Month: July 2014

Blog No. 18: Graham Quilter

Here’s my blog – in week 6 or is it 7, I always get muddled up at this time of the season must be my age…

What a week it’s been for the weather mainly hot and sunny, but also humid, and whilst the hot and sunny is great for everybody else, the humid bit is bad for me.

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Why? Because I play the clarinet, and the clarinet uses a reed to vibrate, and reeds are designed by nature to absorb water so when it’s humid, a reed that has been playing perfectly suddenly gets that little bit thicker, just a tad, but it’s enough to make it feel like you’re trying to play on a cricket bat!

So you think to yourself should I do something and alter this reed but if I do and the weather changes again tomorrow, I might ruin it. Ahh, decisions, decisions…

I wonder if the string players have the same sorts of problems with their wooden instruments – I must ask them on Sunday…

Anyway, it’s been quite a long week because of the extra concert in Peasholm Park, not that I’m complaining, although I was quite worried that the weather was going to let us down and we would have a small, though steadfast, audience, prepared to brave the elements. But as it turned out, the weather was great, and I think the audience was bigger than any we had last season. And we were told that the sound was the best it has ever been, so thanks to Mark and his team from the Spa, as it was the first time they had ever done the sound for us at a Peasholm concert. So we finished the week on a high.

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Rowing over to sort out the microphones!

 

I always find it a little bizarre that the whole orchestra and the 3 Tenors have our 2 hour rehearsal in the afternoon then a bite to eat in the café (very nice it was too) then we all have to get changed in the back room of the café along with 4 chest freezers, the washing machine and tumble dryer, which were both running, and about 1000 cans of coke, Fanta, lemonade and anything else you can name! Ahh the glamour of being an artiste! It must be the strangest dressing room in the country, and it’s a good job we’re all friends!

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The Three Tenors: Mark Luther, Paul Badley, Jeff Stewart

In case you don’t know, I am also quite handy at repairing woodwind instruments and last weekend I had an emergency phone call from one of the muso’s up at the Stephen Joseph Theatre who was doing The Boy Who Fell into a Book.

His bass clarinet had just died and he got my number from a mutual friend – so in between the morning and evening concert, I went to the SJT with my bass clarinet for him to borrow and took his home to repair it. Luckily all he’d done is bend a couple of keys at the top of the instrument, which meant that nothing below them would work, but it wasn’t a big job to suss the problem and put it right. It only took a couple of hours.

I then phoned him up and told him his bass was ready and I would come back to the SJT so we could swap them over. He said ‘Actually your bass clarinet is really nice, you can hang on to mine for a bit longer of you like, to give it the whole thing a once over, just to be sure that there’s nothing else that needs looking at…’

Needless to say I declined his generous offer and now have my own bass back.

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Stephen Joseph Theatre

I enjoyed the gala on Thursday evening with Alison Hudson and Maria Bovino – Alison’s The Usherette and Maria’s Sally Gardens were my favourites. I also enjoyed it because the orchestra had quite a few numbers off, so it meant that my reeds lasted the night!

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Maria Bovino and Alison Hudson in rehearsal

To finish off the week, we have had a lovely beach day with the family – I even swam in the North Sea and it was the warmest I have ever known!  My brothers in law are visiting with children and tonight we are off to the Golden Grid and then the SeaFest Fireworks – hope to see you there!

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Blog No. 17: Kathy Seabrook

Dear Blog,

It has been such a busy week I don’t know where to start… not only has it been week 6 of the Spa Orchestra summer season, but it’s also been the last week of term – so still getting boys to school and still doing some of my ‘Fun Music’ sessions at nurseries and preschools, as well as 9 concerts and a rehearsal – yes, just the one rehearsal for all 9 concerts… how do we do it?!

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The weather has been really great this week so all the morning concerts have been outside, bliss, and this week’s Teddy Bears’ Picnic families concert did not get rained upon (unlike last week..). Of course I enjoy these a lot, as I present them and love to see all ages in the Spa sun court with teddies, shakers and tambourines. The funniest thing happened at the very end of the concert this week, as we were taking our final applause, we were completely drowned out by one little girl shouting her head off – we were so surprised everyone stopped clapping to listen to her! A definite opera diva of the future!

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Other musical highlights from the concerts this week include:-
Overtures… Merry Wives of Windsor (play the oboe cue, then the violin 2 cue, then the flute part…), Light Cavalry (great trumpet/trombone playing guys!), Pique Dame (great snare drum playing Michael), Carnival (lots of Suppe of course), La Belle Helene (faster at the end please…)
Shouting and singing pieces…The Man on the Flying Trapeze (Whoa!), Gracing Gallop (woof, woof, woof!), A Motor Ride (hurrah!) – the deputy players coped very well with the challenge of shouting out in the middle of a concert – not normal for musicians!
Selections…Carmen (lovely cello rendition of the Flower song from Di), Porgy and Bess (Summertime…), High Society (who wants to be a millionaire…‘We Do!), Me & My Girl (Oi!), Rose Marie (when I’m calling you-ooo-ooo),King’s Rhapsody (loving Ivor Novello!), Easter Parade (wrong time of year…), The Desert Song (never played The Riff Song so fast!)
We played too many marches to mention, there were marvellous solos from orchestra members galore – and even a Thursday morning request for ‘Butterflies in the Rain’; this is an all action piece with signs for rainbow, butterfly, shelter, rose, hollyhocks, heart, haven, and of course, rain. Someone requested that I put the words into the blog so they can learn them for next time…

‘When the rain is pattering helter-skelter, and the butterflies are caught out in the rain, Leafy Hollyhocks will murmur come and shelter, until the rainbow shines again. In the heart of every rose a haven, from the pitter patter pitter pat refrain, There’s protection from the showers, in the sympathetic flowers, For the butterflies in the rain!’

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Our final concert of the week was our gala concert ‘‘I could have Danced all Night’, the Magical Music of Lerner and Loewe’’. Unfortunately we had to move this concert from the Grand Hall to the Ocean Room as the University of Hull were having their graduation ceremony there the next day, and the Grand Hall had to be rearranged for all the students and families.
However, we still had a splendid do, with wonderful soloists Owen Web and Michelle Todd – it’s just great to hear all the words to the songs we usually play. My favourite songs from the night included ‘There but for you go I’ from Brigadoon, ‘Ah Yes, I remember it well’ from Gigi, ‘Why can’t the English’ from My Fair Lady, with Michelle doing a great cockney accent (Garn!) as Eliza, and of course the gorgeous ‘If Ever I would Leave you’ from Camelot, with Owen melting us all with his dulcet tones!

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This week also found me travelling around the county in the afternoons, to do my toddler music sessions – Monday was Filey St John’s Toddler Group, Tuesday was Danby Pre School (other side of Whitby!), Wednesday was Buckets and Spades pre-school in Scarborough and Friday was Seamer pre-school – phew! Catch more info on my sessions on Facebook – ‘Kathy Seabrook’s Fun Music’ – quick sneaky plug there!
In case you’re interested, I did my sea session a couple of times, which included waving a big blue sheet for the children to swim under, whilst Spartacus was on the Ipod (The Onedin Line to you…) and playing the ocean drum, triangles and wind chimes. And also I did a dinosaur session, taking a big bass drum for loud footsteps, along with metal agogos and cow bells. I always play to the children on piccolo, flute and sax so ‘keeping music live’!
Meanwhile, in our ‘other’ life, St Augustines R.C. School put on a rather splendid show called Bugsy Malone and needless to say 2 sons, Adam and Ben, were in the band so come our Tuesday night off, that’s where we were, watching their show – and very good it was too – especially the band, oh, and the electric car which took much fundraising in order to be able to hire it – bag packing at Filey Tesco’s last month if I remember correctly!
And now it’s Saturday and we have four 14 year olds, one 15 year old, two 16 year olds and one 17 year old for lunch, all boys (but only 3 are ours!), so pie and mash for 8 teenagers please – some may have even stayed the night (they just turn up don’t they!), the X Box is working overtime, now they want to go and play basketball, can we borrow some money, is there anything else to eat? And we are trying to collect the washing…Is this what it’s going to be like for the rest of the holidays? Oh no, now there’s a thunder storm, typical, as soon as it’s the school holidays, it rains!

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Please can we go back to work at the Spa now, it’s easier than being at home…

Blog No. 16: Diane Stewart

Hi everybody,
It’s Di here- my turn to give you my perspective on the past week at the Spa.

The beginning of our working week, Sunday, brought the return of Michael Harper and lots and lots of rain! It didn’t dampen our spirits though, as we performed our free morning concert in the Grand Hall to an audience of both new, and familiar faces, all grateful to be inside, enjoying our music, a programme specifically chosen to give a taster of all the different genres of music that we play during the week.

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On Monday morning, we were giving our first Teddy Bears Picnic of the season, at the new time of11:00, so we were relieved to see glorious sunshine after all the rain yesterday. The children, (and adults for that matter) were having a ball singing along to our Mary Poppins Selection when the rain started… and didn’t stop
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We quickly moved inside and continued the merriment. A good time was had by all, despite the weather.

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I won’t go through every concert note by note but my favourite piece I played during the week was the Piaff Selection, arranged by Simon Kenworthy. We love to play this, and hear everyone humming along to the tunes. We also had some great solos, not only on Monday night, our classical and solo evening, but also in the mornings, including a surprise song from Lisa, a very moving rendition of Share My Yoke from Mark, and a Chloe playing The Watermill on Wednesday morning with an unexpected finale!  It was particularly windy on Wednesday morning, and had not got off to a good start when Chloe’s bassoon got knocked over by a music stand that had been toppled by the wind. Fortunately, following emergency repairs, there was no lasting damage, and Chloe was able to play The Watermill as programmed. It was beautiful, and as we looked up for Chloe to bring us off the very last note, what I can only describe as a mini whirlwind whipped up, got under all Chloe’s music on her stand and sent it flying into the air!! I wish we’d had a camera at the ready- it would have made a fantastic photo.
Thursday evening brought our annual Quiz Night in the newly, nearly refurbished Ocean Room complete with new acoustic, we felt. This was a big success with some very clever people working out the answer before we’d even finished playing. The lucky winners got to have their photo taken with us…what a prize!

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As many of you will know, some of us live in Scarborough, and others leave their homes and decamp to Scarborough for the season. As we live here, normal family life continues alongside the marathon music making! We’ve had a couple of unusual weeks- last week our eldest daughter, Tally, was away doing her Duke of Edinburgh Expedition, returning on Friday along with an Austrian Exchange student, Daniela, who was staying with us for the week. They had an action packed weekend planned with lots of ferrying round required, then, on Monday morning we waved Sophie, our youngest, off on a school trip to Bewerley Park to do lots of exciting activities. I can’t say that my German is any better now than when Daniela arrived but, thankfully, her English was amazing and a good week was had by all, of course including compulsory Yorkshire Pudding, Fish and Chips etc etc.
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Now everybody is back with their own families and life gets back to normal…well, as normal as it gets! I’m enjoying pottering in the garden more than ever this year, and I’m pleased to say it’s looking pretty good.
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Long live this sunny weather, as I sit here, writing this in the peace and quiet of the garden, enjoying the sunshine. (I’ve probably jinxed it now and it will be raining by the time you read this) Must go- got a BBQ to light! Have a lovely summer with The Scarborough Spa Orchestra.
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Love, Diane. x

Blog No. 15: Paul Laidlaw

Hi Everyone. I hope you all enjoyed Chloe’s fascinating facts last week! Back to the usual weekly blog now from me.

I think people really enjoyed the concert we gave with the Royal British legion on 26th June. We had a mixture of music which was both moving and uplifting and it was lovely to have Maria Bovino with us once again (giving a lovely rendition of the ‘Military Wives’ song) and it was particularly good to welcome back John with his stirring rendition of ‘Rose of England.’

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The stage after the incredibly moving poppy petal drop

After the concert I drove home to York (everywhere bedecked with yellow flags and bicycles for the coming Tour de France) and spent the ‘days off’ finishing some new orchestrations for the upcoming Maria Callas Gala.

Back to Scarborough early on Sunday for the morning concert which sadly had to be indoors in the Ocean Room as the rest of the Spa was taken over by War Games!. I hope we brought a bit of sanity and calm into all that aggression! We got things off to a lively start with ‘Mambo Italiano’ and other highlights included Rick’s unrestrained yodelling in ‘Swiss Air’ and Kathy’s equally unrestrained whistling in ‘Whistling Mose” (Sorry, did I say we brought sanity to the occasion!). The evening concert opened with a rousing ‘Stars and Stripes’ and took us via ‘Horse Guards, Whitehall’, ‘Harry Potter, ‘12th Street Rag’ and ‘La Mer’ before safely arriving at ‘Flower Drum Song’ (nice Tom-Toms, Judy!)

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Packed Ocean Room on Sunday Morning

On Monday morning we welcomed back Mike Gray who gave us a gentle rendition of ‘Limelight’. Chimps cycled, Cavalry charged, Tom Jones danced and Pirates pirated before we all arrived in Camelot for a big finish. The evening concert opened with one of my favourite Overtures by Hayden Wood, ‘May Day’. The ‘Classics for Pleasure’ concert always has some soloists and Mark, Di, Kathy and Michael gave us an eclectic mix.

Kathy was back as a soloist on Tuesday morning with a lovely new arrangement of ‘Autumn Leaves’ just her, Lisa, Judy and me. She has several other pieces from the same arranger and I’m looking forward to hearing them through the rest of the season. Tuesday afternoon is usually taken up with planning and timing the Gala programmes. Finishing touches were put to the Musical Quiz night (later this week), the G&S spectacular and the evening of music by Lerner and Leowe. We are being joined for that by Michelle Todd and Owen Webb together with a chorus made up of members of York Musical Theatre Company. (They were with us last year for our Rodgers and Hammerstein Gala and we’re delighted to welcome them back again)

Wednesday morning, back in the sun court, had another premier – ‘Love and the Dancer’ by Albert. W. Ketelbey (Hooray!) I’d been sent the piano music during the winter and decided to orchestrate it for the Spa. I’m not sure if the piece had ever been played here before so it’s nice to think that new Ketelbey (Hooray) is still arriving.

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Wednesday evening’s programme had one of my favourite trios ‘I Won’t Send Roses’ by Jerry Herman and the first outing this year of ‘The Gypsy Princess’ by Kalman. The ‘Three English Folk Songs’ ushered in a series of pieces by Vaughan Willams over the next twenty four hours; two of our requests on Thursday morning were by him. Chloe gave us a delightful ‘Linden Lea’ on the bassoon and Mike gave an exquisite performance of ‘The Lark Ascending’. The Sun Court was absolutely silent and there seemed to be a reluctance to break the spell with applause at the end. It was a joy to accompany both of them.

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For Thursday evening’s Gala we welcomed back the wonderful Ros Evans for ‘The Maria Callas Story’. Stephen’s narration of the life of the famous Diva was interspersed with some of her most famous arias. Ros was in particularly good voice and highlights must have been the ‘Song to the Moon’ from Rusalka, ‘Tacea La Notte’ from ‘Il Trovatore’ (which she learned especially for us,) the vocal pyrotechnics of ‘Una Voce Poco Fa’ and a heart-rending ‘Vissi d’arte’ from Tosca. She also surprised us (and I think herself!) with a staggering top D flat at the end of the Easter Hymn from Cavaleria Rusticana. The orchestra accompanied her with bravado and subtlety in equal measure. Well done everyone – an amazing night.

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Rehearsing for Maria Calla gala

So here we are at the start of another week. Don’t forget that Monday sees the start of our season of Teddy Bears Picnic concerts. Although these are designed for our younger audiences they all contain great music and are a lot of fun. If you haven’t been to one before give it a try. Also remember Quiz night on Thursday; great music and some brain teasing at the same time. What more could you ask?

All the best

Paul