The Scottish Recorder Orchestra
The Dortmund Recorder Consort

Sunday 5 October 2008
Reid Concert Hall, Edinburgh

In October the Scottish Recorder Orchestra (SRO), with their conductor, Eileen Silcocks, met at Carberry Tower near Mussleburgh for an intensive weekend of rehearsal for our concert in the Reid Concert Hall, Edinburgh. Some twenty players from the Dortmund Recorder Consort (DORC) joined us, along with their conductor Dietrich Schnabel. It was a great opportunity for us to work with both conductors.

On the Sunday we packed an enormous pile of instruments into cars, including contras, sub-contras, and a sub-sub-contra, and set off for the Reid Concert Hall. There was a concern that our concert would create little interest but to our great delight and amazement it was a full house, some 250 people. The Reid Concert Hall is a popular Edinburgh venue for public concerts, with a wonderful acoustic.

The Concert began with a very beautiful Serenade, especially composed and conducted by Eileen for our Leader and soloist Ed Friday who performed this Edinburgh première with his usual laid back calm bewitching both orchestra and audience. The work was in four movements: Andante, Allegro giocoso, Adagio and Scherzo. The programme continued with Palestrina’s Viri Galilei, a hauntingly beautiful piece, to be followed by a change of mood with Blues Variations by Steve Marshall. We were a little shaken when we learnt that Steve Marshall had made a special trip to hear us play his music. That created a few extra collywobbles, but all went well, with the wonderful sonorities of the sub- and sub-sub-contras adding a unique richness, not usually heard in the UK. The first half ended with a Trombetti three choir piece, Ad te levavi oculos meos. During a short interval, the orchestra members introduced the instruments to a party of children from schools in Keith. The children from Keith Primary School ‘liked seeing all the different instruments’ and pupils from Keith Grammar School thought it was really COOL. There was also an enthusiastic reaction from Jean Murray, the director of Edinburgh Young Musicians and the Scottish Children's Orchestra.

The second half of the programme started with a third première for Edinburgh, a performance of Dietrich Schnabel’s Symphony No.1, conducted by the composer. Each movement presented its own challenge, with many changes in mood, time and key signature. The beautiful music kept both players and the audience rapt. The concert finished wth a short encore piece that Steve Marshall wrote for our SRO and DORC soloists, Un petit Digestif, which was great fun for everyone to play, and our fourth première of the afternoon.

This experience was worth all the hard work as the audience was enthusiastic and appreciative of the performance, one small step towards bringing recorder playing to a wider public. Perhaps the children in the audience might become the future orchestra! 

Jean MacDonald

Concert Programme - concert poster