Posts tagged ‘Band Camp’

August 26, 2017

What I did on my holidays – 2017 edition

Following on from 2016’s report, and ignoring anything that doesn’t involve the bass or the cello – yes, I had a few sessions on that thing too…


On Saturday evening, I made my debut as a percussionist (snare drum) for Rossini’s overture to Thievish Magpie. Fun. And many thanks to Tenley Martin for giving me a couple of lessons in the run-up to this week! There’s no way I would have had the nerve to do this without her help.

Fortunately, that was over quickly enough, and I was able to return to my normal home in the bass section, and we did Schubert’s 3rd symphony (not one of his best), and Arriaga’s symphony. Both new to me.


Started the day with the Dvorak Serenade. Flashbacks to when I was declared an honorary wind player in one orchestra because I was their cellist for this…

Orchestral session next, with a New Bug waving his stick around. Schubert 5, Mozart flute concerto, Haydn 78. A couple of tricky moments in the Haydn, which surprised me, as Haydn isn’t normally problematic. New Bug seemed to rather enjoy the experience, which is good, and the orchestra behaved / cooperated, which was also good.

Over to the cello for some flute quartets – Mozart K285 (the third one in the book, after K285a & K285b, go figure), and Ries – a new one on me, but good fun and recommended as a companion piece to the Mozart.

I was scheduled for a four cello group. One of the others brought a pile of stuff that had been arranged for the group (Beatles tunes, Mozart’s Ave Verum, Gounod’s Funeral March of a Marionette (aka Alfred Hitchcock’s theme), that sort of thing), and the parts were all mixed up so nobody got lumbered with just doing the growly stuff.

Impromptu/unscheduled Bruch octet. Yikes. World’s worst key change (or a strong competitor, anyway – 6 flats into five sharps; and then back again a few lines later). Must start a new category or a picture gallery or something for these.


Wind + string bass group, doing various of Geoffrey Emerson’s “The Red Hedgehog” arrangements – Elgar, sonata in G (op.28). Glazunov, Concert Waltz op.47. Richard Strauss Serenade (pretending to be either a kontrabassoon or a bass tuba) – some moments here. And finally, Durand de Grau’s “Les Clochettes” – a proper contrabassoon part, so needs a five string with a dropped bottom string to get those Bflats going…

Piano + strings – Mendelssohn sextet – rather good. And then we added in a trumpet for the Saint-Saens trumpet septet, which has some unpleasant corners, and lots of unison. And then he gives a nice tune to all the string players (unison) and leaves the bass out of it. For shame.

A mixed nonet session – Rheinberger & Martinu. Got the New Bug to lead the Rheinberger; got a rather more experienced player to do the Martinu, which is, after all, a bit harder…

Rounded off the day with a quintet session – Dvorak op.77 followed by Onslow (one of many) Op.35. Onslow easily playable, but one part does identify this as being a cello part – octave Gs? Not really possible on the bass unless you turn your bow upsidedown and play the strings from underneath. And there wasn’t enough time to do this.


The traditional day of rest – and a trip to Powis Castle.

Back to the music in the evening, with an orchestral session – Hugo Cole’s “Black Lion Dances” – fun – and Tchaikovsky Suite #1 Op.43. There’s even what passes for a double bass tune – at least, we have something vaguely melodic, and everyone else is silent for a couple of beats… At least, in theory they are, not looking at a certain hornplayer who came in in the wrong place!


Piano Quintets – Trout, and Percy Godfrey op.16. Some moments in the Godfrey, if only I can remember what they were. And I really need to remind The Management that I thought we had a “no Trout before coffee” rule.

Septets – Beethoven, Lichtenthal – a new one on me. This Lichtenthal chappie, 1780-1858, surgeon, apparently, which is possibly apparent from his way of composing by slicing up a bit of Mozart… To paraphrase Tom Lehrer, though, “It’s not plagiarism, it’s research” – “Lobachevsky

Mendelssohn Octet (2nd cello) – fun. It’s been a long time since I played this, and rather enjoyed myself. And got to do the beginning of the final movement a few times.

And in the evening, I was back on the bass – Schubert & Rheinberger octets were scheduled, so we played the Schubert, and then noticed that the Rheinberger isn’t for the same combination of players (requiring an oboe), and so we called it a night. The Schubert is a monster, though, so we didn’t feel short-changed.


String orchestra to start the day. Mozart, Div.K136 – playing a cello part on the bass. Nothing to worry about here. Pachelbel – ugh. Warlock – Capriol Suite – some good brisk speeds, which was fun. Vaughan Williams – Charterhouse Suite. Not particularly inspiring

This was followed by a full orchestra session – Mendelssohn – Duo – Two Clarinets (well, one clarinet, one basset horn); Mozart Overture “La Clemenza di Tito”; Mozart – Symphony 35 “Haffner”; Hugo Cole – “Black Lion Dances” again.

An off-piste run through the Dvorak quintet op.77, with a couple of different players and a couple the same as earlier in the week.

And in the evening – Dvorak Bagatelles, Debussy Children’s Corner (a couple of numbers) and various other bits, Finzi (Severn Rhapsody) in a mixed wind/strings group.

Finally, a late-night sneaky rehearsal run of Brandenburg 5, for the benefit of a young violinist that was convinced that she was playing it the following day…


The bass was feeling a bit tired, so the final day was a bit of a heavy one.

Friday started off badly, with a session of baroquery – half of which was missing parts. I ended up reading the Brandenburg 3 bass part from my phone… Still, some good solos from the younger contingent with the Vivaldi concerto for 2 cellos in D Minor and the JSBach violin Concerto in A minor both being very well done. Pity that the orchestral numbers were so overpowering.

And then there was a change of personnel for a really large string piece – Tchaikovsky’s “Souvenir de Florence”, in the string orchestra version. Huge, unrelenting stuff.

And then a couple of heavy symphonies – Mendelssohn’s first (“written before he’d learnt the art of brevity”), and Beethoven 7. That would have been the end of the week, but for one last surprise…

…which was back to the cello for the final official send-off session – Mozart K515 (quintet in C), and Brahms Sextet op.36.


Back home. Laundry. Sleep.

September 4, 2016

What I Did On My Holidays – 2016

Band Camp Report – 2016

Following on from the 2015 Band Camp Report

This year… Unfortunately, one of our oboists fell ill a few days before the start of the week; fortunately, we mostly had it covered. However, and even less fortunately, “mostly” doesn’t mean “entirely”…

As usual, this list only contains stuff I’ve played – the barbershop singing doesn’t count, and neither does helping out the children / junior / beginner orchestra. And you can’t hold that against me. And let’s not talk about the late-nights, the conversations or the cards against humanity games.

Saturday Evening

The usual inaugural orchestral system. This time:

  • Beethoven – Coriolan overture – I have this vague feeling we’ve done this before.
  • Haydn Symphony 99
  • Hamish MacCunn – “Land of the Mountain And Flood” – there’s a rather unpleasant semiquaver passage on the penultimate page, but the rest is playable. This year was the centenary of the MacCunn’s death – which is as good as an excuse as any for this. Unfortunately for us, we don’t have a full brass section, so the fanfare was a bit sparse – the immortal Colin R playing one part, and my father attempting to sing a trumpet part from his position on the podium. Didn’t quite work…


Quintet session to start:

  • Dvorak op 77
  • Dvorak Two waltzes, Op.52 – I don’t think I’ve played these before.
  • Onslow Op.25

The parts for this last contain the story about why Onslow’s quintets are so often alternately scored – it seems as though, at the premiere of one of them, the second cellist didn’t turn up. However, Onslow’s friend Dragonetti was in the audience, and (of course) stepped up… So, as this was a cello part, I switched to cello to play it. And Onslow started writing double bass parts

After coffee, another orchestral session, this time with the extra horror of me playing second oboe. First time I’ve done that with this group (or, indeed, any orchestral group) for, oh, 15-20 years? The programme:

  • Haydn symphonies 88 & 89
  • Karl Stamitz double concerto for violin & viola (Rosanna & Julia)

The evening was full of the Schubert Octet. What more could you want?


Started the day with a Trout quintet; we had a quick go at the first movement of the RVW concerto for the same combination, but this wasn’t particularly successful – maybe we were all a bit … tired … This was early RVW, and had been suppressed by the composer, but his widow was persuaded to release them after his death. Was this disrespectful of RVW’s wishes? Did she need the money? I guess we’ll never know…

Next session – yet another orchestral session:

  • Dittersdorf – Sinfonia Concertante for viola & double bass, although not necessarily in that order 😉 And I was the bassist, with my wife taking the viola solo. Was well received, if not an entirely accurate rendition – the conductor was giggling well into the afternoon
  • Stimitz – the other one – Viola Concertante in Bb (Ellen)
  • JSB – Brandenburg 6 (Sarah and Jessica, who had had approximately no notice…) Fun times.

Not quite sure how, but I had the evening off.


After the usual day of rest (involving a castle, coffee, cake, and an osteopath…), the evening was taken up with a big Mozart orchestral session:

  • Sinfonia Concertante K297 – for Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, Horn (Mike, Julian, Vince, Kevin).
  • Sinfonia Concertante K364 – for Violin & Viola (Ian & Andrew)
  • Symphony 40 – K550


The day started with the usual Wednesday Workshop. This time, we did a couple of pieces by our very own David Marsh (his Highland March and his Waltz in G), and then finished up with the Serenade by Joseph Suk.

Next session was an old familiar favourite – the Beethoven Septet. This is a regular gig with five members of my family playing with the leader of the week and a guest cellist. It’s been like that for a very long time; however, Our Glorious Leader felt he had to stand down. He did arrange a deputy – one of his sons, Ian – who seemed to know his way around the violin… Fortunately, he had been properly briefed and the diplomatic relations between violin / horn were unharmed.

We also had a quick go at the last movement of the septet by Peter Lichtenthal (1780-1858), which was new to us all. As time was short, we did just the last movement, which was good pleasant stuff. Must try it properly some time.

In the afternoon, an impromptu piano quartet session (me on cello), doing Turina’s piano quartet – seemed to be a very relaxed piece of music – and a spot of Mozart.

The second half of the afternoon was a session of music brought back by one of our colleagues who has been working in Qatar – lots of quartertones! So difficult to persuade the brain / fingers to play out of (normal) tune. Very thin harmonically, but that’s the way they do it… What was really confusing was when one of the pieces had a key signature of one semi-flat… “Not quite F major?” Something like that.

The evening kicked off with the Balakirev Octet – I have no memories of what this thing was like. Which isn’t necessarily a bad sign… After this, the group fractured, and three of us were banished to a smaller room with a trio by Leopold Hoffman (Op 1/3, for viola, cello and double bass) which worked rather well.


This was the longest day. It started with another session of Quintets:

  • Dvorak – op.77 again – “does this get done often?” asked one of the violinists. Erm… yes. “I don’t remember playing it” Well, you wouldn’t. There are umpteen violinists / violaists / cellists here, but only a couple of us bassists…
  • Onslow – op.38. “The Bullet”. The autobiographical string quintet. Again, it’s a double cello job, so I switched.

Next session was, oh look, another orchestral session:

  • Cimarosa – Concerto for Winds – seven soloists? two flutes, two oboes, two horns and a bassoon.
  • Haydn – Sinfonie Concertante (for violin, cello, oboe, bassoon) – this was fun, except for the poor viola players who found themselves sitting in front of my oboe
  • Mozart – back to the bass for the Piano concerto 25 / K503. Nice end to the morning.

We managed to sneak in a crafty Martinu nonet – my only nonet session of the week, which was surprising. I normally get a few of these, and I rather missed them. I think that the violinist was new to the piece, which makes for a trickier run-through. (This was an ad-hoc session, and the violinist we thought we had had it in mind that we were booking for 4pm rather than 3pm, so we had to go on the scrounge for a spare violinist…)

The choral society number – for a change, I was in the band. We did Handel’s Coronation Anthems, but in an unusual order, ending with the big “Zadok” number. This was a surprisingly tough session, and I was beginning to feel rather tired by the end of it. Not a good sign, considering the rest of the day’s line-up.

The final official session of the day was a wind group, doing a couple of the big classics:

  • Mozart – “Gran Partita”, K361. Great fun, but I was joined by a contrabassoonist for double the bassitude… *cough*pizzicato?*cough*
  • Dvorak Serenade (one of the hornists from earlier switched to cello)

The day ended with a run of all six Brandenburgs, done by a chosen few, and without a conductor – proper chamber-style, rather than the more orchestral-based renditions elsewhen in the week. The running order was non-numeric, with us aiming to get the wind-based ones out of the way first, and then gradually reduced the forces ending with #5. The session started at about 10pm, and was over by 12:30am, which is pretty good going, considering… But, ye gods, there were some interesting notation issues, including the bass part going down to a bottom Bb (off the range even of a normally-tuned five-string…)

And a *very* late night of drinking, followed by nowhere near enough sleep…


Once again, the day started with an orchestral session, heavy on the Bach

  • Corelli – Concerto Grosso Op 6/12
  • JSB – Concert for Violin & Oboe
  • JSB – Brandenburgs! 5 & 3. This was a big contrast of style with the late night run – this time, we had 3 desks of each of violin 1, 2, viola, cello…

Next session was a workshop (again), looking at the Elgar Introduction & Allegro – and a really great session it was. Fabulous music, really well led & controlled session, led by the MD of the Apollo Chamber Orchestra. Lovely chap, and Really Rather Good cellist.

The final orchestral session was big. Really big. “Beethoven’s Big Ones”:

  • Egmont
  • Triple Concerto
  • Symphony 8

A huge session. And the day / week wasn’t over, as a few of us had the last “hurrah” with a Brahms sextet (we were supposed to do #2, but we did #1 instead – pure accident, nothing to do with big tunes…), followed up by Mozart Quintet K515 (Gwen & I did two movements each).


And so, home, laundry, bed…

…and a hope that Helen returns fighting fit next year, so I don’t have to play oboe at short notice!

August 29, 2015

What I Did On My Holidays – 2015

Band Camp Report – 2015

Following on from the 2014 Band Camp Report

This year, I was scheduled almost entirely for playing double bass, but managed to get a few friendly sessions scheduled on the cello for a bit of light relief.

The list below ignores non-instrumental work (such as Barbershop quartets, singing the Fauré Requiem, etc…)

Saturday evening

The usual big orchestra session to get things going:

  • Mozart – Symphony #31 – Paris
  • Schubert – Unfinished

And then the first of the late nights…


String quintets:

  • Dvorak Op 77
  • Onslow Op 35. This is a bit odd – it’s a string quartet plus one extra, the one in question being a viola or a cello or a double bass – there are different parts depending on who you get as the extra. This time, I played it on bass…

Then some orchestral stuff:

  • Mozart – Symphony 1
  • Haydn – Symphony 31
  • Mozart – Symphony 29

An unscheduled revisit of the Onslow quintet. This time, I played the second cello part – subtly different to the double bass part.

The evening started off with a rather unusual session – bassoon sextets. String quartet, double bass, and bassoon. It felt as though these were cut-down (or mini) concertos:

  • Francaix – “Divertissement”
  • Oivind Westby – “Portrait of a Family” – five movements, each titled for a member of a family. I pity the mother – she sounded on the verge of a nervous breakdown!

The evening ended with a romp through Brahms’s first sextet (with me back on the cello).


Monday started slowly with a string orchestra session:

  • Warlock – Capriol Suite
  • Delius – Deux Aquarelles – not the most exciting of bass parts…
  • Dag Wiren – Serenade. Much more interesting.

I then took the double bass and ventured into the lions’ den, sorry, the massed wind ensemble, where I was required to run through a Geoffrey “Red Hedgehog” Emerson arrangement of Glazunov’s concert Waltz, op 47. Apparently, the arrangement was in the wrong key. I wouldn’t know – I just play what’s in front of me, guv. I was then ousted by my aunt and her contra-bassoon for the rest of the session.

After lunch, a return to the bad old days with me being a cellist again, for a rendition of Boccherini’s “Black Lace” quintet. Fortunately, I’m still relegated to 2nd! (Edit: Black Lace quintet is apparently a reworking by Lauterbach of four movements from other string quintets. The IMSLP page for what we know as the Black Lace quintet doesn’t contain the words, but does give the sources for the individual movements…)

The evening kicked off with an octet session – same instrumentation as the Schubert, but not the Schubert (that was happening in the next room, mutter grumble). So we ended up playing octets by:

  • Wellesz – bleah. Not impressed. Apparently he taught my father composition. I’m saying nothing. Nothing.
  • Zich – this one is a much more playable thing, full of Czech folk tunes. But it’s still not as good as the Schubert!

And then the night got a bit silly as 5/6 of Sunday’s sextet reconvened under a different leader to do Brahms’s second sextet. And then re-do the first one. And then, “while we’re here”, to run through Strauss’s sextet from Capriccio. Yeah, we were playing a bit late. And then we went to the bar, and stayed there until rather late. Early. Well, I was in bed before 3am, but not much before…


Fortunately, after last night, this is the usual “day of rest”. Or, in our case, “day of trying to fix my wife’s shoulder so she could do some more playing.” Didn’t quite go to plan, and she needs more serious / long-running / comprehensive treatment. I dunno, seems like only two years ago that our week was marred by her dodgy ankle.

The only playing today for me was yet another orchestral session, containing:

  • Beethoven – Romance for violin. Can’t remember which one. Oops.
  • Mozart – Piano concerto #23.
  • Mendelssohn – Symphony 4 (Italian) – some cracking speeds here

Bar, and relatively early night.


A quiet day.

Wednesday always starts off with a big string orchestra workshop, where we actually try to do something more than just play through. This year, it was the Suk Serenade.

Beethoven Septet – the usual family affair.

And the evening started off with the Strauss Metamorphosen (septet version).

The late night session involved more alcohol, and an odd selection of music, including:

  • A practice session of Bach’s suite in B minor (flute solo job) for the soloist to get her eye in for a proper run at it on Friday
  • Brandenburg 5 – the one with the monster keyboard solo
  • a very late night drunken Trout with the violinist (a first-time attendee) & viola player both sightreading.


A busier day. Highlights include (but not limited to):

  • Mezo – quintet (two flutes, clarinet, bassoon, double bass). I have no memory of this, so it can’t have been too bad!
  • Gordon Jacob – woodwind quartets (one flutist disappeared, and I got out my oboe – I’ve not played for a couple of decades) – a simple suite, and some folk song arrangements.
  • Vaughan Williams – Concerto Grosso – with my son playing in the open string violins, and (shock!) actually beginning to take this stuff a bit more seriously
  • Nielsen – “Little Suite” – there’s a few moments here!
  • Sibelius – Andante Festivo
  • Spohr – Grand Nonet. An unscheduled session, and we had about 40 minutes to get through it, so there were some rather quick movements!
  • Hartmann – Serenade
  • Nielsen – Serenata in vano

These last two – the Nielsen is scored for cello, bass, clarinet, bassoon, horn. Add in a wind quintet, and you get the required personnel for the Hartmann. Neat trick.


The day kicked off with a baroque session:

  • Bach – Brandenburg concerto #3 – can’t go through the whole week without one of these being scheduled somewhere!
  • Vivaldi – violin concerto in A minor
  • Bach – Suite in B minor (see practice session above)
  • Pachelbel – Canon & Gigue. I’ve mentioned this thing before, and there’s always Rob Paravonian’s Pachelbel Rant. I managed to get the flute soloist from the previous piece to do some of the bowing for me. She seemed to enjoy the power far too much! There could be trouble ahead…

After coffee, a rather unsatisfactory sextet session:

  • Percy Hilder Miles – I mentioned this in 2013, and my views haven’t changed. And neither have anybody else’s.
  • Schaffner op 48 – except our glorious leader didn’t want to do this, so I got my cello and we did
  • Dvorak sextet – much better music. Shame we weren’t quite up to it for some reason.

The afternoon and evening were mostly various orchestral sessions:

  • Prokofiev – Peter & The Wolf. I’ve never done this before. Looks like it should be easy, but there are a few hairy moments not helped by some dodgy cues in the edition we were using
  • Fauré Req. Oh, wait. I was singing. Bah.
  • Mendelssohn – Hebrides overture (Fingal’s Cave, if you prefer). Not played this since my days with the City of Leeds Youth Orchestra, so a nice trip down memory lane…
  • Bruch – Kol Nidrei – never done this with an orchestra before, but used to know the cello solo!
  • Beethoven – Symphony #5 – *how* fast?

Apparently, it was the organiser’s aim to leave us all broken and sweaty at the end of that session. Except I then went on to do another (much better) session of the Strauss Metamorphosen – thanks to us having a much stronger group of players (led by the leader of the Smith Quartet (he’s one of the sons of the organiser, and just dropped in for the evening)) this time round.

So the week ended on a high. Or a low – bottom C at the end of the Strauss!

And now I’m back home, aching, and thinking it’s a bit early to go to bed, but it’s already way past my normal bed time. The things you get used to at Band Camp!

August 26, 2014

What I Did On My Holidays – 2014

Band Camp Report – 2014

Following on from 2013’s report, ignoring the drinking, late nights, games of “Cards Against Humanity”,
and only thinking about instrumental work (almost entirely double bass)…

Saturday evening

The week kicked off for me with a big orchestral session:


The morning was full of orchestral stuff – strings only, then a full symphony orchestra (well, almost full – we still don’t have a full complement of brass / percussion…)

  • Albinoni – Concerto op 7 number 1
  • Britten Simple Symphony
  • Elgar Serenade
  • Finally, for the all-strings, a quartet arrangement of Teddy Bears Picnic. The cello part, on bass, is fun.


  • Haydn Symphony 89
  • Mozart Piano Concerto K453
  • CPE Bach symphony in D 138/1 (NB: Unusually, second movt has a proper independent double bass part – not doubling anything else. Makes a nice change.)

The afternoon was full of cello stuff – Bachanianas Brasilieras (the one for 8 cellos, playing #2 – *how* high?), an arrangement of Yesterday (12 cellos, playing #3), Oklahoma (8 cellos, playing #2)

Quintets in the evening – Dvorak op.77, followed by
Onslow op 38 Bullet quintet (bass part is really a 2nd cello part, so I played it on that for a change)


  • Strauss – Metamorphosen (septet version). The full 23-parter is up later in the week…
  • Von Wilm – nonet (all strings). A few moments…
  • Saint-Saens piano sextet – erm. Why bother? Third movement only; very few actual notes…

In the evening, some Decets – String quartet, bass, wind quintet:

  • Dubois – Dixtuor
  • Lalo – Aubades
  • Dvorak – Bagatelles (incl Canon) arr Geoffrey Emerson (except the Canon, which should be #4 in the series, which was arranged by someone else…)


A day off for doing other stuff, but not the evening off. Another orchestral session:

  • Vaughan Williams – Lark Ascending
  • Butterworth – Banks of Green Willow
  • Mendelssohn – Scottish Symphony

Then over to the cello for a run of Mozart’s flute quartets (three out of four played…)


A mixed day

  • Dvorak – Serenade for Strings
  • Schubert – Octet (we were slated to do the Kaun as well, but didn’t get round to it…)
  • Saint-Saens – Septet (string quartet, piano, trumpet, bass)
  • D’Indy – Suite in Olden Style (trumpet, 2 flutes, violin, viola, cello, bass)
  • Mixed nonets – Spohr & Rheinberger
  • Bach – all six Brandenburg concertos, one to a part

The Brandenburgers were exhausted by the end of the day – we started that session at 10pm! Some cracking tempi, and not too much dithering / drinking meant that we were through by 00:30ish


The day kicked off with the bass part of the Dvorak wind serenade.

Then onto some string orchestra stuff:

  • Elgar “Sospiri”
  • Holst St Paul’s Suite
  • Finzi – Concerto for Clarinet & Strings

Then the annual Beethoven Septet (with 5/7 parts taken by my family members); last two movements of Conrad Kreutzer’s septet for the same combo. Perfectly acceptable, but not quite as memorable…

An impromptu Brandenburg 3, to see off a departing violaist

Finally, Schubert – Trout quintet followed by RVW’s quintet for the same combo. An early work, but it had some moments…


The day kicked off with various baroquery:

  • Albinoni – Concerto for 2 oboes, op 7 no 5
  • Telemann concertos in e minor and g major
  • a couple of Brandenburgs (3 & 4) – yes, I played Brandenburg 3 three times in as many days. And it’s the one with three of everything…

Some more big orchestral stuff to round off the morning:

  • Strauss Metamorphosen (the big version, unfortunately with a contrabassoon on 3rd bass)
  • another bash at the Finzi clarinet concerto
  • and an arrangement for string orchestra of the sextet from Strauss’s Capriccio.

The playing part of the afternoon was Mozart’s Gran Partita K361. Blimey, but there are some notes in there, and I will be blogging them properly later. Probably.

The week ended with a final big orchestral hurrah!:

  • Beethoven – Wellington’s Victory

  • Strauss – Horn Concerto (again)
  • Beethoven – Symphony 8

A good end to the week.

August 24, 2013

What I Did On My Holidays – 2013

Band Camp Report – 2013

So, following on from last year’s report, and only thinking about double bass work…


Logistically, this year was made more complicated by my wife’s recent accident, meaning we had to cram everything into one car. Fortunately, our new shiny Skoda Superb is significantly bigger than the old wagon, and everything (bass, cello, stool, large stands, violins, viola, three people + normal luggage for the week) all fitted in.

The musical week started off with an orchestral session:

  • Haydn – Symphony 104
  • Gounod Symphony #1

And a long catch-up session with friends, nattering into the small hours.


String orchestra:

  • Dowland – something-or-other. Can’t remember any specifics
  • Wagner – Adagio for Clarinet & Strings
  • Britten – Simple Symphony
  • Warlock – Capriol

A string quintet session. We were scheduled to do the Dvorak & Onslow, but decided to have a bash at the arrangement I found of Mussorgsky’s Pictures in an Exhibition at IMSLP. It’s definitely a transcription from the original piano, rather than a reduction of Ravel’s arrangement. Needs beefy players throughout. And there’s a mistake in the bass part – a few bars missing. Must remember to do something about that.

Skipping over the massed cello stuff…

The day was supposed to end with me playing bass for a load of Bach Brandenburgs and other concertos, but the room wasn’t big enough, so I went and joined a wind ensemble and pretended to be a contrabassoon or tuba as required:

  • Du Grau – Les clochettes (contrabassoon part. Needs bottom Bflats; I have a four-string bass. Do the maths.)
  • Strauss – Suite in B flat, op 4. (Contrabassoon or tuba).
  • Strauss – Serenade op 7.  (Ditto)
  • Glazunov, op 47 – this is an actual string bass part. Yay!

Great fun. More drinking & nattering til the small hours.


Start the day with a full morning of string orchestra stuff, including:

  • Elgar – Six Easy Pieces, op22
  • Mozart – Serenade 6, k239. An independent bass part – there are some solo accompaniment bits that would repay inspection
  • Elgar – Serenade op 20
  • Peter Thompson – a chap who wrote various bits for the Peterfield Area Schools’ String Orchestra (PASSO) – a couple of bits (Fanfare & Theme for PASSO). “Double bass optional”. Riiight.

Ended the day with a nonet session – Martinu & Onslow. I was right – the Onslow does repay further inspection. There are shades of Hammer Horror in the first movement, with lots of steady chromatics.


Day Of Rest. Do something else during the day, and then back to the music in the evening with an orchestral session.

  • Vaughan Williams – Serenade (1898) in A for (small) Orchestra
  • Mozart – Symphony #40 – I found a mistake in the bass parts. *sigh*


A gentle day.

  • Verdi – String Symphony. Actually someone’s arrangement of the string quartet in E for string orchestra. Not an interesting bassline, as it’s mostly just doubling the cellos except when the cellos are doing something interesting, and then we get to double the violas…
  • Schubert – Octet
  • Stanford – Serenade op. 95. Mild amusement as we started the last movement as it sounds like “Postman Pat”.


Full-on today.

  • Schubert – Trout quintet. Breaking my personal rules about “no Trout before coffee”. I didn’t give of my best, which was a shame.
  • Quilter – piano sextet “Gypsy Life”. Add in a violin to the Trout combo. A short piece.
  • Dowland – Lachrymae. Again.
  • Britten – Lachrymae (on a theme by, erm, Dowland)
  • Britten – prelude & fugue for 18 strings. Again. Took second part this time, to give weight to the start of the fugue.
  • Wagner – Siegfried Idyll.
  • Tchaikovsky – Nutcracker. Reduced by one of our number, this was by way of a test run / playtest.
  • Mendelssohn – Piano sextet op 110. Doesn’t feel as mature as some of his other works, but perfectly playable.
  • Holbrook – piano sextet op 46. Bleah. I don’t know if it was us not being up to the job, or the music, but this just didn’t click for us this evening.


The final day. And a big one. And I’m having brain fail about what we played… But I definitely played the following:

  • Britten – Sinfonietta. This I found surprisingly playable (I’m not a big fan of Benji…)
  • Percy Hilder Miles – string sextet (2 violin, 2 viola, cello, bass). None of us thought this worth playing beyond the first couple of pages, as it wasn’t going anywhere.
  • Krug – Preis-Sextet. Originally scored for 2 violins, violotta (a big violin, tuned an octave below the violin), viola, cello, and cellone (a big cello, tuned a 4th below the cello). Seemed to work better with the violotta part going to viola 1, and the viola 1 part going to viola 2. The cellone part was not satisfactorily adapted for cello 2 (and that arrangement definitely didn’t work on the bass), so it looks like I’ve got some homework to do to rearrange this. Good stuff, though!
  • “Red Hedgehogs”, it says here. This is shorthand for a collection of music arranged by Geoffrey Emerson for wind band. In this case, we did:
    • Mozart – symphony 38 “Prague”
    • Elgar – Serenade in E minor op 20
    • Tchaikovsky – Serenade in C op 48

    It felt rather odd – the cues I’m used to from playing these pieces coming from the wrong instruments and the wrong place!

  • Mozart – Symphony 27 (I think – this is where the memory is fading)
  • Haydn – Farewell symphony
  • Spohr – Grand Nonet
  • Rheinberger – Nonet

What a day. What a way to end the week. I think this was the busiest of band camps (for me) since 2005!

August 25, 2012

What I Did On My Holidays – 2012

Band Camp Report – 2012

It’s good to see old friends, and make some new ones. And see some very old friends for the first time in, oh, 15-20 years…

Aaaanyway. On with the music.


Arrive, unload, drink coffee, natter, eat, and then start the musical week off with a big orchestral session:

  • Mendelssohn’s overture “Fair Melusine”
  • Beethoven’s 4th Symphony


String orchestra:

  • Purcell – Trumpet overture
  • Pachelbel – Kanon & Gigue
  • Mozart – Divertimento K138
  • Mendelssohn – String Symphony 1
  • Latann – Herz & Herz

Big massed cello session, including the (in)famous Bachananas Brasilieras and various other lollipops.

Round the day off with a string quintet session – Dvorak & Onslow op 38. The latter is definitely a double-cello (or double-viola) quintet, rather than a bass quintet. It is named “the bullet”, and the later movements are called things like “fever” and “recuperation”. Apparently, Georges Onslow wrote the quintet when he was recovering from a shooting accident…


Another day, another string orchestra:

  • Purcell – “The Married Beau”
  • C Forster – Suite in G. This is reckoned to be one of the earliest string quartets, Forster having been a contemporary of JSB.
  • Purcell – trumpet sonata
  • Mendelssohn – String Symphony 2
  • Bratton – The Teddy Bears’ Picnic (quartet arrangement)

Then a mixed group:

  • Stanford Serenade in G op 95 – string quartet + bass, flute, clarinet, horn, bassoon.
  • Martinu Nonet – same personnel as the Spohr Grand Nonet (one of each string, one of each wind)

Finally (for me) some big orchestral stuff again:

  • Haydn – Symphony 88
  • Mozart – Aria – “Per Questa Bella Mano”, K612 (orchestra, bass voice, double bass obligato)
  • Schubert – Symphony 5


The traditional “day of rest” – give the wind players a chance to get their lips back in shape. However, there was a big orchestral session in the evening, two pieces of which I’ve never heard:

  • Schumann – Overture, Scherzo, Finale, op 52
  • Bizet – Symphony in C


Lots of string orchestra work:

  • Ireland – A Downland Suite
  • R*tter – A Suite for Strings (apparently just a re-arrangement of the suite for brass…)
  • Mozart – Eine Kleine Nachtmusik
  • J S Bach – Four Pieces from Suite 3
  • Grainger – Molly On The Shore (another expanded quartet thing)
  • Marsh – a couple of things written by one of our number…

And some other stuff:

  • Dubois – Dixtuor – A new one for me. Can’t remember anything particularly challenging for the bass-player.
  • Beethoven – Septet – five of the seven players are from my family.

A free evening. How did that happen? How was that allowed to happen? I’ll have words with Da Management!


Lots more string orchestra stuff:

  • Albinoni – Concerto a cinque in D
  • Ireland – Concertino Pastorale
  • Elgar – Serenade op 20
  • Mozart Divertimento K136
  • Finzi – Prelude and Romance

Some big(ish) ensemble pieces involving piano:

  • Glinka – Piano Sextet (piano, string quartet, bass)
  • Saint-Saens – Septet (as Glinka + trumpet)

Both of these appear to be fairly heavy going for the poor pianist, but very approachable for the rest of us!

Full(ish) Orchestra in the evening:

  • Haydn Symphony 22 – “The Philosopher”. Unusual, in that it’s full strings, two horns, and two cors anglais
  • Mozart – Horn Concerto #2 in Eflat. Directed by the soloist…
  • Mozart – Symphony 29. There was a problem with the parts, so the first horn (whose part was missing, but who had a part for Haydn 45) had to stand and read over the conductor’s shoulder.

Friday – the final reckoning

And so here we are, the end of the week. Just a few things before we go home on Saturday, starting with a Baroque & roll session:

  • JS Bach – Suite in B minor
  • Telemann – Viola Concerto
  • JSB – Brandenburg 4

The Schubert Octet rounded off the morning very nicely.

The afternoon started off with Strauss’s Metamorphosen – the full 23-parter, rather than the septet reduction (or is the septet the original, and the 23 part job an expansion?) Glad I was first bass – the second part is nowhere near as busy, and the third bass has a *huge* amount of counting to do.

More orchestral stuff followed:

  • Mozart – overture “Marriage of Figaro” (insert viola joke here)
  • Bruch – Concerto for Clarinet & Viola – a new one to me. Very enjoyable.
  • Arriaga – Symphony in D. We’re beginning to get tired…

Finally ending the day with a brace of nonets:

  • Spohr – Grand Nonet – the daddy of ’em all
  • Farrenc – Nonet – very easy-going and light-hearted. A good end to the week.


And home…


I’m going to have to get the cello overhauled soon, and start working on that, as I enjoyed the hour or two I spent playing it this year.

I’ve also identified some potential “Practice Notes” posts to write about a few of the works I’ve looked at this week. Don’t rush me, because I’ve also got to play Rosenkavalier over the next couple of weekends, and I need to have a look at the part and get the cuts in first… I may be some time.

August 20, 2011

“Band Camp” – 2011 playlist

This is a not-quite-complete list of things I played last week:

In time order:

Beethoven – Leonore #1
Haydn – Drumroll Symphony

Spohr – Nonet
Farrenc – Nonet
Berwald – Septet
Wood – Septet

Dvorak – Quintet
Beethoven/Khym – Quintet(more a violin & cello benefit, with trio accompaniment…)
Handel – Queen of Sheba (from Samson)
Telemann – Suite #1
Bach – Brandenburg #3
Cimarosa – Oboe Concerto
Mozart – Sinfonia Concertante (ob/cl/bsn/hn)
Mozart – Symphony 33
Purcell – Trumpet overture from Act 3 of “The Indian Queen”
Telemann – Concerto e moll for 2 flutes
Bach – Suite #2 for flute + orchestra
Vivaldi – L’Estro Armonico 4 violins (4 Hailstones as soloists)

Tuesday: (day off)
Wolf – Italian Serenade
Beethoven – Symphony 8

Dvorak – Serenade (wind, cello, bass)
Frank Bridge – Suite for Strings
Beethoven – Septet
Stravinsky – Dunbarton Oaks (Described by Stravinsky as “what Bach would have written if he was alive now”)
Bach – Brandenburg #4

Schubert – Trout quintet
Stravinsky – Concerto in D for String Orchestra
Glinka – piano sextet (un-sightreadable piano part)
Sterndale Bennett – piano sextet (even worse piano part…)
Martinu – Nonet
Onslow – Nonet (all bar third movement – rather good, but unknown…)
Bach – Brandenburg #5

Walton – Sonata for Strings
Walton – Two pieces from Henry V (incidental music)
Bach – Brandenburg #3
Vaughan Williams – Concerto Grosso for Strings
Beethoven – Septet
Strauss – Metamorphosen (string septet version)