwitz. For those who prefer there will be a day exploring Krakow, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most interesting cities in Europe, or an excursion to the Salt Mines. We will be giving three concerts, in Zakopane, Dobczyce and one in St Katherine’s Church in Krakow. From previous experience we can expect large and enthusiastic audience.
We will be staying in four star hotels, the first being the amazing Hotel Mercure Kasprowy in Zakapone.
For the second half of the tour we will be staying at the Hotel Chopin. Just outside the walls of the city, it is 10 minutes walk from the centre. Krakov is a relatively small city, impossible to get lost in and safe for groups of young people to explore.
Once again we are going with ACFEA Specialist Travel which is without doubt the best musical tour operator. We know from experience that they will give us fantastic performance opportunities with great audiences, 5-star travel and the very best restaurants.
Provisional Itinerary (NB. For guide purposes only – detailed itinerary to follow)
Thursday 18th August
Rehearsal day in Glossop Friday 19th August
Van with gear sets off – day off for the players
Saturday 20th August
6am start. Ferry to Calais then overnight, stopping for meals in Germany, to Poland
Sunday 21st August
Arrive at Hotel Mercure Kaprowy, Zakapone.
Time to enjoy the hotel facilities, explore the area … or just snooze.
Short evening Rehearsal in the hotel
Monday 22nd August
Free time in Zakopane
Option – take funicular railway up Gubalowka hill (approx. £5)
At the summit are many activities for children such as dry tobogganing Walk along the top then take the chair-lift directly into the hotel grounds
Rehearsal in the hotel. Dinner option – folk evening in highland restaurant – NB. additional cost
Tuesday 23rd August
Rehearsal in Holy Cross church, Zakopane
Evening Dinner in a restaurant
Concert 1 in Holy Cross church, Zakopane
Wednesday 24th August
Check out of the hotel
Transfer to Dobczyce for rehearsal in music school concert hall
Evening Dinner in a restuarant
Concert 2 in Dobczyce Music School Concert Hall
After concert continue to Krakow and check into new hotel, the Hotel Chopin
Thursday 25th August
Options – visit Auschwitz or the Krakow Salt Mines (additional cost)
NB it is vital to make a very early reservation for these excursions
Alternative is free time in Krakow`s historic and UNESCO listed old town
Evening Dinner in Krakow restaurant and free time in the old town
Friday 26th August
Free morning in Krakow
Rehearsal in St Katherine`s church in the Jewish district of Krakow
Concert 3 in St Katherines Church
Final dinner in a restaurant
End of tour party in the hotel
Saturday 27th August
Load coach and start journey home
Sunday 28th August
Arrive Glossop c.7pm
The cost of the trip will be £870, which includes half board and group travel insurance. Optional excursions and lunches may need to be paid for out of pocket money (we will recommend an amount nearer the time), unless we can work the budget to include them. Personal musical instrument insurance is not included.
Payments will be one initial deposit of £90 by July 31st 2021, followed by either 10 instalments from September to June 2022 or payment in full. Other payment options are possible by arrangement.
If you wish to reserve your place please return the tear-off slip (all forms received will be dealt with in date order)
It may be possible to offer a limited number of bursaries to assist with the costs on application.
I would like to reserve a place for my son/daughter to take part in the Poland Summer Music Course 2022
Name of player …………………………………………………………………………..…………
Parents Name ………………………………………………………………………………………..
Telephone …………………………………………Email ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
Please indicate which payment option you like to use for the balance:
An initial deposit of £90 should be returned with this application by July 31st, 2022
(cheques payable to “Dark Peak Music Foundation”).
Payment by BACS: Dark Peak Music Foundation Sort Code 01-03-38 Account Number 29262275
Please identify payments with name and Poland eg. C SHARP POLAND
Please return this slip either at a rehearsal or by post to 78 Church Street, Old Glossop, Derbyshire SK13 7RN
Principal Musical Director’s Review of the Year
The Dark Peak Music Foundation is now in its 20th year. Over that time well over 750 children have gone through our ensembles, many staying with us for as many as ten years. It has been a big part of many children’s formative years, and for some it has become their career, with a considerable number of our alumni now working in the music profession as performers, academics and teachers.
In normal times we might have been holding special events to celebrate this milestone, but that opportunity has been denied us by the pandemic. However, I think we can celebrate in a different and more subtle way. In unexpected ways we have been made more aware of how important community, common purpose and culture is to us all, and just acknowledging this is in itself a cause for celebration.
For a start we can recognise how important music has been during this terribly difficult time in helping us to cope with the stress of being under such severe restrictions. The many comments we have received from parents and students about how important it has been to them to have that regular contact with friends with similar interests and the structure of weekly lessons and ensembles that has given them some semblance of routine. We have had countless tales of children who have been struggling with the isolation, feeling lonely and disorientated, fearful for their futures as they have their educational routine disrupted, and some genuinely worried for the health of their families. Even if it is a strange and second-best way of doing it, we are very mindful that what we are doing is playing a small part in helping children with their mental well-being. Through the enormous effort of our team of directors, devising meaningful and engaging activities, up-schooling themselves in new technologies and producing two full scale online concerts, we can celebrate the creativity and resilience of our organisation. The online concerts have given our students the chance to share their achievements with their wider families and friends, attracting over 1000 views for each event – maybe something we might consider going forward.
Throughout history, music always has been more than just an entertainment or a pastime – it is human communication at its most profound level and an expression of all human emotions; a cathartic art which enriches our lives …. in the words of the great conductor Ricardo Muti “one of the primary elements to have a better society in the future”.
I have to say I have been immensely proud to be involved with such a strong and forward looking organisation; its amazing students who are always a joy to be with and show such commitment and loyalty, our incredible team of professional directors who bring such breadth and depth of experience from all branches of the music profession; the parents who have without a second thought unconditionally supported the music centre, which has enabled us to do all these things – how easy it would have been to say “let’s give it a miss until this has passed”, which would have led to the music centre losing so much ground and most probably countless children quitting music altogether.
Over the past two years we have been working hard on our Joint Instrumental Development Strategy, working with Derbyshire Music Partnership to build the team of instrumental tutors. We are really pleased to have a new generation of young teachers working in the area, including Simon Lodge teaching brass, India Merrett teaching violin and Sophia Sully continuing her great work with low strings. We have also been delighted that Simon has made a flying start taking over directorship of the Glossop Junior Wind Band and have also been absolutely thrilled to have the nationally recognised saxophonist Carl Raven joining our team as Director of Jazz Studies. We have also been delighted to welcome back Rachel Whibley, who is very much part of the DNA of the Foundation and has stepped in to run our senior woodwind group.
I’d like to thank all our trustees and parent helpers for their vital support behind the scenes, in particular Fiona Baynham who has done such a wonderful job as our treasurer and is now stepping down due to her workload (working in the NHS!). But I’m sure no one would mind me singling out our extraordinary chair, Andy Zuntz, whose energy, positivity and inclusive style of leadership bonds us all together and enables us all to give of our best.
We are yearning to get back to playing in full groups again. As we gradually turn the page, we are now focussing our attention on the time when we will have our bands and orchestras at full strength, with a (hopeful) plan to stage some form of live concert as soon as possible in the summer. What form this will take will depend on where we are, but with that beacon to light our way our ensembles are now working in online sectionals, rehearsing so that we can resume live rehearsals without having missed a beat.
As we eventually emerge from the chrysalis that we have been in for well over a year, our ensembles will look and feel very different. Some of our players will have moved on to the next stage of their life, younger players will be moving up to take their places in the more advanced groups, our rising stars will be stepping up to lead roles and we will begin the process of forging those tight musical and social bonds which are the bedrock of music-making. The more groundwork we can do now, the higher our starting point. I believe we will have come out stronger; we will have a greater appreciation of how valuable it is to be able to play together; our players have continued to develop their own individual playing and will have a better understanding of our individual role in the architecture of music; we will have formed a stronger team, with more resources and imagination at our disposal.
This difficult year has been hard for everyone in so many ways, but I believe it has brought out the best of us. I am confident that we have weathered the storm and will emerge as a strong, resilient and well-run organisation ready to continue our mission of giving young people the precious opportunity to develop their interest in music, and the lasting friendships that come from playing music together.
GREAT MUSICAL LEGACIES
Marcel Moyse … Voice of the Flute
The French flautist and teacher Marcel Moyse was one of the most influential teachers not only in the development of flute playing but for woodwind players in general.
One of his students, Paula Robinson, in her forward to his biography described his almost magical influence:
“we were all changed forever. I can only describe the experience as a kind of alchemy: when we walked into Mr Moyse’s studio we were one kind of player, and when we left we were another. We were richer, deeper. We were shaken, exhilarated, and illuminated.”
“In our minds we tried to recreate his gesturing hands, his sparkling eyes, his voice coaxing and pulling the music out of us.”
“His touch turned us into pure gold, sometimes for an instant …. It then became our task to stretch those moments into a lifetime of artistry”.
Moyse’s legacy has influenced every generation of players, including his own students, James Galway, Trevor Wye and William Bennett, and through their teaching flute players in orchestras on both sides of the Atlantic and around the world to the far east.
Entering the Paris Conservatoire in 1905, Moyse studied with such great teachers as Paul Taffanel, who is regarded as the father of modern flute playing, and Phillipe Gaubert. He had an illustrious career as a performer, developing a unique lyrical style, imitating the vibrato and phrasing of great string players such as Kreisler and opera singers like Caruso. He played for many years with the Paris Opera which influenced his ideas about listening to vocalists, developing tonal flexibility through practising nineteenth century operatic arias.
He published many pedagogical books on interpretation and technique, many of which are still used today including “Tone Development Through Interpretation”.
As a player he took part in many firsts including the premiers of Ravel’s “Daphnis and Chloe” and Stravinsky’s “Petrushka” and the “Rite of Spring”, but it is probably as a teacher that he will be most remembered and made his greatest mark on musical history.
He lived to the age of 95 and was asked near the end of his life if he still played the flute. “Yes”, he replied, “one note every day”. When asked which note, he answered “ahh, that is the problem!”
Here is a link to a masterclass that Moyse gave in Copenhagen in 1969 which will give a unique glimpse into this great teacher’s work.
Join us for our spectacular Christmas online concert
We break down this Cha Cha Cha into its elements. There will be a video making task to complete each week; the final piece will be created by individual videos but can also be performed in an ensemble if it becomes safer to do so. You can be part of creative groups and record together if it’s safe, and practise with the videos individually and send in your work. You will learn about Cuban rhythms, melodic improvisation, creating call and response and more playing by ear. You will be creating your own music to fit with the whole band, playing along with Tito Puente’s band from 1957!
Watch the introduction below to see what it’s all about and sign up to the band by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org It’s open to all, any instrument and any level.
The Pastoral Symphony
No. 6 in F Major, Opus 68 by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Composed 1802-1808. Premiered in 1808 in Vienna, conducted by Beethoven.
When we go on holiday we usually choose our destination for a particular reason – perhaps it has beautiful scenery, an interesting coastline, a wonderful climate or we might be attracted by its history and architecture. Once we arrive, we get used to our new surroundings explore the immediate location, venturing further afield each day, gradually exploring the whole region. Sometimes we may come back to a particularly lovely place year after year, always discovering new things each time. This is how many people feel about Beethoven’s symphonies – I hope you will too!
With our continuing theme of nature, I had to include Beethoven’s “Pastoral” Symphony. If listening to such a long piece is a new experience and feels a little daunting (it has five movements and lasts about 40 minutes) perhaps start with the fourth movement “The Storm”, which is 4 minutes of sheer drama (28’29” on the recording).
Put the volume high enough to hear the huge dynamic range Beethoven uses from the first pattering raindrops and the gradual building crescendo as the storm gathers force. Listen and watch for the energy of the timpani player and the strings playing “tremolo” giving the effect of the thunder – sometimes rumbling in the distance and sometimes terrifyingly directly overhead. The piccolo player’s few notes depict flashes of lightning. Towards the end there is a wonderful feeling of relief as the storm ebbs away leading into a chorale passage rather like a prayer, and an ascending scale on the flute which in my mind must surely represent a rainbow.
The Whole Symphony
Beethoven often took long walks in the countryside especially as his hearing deteriorated and he found it increasingly difficult to socialise. He often found inspiration for his compositions on such walks and so always carried a sketchbook – some of these are now housed in the British Library.
His most famous 5th symphony and the 6th (The Pastoral) were composed simultaneously when he was in his 30s and show very different sides to his personality. In the 5th we see a lot of the notoriously stormy Beethoven while on the whole the Pastoral shows him at his most serene.
Each movement has a descriptive title (times on the recording in brackets):
- Awakening of cheerful feelings on arrival in the countryside [ 0:00 ]
- Scene by the brook [ 10:51 ]
- Merry gathering of country folk [ 22:40 ]
- Thunder, Storm [ 28:29 ]
- Shepherd’s song. Cheerful and thankful feelings after the storm [ 32:30]
The first movement has a wonderful, joyful feeling as the title suggests. It starts in a rather unusual way, the first theme coming to a pause after just a few bars. Then tiny fragments from the melody and a very distinctive rhythm are developed immediately until the full-blown version of the theme evolves. Although the movement follows sonata form – the norm for a classical symphony – this technique for developing the material as it is presented, rather than reserving this treatment until the middle (or development section) is very much a hall-mark of Beethoven. The idea of repeating but subtly changing patterns is used extensively in this work, perhaps reflecting the patterns in nature.
In the second movement the sound of gently flowing water is clearly heard in the accompaniment. We feel we are following the course of the river bringing a new scene into view every time the music changes key. Birds are very much in evidence and even named at one point during a short cadenza – the nightingale (flute), quail (oboe) and cuckoo (clarinet).
The third movement where in a traditional classical symphony we would find a Minuet and Trio – a formal courtly dance, Beethoven writes a Scherzo where the 3 in a bar has become so fast it is really in 1. Not for the nobility, this is a dance for the peasants with an extremely rustic sounding trio section in 2 time! Listen how the music gets faster and faster towards the end until it comes to an abrupt stop and the first raindrops start to fall.
The 3rd, 4th and 5th movements are continuous – we have already discussed The Storm which is really an extra movement, the traditional pattern of the symphony having four. After The Storm there is a link to the Finale which has a wonderful feeling of thanksgiving.
The Life of a Musician in Beethoven’s Day
Before the unification of Germany and Italy there were many small principalities (kingdoms) each with its own ruler, eg. a Prince, Count or Duke. If they were keen on music and rich enough, they would employ musicians to form an orchestra and a “Kapellmeister” or Musical Director in charge of composing and organising performances for all occasions at court. Classed as servants they were expected to follow orders and wear the livery uniform just like any footman or butler.
If a music-loving prince was succeeded by one who didn’t care much for music all his musicians might suddenly find themselves out of a job. Also some patrons might try to influence their resident composer and complain if they were too adventurous or “modern” in their style of writing.
Such were the frustrations that 21-year old Mozart left the services of the Archbishop (Prince) of Salzburg becoming the first “freelance” musician – a very precarious position even for such a talented composer … and he died penniless.
Beethoven’s Childhood, Early Career and Deafness
Ludwig van Beethoven was born into a musical family in Bonn (now Western Germany) in 1770. His childhood was turbulent and unhappy with his alcoholic father often literally dragging the young boy from his bed in the middle of the night for a piano lesson.
Herr van Beethoven realised there was money and fame to be had showing off his son’s talent as a virtuoso pianist, like the infant prodigy Mozart 14 years earlier. To launch his 7 year old son’s career he arranged a concert, lying about his son’s age. This fell flat – Beethoven’s route to stardom through becoming becoming the “wunderkind” the six year-old Mozart had been.
At the age of 17 Beethoven headed for the cultural capital, Vienna. He hoped to study with Mozart, the greatest composer of the day and had the honour of being accepted. However, he never got to have a single lesson as he was unexpectedly when his mother fell seriously ill. Five years later when he returned, Mozart had died (aged only 35) but the young Beethoven did study with Joseph Haydn, Mozart’s mentor and close friend, often called the “Father of the Symphony”.
It didn’t take long for Beethoven to establish his reputation as the finest pianist in Vienna (and probably the world), a title he earned through the “Piano Duels”. Pianists would sparr against each other, improvising on popular tunes of the day, whilst being cheered on by their supporters, rather like a sports event.
Just like Mozart, Beethoven had decided not to be tied to working for a single patron. However his many admirers in the nobility helped him to earn a good living through commissioning compositions and promoting performances of new works in which he would often conduct or appear as soloist. He also taught piano in these circles.
Disaster struck in his late 20s when he realised that he was going deaf – worrying enough for anyone, but for a musician completely devastating.
In May 1802, he went to a country retreat Heiligenstadt outside Vienna to rest on the advice of his doctor. Depressed and unable to hide his increasing infirmity, Beethoven wrote a letter to his brothers which was never sent but which he guarded carefully until his death. It became known as the “Heiligenstadt Testament” and in it he revealed his struggles with deafness. The following extracts give some sense of his mood:
“O ye men who think or say that I am malevolent, stubborn or misanthropic, how greatly do ye wrong me ….. but reflect now that for six years I have been a hopeless case …. I was compelled early to isolate myself, to live in loneliness ….. yet it was impossible for me to say to men speak louder, shout, for I am deaf. Ah how could I possibly admit such an infirmity in the one sense which should have been more perfect”
Although he was almost totally deaf by the end of his life, Beethoven composed to the last, hearing all the music completely inside his own head. His legacy was probably the most important of any composer in history.
Signposts for Further Exploration
The Nine Symphonies of Beethoven
Whereas Haydn, Beethoven’s teacher, is sometimes called the “Father of the symphony” as he wrote 104 and established the pattern for its 4-movement form, Beethoven is considered its absolute master. Many subsequent composers have been so much in awe of Beethoven’s symphonies that they have felt it an almost impossible act to follow.
Every one of the nine symphonies is totally different and they span Beethoven’s entire career, the First being written in 1800 and obviously very indebted to Haydn, and the Ninth “The Choral Symphony”, written for the largest orchestra to date, soloists and a massive choir. His setting of Schiller’s Ode to Joy is often a young musician’s first experience of Beethoven, but they have no idea of the scale of the piece from which it comes!
Here is a link to live recordings of all nine played by different famous orchestras, in some of the most amazing concert halls around the world:
Beethoven the Romantic
The essence of the Romantic Movement was the expression of beauty of nature and the emotions through art. Beethoven was born in the same year as the English poet William Wordsworth who is one of our best-known Romantic poets. It could be argued that the Pastoral Symphony was one of the earliest musical works to express these Romantic ideas.
You might be interested to read some Wordsworth and see the similar thinking between the great composer and the great poet. There were similar parallels in painting as well with many artists painting often quite idealised scenes of the countryside.
A Very Special Orchestra: the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra
The performance I have chosen is by the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra under its Director and Founder Daniel Barenboim.
Founded in 1999, the orchestra is based in Seville, Spain and consists of young musicians from right across the Middle-East and also Spanish backgrounds. Bringing together players of these often conflicting backgrounds for an annual course and a concert tour, the orchestra plays at the highest level and in the spirit of reconciliation – something which I am sure the great humanitarian Beethoven would have thoroughly approved of.
It is best described in Barenboim’s own words:
“The Divan is not a love story, and it is not a peace story. It has very flatteringly been described as a project for peace. It isn’t. It’s not going to bring peace, whether you play well or not so well. The Divan was conceived as a project against ignorance. A project against the fact that it is absolutely essential for people to get to know the other, to understand what the other thinks and feels, without necessarily agreeing with it. I’m not trying to convert the Arab members of the Divan to the Israeli point of view, and [I’m] not trying to convince the Israelis to the Arab point of view. But I want to – and unfortunately I am alone in this now that Edward [Said – co-founder] died a few years ago … create a platform where the two sides can disagree and not resort to knives.”
One of the young musicians of the orchestra reinforced this point:
“Barenboim is always saying his project is not political. But one of the really great things is that this is a political statement by both sides. It is more important not for people like myself, but for people to see that it is possible to sit down with Arab people and play. The orchestra is a human laboratory that can express to the whole world how to cope with the other.”
Follow the Score
What is a Symphony?
If you would like to find out more about the development of the Symphony here is the Wikipedia link
SPOTLIGHT ON REPERTOIRE
The Early ‘Wind Band’ Music of Mozart
The modern wind band has undergone a renaissance over the past 40 years, largely through the advocacy of Tim Reynish, who we met last week. Although it lends itself so well to the ‘light’ side of music and has a particularly important role in music education … how many school have enough strings for a full symphony orchestra, while most can muster a workable flexible wind band? However the symphonic wind orchestra has an established place on the mainstream concert platform and many leading composers have contributed works which I am sure will endure.However the story of wind band music goes back a long way, with what we might consider the original wind band music being the Harmoniemusik of Mozart and Haydn. The “Harmonie” was the name for an ensemble of wind instruments which would perform for the guests at hunting parties and social events of the patron, often outdoors where it was not practicable to have a full orchestra (or the patron wasn’t rich enough to employ a full orchestra).
Mozart composed many divertimenti for wind and strings for these kind of events, including his two wind serenades in Eb major and C minor. But his masterwork was the Serenade for 13 Instruments in B-flat major, K. 361 which became known as the “Gran Partita”.
Scored 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 basset-horns,2 bassoons, two pairs of natural horns (pitched in different keys) and double bass, this was the largest work of the classical period for solo instruments. Although it is a divertimento (which by definition might be a more light-hearted form of musical entertainment) the ‘Gran Partita’ stands alongside the great genres of instrumental music – sonata, string quartet and symphony – with a richness of tone-colour and a density of texture unheard of in the wind ensemble repertoire of its time. The configuration became the basis for several works that followed, including (much later) the Strauss Wind Serenades and Dvorak’s Serenade, which had similar scoring but also included cello and double bass. Much more up to date, Adam Gorb wrote his Symphony No.1 for this combination of instruments – a cleverly composed (and often quite humorous) pastiche of many other composers first symphonies.
Salieri, a contemporary (and some believe rival!) of Mozart, is reputed to have said of the opening of the 3rd movement …
“Extraordinary! On the page it looked nothing! The beginning simple, almost comic. Just a pulse. Bassoons, basset horns – like a rusty squeezebox. And then, suddenly, high above it, an oboe. A single note, hanging there, unwavering. Until a clarinet took it over, sweetened it into a phrase of such delight! This was no composition by a performing monkey! This was a music I had never heard. Filled with such longing, such unfulfillable longing. It seemed to me that I was hearing the voice of God.”
There are many excellent recordings of the work, but I have chosen this one by the Zefira Ensemble performing on original instruments. Although the video quality isn’t the best, I thought it would be interesting for you to see these instruments in action.
I hope you enjoy this performance of the ‘Gran Partita’ and thought that some of you may like to follow the score. I have included here a link to the facsimile of Mozart’s original handwritten score which I always find fascinating:
YOUNG MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR
We are very pleased to announce the re-launch of the Dark Peak Young Musician of the Year.
There will be categories for all instruments, ages and levels and the overall winner will receive the Dark Peak Young Musician of the Year Award, which was last presented in 2014 (to a very young pianist called Johann Kidger!)
We are absolutely delighted that our Patron Dr.Timothy Reynish MBE has agreed to adjudicate the winners of each section. Tim Reynish was the Head of Wind, Brass and Percussion at the RNCM and is one of the leading wind-band conductors in the world. He has been a long-standing supporter of all we are doing here in Dark Peak.
There will be prizes of a £5 Forsyth’s Voucher (to be presented when we return in the Autumn) in each of the categories below and £10 for the winner of each section.
You can submit more than one entry on different instruments. Entries should be recorded by video and can be solo, accompanied by a family member or with a backing track.
For details about how to submit your videos click here.
- Junior – Beginner to Grade 2
Percussion and Piano
- Intermediate – Grade 2 to 4
Percussion and Piano
- Senior: Grade 5 to 6
Percussion and Piano
- Advanced Level: Grade 7 to 8
Rules of entry
- Entries must be received by Sunday 28th June.
- The competition is open to all currently subscribed members of the Dark Peak Music Foundation.
- All entries will be played on a YouTube Streamed event on Monday 6th July at 7pm.
- A winner will be chosen from each category and the winning performances will be played in the end of term live-stream YouTube concert on 12th July, 4pm.
- The decision of the adjudicator will be final and finalists will receive a short written feedback on their performance.
CARNIVAL OF THE ANIMALS
by Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921)
Written in 1886
Following our theme of nature, in this week’s choice we have a humorous look at the animal kingdom with “The Carnival of the Animals” by Camille Saint-Saens.
The piece, which has 14 short movements, is great fun for all ages. Saint-Saens admitted enjoying composing it so much that he put the “serious” work of writing his 3rd Symphony to one side until it was finished. However he was so worried that such a light-hearted piece would ruin his reputation as a composer that he instructed that apart from “The Swan” it should only be published after his death. Consequently it only had a few private house-performances for his close friends. It was an instant success when it was finally published in1922, and now it is one of his best loved works.
I have included two very different recordings this time. The first has comic verses by Frances Button recited between each movement in a live concert given by members of the New York Philharmonic. The piece is written for an unusual combination of instruments – 2 pianos, string quartet, double bass, flute/piccolo, clarinet and xylophone (and glass harmonica usually played on glockenspiel these days).
The other recording played with a larger orchestra has the added interest of paintings, drawings and visual animations made by Manchester based pianist Tom Scott (who also produced the animations for the Nutcracker Suite Rachel Whibley shows in her Snowman Tour each Christmas).
I enjoyed both versions so much I thought I’d like to share them with you too.
Each creature is depicted in a separate movement, many of them in a humorous way with jokes on many levels. In the closing Carnival Parade we have our final glimpse of a few as they pass by at great speed. see how many you can spot (Clue: The Donkey has the last laugh!)
I “Introduction et marche royale du lion” (Introduction and Royal March of the Lion)
II “Poules et coqs” (Hens and Roosters)
III “Hémiones (animaux véloces)” (Wild Donkeys Swift Animals)
IV “Tortues” (Tortoises)
V “L’Éléphant” (The Elephant)
VI “Kangourous” (Kangaroos)
VIII “Personnages à longues oreilles” (Characters with Long Ears)
IX “Le Coucou au fond des bois” (The Cuckoo in the Depths of the Woods)
X “Volière” (Aviary)
XI “Pianistes” (Pianists)
XII “Fossiles” (Fossils)
XIII “Le cygne” (The Swan)
XIV Final (Finale)
Signposts for Exploration
Listen out for the funny ways that Saint-Saens portrays his animals. I’m sure you will instantly recognise the roaring of the lions, the braying donkeys, the clucking of chickens and the cock-a-doodle-doo of the rooster.
Some of the jokes are more subtle, for instance in Fossils Saint-Saens quotes his own composition “Danse Macabre” using the xylophone to imitate the sound of the dancing skeletons. He also includes some “musical fossils”. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (attributed to Mozart) and some very old French folksongs, “Au Clair de la Lune” and “J’ai un bon Tabac”. He even quotes from Rossinni’s Barber of Seville, written 70 years earlier.
In “Personages with long ears” as well as giving a very life-like impersonation of a donkey, he has a dig at the critics – Saint-Saens writing this pieces following a disastrous concert tour.
The double bass is the obvious choice of instrument for portraying the Elephant, but by borrowing themes from other composers’ pieces (Mendelssohn and Berlioz) depicting fairies he conjures up a ridiculous image of an elephant in a tutu!
The clever sequencing of movements to achieve maximum contrast, such as the incredible speed of the Hémiones (thought to be a type of wild Tibetan donkey) followed by the ridiculous image of tortoises doing the Can-Can.
Similarly the almost hypnotic effect of the cuckoo in the depths of the wood, where the clarinet plays its simple two note song off-stage, contrasts with the fluttering sound of the aviary featuring the flute playing continuous demi-semi-quavers. Perhaps Saint-Saens was having a joke with these two players who sat next to each other.
But probably the funniest movement of all is “Les Pianists”. The sheer cheek of including them as part of the animal kingdom and instructing them to play their scales and exercises in public as if they were beginners (out of time and with fistfuls of wrong notes) is ridiculous enough, but on another level we have an image of the strange species caged for years of its life, practising to reach the perfection we normally hear in the concert hall.
There are also moments of incredible beauty, especially in the Aquarium which achieves a shimmering sonority using the glass harmonica. And last of all the incredibly beautiful Swan featuring the cello in the most elegant gliding melody, accompanied by the pianos producing a wonderful rippling effect.
The Dying Swan
The Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova sprang to international fame in 1905 with her ground-breaking portrayal of the Dying Swan, using Saint-Saens music to produce such delicate and realistic movements that they influenced every generation of dancers who have followed since. Interestingly she actually kept swans in her garden to study the way they behaved and imitate them in her ballet.
Here is some rare historic footage of this incredible ballerina doing her signature dance. It is followed by an amazing interpretation by the American dancer Lil Buck, obviously influenced by Pavlova, but bringing in modern dance moves (including Michael Jackson’s moonwalking).
There is also an interesting link with Daphnis and Chloe (my choice from a few weeks back) as Anna Pavlova was the prima ballerina for the company “Ballet Russe” which produced the ballet in 1911.
My Animal’s Weirder than Your Animal
Why don’t you try drawing or painting a picture of your favourite animal – it can be real or imagined. You could also write a poem or even make a short composition about a creature. We would love to see your work so you could send it to email@example.com (and the weirdest ones will go into the bulletin!)
Follow the score
As in other weeks we have included a link to the score for more advanced students. This recording has the score and music running simultaneously.
Play Some of the Carnival Yourself!
We know that some of you have already been learning some movements from this piece, including The Swan and The Elephant. If you would like to make a recording of your performance we can include it in the Virtual Concert Hall, or you could submit if for the Dark Peak Young Musicians of the Year competition at the end of the year.