The Scottish Recorder Orchestra

Residential weekend, November 2005

In November 2005 the Scottish Recorder Orchestra with Eileen Silcocks as Musical Director held its second visit to Gartmore House in Stirlingshire. The members arrived on a truly golden late Autumn Friday afternoon in greater numbers than last year. There was no pause before getting down to work at the first session.

RehearsalOn Saturday morning we started with a deceptively simple three-part piece of early music, the snag was that we all had to change instruments from our preferred ones to the lower instruments. It was a sight to behold to see descant and treble players looking askance at basses, great basses and contras. Eileen demonstrated the technique for making them sound without effort - she makes it look so easy. Not everyone was convinced it was possible, but it did work after much trial and error and the regular bass players learned a thing or two as well.

There were ten great basses and three contras at this point, as well as the regular basses - a wonderful sound! Basses and contrabasses Later we moved on to a Vivaldi Concerto and Steve Marshall's Concerto no. 2 in G. This was a new venture, as we had to play with a soloist on the top line. Ed Friday was most accommodating and we learnt that the conductor only indicates the first beat when the soloist is in full solo flight. The effort of concentration was palpable and at one point we faced stiff opposition from a "Living Faith" group that were beating drums and clapping in the next room. Our M.D. had to ask for them to be moved elsewhere as their beat was not the same as ours. The early afternoon was for private study or whatever. Some of us donned boots and rainwear to walk the circular route round the village and estate, stopping off at the local shop for supplies. Some members were actually seen to be practising while others were to be found in discreet corners with newspapers that rested on their chests, well, we work hard!

The Saturday evening session brought a change of mood and a later century with a really exciting arrangement by ConductorEileen of Grieg's Hall of the Mountain King and The Death of Åse. Not every recorder player is keen on adaptations such as this but we agreed that it worked stunningly well. As this was Guy Fawkes night, Eileen had quickly downloaded, rearranged and printed La Réjouissance from Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks. Tom played a Cornetto, adding to the excitement of the work. After the Saturday evening period there was wine, music and chat; however we did have to exert some brainpower with the quiz, created by Ewart & Powell Productions. There was much argument and laughter as the teams battled for the prize.

Later, as most of us were heading towards bed, we were treated to an impromptu firework display from the "Living Faith" group out in the grounds. Perhaps we should have joined in with Music for the Royal Fireworks! The Sunday session included a four-choir piece by Andrea Gabrieli Gloria in excelsis Deo.

The weekend was an outstanding success and although we had worked hard it was a most rewarding and exciting experience and next year is already planned and booked for 6th to 8th October 2006, again tutored by Eileen Silcocks with guest tutor Dietrich Schnabel, Musical Director of the Dortmund Recorder Consort, Germany.

Anyone interested in joining the Orchestra should contact our chairperson,  David Powell.

Jean Macdonald

Purple shirts         Trebles

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