The Scottish Recorder Orchestra

Residential weekend, October 2007

SRO group photo

In October 2007 The Scottish Recorder Orchestra held a residential weekend at Gartmore House near Aberfoyle. Eileen Silcocks, our conductor, and Dietrich Schnabel, a favourite visitor from last year, were in good form. Their enthusiasm and skill pushed the players to new endeavour.

Ed Friday, the leader of the orchestra, started us off on Friday evening as Eileen and Dietrich were flying in, quite literally, straight from Germany. They arrived full of beans and wasted no time. There are many advantages to having a Friday to Sunday weekend, not just the sheer concentration of music and a chance to change instruments but also time to socialise, as ordinary rehearsal meetings don't allow much interchange. Not that our two conductors gave us much time off for good behaviour.

Saturday session began with Dietrich swinging into the Allegro of his Symphonie No. 1 d-moll. The whole work has four movements and last about 35 minutes. It's wonderful music and he claims he isn't really a composer, rubbish! Eileen took over for some calmer early music a Solis Ortus Cardine by Praetorious and a chance for everyone to try an instrument that they did not normally play. This is excellent experience for the Bass section and the Sopranos as the awareness of other sections changes the perception of the piece as a whole. As a complete contrast Eileen continued with Glen Miller's Moonlight Serenade arranged by Paul Leenhouts. Saturday had a new one for the orchestra with a Fipple Dance by Glen Shannon. This work includes such special effects as Tchs and Shs and even a cluck, cluck or two. Eileen had us all practising our sound effects and caused some frivolous players to snort with laughter down their instruments, producing just the right sound.

The last session of the day included the beautiful, melodic Andante from Mendelssohn's 'Italian' Symphony and a new, minimalist work by Steve Marshall, The Long Path Home inspired by a poem by Judy Kendall. This work is dedicated to Eileen and sent us tramping that last extra mile. The image of the Contras attempting to cover the airway of their instruments will go down in the annals as a sight for sore eyes. Footsore and weary, but triumphant we relaxed with comfort food and the odd glass or two.

. a downward glissando, preferably by shading the windway ..
Steve Marshall's "The Long Path Home"
- ".. a downward glissando, preferably by shading the windway ..."

Sunday was a glorious day, the early morning mist slowly lifting over the hills to reveal the landscape dressed in its autumn colours. We took the opportunity to have a traditional 'end of term' photograph at the main entrance. Eileen didn't lessen in her vigour conducting the Schmelzer Sonata a 7 Flauti, and Dietrich concentrated on the other movements of his Symphony and at one point described our playing as what sounded like 'pathetik'! Could we have been that bad? In the nervous pause it was explained that in German the word means emotional, sorry Dietrich for our ignorance. We all stoked up with a solid Sunday lunch. Puddings were in great favour as sugar levels were low. After that we played the whole repertoire from start to finish, no breaks.

The organisers and the staff at Gartmore deserve high praise for the success of the weekend and our two inspiring conductors made this an exciting, demanding and so rewarding experience that we can't wait for the next episode.

Jean Macdonald

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