Blog no. 27: Rick Scoates

Hello there fellow Bloggers! I SAID …. Oh never mind!

So this year we are focused on what happens after the show goes down 👇… But all euphoniumisms aside, I can only add a sad note that I always scuttle off for a well earned sleep; I have never been a nocturnal creature. 

I am however, quite active in the daytime! 

When Rachael(wife, guardian, protector and boss), is visiting, we walk the Cleveland Way, along the coastal path. Sometimes a cycle 🚴 to Filey or the other way to Furness Vale, Hackness, Lingdale End and back via Scalby. 

We have tripped in the car too with Mike and visited the Stephen Joseph with Kathy and Graham to see Woman in Black and on our own for Confusions.

When out, we have discovered a plethora, ( eh up Doris!) of wild life of the plethoric kind!

Lots of friends made with dogs, rabbits and birds of course, but some things I haven’t seen since a kid. A hedgehog! A deaf Roe deer, who would not respond to calling or singing 🎶 or anything else… 

The cows and bulls have been inquisitive, but more interested in dogs.

We saw a hawk on a rock which obliged us with a double flight passed us, and no pooping unlike the sea gulls.

But the main attraction were the seals. We saw one at Flamborough Head sunning itself and not so interested in us. At Ravenscar, we saw one 500 M. from the sea, spark out for the count ( ie, asleep ). Also at Ravenscar, many colonies which we could come quite close to. I serenaded a dozen or so in an impromptu concert on a rock! They were most obliged! 

This week Rachael has been away and I have been for personal training sessions with Stephen Lord a neighbour who is studying exercises. We have also been running, and, quaffing his highly nutritious energy cocktails!

On Friday I managed a 3 hours session and followed it by a 2 hours cycle. On Saturday ( once released from hospital! )I unleashed my Nutribullet to the world and I am now busy consuming cartloads of vegetables and fruit before it goes orf.

I was walking under the Ramshill Road Bridge when an old rotten bolt 🔩 fell off and onto a car with a resonant boom. It bounced off and chased after me, so I now have it as a momento, of a brush with death!

I have also been indulging in Tony Robbins life coaching videos on YouTube….Rachael and I did a firewalk with him back in ’94. It’s stirring stuff, check him out!

So the Spa seems like a different life!

My next appointment is on Tuesday when I sing with a choir singing old American hymns….. Well! Whatever next!

Well (as TR says)…. 

Till next time

live with passion. 

Best wishes Rick. 


Blog no. 26: Diane Stewart

 Hello everybody, it’s Di here,

                                            So, if you take the week in Scarborough from Friday to Friday, here’s what has been going on for me this week. My week began with a relaxing day off, and the arrival of our eldest daughter, Tally’s, Exchange student from Austria. This is her second visit to stay with us, Tally had a wonderful stay with Daniela in Austria in December, and she will be with us until Thursday. They have lots of plans for the week, more of that later. 

                                            Saturday heralded a first for me. I had entered the Race for Life Pretty Muddy race, being held at York Racecourse, along with thousands of other women, and my five friends. We set off quite early on Saturday morning with trepidation, not quite knowing what we had let ourselves in for! We were just determined to have fun and raise some money for such a worthy cause. All we knew was that the course was 5 km long, with obstacles along the way, some of them muddier than others. Photos on the Internet showed people looking VERY muddy, so we were prepared for anything! We had made an executive decision that we wouldn’t worry about trying to run all the way, just to get from beginning to end. After a fun warm up, we took our starting positions at 12:15. 

And we were off…running…and we kept running, much to the surprise of us all! We had to get over things, crawl through mud under netting, climb up and over netted walls, tyre jump…you name it, it was there. Oh, and run quite a bit in between. We weren’t too muddy though, and were wondering when it was going to get REALLY dirty. That was saved until the last 2 obstacles- a sort of huge paddling pool filled with mud that we had to crawl through, and our favourite, the last one, a climb to a slide, landing in…you guessed it, a pool of mud! After a sprint finish, the sense of achievement, and that great feeling of working as a team was fantastic. I don’t know how I managed to keep my top so much cleaner than the others! Sadly, I had to dash home, as I was working in Hull later that evening, so I sat on my plastic bags in the car all the way home and had a very long shower. I would like to thank all the members of the audience, and the orchestra for their generous donations, which amounted to £230, which is fantastic. That brought our group total to £1392. If there is anyone who would still like to donate to Cancer Research, you can still do so at our Justgiving page



After Sunday’s 2 concerts, and the first outing of Butterfies in the Rain, and ferrying teenagers to and from Flamingoland…


…Monday brought the first Teddy Bears Picnic of the season. It was lovely to see the Suncourt full of dancing children, some of them visiting from Braeburn School, some from as far away as Spain, and we even had a special visit from Yorkshire Coast Radio’s DJ Dex.


On Tuesdays we only have a morning concert, so we’d planned a BBQ for the Austrian students and their partners in the evening. All plans were going well until suddenly, it looked a bit threatening and this happened! 


We thought the BBQ was doomed, but thankfully, the weather perked up, and all went ahead as planned, outside, until after 10. It was great to see them all together, some of them for the 3rd or 4th week spent together over the course of 18 months, so they were all getting to know each other as a group much better. A fantastic bunch! 
Next year our youngest daughter, Sophie is taking part in a French exchange programme. As my German is non existent, not that we needed it- their English is so fantastic- I’d better dust off those O level French text books! 
                                         Two more concerts on Wednesday, and always lovely to see familiar faces returning for another visit to the Spa. 

                                           Thursday morning meant a fond farewell to Daniela before the morning concert, but we will see her soon-she’s coming back in October to live with us for a month, so we can’t be that bad! Thursday was, as always, our request morning, and a very varied programme, leaning towards cello heavy, as it had been requested that I played 2 solos! I felt I deserved a treat, so a quick lunch with Mike at one of our favourite spots to build up the strength for the rehearsal for our Opera Gala. It was so nice to see Maria and Jeff again, and they sang beautifully throughout the action packed programme.   
A very enjoyable evening was had, and many people commented how much they had enjoyed the concert on the way out. 

                                       So, that is a week in the life of me, interspersed with bits of teaching, giving daughters lifts here there and everywhere, eating, sleeping! Still, this is the last week of term, so no more really early mornings after Friday! Hooray!! Here’s to the summer! 

Blog No. 25: Chloë Vanns

Hello all,
I’m normally the first person to write a blog but Mike has gladly beaten me to it this year! Once you’ve read my blog you’ll understand why… We’re hoping to give you an insight into life away from the spa (‘off the spa’ one might say), and for me that means teaching. 

When I started with the Spa Orchestra in 2011 I was convinced that I would be found out as not being good enough to play next to these amazing musicians, but in 2012 I was asked back and celebrated the orchestra’s centenary. As the seasons passed, it slowly has dawned on me that perhaps I’m here for as long as I wish. With that has meant a move over to Yorkshire, which I think is a beautiful part of the country, and the search for work to tide me over in the winter. As I mentioned last year, I have been fortunate enough to be working with the East Riding Music Service and since January I have been working four days a week. However, that has to continue in addition to the first few weeks of the season meaning I have had music coming out of my eyeballs since the start of June! I have just started my last week of term, and hopefully I won’t have to miss any more concerts after that, though I have found a great dep, Jonathan Sage who has been covering for me and doing a great job from what I hear.  
It really has been a last push through these past few weeks. On Friday I had three pupils sitting grade 1 exams. You would have thought the children would be nervous, but this is nothing compared to their poor teachers. I had to play piano for each of them which, after scraping through my grade 3 about 15 years ago, proves tricky. Being the end of term, various trips and sports days and performances get in the way of normal lessons so I had to make a few spaces where I could to fit in extra lessons. And after all that preparation, you have no control over how your students perform. Nevertheless, I have some great pupils who all pulled it out of the bag, in spite of their own nerves, and performed their hearts out. It should be a few weeks before we find out the results, but I am confident they will do well. 

In addition to teaching, I help run a music service wind band for players grade 2 – 5 and we have been rehearsing every fortnight since January for our summer concert on 12th July. This is something I really enjoy, and I have been working on my conducting with the ensemble. I think I am improving, and I will be conducting my most difficult piece yet next weekend, a medley from the musical ‘Wicked’. I have some great colleagues who have helped me enormously, and Mark from the orchestra can even be seen in our rehearsals encouraging a fantastic sound out of the young brass players. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how my arms wiggle really, it is how the band performs. Our very own orchestra proves how well musicians can perform without a ‘stick-waver’!

To summarise my hectic few weeks, since last Friday I have played a Peasholm concert plus 7 spa concerts, played an outdoor concert at Chatsworth House, conducted my wind band, taught 55 pupils plus 3 full classes, and done 3 exams. At music college, the buzz word was ‘portfolio’ career, meaning you had to diversify and have lots of different jobs to give yourself an advantage in a highly competitive profession; I think I have certainly achieved that.

Once more I am in awe of my incredibly talented colleagues who have shaped, and continue to inspire, the musician I am today. Thank you to all of you who support our orchestra, and who read this blog, we really wouldn’t exist without our loyal audience! 




Blog No. 24: Michael Gray

Good day to everyone in Blog land on the interwebthingy!I hope you are all in fine fettle and enjoying this wonderful weather. As regulars will know, and possibly some irregulars, I am the violinist in the Scarborough Spa Orchestra and am also in the BBC Concert Orchestra. The Beeb are very kind and give me some time off during the Summer to come and play to you all! It’s not as free as all that and I do have to go back to London for some of the more important concerts, but it tends to work out ok. I have a new dep this year, Matthew Batty, who is doing sterling work while I am away. Thanks Matt.

Anyway, this week I am not with the SSO, but rather than pass it up and give the blog to someone else for the week, I thought it might be interesting for you to have an idea of the sort of things some of us get up to when we are away. 

One of the commitments for the BBC CO is Grange Park Opera, which this year has been…..FIDDLER ON THE ROOF! with BRYN TERFEL! It’s been a joy to hear those familiar songs performed by Bryn and a great cast. We are performing it at the Proms this year which will be a really great evening. Grange Park is near Winchester, so a bit of organisation is needed to do the Scarborough to Winchester commute with the right clothes/Violin/Food etc. So on Wednesday night after the Spa Concert I drove to London and got quite a good sleep before being picked up the next day. There are three of us sharing the driving the year, so I’ve tried to get lifts on the days I’ve driven down. It’s working out ok, and sometimes I even get a little snooze on the way there! The show’s at 5.20pm so we set off at 2pm and have a stop at Waitrose, (other supermarkets are available) to pick up supplies for Dinner. Grange Park has an hour and a half interval so the paying public can have a slap up meal or bring a picnic and eat in the rather lovely grounds. I tend to buy ready meals and eat them in the not quite so lovely band room, but it has three microwaves and an urn so I get by. Then it’s in for the second half! Show done by about 10pm and off home. I got a text saying that the Sinatra night with Jez Unwin at the Spa was a great success. It was a shame for me to miss it but well done to everyone! Have a couple of days off so all the brass and Sax players can rest their lips.

Friday saw me doing rehearsals at Maida Vale for a concert entitled “The Edge Of Sound” conducted by Charles Hazlewood at the Queen Elizabeth Hall next week. Morning and Afternoon Rehearsal so time to fit in a quick awards dinner afterwards. Oh yes indeed, my sister Carol who works for the Police and is a big supporter of the SSO had been nominated for Police Staff Member of the Year because she is lovely and clever. It was a good opportunity for us all to get together and attend the awards dinner at the City Grange Hotel in Tower Hill. What an enjoyable night! All the people that had been nominated were winners already really and are all doing fantastic work. It was an honour to help celebrate their success, but to top it all off, Carol Won! Hurrah!!!

Carol with her award. Well done sis!
Saturday was a rare day off, so I did very little.

Sunday brought another Grange Park and My turn to drive. The journey isn’t that bad unless they close the slip road to the M3, of the M3 itself or have road works on the North Circular or close the Fore St. tunnel or…oh you get the idea.

Monday saw more rehearsals for the “Edge Of Sound” so I battled through the London Underground to get to Maida Vale for 11.30. It seem a bit quiet on my approach but I could see the big van with BBC…. Symphony Orchestra on the side, hang on a minute! I got inside and double checked with the chap on the door that the Concert Orchestra were on today. “Oh Yes” was the reply so I assumed we were in studio 2 and sat down with a bottle of water purchased from the canteen. It wasn’t until one of the Chefs politely enquired what I was doing there today that I started to wonder again, so back to the chap on the door who it turns out thought I’d meant the Symphony orchestra and that no, the Concert Orchestra were, in fact, not there today! Oops! Quick call to the office, “Hi, where are you?” ”Watford? Mm, might take me a while.” How embarrassing! Oh well, got there by 12.45 just in time for the break, perfect!

On Tuesday I was woken by a phone call from my No.2 in the Section, Matthew. The poor chap has been off sick because he came off his bike and grazed his arm badly as well as bruising most of his left side. It seems he felt a bit better and decided a little football would raise his spirits. A turn in Goal couldn’t hurt could it? Turns out it could! Making an awkward save he bent his little finger on his right hand and has broken it in 3 places!!! If ever I needed proof that sport was bad for you! Only joking Matt, Get well soon. Ok, let a few people know then get to work. QEH Radio 3. Sure of the venue? Yes! GO! What? Another text? Charles Hazlewood has gone sick? Oh no! Some days it’s just not worth getting out of bed. Hope you are feeling better Charles. Ok, the plan is for Steve Bell, our Principal Horn (and very good conductor) to step in, perfect! To say Steve did a great job is an understatement. The concert was designed to give a musical picture of Finland’s Myths and Legends and included pieces by Sibelius, Rautavaara, Lindberg and a folk Finnish group called Värttinä. The folk group were pretty amazing and performed seven numbers with us live on Radio 3. One about a bird’s mind, one about an old man and an encore including whips! So something for everyone. I think the band really worked hard to not just get us through the gig but really pull off a good performance, well done the BBC CO! Phew!

Wednesday, Abbey Road, TV sessions for “The Hunt” 10-1 and 2-6. Abbey Road does a very good breakfast so try and make sure I get there early enough. The Concert Orchestra have provided the soundtracks for some great TV series over the years such as Blue Planet and The Paradise and some of the music is great to play, especially if you can see a monitor with some of the amazing wildlife footage! The only downside was 7 hours in an airless and very hot Studio 2 so I was glad to get out and get home.

Thursday and Friday were both Grange Park days and as I write this it is Saturday and I’m on the train back up to Scarborough. I had to miss the Peasholm Park concert on Friday which is a real shame. Who doesn’t want to travel to work by motorised Swan? Anyway, time to catch up with what’s really been going on whilst I’ve been away.

Hopefully see you soon, here’s to another marvellous Summer Season on the Spa,


Blog No. 23: Final Blog of the 2014 Season – Top Ten and Revealing Questions

For our final blog of the 2014 season features contributions from all the members of the Scarborough Spa Orchestra. They have been asked to answer three questions which will hopefully reveal an otherwise hidden layer to this legendary orchestra!

Firstly, however, it is with great pleasure that we announce the audiences Top Ten Tunes that we play as voted for by you….

10. Mexican Fire Dance, Marland

9. Knightsbridge March, Coates

8. By the beautiful Blue Danube, J. Strauss II

7. Bells Across the Meadow, Ketelbey

6. Dambusters March, Coates

5. Ladies in Lavender, Hess

4. Perchance to Dream Selection, Novello

3. Intermezzo and Easter Hymn (from ‘Cavalleria Rusticana), Masagni

1. Homage a Piaf, arr. Kenworthy

1. Themes from Piano Concerto no. 2, Rachmaninov



Now to the questions which are as follows:

1. How did you start playing your particular instrument?

2. What is your favourite piece that we play? (At the moment anyway!)

3. Seeing as we have no viola in the orchestra: What is your favourite viola joke?


Paul Laidlaw – Piano/Musical Director

1. Aged four started climbing onto my grandmother’s piano stool and picking out tunes – been doing it ever since!

2. Hard to choose from so many varied styles. Love The Girl from Corsica, any of the Novello selections, Rodeo and Pique Dame Overture.

3. The bad tempered viola player got the sack for lowering her voice to the conductor.

Mike Gray – Violin

Hi Everyone,
Well the busiest Summer of my life had come to an end and I think I got through relatively unscathed! Thanks to all the regulars and irregulars who know how to bring a smile to all our faces, you’re why we’re here.
So, to the questions.

1. I wanted to play the piano, but we didn’t have one so they wouldn’t let me. Violin was just the next instrument offered so I took it up, simple as that!

2. My favourite piece is a split between Camelot and Kismet , (does that make it Camelmet or Kiselot?). I just love those wonderful melodies and after Kismet in particular one really feels that you’ve given everything you have.

3. As for the Viola, well, this one was told to me by a viola player at the BBC so it’s got to be alright.
What’s the difference between a viola and a coffin? The coffin has the corpse on the inside.
Harsh and completely unfair! Winter well, and if I don’t see you at New Year, see you next season, aargh!

Diane Stewart – Cello

1. I started playing the cello when I was about 10. I already played the recorders, violin, guitar and piano, but when the local cello teacher came into school saying that she a cello going spare, did anybody want to give it a try, I obviously felt that I had plenty of spare time to practise another instrument, and stuck my hand up. One by one the other instruments (apart from piano of course – I couldn’t give that up…my Mum was my teacher!) dropped off, and I had to choose between the violin and cello because the techniques were starting to clash. It was an easy choice for for me because I really couldn’t get the hang of the vibrato on the violin, and also the cello teacher was really nice which swung the deal. The rest, as they say, is history.

2. It’s so difficult to pick a favourite piece from our enormous repertoire and my mind has gone blank! Lots of pieces have happy memories ( and some of them not so happy!) for lots of different reasons. For instance, there are 2 notes in the Annie Get Your Gun selection where Russell,(Rick’s predecessor) insisted that I turn round and look at him and smile. 2 notes that weren’t important in the grand scheme of things, but always make me smile, even now. I suppose one piece that brings memories flooding back is The Dusky Aristocrat. This takes me right back to my childhood, when I used to do a lot of dancing, as well as music. We used to dance to this, and I hadn’t heard it for years and years until I started playing here. I certainly can’t remember what the dance was but it always starts my toes tapping when we play it.

3. Viola joke

What’s the difference between a viola and a trampoline?

You take your shoes off to jump on a trampoline.

Kathy Seabrook – Flute/Saxophone

1. A peripatetic music teacher, Mr Brown, visited my junior school (Alexandra Road, Market Drayton) when I was 11. All the pupils who were in the choir or played the recorder (I did both) were asked to go and try out an instrument. He had an oboe, a clarinet and a flute. I could not get a single sound out of either of the reed instruments, but as soon as I tried the flute I could just do it and made a big, focused sound straight away, much to everyone’s surprise. I have a theory about this, which is that at the time my front teeth stuck out quite a bit and this channelled the air in the right direction, onto the tone hole and so helped to create the sound – lucky me having goofy teeth! So anyway, I was chosen to learn the flute and never looked back!

2. The Flower Drum Song by Rodgers and Hammerstein – this has been my favourite for quite a while now. The musical selection from this show, which we play in the Spa Orchestra, just seems to play itself. The arrangement is great for our ensemble, skilfully showing off each instrument, and the music is just typical of the genre, with happy songs (Chop Suey), dance numbers (I enjoy being a girl), love songs (Love look away) – something for everyone. It’s just a joy to play – also, it’s a less well known work which I only found out about through playing in the Spa Orchestra, so it’s special to me.

3. Why do violists stand for long periods of time outside people’s houses? They can’t find the key and they don’t know when to come in. (With apologies to my very good friend Lizzy, who is a wonderful viola player in Opera North.)

Graham Quilter – Clarinet/Saxophone

1. When I was 10 my Dad used to organise musical soirees at the Glaxo Sports and Leisure Club in Barnard Castle. The rehearsals for these evenings would take place in our dining room and I heard his clarinettist, whose name was ‘Killer’ (Ken Kilpatrick), during these rehearsals. One day I said to my Dad, I want to play the clarinet when I’m older. One week later, I had my first lesson.

2. My favourite piece of the moment is ‘Valse Bijou’ by Clive Richardson. It’s just a beautiful, slow melody which epitomises palm court music to me.

3. What’s the difference between a violin and a viola?

The viola burns longer.

The viola holds more beer.

You can tune the violin.

Chloe Vanns – Bassoon/Clarinet/Saxophone

1. I started violin when I was about 4 mostly because my Mum played and I wanted to be like her! My Grandma taught me a few tunes on the piano too so I soon started piano lessons. Although it was clear I as musical, as I had a good ear for telling when the violin was out of tune!, I didn’t shine at the violin or piano. Aged 10 I asked if I could start the clarinet as a friend of mine had started learning and I picked it up very easily. A few years later I auditioned for my local youth orchestra and got in on 2nd clarinet in the bottom orchestra. My Mum was sat in a meeting for the youth orchestra and they were complaining about the lack of bassoonists, she raised her hand and said ‘my daughter would play it if she had an instrument’. My conductor very kindly procured me a brand new bassoon through his wind band and 6 months later I found myself at the Bridgewater Hall feeling my way through the 1st bassoon part of Swan Lake in our Christmas concert. I was 14 when I started bassoon, I was lucky that my clarinet teacher was a bassoonist, and aged 16 I successfully auditioned for Chetham’s School of Music. The rest is history. I stopped lessons on the clarinet after I had sat my grade 8, but I am very glad I continued to a high level as it has made me the ideal candidate for this job in the Scarborough Spa Orchestra!

2. My favourite piece is probably our Porgy and Bess selection by Gershwin. It embodies every aspect of this band: a jazz element, a classical element, solos from almost every member of the band, fast playing, slow playing and most of all, fantastic melodies. It also holds great memories of playing it during our Centenary Gala with Lesley Garrett, which I was so lucky to be a part of.

3. A viola mute:4266lump_hammer


Mark Addison – Trumpet

1. I started playing aged 10 in the local Boys Brigade, 1st Aldbrough. I remember wanting to give up a lot but my parents kept me practising and thankfully I got a good teacher at secondary school.

2. Very close with favourite piece, it was going to be ‘birdsong at eve tide’, beautiful tune and beautiful harmonies. But I will have to pick the Londonderry air, or Danny boy. This is the tune my dad always listened to and I feel like I have known it all my life, it was played at his funeral and it just reminds me of him.

3. Viola joke: how do you tell a stage is level?

The Viola player will dribble out of both corners of his mouth.

Rick Scoates – Trombone

1. The influences that made me turn towards music were many. As a child of 3, I would hear the Bands playing at Sandhurst College, in the beautiful park with a lake and a boathouse, which was at the other end of Yorktown Road from us. Once a boy bugle band marched past our house in practise. Another time a Pipe and Drum band. Officers were often marching


Once I was watching, and the man at the back on a bicycle (probably the Regimental Sargent Major ! ) having shouted


forgot to say “get those knees up”-so I obliged in a clear, brilliant, shrill treble voice. It was the first time I heard an audience laugh! It made me feel very proud right until the end of the line (10, at two abreast) when the man on the bike at the back said in a low voice “Alright son…don’t be cheeky!” my initial response was going to be -but you’re not my Dad! Fortunately in the event I looked at the ground pathetically, suitably chastised. I learnt a lesson in egos that day. I had never been spoken to like that before and wanted to inform his rudeness of the case. After all, I was treated like a Pop Star by all the ogling Mothers when I was in a pram and remember well all the smiles I had to return when we were out and about on our walks to College Town next to Camberley. One man once joined in the gaggle of mothers all smothering me in love. When he realised he couldn’t win with me present he rather jealously said to me

“make the most of it lad it’s the last time you will have this much attention”.

The second time I made an audience laugh was in the Cinema in Camberley with my sister and her friends (I was 4). The film was Cliff Richard’s Summer Holiday. There was a shocking scene in which a woman dances in her underwear, (I was still shocked when I saw it as an adult) so the stunned audience were treated to my loud voice of anxiety


The audience erupted! Anyway, we would go to my Gran’s in Southampton. Gran and Harold (why not Granpa?) lived in elegance in Northlands Road near the park. It was a large Edwardian house with a garage large enough to take four cars. The back lawn was interrupted by a high rock garden (which housed the concrete bunker from the war) beyond this the raised section had market garden a small orchard and a brick built summer house with canvass blinds and smelling of wood and leather polish. In about ’59 or ’60 we had a party in the afternoon there. Mum and my Aunts were good pianists and Harold owned a trombone. He never worked out that his pianos were both pitched in Bb and was completely perplexed by his transposition difficulties. It was a fabulous day-sunny and fun with all my relatives there- almost a poem by Betjeman. A year or so later (when I was 4 or 5) I went back to that end of the garden again to rekindle the experience. The place was pretty wrecked-the party was definitely over. The trombones were still lying up against the piano no cases. Dirt and dust and damp and not a place to linger. I never saw it again and the whole property was flattened by developers-but some of the glorious properties in the road still remain.

We moved to the other end of Berkshire to Wallingford on Thames (now South Oxon.) When 11, my mate Michael Warnes protected me from having to learn the notes on the staff by insisting I copy his work (sometime before I took my degree and diplomas I must have had to “catch up”.)

The favourite comedy programme was Benny Hill especially the chase scenes when you hear the saxophone. So when we were asked if we wanted to play a brass instrument I kept my hand down until I looked around and found out I was the only one with his hand down-so put it up to conform!

The music teacher (Mrs Hoare) quite liked me (as I found out when she gave me a Valentines Day kiss in front of the whole class!) so I was given a cornet and later a trombone. My mate in the band was Clifford Mackenzie who played the euphonium. He suggested we should go to try out Wallingford Town Band. Unfortunately, we were present for the very last band practice. Everyone was going to join the next village band so we went to the Cholsey Prize Silver Band (this worried me as my trombone was a dirty brass colour). There I met Graham Chambers who was the First Trombone (and 2 years older) and in every way an inspiration. His father conducted the band and they both befriended me and took me to London to buy my first trombone when I was just 14. Clifford had no mentor and gave up.

I then followed in Graham’s footsteps playing in Morris Motors Band with Harry Mortimer and Youth Orchestras and University Orchestras in Oxford and Reading. I finally went my own path by going up t’ut north to study in Manchester, but we are still in touch.

2. My favourite piece this year is The Petite Suite de Concert: Coleridge Taylor

Firstly we play it well, always with gusto and a bit of pep! Also, because it is so well crafted with organic repetition and sequence. Also anything written in French is a turn on – isn’t it?

3. A viola player decides that he’s had enough of being a viola player–unappreciated, all those silly jokes. So he decides to change instruments.

He goes into a shop, and says, “I want to buy a violin.”

The man behind the counter looks at him for a moment, and then says, “You must be a viola player.”

The viola player is astonished, and says, “Well, yes, I am. But how did you know?”

“Well, sir, this is a fish-and-chip shop.”

An American orchestra had just arrived in Europe for a two-week tour. One hour before the first concert, the conductor became very ill and was unable to conduct, and the orchestra suddenly had to find a substitute. The orchestra manager asked everyone in the orchestra whether they could step in and conduct, and the only person who was willing was the last chair violist.

The manager was very nervous about this. “We can’t audition you,” he said.

“No problem,” replied the violist.

“There’s no time to rehearse. You’ll have to do the concert cold.”

“I know. It’ll be all right.”

The violist conducted the concert and it was a smashing success. Since the conductor remained ill for the duration of the tour, the violist conducted all of the concerts, getting rave reviews and standing ovations at each one.

At the next rehearsal, the conductor had recovered, and the violist took his place at the back of the viola section. As he sat down, his stand partner asked him “Where’ve you been for the last two weeks?”

Lisa Featherston – Double Bass

1. When I was eight years old my school announced that auditions were going to be held for the double bass. I had no idea what these things were but had heard of the ‘bass drum’ before…so when I passed the test and turned up to my first lesson expecting to see a funky drumkit before me, I was somewhat…confused! However, since then I have never looked back and have really grown to love the deep, rich tone of the double bass…(and fortunately for me I can still get my little percussion fix by having a little play on my son’s drumkit when he is at school!)

2. My favourite piece that we have played this season has to be Seranade for Strings by Ferraris. Since my college days I have always loved music for strings… the repertoire is amazing and this little number always makes me smile. I love experimenting with the different colours of pizzicato that you can get from the instrument when playing this piece…great fun!


viola doggy

Michael Harper – Percussion

1. I was playing cornet in a brass band about aged 12 but was more interested in watching the person playing the drums. I asked to have a try and that was it for me

2. Serenade by Ferraris

3. After a concert is given one of the Violists looks very content. “Listen to me. You won’t believe it,” he said to his colleagues. “I could play everything and I missed not a single note!”

On that very moment the drummer comes in and asks: “Has anybody seen my part?”


We hope you have enjoyed the 2014 season and we look forward to seeing you all at a concert next season, or, if you can’t wait, New Year’s Day Viennese concert at the Spa!

Blog No. 22: Mark Addison

Hello, as we are so close to the end of the season I thought I could share my thoughts on the whole of it rather than the week.

photo (1)

Well, I started the summer thinking, “I’m 40, this is my 6th season, will it be easier? Will it heck, I better go for a trumpet lesson!” I go quite often for lessons, one can never stop learning, especially when I don’t know that much to begin with. I went to see Paul Cosh, my teacher from Guildhall and an ex player of the BBC Symphony. One of the loveliest gentleman you could ever meet and a true professional. He once told me, “Never be one or two minutes late. If you are, people will always be annoyed and say you should have set off earlier, always best to maybe go to the toilet, have a cup of tea and be an hour late, then they’re always pleased to see you and glad that you’re ok!” His solid advice on that day was “beware the good days!” The days when playing feels easy and great we have a tendency to carry on practising a bit longer, or play a bit louder then suffer a bit later when tired, better to reserve the energy for when its needed. Especially true in this band. Nothing has ever quite fully prepared me for these seasons but having those and other wise words from Paul in my head certainly helped.


Free Sunday morning concert audience

As always lots of versatile and challenging concerts all season from kids concerts to classical, from Sinatra night to solo spots. Some superb playing and I hope we can build up our support as its clear from the free concerts that people do enjoy the orchestra.


We did two nice concerts at the park this year, shame there were no fireworks but I particularly enjoyed the movie themed one with Michelle Todd. The first one was the three tenors, a very good crowd and superb weather, the first concert were I had parts covering a three octave range, no sweat for the woodwind and strings but a challenge on brass. Also, the North Riding Brew pub, my favourite Scarborough pub, just up the road do fantastic beer, well worth a visit for any CAMRA fans.



It’s always nice to spend the summer here, when the sun is shining it really is a beautiful place. In the past I have done a lot of cycling but this year not so much, I have however been tempted to do some swimming in the sea. When my family came down in July the weather was amazing and my eldest daughter Lilia was in the sea trying to drag me in. I have to admit I was not the bravest and managed to be ankles deep before I decided it wasn’t for me, she, however, was loving it. Waves crashing into her with a massive grin on her face. One of our violin deps, Richard, got me thinking about getting in as he is an avid surfer and obviously loves the ocean, but it was another ex Spa trumpeter, John Blackshaw that made me jump in and I have been going for a dip a few times a week. A bit cold at first but once you’ve thrashed around for a bit it is lovely, I thoroughly recommend it.  

Thanks for reading, Mark.



Blog No. 21: Lisa Featherston

“Music is a world
within itself,
with language
we all understand”
– Stevie Wonder

A very big hello to all in Blogland! It’s my turn for the weekly update on life within (and around) the Spa Orchestra – all the way down from the bass end!

I am fortunate enough to live fairly close to Scarborough (40 miles away in Hull) so have been commuting to the Spa on a daily basis – so far that’s a total of 4460 miles in 58 days…with only 1200 miles to go until the end of the season. Pretty impressive, eh?! Travelling back and forth can be quite tiring (and has deprived me of many fun nights out) but the journey always becomes worth it as soon as I approach the roundabout on Foreshore Road and see this before me:


Every time I reach this point of the drive I smile, take in the view and look forard to the day ahead, knowing it will be full of great music, extremely talented musicians and audiences that love and appreciate it all.


I took this picture first thing on Sunday morning as I got out of my car – it was a beautiful, suuny day with a certain crispness in the air. It felt like Autumn had crept upon us, without us even noticing. I love those kind of days – so still and calm.

The first person I bumped into was Terry, one of our lovely technicians (although you will also find him helping out in the café, behind the bar, painting something or another, or generally just spreading a smile about the place).

I chuckled as I saw him carrying a huge board over to the Suncourt and when I asked him what it was, he turned it around saying “It’s for you guys!”. He revealed the perfect photo opportunity:


The morning and evening concerts brought in fab audiences, which is always great to see. Smiling faces, young and old, new and familiar are what makes us thrive as musicians and performers…and as I turn around to take a look at the sea behind us, it’s always lovely to see the faces of passers-by light up as they hear the catchy toe-tapping tunes rising up and out of the Suncourt.

Most people (with normal, sensible jobs) usually get that sinking ‘Monday morning’ feeling – but not here at the Spa when we have a Teddy Bears’ Picnic to look forward to! It’s fun (and noise) all round ad I just love watching and hearing Kathy in action (and learn a lot from doing so too). She’s a complete natural with the children, oozes such energy and never fails to give the little ones an amazing and memorable musical experience…and as a result, the Suncourt is packed out every Monday morning. Well done Kathy!


Thanks for the great picture you drew of me, Amy!

Monday evenings are always a treat, unless you’re having to do a bass solo (it’s always scary leaving your comfort zone at the back of the orchestra to go out to the front!). With stunning solos from Mark, Di, Graham and Paul it was a pleasure to sit back and listen – thanks guys!

I always love Tuesdays as my eight year old son Milo comes along with me. He is already a keen musician himself (drummer) and really enjoys the concerts – I even catch him ‘air-drumming’ along from time to time.

I particularly enjoyed this concert, not only because Milo was there, but because of Paul’s solo! A few weeks ago Paul gave me a couple of CDs – one of Judy Garland, the other of Bette Midler. I listened to them over and over in the car on my way to and from work because I fell in love with them so much. Some of the songs made such an impact on me and I had previously learn a couple of the to sing at the Spa. So that morning when I asked Paul what he was going to play, he said “I wasn’t going to tell you, but I’m playing ‘Do It Again’ by Judy Garland”. I was so thrilled as that was one of the songs I had become so fond of and it really meant a lot that he had chosen to play it. He teamed it beautifully with another George Gershwin song “Somebody Loves Me”, and for a very special ‘piano solo moment’ I was filled with peace, sublimity and emotion.

Thank you for that.


Milo and I then hit the skatepark! As the mother of a typical eight year old boy I find myself surrounded by all things BMX, boisterous and dangerous, so the obvious place to go that afternoon was Scarborough Skatepark on the North Bay. I love going there as the view of the bay is beautiful and the tricks and stunts that we see the boys (and girls) doing there are often mind-blowing. I took a few pics but my timing is so lousy that I didn’t actually manage to snap anybody up in the air…but I can guarantee that there was some pretty impressive stuff going on.

skatepark 2

Skatepark 1

I remember a lovely moment during Wednesday morning’s concert…we had just opened up the second half with Barsotti’s ‘Queen’s Colour March’ when I looked up to the hill in front of me. I saw a young boy with his grandma and grandpa on either side of him. As we played they all stopped at the top of the steps, looked at each other, joined hands and started marching down the hill in time to the music. It was wonderful to watch and I felt all warm and fluffy knowing that we had been part of that special family moment. I hope that is a memory that they will always treasure.

Wednesday afternoons are always great fun as I have started teaching an already well established bass player called Chris Lea. He currently plays for singer/songwriter John Hutchinson and is also doing a show called ‘Bobby Socks and Blue Jeans’ which will be at the London Palladium on October 19th. I’ve always found teaching inspiring and am enjoying talking all things Bass with an incredibly keen and dedicated musician.


Thursday morning didn’t start off so great – I had some really sad family news before the morning concert, so the day ahead felt like it was going to be a real struggle. However, ‘Your Requests’ meant that we played some lovely tunes, including one of my favourite songs ‘Autumn Leaves’, which was played beautifully by Kathy Seabrook.

Then followed the rehearsal in preparation for the ‘Frank Sinatra Night’ with Roger Maughan. With a voice as warm as his personality, the afternoon was an absolute pleasure. We rehearsed the songs with the whole band first and then just the numbers that involved only piano, bass, drums and voice. This turned into a really creative and productive session as we threw ideas, chord changes and suggestions at each other. This resulted in a gorgeous concert full of timeless, classy songs such as ‘Fly Me To the Moon’, ‘Night and Day’ and ‘It Had To Be You’.


To round off the week, Friday brought yet another beautifully sunny, but cold day at Peasholm. This place is really special to me as my Mum spent a lot of time here as a child, so I always feel like I am walking in her footsteps. I love hearing about how the place has changed since those days in the 1950’s and found these old photos of her at Peasholm really interesting:….(anyone remember the mechanical elephant ride?)

family pics 1

Pics of my Mum, Auntie, Nanna and Grandad at Peasholm

family pics 2

The evening concert featured Michelle Todd and brimmed with magnificent music from the movies (including the hauntingly beautiful theme from ‘Schindler’s List’ played by Mike Gray). The evening was a huge success and was a great finish to a very long, busy and hard (but very enjoyable) week. So aboard the Swan we stepped for one last time in order to leave the bandstand and head over to the café’s laundry room to get changed – oh the glamour!)…and after such a busy day, the main exit really did seem too far away to walk with a bass on my back…so I clambered over the nearest fence!! (Hope nobody saw).

Enjoy the rest of the season – it’s been lovely chatting!

Love and hugs,



Blog No. 20: Rick Scoates

Hey there Bloggers!

Ricardo here : Trombone, (and a big curly wurly thing)
My big curly wurly is called… in British Brass Bands a Euphonium. It usually plays up high in that setting.  In British Military Bands it was once called a Bombardon and joins the Basses one minute and sounds gruff and unfriendly and then soars as high and sweet as a bird in a counter melody the next. I remember this phenomenon clearly as a 4 year old hearing Bands at Sandhurst and trying to track down which instrument it was!  When we play marches at the Spa, this is the sort of part I play.  In the orchestra (in Britain) it plays the part of a  Tenor Tuba. (eg.Holst’s Planets).
The valve was first patented in 1817 in Germany (I think? -all  this is information I read over 35 years ago!). The Piston (valve) was patented not long after in France. The Cornet a Piston was a radically new instrument and was toured all over Europe to wow audiences. Berlioz even added parts for it to already completed works (Symphonie Fantastique). The rotary vale in Germany was put onto French horns and Trumpets (in France they used piston).  The theatre trombonist Wieprecht was accepted as head of the Prussian Army Bands in 1830. This was the best army with the best army bands… anywhere. His brief was to reform the bands. At this point there were no bass brass instruments; only bassoons, serpents and a bass trombone. In 1835 Wieprecht patented a Tuba (from the Roman name for Trumpet). It had rotary valves (like all German manufactured instruments) and a left facing bell. It was conical bore like a trumpet and trombone. In 1837 he patented the Tenor Tuba an octave higher but otherwise the same. The Prussian Bands now had an equivalent to the  Bass and Cello section of the Orchestra.  In 1845 a Belgian instrument inventor working in Paris came up with a family of instruments; he named them Saxhorns after himself. It had a right facing bell , piston valves and a conical bore, which helped it blend with the Cornets.  Adolphe Sax later (1875) gave his name a second time to an instrument when he invented a metal clarinet family he called the Saxophone. According to Franz Liszt’s Diary (yes he of Brahms and Liszt fame!) when Wieprecht and Sax eventually met on the streets of Vienna there was an almighty  punch up over copyright infringement, watched by Liszt!  Saxhorns entered Britain at the first Belle View Band Contest (Manchester in 1850). Besses of the Band won first prize with their new all Brass Band (up to this point bands included wind and the odd string!-Wind Bands still use a Double Bass). Soon all the bands followed suit and the Brass Band Movement was formed.  The instruments in the bands were just referred to by there size and the Saxhorn bit was dropped. So a BBb Bass Saxhorn was just called a BBb Bass. Unfortunately, a bit of a muddle ensued and the alto saxhorn was called a Tenor Horn the Tenor Saxhorn a Baritone and the Baritone Bb Saxhorn was called a Euphonium (a euphemism for sweetness?) Phew! So, correctly, I play a Baritone Sax Horn in Bb. Most of the time I use it as a Tuba and play down low. I did bring a Contra Bass Tuba in BBb once but the orchestra was too small for it’s depth.  Phew  x2!  I am glad to finally get that one sorted!
Sax ad 18720428a
So much fantastic weather this year (although for my blog week the forecast isn’t so hot) that most of our morning concerts have been outside. Which is tremendous for the performers as well as the audience.  When not performing some of us make the most of the good weather and the holiday surrounding. So far this season, Mark and I have been cycling, and swimming in the Sea, as well as walking up and down the cliff face to and from work twice a day. Or put another way the running has taken a hit this season.
Cycling with Michael last season

Cycling with Michael last season

Sunday was a bit of a wash out for the morning concert, although the Hall was teaming with punters who were all happy to be entertained for free. On Monday you could have got wet and a suntan! Another busy Teddy Bears Concert. My demonstration of the Trombone was jeered for it’s brevity but laughed at when I added a faster version to complete it. I had started out playing Johnny Briggs but it seemed to take on a new identity as it progressed! Last week I got a laugh by playing Lavenders Blue Dilly Dilly on the Euph down 3 or more octaves! Although my Yodelling in Swiss Roll was taken as a serious moment-strange! They might be laughing again tonight as I attempt Che Faro senza Eurydice without a safety net.  The plot for Orfeo-how he looses the love of his life twice is well known and is hardly a laugh a line. So how to keep the audience jolly? I looked into Gluck’s life to find that in the 1760s he reformed Opera Seria and then moved to Paris to reform there too. So not a bundle of laughs either. So my 7 year old inside thought I would take a chance on focusing on his middle name Willibald (Baldcock). So the intro was how his secret middle name was discovered by Investigative Journalists and made into a scandal wherever he went. No, I didn’t think it was worth it either! However, no one could hear what I was saying but found something funny somewhere so it was another escape from total disaster -just like the performance.  Classical Night is always a joy. You can hear some amazing solo playing from the members of the orchestra. Lisa played a modern piece by Benson-which was very different and was well received. Like the Trombone and Tuba the Double Bass has not been gifted a repertoire to match violin, piano or voice.  Chloe and Di played a duet by Mozart. It was composed just after his Bassoon Concerto and the opening started like a direct quote. Anything by Mozart is smothered in class, good taste, confidence, craftsmanship, wit, variety and an impeccable organic growth. The conversation between these two mellow comrades also contrasted the earthy rustic quality of the one to the refinement of the other. Mozart wrote very little for the Cello-lamentably!  for it could have been pilfered and well adapted for the Trombone!  Mike Gray’s Concerto like rendition of Svensen’s Romance worked like a charm. I commented on the beauty of it afterwards and inquired if we had heard it played here before ” not quite like that you’ve not! ” he replied. When we left the Spa we were greeted by a wonderfully large moon. So I halted Milo on his game of running up and down steps to pose for this picture-I didn’t know he was pulling faces at me!
Tuesday morning was outside again although a flurry at the start of the selection made the audience chase about a bit. By the time we were halfway through the selection, strong sun had dried the decks again.  Next came Mark’s solo spot. Not well named as it featured everyone apart from the woodwind who sat in the audience. The percussion extras bottled out of dancing at the front and left the stage for yours truly to fill. The comments I received at the interval were quite extravagant. “You stole the show Rick”….” That’s made my summer”…. “You were only doing what we all wanted to do but we were too shy too” ” You should be on in the Theatre with dancing like that “.  I think Paul’s explanation on the microphone was hilarious. ” Of course we had to extensively rehearse the piece as it included extra percussion and choreography….unfortunately, the choreographer  didn’t arrive! “
Anyway, after all the fun I put Master Adam Quilter through his paces. He is developing his Trombone playing by learning the Rick Scoates bulldozer method. The week previously I had us both singing as loudly as possible, in the Grand Hall- much to the astonishment of passers by!  We have consequently been moved underground. After a late lunch and a cycle it was time for a wash and iron session. Simultaneously, I watched a film with Kim Novak and Stewart Grainger which wasn’t the famous Hitchcock one (Rear Window). Most curios to revisit another love affair with the same cast. Wednesday morning was again outdoors and featured Marvellous Mike in Romanesca. We had all sung the opening together at the talk through so it went with some gusto and I used the Tuba for added Thrump! Paul in a lovely commendation, dedicated Sunny Side Up to our sponsor and friend Eric Cooke OBE. With a shorter interval we were able to scuttle off up the cliff to St Martin on the Hill for the beginning of the service. I have never been to a funeral dressed in  Henley Regatta flannels and Blazer before, but somehow it seemed appropriate. There were eight of us there from the Orchestra ( Hhmm ! Coxless 8?) Miraculous Mike played beautifully at the end of the Homily: Eric’s favourite (When Irish Eyes are Smiling) and eyes were moistened all round I suspect (mine were at least). Administration is taking up a piece of my time right now. Sometimes it’s a search for digs (if anyone knows of a nice flat in Scarborough June- September 2015 please get in touch). But at the moment it is contract negotiations; checking legal documents to tighten up wording or make things clearer.  Wednesday evening’s concert featured Chloe’s Bassoon in Ronald Binge’s The Watermill. The Bassoon plays the Oboes air with the Cello and Bass doing the really hard work underneath with a flurry of scales. Beautiful effects were conjured by the ladies of the orchestra. By this time however, my arm had started hurting so I decided to take the Thursday morning concert off to get some treatment for it.  I went to the Thursday morning “Requests” concert for the first half hour and was pleasantly surprised at the fabulous sounds the band were making- what a marvellous gang? It really made me proud to think I sometimes get the chance to join in.
I then went for treatment. Then the torture started.  It turns out the last time I took Thursday off and went home and did the gardening hedge trimming and cleaning both cars I tore the ligament which connects the biceps to the shoulder (the long head – the short head connects to the chest bone, the biceps are two muscles as the name bi suggests. ) Ligaments have a very small blood supply so take a while to heal. So that could have been a very expensive bit of gardening as rest is the only cure. The playing simply makes it worse.
The evening concert was a Broadway Spectacular with singers and Choir. West End Shows are not my thing but I was very impressed with the many different sounds from so few players. Paul gave a racy pace to a witty presentation. The sparkling performance was enhanced by the sparkling glamour of the ladies in the orchestra.
I now look forward to a quiet weekend-if you meet me, please shake hands gently.
For now…So long.

Blog No. 19: Mike Gray



Well hello everyone in Blog land,

Mike here, violinist with the Scarborough Spa Orchestra. This Season so far has absolutely mad for me because I have needed to split my time between Scarborough and my other job with the BBC Concert Orchestra. I will have had 14 Days off between 5 June and September 11th, and will have done 8 return journeys, fitting in as many concerts as I can. I’m very fortunate to have been given time off by both organizations and in having two reliable deps in Richard Quick and Freddie August, who both love playing at the Spa.

So, what was I up to this week? Well, I had to go down to London so I missed the Gilbert and Sullivan Gala at the Spa. I heard it was a great success so well done SSO! I was rehearsing for two projects with the BBC, BalletBoyz at the Roundhouse and the Warhorse Prom at the Royal Albert Hall.


2 full                                                  BalletBoyz in rehearsal.                                                                                                Even the Warhorse likes a sugar lump!

The BalletBoyz performed a works called Serpent and Fallen for the final time in London, as well as an excerpt from their new full-length work Young Men, featuring an original score composed Keaton Henson. It was a production that I feel fortunate to have been a part of. These guys are real athletes and the choreography is beautiful and accessible. I don’t watch ballet at all really, but I thoroughly enjoyed the poetry and skill they brought to the pieces we performed. Seriously wonderful stuff. We performed at a place called the Roundhouse just up the road from Camden Market, a very cool venue indeed.

The Warhorse Prom was another lovely event, commemorating the anniversary of the outbreak of First World War. The concert was inspired by the National Theatre play, and featured the Warhorse suite as well as other music from the period with performers including the Proms Military Wives Choir and Gareth Malone. I had never seen the horse from the show in action before and it really is wonderful. It is operated by three actors but one very quickly ignores them and sees the horse as just another character. Concerts at the Albert Hall are always special and I believe the concert was televised for transmission in November so look out for it!

I actually had a few hours off after one of the rehearsals for the Prom and went to see the Butterflies exhibition in the grounds of the Natural History Museum so look at these beauties!

3All snapped with my Phone, Marvellous!

The Prom finished by 6.30, so I had an easy journey back on the 8pm train. Got into York ok but then they left us waiting till past time on platform 5b. No announcement, the display just changes to platform 10. So off we go, up over the bridge, somehow people know it’s now platform 4 so change direction. Train in platform 4 says Manchester, but don’t get in that one, you want the one behind it that says out of service! Of course we do! Finally left at 22.20 instead of 22.08, so not too late but, Aaaaaaarg!!! I’ve had quite a bit of time in York station this Summer, last time I had been visiting a friend in Leeds and sitting in on the touring version of Shrek. On the train back, it was so delayed they chucked us all out at York so we could all wait over an hour for the next train to Scarborough. It was truly delightful to spend that time with a load of inebriated people who had been to the York races. Wheeling one’s case around slightly aggressive blokes and puddles of vomit and paying £4.50 for a warm G and T was just the end to the journey I needed.

Anyway, back in Scarborough and here for a whole month! I shall have weekends and everything. Monday started with the usual Teddy Bears’ Picnic…


4Children. In the Suncourt.

which are rather nice events and continued with the regular series of concerts through until Thursday. Thursday morning is requests so it was lovely to have a number of people ask that I sing! A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square was duly delivered, and then I had to play Gypsy Carnival as well. All in a morning’s work! The Evening Gala was Orchestral Showstoppers so no rest for the wicked there then. It’s a tricky concert for everyone in the band but I think we pulled it off. The audience seemed to be enjoying it so hurrah!

And that’s that. I shall now enjoy 2 whole rest days in Scarborough and hope this glorious weather holds out. Hope to see you all during the week,


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.


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.


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!


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.


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!


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!