Archive for the ‘Fun stuff’ category

Douce France

August 17, 2010

Just back from amazing 3-week holiday in France — mellow, tanned and broke!  Wonderful weather almost all of the time, fabulous scenery, sights and cities, great food (including our own picnics) and wine — even the cheapest at 2 euros for 1.5 litres…

Special thanks to Janie and Mark for the invitation to make music in Le Croisic (in Brittany);  to the prorietors of our magical Chambre d’hote in the tiny village of Aumagne which just about saved our lives and gave us a magical and unexpected weekend;  to John and Ann for generously allowing us to be the first guinea-pigs in their gite in Moux in the Corbieres, and for the wonderful lunch (and new loo seat!);  and to Diggory and Russell for once again allowing us to share their idyllic retreat (with pool) in the Provencal vineyards above Entrechaux.

And to Diana for being there and sharing it all, and for doing most of the 2800 miles of driving!  Love you xxx

And to France for being so big and varied, and true to itself, and unspoiled, and… French.

Nul points to Michelin Green Guides for changing their format so you can’t find anything any more, and for being so badly proofread — which they never used to be.

But hurrah for the Michelin Road Atlas for telling you everything you need to know, especially where the scenic routes are.

We have another 500 photos or so, one of these days…

The BIG double reed day! – calling all oboes and bassoons

July 21, 2010

(…and contras!)

Calling ALL double-reeders, of whatever age or standard… Come to the BIG DOUBLE REED DAY at the Guildhall School of Music in London on Sunday 10 October.  Looks loads of fun as well as very educational.

Tutors include Gordon Hunt, Martin Gatt, Gareth Hulse, Meryck Alexander, John Orford and loads more.

Go to the website http://www.bigdoublereed.com/about.php and click on all the links for more details and how to reserve your place.

See you there. maybe?

Meanwhile, have a happy summer!

musical taxi (happy birthday Chopin!)

March 5, 2010

Who but the Poles…?

Happy birthday to Frederic Chopin, fellow Piscean!

snapped in Pond Road, London SE3

Reed Rage bassoon quartet

February 23, 2010

Definition: Reed Rage. An affliction commonly found in double reed players, especially bassoonists. Less serious than Reed Neurosis suffered by oboe players. It involves leaping up and down on reeds that don’t work or stabbing them into music stands…

 So… way back in October, we turned out to the wilds of Hampstead for a concert by REED RAGE, a brand new bassoon quartet which just happens to have my niece Rosie in it…

 More about them, and biographies of the four players (and their instruments), from their website – a very swish production which I suspect Tom had a hand in:

 http://www.reedrage.co.uk

 They are Rosie Burton, Alex Davidson, Llinos Owen and Tom Hardy.  The occasion was organised by Hugh Rosenbaum, who hovered over the proceedings like a benevolent but slightly anxious mother hen (and wrote a glowing review for Double Reed News afterwards! – Issue 89, Winter 2009, page 33).  The tiny room at Burgh House was packed to the rafters, and extra chairs had to be sent for to accommodate all the bassoonists, pupils, relations, friends and other interested parties who were eager to squeeze in.

The three girls are all alumnae of the Southbank Sinfonia, and Tom is a veteran of – well, lots of things.  Each of the four had a terrific, characterful sound, and as a quartet their blend, unanimity of attack, discipline and intonation were a joy.  Most of the contra duties fell to Tom, although Alex’s Big Bertha got a look in too.

The programme managed to avoid the usual bassoon quartet chestnuts (though it would have been nice to hear Alan Ridout’s Pigs played really well) and instead gave us wide-ranging repertoire, from Senaillé and Fucik to Prokofiev, Stravinsky and beyond, mostly in arrangements – the arrangers including Boris Turner (a.k.a. Rosie Burton), Graham Sheen, and Andrew Skirrow (who turned out to be an old chum of Tom’s).

The concert also included the European premiere of Dance of the Polar Bears by Gernot Wolfgang, enterprisingly commissioned by a consortium (including Hugh Rosenbaum) from this highly regarded Austrian-born composer, who currently lives in Los Angeles.

It was concentrated, jazzy and lots of fun – and very difficult (as I know from having taken part in the first UK read-through… but that’s another story).  Some of the audience thought it perhaps outstayed its welcome;  I was too busy listening to notice.

The programme concluded with The Lone Arranger by Philip R Buttall;  we were invited to count the number of quotations from familiar works that crept in along the way.  I’ve forgotten the answer…

But the highlight for me was probably Andrew Skirrow’s arrangement of The Poacher (which tickled Hugh Rosenbaum, as he had laid on Lincolnshire Poacher cheese for the interval – and very nice it was too). 

 Here is an audio clip, courtesy of Tom:

[click on the arrow — and wind the volume up to max…] 

The point of writing this review now – four months after the event – is that Reed Rage has unfortunately been in abeyance since Llinos was involved in a rather nasty car accident.  We’re glad to hear she has completely recovered, and wish her well;  meanwhile, Reed Rage are gearing up for another evening of delights – so watch (and listen to) this space…

 Thanks to Tom for the invitation to write this piece, and for the audio clip.  And to the Reed Rage website for the picture.

MERRY CHRISTMAS 2009!

December 16, 2009

All good wishes to all of you out there, from me and Diana…

Here is the Christmas card — and I’ll put in an audio link so you can hear it too, in a wheezy computerized version (with apologies for the dysfunctional counterpoint in the middle):

click on the button below to play it!

halloween bassoon

November 1, 2009

Happy Halloween!
This is from the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

Halloweenbassoon

picture from Geoff Browne — thanks!

I’m still here

January 16, 2009

p1110845Very quick update from the office…

Apologies for news blackout – lost email and internet connection for most of the past month, not fixed yet.

Great Park Lane Group concert at Purcell Room on 9 January – my niece (bassoonist) Rosie’s major London debut, playing John Casken, Anthony Payne, and new pieces by Graham Sheen and Graham Waterhouse. Also a great string quartet (the Solstice Quartet – one to watch:  playing Ligeti, Swayne, Kurtag and Joe Cutler).

Then a lovely weekend away in France – cold and frosty but bright.  Rouen, Dieppe, Varengeville – great sights, super food.

Then (Diana and me both) suddenly smitten by return of gastric flu bug which knocked us out for a few days (and mysteriously gave me a black eye).

Normal service will resume as soon as Virgin.net can get me back up and running at home.  Meanwhile we start rehearsing Die Tote Stadt at the Opera House net week – wow!

Belated Merry Christmas card!

January 2, 2009

Unfortunately I have been without internet and email over Christmas, so this is rather late, but here is my card for this year, with all good wishes for a belated Christmas and a HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I’ll also post an audio link so you can hear a computerised version of it — though the robot Santas can only sing ‘Ha ha ha’ so it sounds unintenionally somewhat sarcastic.

xmas08_11

 

 

xmas08_21

Click on this link to hear it:  xmasho08kontaktmp31

photos of Italy

August 10, 2008

Following my wonderful jaunt to play Rossini’s La Cenerentola in Umbria, here is a photo album for your edification and enjoyment.  Click on the link below:

http://www.photobox.co.uk/album/59739568

album by PhotoBox

FOUND!

August 9, 2008

 Well, well.  After a year and a half of commenting and submitting stuff to FOUND Magazine’s Find of the Day, I see that they have finally published one of my Finds!  Apparently it can take several years for a Find to show up, as they get so many, so I’m honoured.

Thanks, guys!

To read all the comments – witty, illuminating and otherwise – click HERE.