Month: August 2013

Blog No. 7: Paul Laidlaw

Hi! I’m Paul Laidlaw and I’m the Musical Director, Pianist and Presenter with the Legendary Scarborough Spa Orchestra. This is my sixth season so one or two of the tunes we play are becoming vaguely familiar.

I’ll carry on from where Rick left off last week. After the morning concert on Friday [nice to see some people dancing while others just sat back and enjoyed the music] I drove back to my home in York ready to rehearse with the York Musical Theatre Company on Saturday night. They would be singing with us at our Rodgers and Hammerstein Gala on Thursday and I’d written some new vocal arrangements to fit with our orchestral versions of five of the R&H wonderful scores. They were very enthusiastic and were really looking forward to being with us on Thursday. More on that later.

Back to Scarborough for the morning concert on Monday. Clockwork fairies were wound up, sails billowed, Sousa paraded and Mike fiddled for a living. With the sound of Noel Coward singing in our ears we set off for the major event of the season which was our annual visit to our good friends Helen and Malcolm Booth for what is always a wonderful lunch. I think Mark’s face in this picture says how amazing the food was.

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Melon and sorbet with raspberries to start then a gorgeous chicken dish. And if that wasn’t enough there were three sweets, numerous cheeses and a bottomless coffee pot. It only seemed polite to try a little of each of the puds and, as a result, it was a satiated orchestra that made its way back to the Spa for the evening concert.

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Well maybe just a small piece!

A splendid time was guaranteed for all, as four lads from Liverpool used to say.

A lively performance of Pineapple Poll launched us into Melodies For You and other delights that evening included Bells Across The Meadow with campanology from Michael, a sumptuous Jack Byfield arrangement of I Know Of Two Bright Eyes from the trio and lovely Novello melodies from Perchance To Dream.

Tuesday morning began with my daily meeting with Stephen and Judith Walker, our fantastic librarians. We meet every day at 9am to talk through any last minute changes that might have to be made to programming, discuss up-coming Galas, guest artists etc. and generally try to keep one step ahead. Progamming nine concerts every week for fifteen weeks plus Peaholm Park events, Teddy Bears Picnics and so on is a daunting task and I cannot say how grateful I am to Stephen and Judith for their invaluable help and support.

Then it was time for a rehearsal with Mark who was to play Spanish Flea that evening with Steve, Michael, Rick and myself. This was new to us so we spent some time working on the arrangement. On to the morning concert where men flew on trapezes, lovers came back to us and we tried to spread a little happiness. Special mention to Rick for his great rendition of Kid Ory’s Creole Trombone.

After the concert Di and I rehearsed her solo for the evening and then I spent the rest of the afternoon checking and marking up the band parts for the Rodgers and Hammerstein Gala. We use the basic selections from the shows for this but there are extra songs to fit in, different repeats to allow for more verses of songs and some new orchestrations of songs which we don’t normally play but wanted to include so anything that can be done in advance to make things clearer saves precious time at the rehearsal.

Then it was time to go back to the Spa for our Classical Favourites concert. Apart from playing a slightly more ‘serious’ programme Tuesday evenings give us the chance to hear solos from members of the orchestra which is always a delight. Mark’s number proved to be very popular as did those from Di [fast and spectacular – the piece, not Di!], Chloe [lovely Mozart on the bassoon] and Mike [gentle and poignant – the piece, not Mike!]

Wednesday morning saw us back in the Sun Court for Music in the Air. A lovely mixed bag including The Cycling Chimp with apologies to Steve who’d come off his bike earlier in the week and was sporting a spectacular but strangely attractive graze on his cheek, Drummer’s Birthday with Michael hitting his entire collection of toys, Venus On Earth with extravagant choreography from the band and a spritely London Bridge March to close.

I spent the afternoon with a long phone call with the production management of the panto I’m doing this year and then another, even longer one with the producers of a Christmas Concert with the Northern Sinfonia at the Sage Concert Hall in Gateshead.

Summer Serenade that evening was a lovely mixture of things. Orpheus In The Underworld, In A Chinese Temple Garden by Albert W Ketelbey [Hooray!]. The Girls From Corsica and the Friedmann Slavonic Rhapsody No 2.

After the concert Stephen and Judith and I went to Tuscany Two for our weekly treat of an Italian meal. Originally this was our reward for an evening meeting during which we did most of the programming, but since our change to four consecutive nights of performances we don’t have an evening meeting and do the programming through the day. Somehow it seemed sensible to continue having the meal even though we hadn’t had the meeting. This involves a bit of a dash up the hill to get there before last orders (although we phone the order in before the concert) but they always make us very welcome and I can heartily recommend the place to anyone who enjoys good food. And no, they’re not paying me to advertise them!

Thursday morning was, as always, requests day. I have to say that the programmes that result from the audiences’ requests have been really good this year. Although there are the inevitable repetitions (The Merry Widow seems to pop in for a visit on a regular basis) we do seem to end up with a good variety of styles and content. Di was asked to play the Romance from The Gadfly so the rest of the orchestra decided to sit in the audience and listen leaving Di and I in solo splendour. It felt a bit lonely!


Mass Exodus!

After the morning concert I had a quick meeting with the marketing department and then checked that everything was set up properly in the Grand Hall for the evening. Graham, in his capacity as orchestra stage manager, had supervised the building of the extra rostra for the choir and music stands and chairs were in place for the soloists. I checked with the sound technician that all was well with the additional microphones to capture the choir (they were positioned quite far back and would need some extra enhancement) and then had a quick cup of tea before the 2pm rehearsal.

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Making sure they can be heard!

The rehearsal, although long and arduous, went very well. Both Maria Bovino and Owen Webb were in very good voice and, after some fiddling with fold-back so that we could all hear each other properly, we stormed through and were finished by 4.55pm – a whole five minutes early!

I had a cup of tea with some members of York Musical Theatre Company and before we knew it we were ready to start the concert. There was a very gratifying turnout of audience – one of the biggest of the season which would suggest that Rodgers and Hammerstein can still work their magic. Stephen’s narration was witty and informative, the soloists and choir sang like a dream and, of course, the orchestra was magnificent, justly earning their soubriquet: legendary. Prolonged applause at the end brought the evening to a very satisfactory conclusion.


Ladies of the York Musical Theatre Company

Only one more concert the following morning where members of the audience could trip the light fantastic in the Ocean Room and that was the end of another very busy but very enjoyable week. Only four more weeks of the season left now, which means four more blogs and lots more music! Enjoy!



Blog No. 6: Rick Scoates


Welcome to the Scarborough Spa Blog No. 6.

My name is Rick Scoates .
I count bars rest, drink water and accompany the exquisite musicianship of my friends and colleagues on a Trombone. I am also called on to sing and shout and dance about as the mood takes. In fact the job description goes so completely against my natural character, it is a wonder I was asked back (in 2003) after my painfully shy debut in 1991.

This is my 11th Season. My old friends, Russell Baldwin and John Challis were my predecessors. Very tragically both died of cancer aged about 40. Their handwriting directions are still all over the music. Their writ and wit renewed each day at each play. In my head they sit with me at concert directing my moves. In tribute to Russell I use two of his trade mark gimmicks:- waving with the plunger in Glenn Miller and bell up waving side to side in Umm Pa Pa from Oliver. Russell was particularly renowned for his rich, round, jovial sound; used to telling effect in Old Man River and as I had to play it several times during his illness I look to him as mentor. He was very popular with audience and colleagues and his announcing was brimming full of wit. In every way then he is an inspiration.
Things have moved on in the last 11 years. Inspired by our woodwind department’s variety of sounds, Mark and I now use 5 mutes, several instruments and different styles of vibrato (fast/slow /singing or expressive to suit the period or style). I use a different instrument for the Grand Hall (large bore) than outdoors in the Sun Court (smaller more brilliant and focused sound). This also in a general way matches the different requirements of the music too. Different size mouthpieces help to complement the final set up. Also the acoustic has a part to play. I play the Tuba into 30 meters of curtain. The lively acoustic of the Little Theatre, Middlesbrough last week made Mark comment that the Tuba sounded “awesome” (in Slaughter On 7th Avenue).
So playing in the brass department is a bit of a magic trick really, lots of smoke and mirrors, guile and subtlety, artifice, practise, preparation and maybe not the larky old life you might guess at, sat in your deck chair. I still have trombone lessons out of season and my wife (a cellist) gives me top tips from time to time to tweak the weaker patches. So in brief, it’s nothing short of a high wire act, without a safety net, with a brace of ferrets fighting in your underpants.
Mention of Mark (who left me on Friday 9th with a glowing report of my efforts in Bolero) reminds me that I have to say that he was not present in my week’s blog. He fled the nest, (like his namesake Marco Polo) for adventures in the Far East. The Trumpet player this week was Helen Quayle. High of heel, long of hair and…well feminine, as members of the audience ceaselessly informed me.


My week’s blog is Monday 12th-Saturday 17th August 2013.
Welcome to the week through my eyes…..
I started the day with a run around the bay with the dust carts and road sweepers in hot pursuit- jeeps, it was noisy! Weather was spectacular and I looked forward to a morning in the sun court. Walked to work over the cliff and began to think doing the run was a little over enthusiastic.
The concert started for Mike Gray with a broken string. Minutes later after a grand entrance Mike was firing on all 4 cylinders –or at least 4 strings and the concert finished without mishap; which was good because I started to feel as if I was a drugged or drunken Norman Wisdom (which at least gave Steve a chuckle). At the interval there was a deluge outside which vindicated Paul’s decision to stay inside.
Kathy did an exceptional feat once again to entertain a full hall in the Teddy BearsPicnic Concert. By this time even my Teddy Bear was beginning to stale of my Norman Wisdom impression. Lighting technician David fixed my light so it lit the music instead of me and the woozy feeling lifted and I started to play better too.
I left early for the evening concert as I had discovered more maintenance issues in the slide department. Before the morning concert one player was missing and a Marx brother’s incident occurred stage right as people went in different directions to look for him. This was matched in the evening when someone picked my music up thinking it was theirs; seriously, this stuff is better than the show!
Highlights of the show for me were the wandering scales counter melody from Chloe’s Bassoon in Mon Reve and the Fiddling of Mike Gray in the waltzes. All the strings excelled at the fast scale passages in Ruslan and Ludmilla.
Tuesday 13th:
It was another beautiful morning for the walk to work. I calculated this cliff walk to work is the same as 45” of step class every day. The morning concert was hugely enjoyed by many in the Sun Court. My particular highlights were; Helen’s Flugel solo in Love Story, the Saxophone section and Michael Harper’s percussion in “Gold Diggers of Broadway” as well as more magic moments from Mike Gray especially the duet with Di in “I’ll meet you again” from the Noel Coward Selection “Bitter Sweet”. Noel Coward and Ivor Novello I learnt from the cradle as my Parents and Aunts would sing these around the piano at family gatherings. (I should also mention Mike’s encore off stage singing the same song in a Brum accent-priceless.)
The evening concert had many memorable moments for me. Pas des Fleurs had some beautiful muted flautando playing from Mike as well as seamless changes of bow. Steve Costello showed us how butch his Bass could sound in a solo Rag. Di had some limelight in The Land of the Mountain and Flood. Graham played his favourite piece (1st movement Sonata by Saint Seans) beautifully. Michael Harper astounded us with his virtuosity in Tricks with Sticks, in which the cross rhythms were particularly telling. The recap when he changed to harder sticks was sensaational. Magic Mike Gray featured again in Spring Song which was beautiful and Porgy which was passionate. With a witty introduction which made us all laugh out loud, Paul wrapped the evening up with a blistering performance of Rachmaninoff 2nd Piano Concerto. Helen’s playing in the National Anthem stood on 6” heels rang out rich and round around the hall and was a triumph.
More praise for Helen’s playing from members of the audience; but why don’t they tell Helen? Today the morning performance was outside. I had the chance to hear the Concert from the audience perspective. Steve’s Bass boomed out from his new rostrum and Paul’s mellifluous speaking voice on the microphone was a good lesson in diction and fluency for presenters on the radio. Michael Harper was raconteur Hollywood star style and spell binding as a xylophonist. The Piece was about coming off the Tracks…but in this performance he stuck to em like glue. The moment was only slightly marred by the audience near me with more praise for Helen (LOL!). With the concert over, it was now time for a fast blast on the bike.

In the evening, Helen again starred, in May Day overture and Slavonic Rhapsody. Beautiful moments included; Chloe in The Water Mill with Steve and Di showing us their dexterity in negotiating scales at escape velocity, Mike again, this time for his Lavender Mob of Ladies and Chanson Indoue. Also in the Indian Love Song was the creative use of Michael Harper’s subtle multi-tasking in the kitchen department, a bom on drum rrrrrrr on tambourine and a ching on triangle, in the same bar! No wonder he is the most watched member of the orchestra; he is putting half a dozen percussionists out of work. The National Anthem was even more glorious tonight, so I expected be beating off Helen’s admirers again; or perhaps reading in the paper – “Sore lips Helen Quayle” awarded George Cross for services to the National Anthem.
This morning I had a cooked breakfast on Ramshill Road to take me over lunchtime and through the afternoon rehearsal. It was audience request morning. The Concert started with Light Cavalry and Helen and I were stood for the applause. Then a blat through Colonel Bogey and Wagneritis which made Helen and I think that someone in the audience was trying to end our careers prematurely. Fortunately the winds took the spotlight in the second half playing brilliantly as soloists and as a section on Saxophones in; In the Mood, Varsity Drag and Call Me Madam. Mike Gray’s beautiful evocation of the Sleepy Lagoon and The Spa Trio in Dr Zhivago were a complete contrast. The arrangement for the trio was masterfully crafted by Jack Byfield as well as sensitively played by Mike,Di and Paul. It was lovely for the rest of us to listen to. I have to admit I was off dreaming about when I met the female lead in Zhivago, Julie Christie, at the Tyneside Film Festival 20 years after Dr Zhivago was filmed. We chatted for about 15” she had just returned from filming Heat and Dust (1984), which had so affected her that she toured around India for weeks before coming home. It was amazing for me to meet my childhood pin up and she was even nicer and better looking than on the silver screen. Yes…. I was transported.
At lunchtime it was sunny and I walked into town with Kathy and found out what family life in a busy household was like. In the afternoon rehearsal it was great to work with old friends Ros Evans and Paul Badley as they are so much fun, but serious when needed. They are artists of the highest calibre and are in demand all over, as a glance at their CVs will confirm. When we have singers fronting the concert it gives a contrast to the norm and allows us to take a more background roll (except Paul of course!); which was particularly welcomed after our efforts in the morning show.
In the evening performance we played slabs of Boheme and Madame Butterfly as well as a wide range of famous arias. The band played Semiramide and Barber of Seville Overtures adding contrast. Paul also accompanied with gusto in the Donizetti. The seamless intros from Paul were informative, funny as well as to the point, not an easy path to tread as I well know! The Calibre of the singing and the setting of the scene were so convincing that I thought I was IN the Opera.

In the talk through I intimated to the band that if there wasn’t some scandal for my blog soon, I would be pressed to follow true journalistic fashion and make some up: Chloe said she would censor it.
Helen’s fans have found the courage to talk to her-Hoorah! Now I can have some peace. Friday is Tea Dance morning, tripping the Light Fantastic. This programme is designed to be danced as well as listened to. Two of the dance numbers were beautifully sung by non-other than Mike Gray,( Mr Magic) and elegant and tasteful they were too (before appearing on the microphone Mike often turns to the brass and gives us a funny mime-this time I was playing a low note to relax my lips and open the throat and Mike gave me a personal mime of a Tuba player struggling to fill an enormous instrument…he then hauled up trousers turned to the audience and the show began.)
The evening concert was the Three Tenors in the Park. The Park was Peasholm but the Tenors were with the band on an island in the lake. We have to get there on a swan. When there, we have to cross our legs because there is no toilet and my bladder was all but burst at the end of the rehearsal. A group of the orchestra went to eat at Jeremy’s Restaurant opposite the park. This was all Magic Mikes idea showing yet another side of his talents – organisation. He is also the motor behind this blog too, so I can blame him for my late nights writing this up! I am awaiting my wife Rachael’s appearance tonight so I am a little bit more excited than usual. Rachael plays Cello in Scotland and has been recording all day. Now she is driving through the night and has been delayed on the A66.

The rehearsal was a little different. Some pieces we had to transpose others we had to make up. I make up most of my bits anyway so it was home from home for me. Singers always change the keys and we have all got used to it, but I think Helen was in a state of shock after the rehearsal.
After a lovely meal and much convivial company we got on with the show. All the imagined difficulties of the afternoon vanished and if her solo playing was indicator, even Helen enjoyed herself.

Well I should mention the stars of the show Jeff Stewart, Paul Badley and Mark Luther. Good looks, voices and camaraderie sum it up. In fact, as I write this, they are in the Highlander right now having a high old time with members of the band. The stories from last year were tremendous, for they went Karaoke singing in the pubs and were obviously a sensation. Can you imagine the drunkards in the bar thinking the drink was effecting their reality. No guys, it’s not the drink, they really were that good! Anyway you will have to learn from another blogger about the evenings events as this is my final one. Light on scandal I know-it’s been a low news week this week. It was also the busiest week of the season and it’s not over yet I am playing at Castle Howard tomorrow along with Steve and Di.

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Thank you for reading my blog and if you have got this far, congratulations! If you need more music in your life-you could buy the CDs on sale at the back of the concert. There is one from Di playing delights from the Cello solo repertoire; a Spa Trio CD including brilliant arrangements by Jack Byfield. Also I modestly add my own; the first incorporates stories along with Trombone, Tuba and Song and the second uses a Choir (which is me multi tracked) to add much variety to the mix. All are tremendous value and mean that you can take a slice of the Spa home with you, for those cold winter night’s !


Blog No. 5: Diane Stewart and Steve Costello

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Welcome to the blog for the week 5th to 9th August. My name is Diane Stewart and I am the cellist in the Scarborough Spa Orchestra. This week you’re getting 2 for the price of 1, as there aren’t enough weeks left in the season for us all to have a week each, so I’m going to share the blog with Steve, my husband and bass player in the orchestra, but he can tell you more about himself later.

This is my 17th season at the Spa. Steve had been in the orchestra several years when the opportunity came for me to fill the cello seat, previously occupied by the lovely Deborah Thorne. I used to sit in the audience, enjoying the music and admiring everybody’s playing thinking “I could never do that”… and here I am all these years later!
One of the most regularly asked questions is “what do you do for the rest of the year?” The answer in our case is that Steve works in the orchestra for Northern Ballet both as Bass player and Orchestra Pit Manager, which takes him away from home for a lot of weeks, and now that our girls, Tally and Sophie are older, I am teaching cello and piano, and gradually filtering back into bigger freelancing further afield again. Sometimes this means keeping contacts happy,  even when you’re very busy already, which was the case on Saturday, before this week had even begun in Scarborough, when we played in the orchestra for Katherine Jenkins in the Open Air Theatre. As you can see from the photo, Mark and Freddie (who had only just finished playing for us) had the same idea!
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So, Monday morning arrived, very wet and miserable so, unfortunately, this meant that the concert had to be in the Grand Hall. Every cloud has a silver lining though, and at least it meant that we could appear, for the first time since last year, fully kitted out in our blazers, now that we have replaced the ones that “went missing”!  (I missed a photo opportunity there- sorry!)
Monday evening’s concert, Melodies For You was full of Spa favourites including some good old Albert W Ketelbey and one of the gorgeous Byfield arrangements for Trio.
Tuesday morning brought more sunshine so we were back outside. I think we all prefer the morning concerts when they are outside as there’s  such a lovely, relaxed atmosphere in the Sun Court.
By the time I’d done the supermarket shopping on the way home, and done some mundane jobs it was time to leave again for the evening concert  Tonight’s Classical Favourites featured lovely solos from Rick, Mike,  Kathy and Paul.
The good weather continued on Wednesday and we enjoyed hearing Chloe play a jazzy piece on Bassoon accompanied by piano, bass and drums and I particularly enjoyed playing Varsity Drag.  After the concert I went home to do some gardening(just a good excuse to be out in the sunshine with plenty of tea breaks! ) We’ve made some changes this year to make the garden more manageable so I’m determined that the weeds should not get bigger than the plants,as they have done every other year and enlisted a bit of help from Sophie on the mower, then back into The Spa for Summer Serenade.
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Thursday morning, as many of you know, is request morning and this week it was crammed full of goodies. One request that took us all by surprise though, was when a man walked onto the stage in between pieces and interrupted Paul at the microphone to inform him that he would like to purchase one of the CDs that Mike and I have been selling at the intervals, and didn’t have time to wait! The transaction was done at the side of the stage and brought an incredulous smile to all our faces… There’s a first time for everything!
Thursday nights Gala was “A Night in the West End” which really was a great nights entertainment with lots of songs from the shows sung brilliantly by our two guest vocalists Michelle Todd and Tom Solomon.
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I think this has been my favourite Gala this season, and it was so nice to see the Grand Hall looking fuller, with lots of new faces amongst our loyal regulars. We hope they come back!
Friday morning would usually be the last concert of the week, but not this week. Anyway, we had some new dancers on the floor for our second “Trip the Light Fantastic” who were great, but none were brave enough to  try to dance to Take 5 thank goodness!!
Then, after a brief visit home and cooking instructions left for tea, we set off to Middlesborough- a lovely journey, rather different to the snow scene we drove through when we went last time, in January. We did a seating call, then managed to sit on a blanket in the sun to eat our picnics before we had to get changed for the concert. We always get a very warm reception there, and tonight was no exception. Our concert, a mixture of the West End and Spa favourites such as Jumping Bean and Boulevardier went down a treat, and we all gave our autographs to the man who waits after EVERY concert there, before wending our way home to begin our weekend!
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Hi I’m Steve, as Di say’s I’m the Bass Player in the Orchestra. I’m in my 24th season and I actually started at the same time as Graham, but I took some time out to pursue a career in the Fire Service that didn’t work out. Well Di’s outlined most of what’s happened in the concerts this week so I won’t repeat. As Di said Mark and Freddie were doing the Kathryn Jenkins in the Open Air theatre last Saturday, but I did saw that ex Scarborough Spa player, Richard Wood was in the audience snapping away on his camera. (It had a very, very long lens, I noticed!!). I’ve had my Mum to stay for three weeks and I sang a song for her as my Solo spot last Wednesday. Apparently I reduced her to tears (I know, it was that bad!!) I then come in on Thursday morning, this week, to find that someone requested “In the Mystic Land of Egypt”!!! (Some people are glutton for punishment!!). It was also nice to see Lee Adams, another ex Scarborough Spa player in the audience. Making the most of the lovely beautiful weather this week I’ve been doing a lot cycling, and on Wednesday I set off from the Spa after the morning concert to do a 2hour ride, roughly 30 miles. I went up to Osgodby, Cayton, Hunmanby, across to Weaverthorpe and West/East Lutton. Going along nicely and I get a puncture!!!!! I was daft not to have a spare inner tube and NO RECEPTION on my phone. I then had to walk 7 miles towards Malton. I eventually got reception and I rang Di to see if she could ring a bike shop in Malton for a spare tube. A nice young man, called Ash, from Northernride, came out with a spare tube and changed it for me. I finally got home at 6.00pm and was back out of the house at 6.15pm, having showered!!!, to do the evening concert. It was a great ride and makes you appreciate what beautiful countryside we have around here. Unfortunately I’m not going to be doing the end of the season because of commitments with Northern Ballet. However you will be delighted to know that the lovely Lisa Featherston will be standing in for me. (Apart from being a great Bass player, she’s better looking than me!!!!!) Di and I are doing the Castle Howard concert this Saturday so we might see you there??



So there you have it- a week in the life of The Scarborough Spa Orchestra. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the blog, and look forward to hearing what slant on our interesting job that next week’s blogger gives! Hope to see you at a concert very soon.

Blog No. 4: Kathy Seabrook

 29/7 to 2/8/13

Hello bloggers, now it’s my turn…

I am Kathy Seabrook and I play flute, piccolo and tenor saxophone in the Spa Orchestra. This is my 26th season (which I cannot believe, every time I say it) and each year I look forward to coming to this Victorian concert hall and sun court, with wonderful acoustics, and playing 9 or 10 concerts a week, each with a different programme, for about 15 weeks.

I know, completely mad, but I do still love it. There is nothing so pleasing as sitting on the sun court bandstand, brilliant blue skies overhead, playing intermezzo’s with sea gulls joining in! Sometimes I just look around at the incredibly talented musicians working away, the audience sitting in their stripy deck chairs, the sun shining  and… and well, it is sometimes like that. Sometimes it rains a lot and can be really cold and windy, so the music flies around while you are trying to play the flute cadenza from Tales of the Vienna Forest. Then you try to play your part with one hand while turning pages and negotiating the wind iron at the same time… (wind iron = long piece of heavy metal that lies over the music vertically to hold it in place) but it keeps you on your toes!


Anyway, this week has been very busy as usual, but the fact that the sun is shining every day really helps.

Monday morning started at home with me sorting out my percussion instruments and train whistles to take down to the Spa because we had the second of our Teddy Bears’ Picnic concerts that afternoon. A concert for families with young children which I organize, plan and front, mainly because I do a lot of educational work out of season – actually I think I know most children under 5 in Scarborough at the moment…

Then, the usual ‘Talk Through’ at 10.30am, ready for the 11am morning concert… (Talk Through = because we have no time to rehearse each concert, the MD/Pianist Paul Laidlaw, talks through each piece of music, noting repeats, rits and ralls, different leads, tempos and pauses, so we know what’s coming up!) Anyway, we had a sunny morning concert, including a Carpenters Medley, Caravan by Duke Ellington and Half a Sixpence selection.

As soon as we’d finished at 12.30pm, the families were lining up ready to come in for the children’s concert at 1pm – this was good news as we are never quite sure how many  will attend this one – actually the final number was 325 so the sun court was rocking!

I try to choose music that not only reflects our light classical style but that also appeals to young ears and can be used educationally – so Vivien Ellis’s Coronation Scott has everyone up and moving round like a train, with the help of the whistles and flags. We had slow and fast music using Czibulka’s Hearts and Flowers (so sad) and Strauss’s Tritsh Tratch polka, (so fast!) and also each member of the orchestra demonstrates their instrument – Mark’s rendition of Coronation Street received the best round of applause…!

Only problem was that during ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’ on saxophones, the heavens opened and it absolutely poured with rain. Most families were quite well equipped with macs etc., some beat a hasty retreat into the café and some just sat and continued listening. The rain did stop eventually…


When I returned to the Spa for the evening concert in the Grand Hall, I found Chloe mopping the stage as there had been boxing going on over the weekend and the stage was a bit sticky… we all muck in you know! Oh yes, and during the concert, when we were playing Albert W. Ketelby’s (Hooray!) ‘In a Monastery Garden’, one of our technicians came back stage because he thought that there was a bird in there somewhere! (It was our percussionist, Michael, playing the nightingale whistle…)

Tuesday was another sunny day – 2 more concerts, sun court in the morning and Grand Hall in the evening – Tuesday evenings is always classical night, so on a ‘Talk Through’ we played pieces like Suppe’s Poet and Peasant Overture, Rossini’s Semiramide and Eric Coates’ SaxoRhapsody, played by soloist (and hubby)Graham Quilter. We always have 3 or 4 soloists on a Tuesday night, so all the pieces learnt at college come out (knew they would come in useful…) Todays soloists also included Diane playing a gorgeous Ladies in Lavender on cello, Chloe doing Bozza on the contra bassoon (!), the audience were spell bound, and Mark playing trumpet with the band in a lovely arrangement of the hymn ‘Share my Yoke’ (no, not for breakfast..)

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Must mention the lunch I had on Tuesday at the Spa’s Farrer’s bar with my eldest son, Daniel, and Chloe – great setting and great food – just right after a morning concert.

Wednesday’s two concerts flew by; I also managed to fit in one of my ‘Fun Music’ sessions at a Children’s Centre in the afternoon, cook for my three hungry teenagers before heading back to the Spa. In the evening concert we played Reginald King’s ‘Song of Paradise’, one of my favourite pieces – it has my favourite 8 bars rest in it (!) where I can sit and just listen to those amazing players weaving their magic around me… (sorry for the slush!).

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Evening concert dresses are important for the Spa experience – us 3 ladies (Diane, Chloe and myself)  try to colour match for the evening concerts, so over the years, we have quite a collection of dresses bought from all the local charity shops – St Catherine’s Hospice shop have kept the Spa Orchestra ladies looking gorgeous for many seasons. Monday night we wore gold/silver, Tuesday is usually black for classical night, Wednesday we did turquoise and Thursday night we chose lilac because Chloe had just received a new concert dress from Ebay and fancied trying it out. We have so many different coloured dresses, we even have names for them, Antigua, Quality Street, (sad but true!).


Thursday was Yorkshire Day which meant the morning concert was FREE! So it was really busy, as Paul said, you can tell we live in Yorkshire, but I do hope that all the extra people enjoyed us – we played a varied programme including a long Glen Miller selection and also a selection from The Student Prince by Romberg – it was another scorcher of a day and you could see them all sizzling and even smell the sun cream!


Before the evening concert I had to feed and get the boys to climbing club at The Street (great youth facility in Scarborough) but we were late and then I was late to the Spa and drove too quickly in to a car parking space and bumped the front bumper on a wall, and Graham saw me (oops!) and so it was quite a stressful start to the concert. Entry of the Gladiators was the first march – a bit like my arrival at the car park…

Thursday night was also ‘Quiz Night’ and we were in the Ocean Room, another part of the Spa complex usually used for dinner/dances. This was because The Straits (half of Dire Straits) were on in the Grand Hall, so the orchestra had to move. This does sometimes happen and yes, it is a pain, as all our instruments and stands have to be moved, and the lighting has to be sorted and the sound is very different with a much lower ceiling, but with the help of our great technical team, most things were moved and ready. It was a shame that the audience didn’t find us… bit of a quiet night, never mind, the quiz answer was ‘Who stole the jackets’!!! Some of our stripy morning concert jackets went walkabout before the season… we have had to have some spares altered to fit us. Hey ho, show biz!

The last concert of the week, Friday morning, was the first to try out a new idea – ‘Trip the Light fantastic’ with the Spa Orchestra. A programme especially designed to allow people to dance to us if they like. We weren’t sure how it would go, but some dancers from Scalby village heard about it and came along – it was lovely to see them doing the cha cha, some waltzing, the quick step and even a charleston while we played. I hope this becomes popular – ‘Strictly’ eat your heart out!

Well there we are, a normal week during the Scarborough Spa Orchestra summer season. Hope you liked my blog, I tried to fit in some different aspects of the job that would not be known about otherwise, that’s half the fun of a blog I suppose. All the musicians work so hard and it’s not easy to play to such a professional standard the varied repertoire required for this orchestra, with practically no rehearsals – but they do it. They are all stars!

Thanks for reading.

Kathy x

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