The Scottish Recorder Festival

Saturday 31 May 2008, Glasgow

The Scottish Festival had a very successful day at Ibrox Parish church. We were pleased to welcome Andrew Challinger as the Principal conductor and enjoyed his own composition Three Dances to open the day and get us well and truly in the swing of things.

The first session included Ethel Allan taking the players through Staeps Choric Quintet. A complex piece, but worth taking apart and experiencing how all those strange notes fitted together to create a unique harmony. Isobel Luke had a ‘Bonsor Bonanza’ with piano accompaniment that included a sexy Beguine and finished with his version of Fauré's beautiful Cantique de Jean Racine. Pamela Flanagan’s session, during which we played one movement from Latin American Suite, by David Thompson, was a joyful experience! Pamela eschewed normal conducting methods – preferring to dance her way through the piece.

Longer breaks allowed everyone to visit the shops and of course The Early Music Shop, Willoughby Press, Hawthorns, Music Mail, Peacock press and a local supplier Music for Granted provided the usual delights and temptations.

Andrew’s session on Three Chinese Pieces by Michael Short was challenging, but worth it, as there were a lot of alternative fingerings and various grace notes to be mastered. Eileen Silcocks provided some great Palestrina, Super flumina Babylonis, getting us to fit the passion of the music to the words and not spoiling it with that silly habit of breathing! Marg Hall conducted us in her new composition, Wild Flower Suite, and brought along botanical illustrations of each wild flower, including Billy’s Buttons. Stuart Forrester chose Andrew’s Ballad, Blues and Riffs, a particular favorite of ours. He knows the piece so well and was able to discipline our playing without losing the essence of the music with its very distinct mood changes. Counterfeit Country Dances by Steve Marshall was not the easiest music, but ignoring the bar lines seemed to work well. Peter Wraith has a good sense of humour and the Rochdale Stomping Dance required us to play and stamp our feet. Not easy when playing on a carpet. The Handel concerto Ed Friday chose to conduct was classed as ‘Intermediate’, but was actually fairly complex – particularly since, by mid-afternoon, the room resembled a Turkish bath. Ed, however, kept his cool.

The tea break was followed by a selection from the Scottish Recorder Orchestra’s repertoire. Eileen conducted the first movement of Dietrich Schnabel’s Symphony No. 1 Adagio-Allegro and her own composition, Serenade, Andante, Allegro giocoso, Adagio and a rousing Scherzo to finish. The orchestra members enjoyed themselves and this taster seemed to please the audience too.

To finish a very busy and exciting day, Andrew conducted the mass playing including a beautiful double-choir piece Canzon Secunda by Grillo, and the truly Venetian Sinfonia ’La Bergamasca’ by Viadana. Both pieces were delightful to play and right to the end Andrew put us through our paces with great energy and flair. Our thanks go to him, the other conductors and all who helped to make this occasion very special.

Jean MacDonald

Orchestra programme