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Phoenix Concert Band

Autumn Concert

Phoenix Concert Band
St George's Church, Great George Street, Leeds LS1 3BR
Saturday 14th November 2020

Leeds College of Music Wind Ensemble


Leeds College of Music Wind Ensemble
Monday 30th November 2020

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Article: Conductor\'s Diary

Conductor\'s Diary April 2007

30th April

A busy musical weekend as well as some exciting football and of course a few hours on the M1.

On Saturday, Harlequin opened the Ranmoor festival in style with an assured and at times excellent performance, on their own and with the choir. Some of the spacial effects were effective but hard to synchronise and the playing in the second half was really very good. The concert was not well attended really and that was a shame.

On Sunday NSWO played at the St George\'s Day event in the fabulous Albert Hall and although the evening was altogether too long and formal, the orchestra played splendidly at times. The sound was symphonic and assured and the performance of Dona Nobis Pacem was inspiring even to that audience. There is just a slight lack of power in the full out climactic moments which this orchestra still needs to develop. They don\'t quite go up to \"11\"!

Credit goes to all the soloists particularly the euphonium player who had to stand up and be counted very late in the show. I could not really give them all the proper recognition as the the compere introduced the last two tunes together.

The orchestra also produced a fine reading of the Irish Tune from County Derry, a work that some might have seen as out of place in this nationalistic event.

NSWO had to deal with the intonation problems inherent in not playing for long periods between pieces. In the end they adapted well to the environment; a sign of their growing experience.

NSWO were booked to do a job for this event and the organisers got everything they could have wanted as well as a big contribution to the audience numbers. I will hopefully be able to upload some pictures as Pete was there with his trusty camera. One day I\'m going to get him to conduct whilst I try to take pictures!!

The Ladies Choir deserves a mention for their quality and for helping us with the ending of the Ellerby.

One of the principal trumpets was on his last concert. I was really hoping that he would not leave the group. My message to him? Stay!

26th April

Yesterday the rehearsal at Leeds College was quite well attended although some key players were involved in a twilight concert so had to miss. It is always a lovely experience to work with the students at LCM they really are a terrific group of young people who are keen to learn.

Afterwards it was off to Ranmoor and a rehearsal with Harlequin Brass. It was a struggle to get there for 7.30 and they were not all there grrr. The venue is excellent for renaissance music and we were trying out some antiphonal ideas for the upcoming concert. The programme for Saturday is good and I hope people will come to support it. I had to tell Harlequin how much respect they deserved for their performance on Sunday. I felt very proud and glad that it was those players who were in front of me on that night. Any one with less experience and mental strength would have \"bottled it\". So I say it again; well done to all!

I notice on the YWO site that Lucy is organising a YWO concert/curry night on Saturday to take in the concert at Ranmoor. It is so pleasing to see social links forming between players, ensembles and groups of friends. If people come along to it, there might be players from YWO, Harlequin, Phoenix and NSWO all at the same table. I love it!

23rd April

On Saturday the YWO played at QEGS in Wakefield. There were a lot of positives from the evening both musically and organisationally. Some of the playing was scintilating and as a group the YWO were fantastic with the students, relaxed and friendly with one another and everyone seemed to enjoy this first outing. We had a few moments of dodgy quality which I will be dealing with very quickly and I will be seeking to ensure that all YWO concerts contain nothing but high quality playing.

I have complained on this site before about other groups not taking care of the details enough during concerts; not making sure that everything is fundamentally sound both in rehearsal and performance. This was not a serious problem on Saturday. The YWO rehearses with care and professionalism and now simply needs to get out and play together in different venues to gain performance experience as a collective. However we need to maintain our collective concentration to meet our high standards and to build our reputation.

Some groups think that reputations are built by their publicity or their name. I am sorry but that is not the case. People know how good (or bad) groups are by what they produce on stage. It is that simple. Play well each and every time and a reputation will be built on solid foundations, just as musical quality is built into rehearsal. Good organisation, good practice, punctuality; beginning and ending, good music, talented reliable committed team-players. Simple isn\'t it?

Yesterday there was a NSWO rehearsal in the morning. The group played the Martin Ellerby work Dona Nobis Pacem very well and are clearly enjoying this music. Later we played some Grainger and I found myself being a little grumpy about tuning and ensemble. Lindsay said I was \"hilariously grumpy\"as I kept apologising and saying that it wasn\'t the orchestra\'s fault even though it was. I\'m not sure, but they did improve so that\'s ok. Next week they will have to concentrate; particularly during the pieces that are required by the organisers rather than chosen by us.

The M1 was busy due to nice weather; got home about 2.45pm

Last night was a Harlequin Brass concert at a club in Sheffield. They played a physically demanding programme in a very unyeilding room which gave them no help at all. The audience, such as it was, tended to listen to brass bands so the Harlequin repertoire was never quite going to inspire them. The group worked very hard to produce their usual musical and colourful sound, playing everything from Monteverdi to Chick Corea. They were exhausted at the end and the audience gave them a hearty round of indifference. Then back on to the M1 to arrive home at around 11.00pm.

22nd April

Two concerts, a workshop and a rehearsal. Plus at least 200 M1 miles this weekend. I will update the diary as soon as it\'s all done. For now it\'s off to Sheffield for Harlequin\'s concert.

19th April

Rehearsals with YWO and Harlequin Brass have been intensive due to both groups having concerts this weekend. The YWO is certainly progressing and now that tuning and balance is beginning to progress it is possible to benefit from the quality of some of our principal players. I certainly expect the orchestra to shine on Saturday and the workshop at QEGS should be a positive experience for the students.

Harlequin have chosen a very tough programme for their concert on Sunday; both musically and physically. I suspect that after the concert in what is likely to be a dead sounding room, they will be quite drained. I hope the audience appreciate the material. Brass band audiences are not famed for their musical taste. This programme has everything from Monteverdi to Chic Corea. We will play my own Harlequin Dances which was played in a club like this one last year. \"Eee, it sounds just like The Incredibles\" some one said. I got hold of the DVD to check... it doesn\'t!! I did enjoy the DVD though.

I have almost completed a Brass Band version of Harlequin Dances and any good band with a Tasmanian Devil for a soprano cornet player might enjoy playing it.

April 15th

Last night the BBC showed the programme in which Lord Robert Winston played with the National Sax Choir in rehearsal and at the 2006 BASBWE conference in Birmingham. The choir looked good in the programme and they came across as friendly, encouraging people. It gave me a warm glow to see them.

The programme itself was... well to put it bluntly, boring and poorly paced. They failed to really capture the tension of the occasion, partly due to Winston\'s apparent lack of real envolvement. I know this was not the case as he was friendly and enthusiastic throughout. Really it\'s just poor direction, production and editing. The TV people did not really understand the musicians or Lord Robert really.

Had it not been for the NSC involvement: and they did go to a great deal of trouble to enable the few minutes to take place, I would have switched off about 15 minutes in to this programme. I have not heard any reaction from other viewers yet but it was on prime time BBC 1. I did vaguely see myself sitting in the front row after conducting the non-televised part of the concert- I should have remembered to wave!

April 14th

A rehearsal in Nottingham-well attended and quite a good overall sound, although the week off has not helped the tuning. This mini-heatwave didn\'t help either the traffic or the group\'s energy. They are doing well on the Ellerby and they sight read the new music well. It looks as if Margaret and Dave may come to Germany and meet Eduard; forge some nice links: good!

April 13th Friday

Loud diminished 7th!!

April 11th

Still enjoying the break. Moving fallen trees, mowing lawns, walking dogs, transporting horse, a nice session with Lucy, Lindsay and Dave; also my son Scott home from uni\'. All in all a recommended state of affairs! Quite nice weather and a 7-1 footy game. Now to go off and do some more nothing!

April 6th

A few days off and lovely weather. Just walking the dogs and enjoying some r+r. Eduard has sent me programmes and posters for the concert in Germany. I have sorted the flights and have all the scores. It is a 5.00pm start, which is an unusual time for a wind orchestra concert. Imagine being finished and in the pub by 7.30pm?

The concert is a month away and I am looking forward to meeting the players again; they were very nice to me last time.

Last night, out for a meal in Ilkley. Good food and wine, nice atmospher, and of course, served by a pupil from IGS. I am always impressed by how well mannered and pleasant they are when they come across a staff member outside school. This young GCSE music student was delightful and deserved her tip!

Now to enjoy the bank holiday weekend. What am I going to do? Not a lot!!

April 3rd

Last night the YWO worked hard in rehearsal preparing really, for three upcoming concerts. Some of the music presents real technical challenges and it is really good to put pressure on the techniques of these excellent players. It was a rehearsal at the start of the Easter break and was very well attended. This is very pleasing to see and soon we will get a picture of who is reliable and who is not.

Someone emailed me about my punctuation! She said it was \"very good; for a site like this one\". Nothing at all about the content, or the musical stuff though. Still, it is better than the \"ugly twat\" comment from a few months ago. You just never know who\'s reading this stuff; some axe murderer who is obsessed with grammatical correctness; the semi-colon protection league or something like that!

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