How to Make A Season

With the launch of our 2014/15 season fast approaching, Liz Baines, CBSO Planning & Tours Manager, tells us what it’s like to plan and organise the CBSO concert season and, following one of the busiest touring seasons, the Orchestra’s international tours.

Planning up to 130 concerts per year, liaising with dozens of conductors and soloists and arranging international tours takes many months and a lot of hard work from a huge number of people, but after it all you feel fantastic – there’s nothing like the sensation you get seeing Andris Nelsons, music director, walk on the stage at the start of a season and knowing that you made it happen.

So how do we go about planning a season? We’re always working up to two years in advance ensuring that we’ve booked Symphony Hall, where we are the resident orchestra, and other venues but the planning really kicks in around the New Year. At that point, we will have had many conversations about repertoire with Andris and most of his programmes will be finalised. It’s always exciting knowing what he has in store because he has such a variety of repertoire that he likes to perform.

Planning the season starts with Andris

Planning the season starts with Andris

Simultaneously, we look to guest conductors to start to plan the other parts of the season. We have a regular pool of guest conductors that we like to work with every year, and it’s always great to be able to invite them back – people like Vassily Sinaisky, Andrew Litton and, of course Edward Gardner, our principal guest conductor.

Guest conductors usually provide quite a few ideas of pieces they’d like to perform and suggest soloists with whom they would like to work. Most of them conductors always want to work with our fabulous CBSO Chorus, but the Chorus is so in demand by other UK and international orchestras that we need to ensure we get some prime dates with them with Andris Nelsons and Edward Gardner so their diary fills up very quickly. One of the CBSO Chorus dates include a Singalong with Simon Halsey, chorus director, and we liaise with Simon to ensure we choose an appropriate choral work to entice a large number of people who wish to participate.

This is always an ongoing dialogue concerning repertoire with conductors. Where there are differences of opinion we have to negotiate – for example, the conductor might suggest some pieces they would like to do but that aren’t going to quite work for us for any one of a number of reasons – perhaps we performed it last year or actually, we don’t think the audience would like it. Eventually, we find a balance which everyone is happy with.

As well as the main classical series, we also programme lighter concerts, our Friday Night Classics concert series. This is often our opportunity to try out some new ideas and our recent ABBA concert was one of those such concerts. It was so much fun and fantastic to see the musicians dressing up and letting their hair down. We’ve got something new for our Friday night concerts next season and, without revealing what this is yet, we very much hope it will be just as popular and as much fun!

Our Friday Night Classics concerts give us a chance to have fun!

Our Friday Night Classics concerts give us a chance to have fun!

We also of course have our Family Concerts and Schools’ Concerts appealing to our younger audiences and we liaise with the Learning & Participation team for their thoughts on suitable programmes and presenters. Again these are great fun. If you haven’t been to one with the whole family, I’d thoroughly recommend them – you really get to see the Orchestra’s lighter side.

In addition to our Birmingham season, our overseas touring schedule has been busy over the last few years with Andris. To organise them, we work with his agents, who have a touring department based in Hanover. Once we have decided on the dates we will be touring, they go about selling the CBSO to the concert halls and promoters worldwide. Of course, we want to have as many concert dates as possible but you also have to have in the back of your mind – “can we physically get from Paris to Vienna overnight?” often the Orchestra members could do this but we also have a truck full of equipment and instruments which could prove to be a sticking point and make this a step too far!

There are so many people involved in organising a tour – after all, you’re transporting nearly a hundred people around the world – so you can’t leave anything to chance. It’s a truly international affair with the agents in Hanover to talk to about the travel and hotel bookings and all the team in Birmingham as well. There’s the platform manager who has to work out how to get the truck from A to B, there’s the orchestra manager ensuring we have the correct musicians required for each programme, the assistant orchestra manager helping with all the paperwork like visas and tax forms, and of course, ensuring that all the musicians and artists are in the right place at the right time.

It’s a busy role but incredible. You know all that work, all those months of planning, all the heartache and persuasion that you’ve done along the way, you know that it’s all been absolutely worthwhile and this year, it’s going to be an extra special season. One which I personally can’t wait for!

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CBSO Centre – An arts centre for the future

Our headquarters and rehearsal venue, CBSO Centre, which also doubles up as a small scale performance venue and is also home for Ex Cathedra and BCMG, will soon be undergoing a transformation to ensure its facilities and infrastructure are equipped  for the future. This is all thanks to the successful Stage 2 Capital Funding award from the Arts Council England and subsequent donations by the following: The Garfield Weston Foundation, the Wolfson Foundation, the Limoges Charitable Trust, the Edward Cadbury Charitable Trust, the Rowlands Foundation, and the Oakley Charitable Trust.

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Through the blog, you can follow our journey as we go through plans, introduce contractors and even give you a sneak peek behind the scenes as and when things happen.

In our first blog, Annmarie Wallis (Director of Finance) talks about the Centre works due to commence in May 2014 and run through to  October 2014 and what it means to the CBSO, and the other resident arts organisations, to have an home that is  fit for the future.

One of the greatest benefits of CBSO Centre has been that it was constructed to be low in maintenance with moderate energy bills, giving the CBSO and its other resident organisations an affordable base. However, 15 years on and with major advances in technology, the current infrastructure is somewhat outdated, inefficient and will become increasingly expensive to maintain, thus reducing the financial security that it was intended to provide; and at a time when the Orchestra is also under pressure from cuts in its public funding. So our c£2m ‘upgrade and refresh’ project includes work in five distinct areas:

  • Internal works to the foyer, common room and kitchen
  • Works within the main Hall (lighting & acoustic improvements, and new seating)
  • External works to the building fabric including roof repairs and replacement of the unsightly window blinds on the Holliday Street elevation
  • General energy/climate-related replacements (new office lighting and boilers)
  • Other sundry works within the building (e.g. public meeting room upgrades)

We expect these improvements to deliver significant benefits going forward, including lower maintenance/energy costs and an improved visitor experience leading to increased visitor numbers. A further benefit will be the reduction in our carbon footprint.

How and when do we plan on completing the work?

Our plans are quite ambitious and we could not have hoped to achieve them without the help of others. In 2011 Arts Council England launched their large Capital programme to ‘support organisations to develop resilience by giving them the right buildings and equipment to deliver their work… investment will prioritise the consolidation and improvement of existing arts buildings’. A total fund of £219.6m was made available, with organisations invited to apply in one of three grant windows for awards from £0.5m upwards.

As an existing ‘arts’ building, CBSO Centre was a clear match with this programme, and after taking some time to consider the level of our application we opted for the second grant window, making our Stage 1 application in August 2012. In January 2013 we were delighted to hear that we had passed the first level assessment and were invited to make a Stage 2 application… and so the real hard work began.

The first thing we did was select a team of experts to help us with this more complex application process, knowing that whomever we appointed would be with us for the duration of the project. From a strong shortlist, Associated Architects, who were involved in the original construction and are based here in Birmingham, were appointed to work on the detailed project designs. They assembled a wider team of experts including structural and mechanical engineers and together we worked up our Stage 2 plans. We set ourselves a tight timeframe and despite a few challenges along the way were ready to submit as planned in July 2013.

While we waited for a final decision from Arts Council England we turned our attention to our own fundraising plans, it being a requirement of the Capital programme that the applicant raise one third of the funds themselves: £610k in our case. Working with our external fundraiser, James Eaves, we developed a detailed fundraising plan covering £1.17m of applications to four major and 26 smaller trusts.

In October 2013 we were successful on two fronts:

  • Arts Council England accepted our Stage 2 application, awarding us the requested £1.223m
  • The Garfield Weston Foundation, one of our four major trust supporters, approved in full our £250k request for funds…and so we realised that after all the hard work and planning, it was really going to happen!

The appointment of a contractor to do the physical on-site work is the key task for the first quarter of 2014, and the actual works are planned to be completed during May-September 2014.

We do expect there to be some disruption for the Orchestra, staff and other users of the building, but in our detailed planning of the separate work strands we are working hard to keep this to a minimum. July and August in particular are quiet/holiday times for the Orchestra and with the schools on a break too, there will be fewer demands on the centre as a whole. Two short orchestra tours in late August/early September 2014 will also help to minimise the disruption. At the same time we are already looking at alternative venues for chorus and orchestra rehearsals and will be restricting any external bookings.

We expect to be fully open for business at the beginning of October 2014 and whilst we haven’t planned anything yet, there are sure to be some celebrations so that we can show off our improvements.

If you would like to know more about our plans or see the designs for the foyer/reception area, then please come along to our ‘stakeholder session’. Once we have finalised the date the details will be available on our website, cbso.co.uk, and around the building. You are also welcome to get in touch about this project at any time – contact Niki Longhurst, CBSO Centre Manager, on 0121 616 6532 or nlonghurst@cbso.co.uk.
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CBSO Tour of Europe March 2014 Day Seventeen-Luxembourg

Good evening gentle readers, it seem an awfully long time ago since we set out for Paris over two weeks ago. In Seventeen days we have travelled thousands of miles by plane, coach, train and shank’s pony. Fifteen concerts have delivered  our unique sound to packed houses across France, Austria, Germany and Luxembourg. Two world class soloists have held us in their thrall and of course, at the helm, our friend and Conductor Andris Nelsons has worked his magic bringing the diverse elements of the music into sharp focus.

We have had fun and relaxed on the two free days. We have been tired, sometimes very, but we have always delivered on the night. Players have come and gone, but there has always been a full team and I think we can be proud that we have, if you like, upheld the honour of Birmingham, our home city.

To finish the tour blog I will be having a round up of photos from the whole of the tour, that you haven’t seen yet, but first, having finally caught up with him this morning, I have a small article about Alpesh Chauhan our Inaugural Conducting fellow.

 

Alpesh Chauhan

As I mentioned earlier in these pages Alpesh Chauhan has been with us on the tour replacing Mike Seal as Andris’s assistant after Mike left to fulfil other conducting commitments.

Alpesh is the CBSO’s Inaugural Conducting Fellow

He came to us through the CBSO Youth Orchestra Academy, where he took part in conducting master classes with Mike Seal.

Another up and coming conductor who has gone this route is Jamie Phillips, assistant to Sir Mark Elder at the Halle Orchestra and the son of one of our own Horn players Mark.

I asked Alpesh how he had had to prepare for this trip-

“I had to buy all the scores, study them and mark them up, so that I could take over in rehearsal from Andris allowing him to listen from the auditoriums of the different halls you have been playing in.”

With his marked up scores Alpesh also attended the pre tour rehearsals at the CBSO Centre and in Symphony hall. By watching and listening to Andris rehearse he was able, in great detail, to learn Andris’s “ways” of conducting the repertoire for the concerts.
Not only did this give him the opportunity to garner the “nuts and bolts” like tempos, dynamics and rubatos (conductors own subtle tempo changes, not specifically marked in the score) but also to get a feel for Andris’s thoughts about the emotions behind the “dots” and his methods of realising those thoughts musically through the mechanisms of his conducting.

Alpesh tells me he has enjoyed himself greatly whilst with us-

“It was fascinating to be with a professional orchestra on tour, to see how you work and to experience the highs and lows of touring, both musically and socially!” “I’ve learnt from being with you, the speed with which one has to react to differing situations – you have to think and react very quickly, not only when asked to take over a rehearsal but also when listening, so as to give the orchestra, or Andris the right help or information needed at that moment.”

“I’ve learnt, I hope, from Andris, ways in which he achieves the sparkle night after night, even when the repertoire has become very familiar and the orchestra is very tired” “I’ve also enjoyed the social life on tour, the camaraderie and fun that derives from being with a group of musicians travelling together”

I asked Alpesh about his plans for the future-

“Well firstly I have the finals for my masters degree at the RNCM, part of which involves conducting the Manchester Camerata. Then It’s a matter of taking every opportunity I can to develop as a musician and as a conductor. I think it’s very important to do this by continuing to do what I’m already doing- listening to, and watching as many people conducting as I can, putting myself into situations where I’m available and accepting any interesting offer that comes my way!”

We wish him lots of luck, both with the coming exams, and in the long term, we will be seeing him again in the next months during his year as conducting fellow, and I hope in the longer term too!

You can find out a little more about Alpesh’s experiences through the Birmingham Press’ Blog

Well, we are arriving at the finish line!

Today was a long one, setting of at nine we travelled for five hours by coach with a lunch stop at an impossibly small services which was overwhelmed by 80 odd hungry musicians descending on it. On to Luxembourg, chill out, or go into town in the afternoon, or in my case start tonight’s blog and re-assert control over my suitcase!

A short rehearsal preceded by warmly received thanks From Mr Stephen Maddock our CEO, a lovely speech from Andris and then at the end a lovely thanks from Anne-Sophie for all our hard work both with her and the rest of the programs.

A very well received concert, encores all round and flowers from Anne-Sophie to Steven Hudson the principal oboe for his beautiful playing in the slow movement of the concerto. He’s in the photos!

So, as usual my thanks-

Liz Baines for organising it all!

Claire Dersley for being so astonishingly tolerant of a bunch of wayward musicians.

Pete, Rob, Nick Barry and all the other platform staff who work so hard and sometimes literally bend over backwards to help!

Thomas, our guide, friend and general enthusiastic tour guru.

Alpesh Chauhan for assisting Andris and letting me interview him.

Marie – Christine for all the stuff about her flute.

My colleagues for putting up with me poking my nose and camera into their lives and playing so well under tough conditions.

Anybody else who had a special solo part I forgot to mention, you were all magnificent!!!

And finally “THE MAN” Mr Andris Nelsons who always gets the best out of us.

 

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So here are todays pictures and my tour selection.

Signing off till next time.

Good night and God Bless, Julian Robinson your faithful blogger. XXX

 

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CBSO Tour of Europe March 2014 Day Sixteen – Stuttgart

Hello gentle readers, I am sitting here in the hotel next to the Liederhalle wondering what to tell you about today. The journey was very pleasant, a lovely sunny morning and a compartment with just the three of us, Myself,  Mr J Holland (Section leader trumpet) our Spanish guest second bassoon Senor Alejandro Climent Cristobal, what an amazing and beautiful name. The conversation ranged widely- old colleagues (John and I) The Spanish Civil War, languages, reed making ( yes, as you will see, Alejandro was at it too!) conductors,(not telling) dogs, and much else besides. Sleep was had and in the fullness of time we arrived in Stuttgart. The hotel here is a familiar one next to a lovely old cemetery which I have shown you before. I went looking for Red Squirrels as there were many last time but not this. I hope they are still about!

All the yew trees made me think of a part of Matthew Arnold’s poem “The Scholar Gypsy”  Used by Ralph Vaughn-Williams in his beautiful melodrama for Orchestra, choir and speaker “An Oxford Elegy”.

But what – I dream! Two hundred years are flown And thou from earth art gone Long since and in some quiet churchyard laid; Some country nook, where o’er thy unknown grave Tall grasses and white flowering nettles wave Under a dark red-fruited yew-tree’s shade.

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The concert tonight was the last performance of Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet” selection, and everybody, especially Andris went all out to make it a very memorable performance. I should particularly like to mention Mr Jonathan Quirk for his powerful and eloquent cornet playing in the last movement “Tybalts Death”. Never heard it played better. Nice one! Another person I have yet to mention is Steven Hudson, our Guest first Oboe. You may know that the Brahms violin concerto has a famous Oboe solo that opens the slow movement. This solo is a notorious test for oboists and Steven has passed the test every time we have played it. Really beautiful, consistently assured and spot on. Thank you. Here he is-

 

 

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I don’t know if its because we have now done it lots of times but in the violin concerto Ms Mutter seems easier to follow. Her performance is passionate and characterful. At first, because of the complexity of her rubati, one had to keep a watchful eye both on Andris and on her bow, so as to catch every nuance. Now we are used to her interpretation all goes smoothly and the German audiences adore her. She is one of a kind!

So to the photos, first, here is the beautiful, quirkily designed “Leiderhalle” of Stuttgart, first from the platform and then the other way-

 

Liederhalle

 

 

 

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Quite something what? Given its unusual shape it’s pretty nice to play in, although the platform is a bit cramped!

Here  are the rest of the pictures. See you tomorrow in Luxembourg for a final post before I get home.

Good night and God bless.

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CBSO Tour Of Europe March 2014 Day Fifteen-Essen

Welcome Back!

We are now in  Stuttgart, but first – Essen.

As I mentioned , just like at home, the clocks went forward in the small hours, so we lost an hour of sleep and had to leave the hotel in Essen at the equivalent of  7:00 am. this morning, so no blog last night. Sorry!

As it turned out, the internet access was so slow in the hotel I would have struggled, even if I had had the time. The concert didn’t finish until 22:20pm. or thereabouts, so we weren’t back to the hotel until gone 23:00pm. Cases had to be packed and taken down for onward “shipping” to Stuttgart overnight.

This is done so we didn’t have a “case scrum” at the railway stations, boarding and alighting the train. As in Japan, the trains in Germany don’t stop for long, so trying to get nearly 100 people with cases,hand luggage and in some instances instruments on and off would be a nightmare ending in disaster! Its a great system, having the cases taken separately, thank you Liz Baines.

Here’s Claire Dersley the Orchestra Manager reminding us, in her usual good humoured manner, about the clocks, and recommending we ask for an alarm call in case of digital technology, daylight saving update failure. (mine worked,so I got three alarms this morning!)

 

 

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Now-I thought you might like to see where,  in terms of geography, we have been for the last two weeks (TWO WEEKS!). Here, at great expense, is a map prepared by yours truly, showing the complex route we have taken.

 

germany-map

I just realised it looks like the opening credits to “Dads Army”, whoops!

 

And now here are the photos, including one of Aidy Spillet and Catherine Ardagh-Walters enjoying the dubious delights of massage chairs at the autobhan coffee stop .

 

 

Another entry coming tonight about Stuttgart! For my final entry tomorrow, I am hoping to get some thoughts from Alpesh about his trip and his duties assisting Andris.

See you later!

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CBSO Tour of Europe March 2014 Day Fourteen – Frankfurt

Welcome back gentle readers.

First a word about one of the ‘photos-

You will see our second oboist, the wonderfully named Emmet Byrne slaving away making reeds in the men’s dressing room. This is a cross all (as far as I know) Oboists and most Bassoonists have to bear, the amount of worry, dedication and expertise that goes into this art, because such it is, always impresses me. Thank god we don’t have to make strings!

Today was our second concert in the Alte Oper Frankfurt and was a different experience (for me anyway) from yesterday. The hall, for some reason seemed much easier to play in, whether because I was more used to it, or because of different music I’m not sure. You’d think we would be used to the acoustic, we have played here many times over the years,including a Beethoven Symphony Cycle with Sir Simon, and many other works of differing centuries, composers and styles. That I suppose is one of the intriguing things about being a musician, you never (well hardly ever) get bored, there are always challenges!

Tonight I certainly wasn’t bored, halfway down the first page of the Brahms Piano Concerto, the first piece in the program, my A (the top one on the viola) string snapped. This is a very unusual occurrence these days. Modern strings are very tough and usually wear out and go dull and lifeless before they break. In 37 years this is about the fourth or fifth time I’ve had it happen in a concert.

The question is – what to do? Really one has three options-

A. change it there and then (if you have a spare on you, not always the case) and not always possible if the piece you are playing is quiet and delicate, you can’t really tune it up unless there are loud passages to hide “twanging” in!

B. Go off and change it and then, if appropriate come back on.

C. keep playing – this is only really possible if its the “A” string, since you can, to some extent go “up” the “D” string and play the part in higher positions but not that high! One has to make a very quick calculation about what’s ahead in the part, and whether one can cope without sticking out and playing out of tune etc. Fortunately for me Brahms likes his viola parts, in the main, to be rich, dark and very much in the centre of the harmony and certainly in the Piano Concerto’s they don’t go very high at all. So I carried on and Myriam, my desk partner played the higher parts when the viola part split into two and I played the lower. Phew! Got away with it!

The second half tonight was Petruschka, and congratulations to our original guest Cor Anglais player Ralph, back with us finally. Lovely playing. I should also congratulate Tom Davey who filled in in Paris and Heidelberg! What a coming and going of Cor Anglais players!

Once again well done Jonathan Holland and Marie – Christine Zupancic, Trumpet and flute solo in Petruschka!

Players I haven’t mentioned in the Stravinsky yet -

Michael Wright and Jo Patten – Clarinets, Andrew Littlemoore –French Horn, Rebecca Mertens –Bassoon and Margaret Cookhorn –Contra Bassoon. All these players (and others who I will mention when I have checked names) contribute solo lines that help to tell the story of the doomed puppet. Well done all! 

Finally tonight really was Helene Grimaud’s final concert with on this trip. What a lovely Lady and what a subtle and convincing musician she is. I fervently hope she will be back with us soon! Thank you for wonderful playing and for being so generous about the ‘photos.

Here are the photos including, as promised better ones of Zoe and one of  Liz Baines, Planning & Tours Manager, whose Mum likes to see her NOT looking at her phone sometimes!

Tomorrow there will be no blog from Essen. The clocks go forward on Saturday night and we have to leave for Stuttgart at what will effectively be 7:00 am on Sunday Morning. Not much time for sleep if I am as usual typing and “photo shopping” until around 01:30 am.

I promise to catch up on Sunday night from Stuttgart!

Good night and God Bless.

 

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CBSO tour of Europe March 2014 Day Thirteen – Frankfurt

Good evening from Frankfurt, this has been a busy day for me, not only with orchestral duties but also as an interviewer of one of my colleagues, as you will see shortly.

We travelled today by train from Hamburg to Frankfurt am Main in lovely sunny weather,and whilst on the train I finalised todays main blog article, something a little different, but that I hope you will find interesting!

We  arrived on time and had most of the afternoon to do as we would, which in my case was mostly sorting out my luggage, checking emails, talking to the folks at home and generally “blobbing about”.

The concert today was in the Alte Oper-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alte_Oper

It went well, but in common with some of my fellow viola players I found it a difficult acoustic. Whether this is because the hall has been altered in some way, or maybe because we are all tired I cant say, but it felt a little “edgy” and as though one were playing almost in a vacuum. Difficult to describe to non musicians, but just a feeling of not being quite “there” within the orchestral sound somehow, comes as close as I can get.

At the end of todays post are the general daily photos, but first- todays main bit!

Golden Threads among the Silver.

Back in 2005/2006 after our Principle Flute Kevin Gowland left the CBSO, the search was on for a new person to fill the seat. I distinctly remember a performance of Bruckner’s seventh Symphony with Sakari Oramo in which I thought; “that’s the one, I hope they get the job!” That “one” was Marie-Christine Zupancic. She did indeed! Elegant both in her playing and her person, Marie’s artistry has been with us for eight years now, and we are lucky to have her.
Last year among the shiny silver and ebony instruments in the wind section a new colour appeared, both visually and aurally. Marie had bought a new flute!

Not just any old flute either, when I talked to her about it Marie told me -
“I used to play on an American flute by Jack Moore, which I bought second hand some years ago, I had been thinking about a new instrument for some time, and I got the chance to visit Boston Massachusetts, where my Brother was living at the time.”

Boston, apparently, is home to many of Americas best flute makers, after trying many different makes and models, Marie settled on the Makers Brannen Brothers –

http://www.brannenflutes.com

Marie ordered her flute, came home and waited, I suspect impatiently, for six months then returned to America to collect it.

 

 

 

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It is a thing of beauty, made of 14 carat rose gold, it glistens like a beautiful piece of jewellery, but it’s considerably more than just a decoration. Finely engineered to a scale pattern developed by the famous English flute maker Albert Cooper, it is designed to fit Marie’s hands perfectly and has special personalised functions such as an additional trill key and offset keys to match the length of Marie’s fingers.

I was curious to know why gold?

“For me flutes made of gold are capable of a wider range of tone colours and allow me to be more expressive, the sound is richer and less bright perhaps, than a silver flute, though still capable of cutting through a big orchestral texture. I can be more flexible and, it gives me a larger pallet of colours to use. ”

To my ears this is born out in many of the big solos Marie has, particularly in Stravinsky’s Petruschka, the solo where the Puppet master brings the puppets to life. The range of colours Marie conjures up from the new instrument is miraculous. I am looking forward to hearing her play Ravel’s “Daphnis and Chloe” especially the big solo where, in the ballet Daphnis and Chloe act out the legend of Pan and Syrinx.

 

Then I asked about the “head joint”
The head joint and lip plate (the part of the flute the player blows across to produce the sound) of a flute is very personal to a flautist, much as a bow is to a string player, a mouthpiece to a brass player or a reed to an oboist. It is their “voice” if you will. Many flautists choose a flute then have a special head joint made to suite them. Marie told me –

“When I went back to Brannen Brothers they offered me a choice of twenty different head joints to try, and I settled on one designed by a Swiss maker, “Lafin” who shares a patent with Brannen Brothers.”

http://www.lafin-at-brannen.com

Did she have to change her playing I asked?

“A very small change in my embouchure” Marie told me “I collected the flute and came back to Birmingham, went straight into rehearsal and played- mad!   but it was fine, it was perfectly in tune straight away and a joy to play.”

“I did have to build up my physical stamina though, the gold is a little heavier than silver so my shoulders had to get stronger to compensate.”

Marie obviously loves her new instrument, it is beautifully made and a delight to play, but, I asked her “what if it needs maintenance or it gets damaged? Would you have to go back to America?

“No, there are highly specialist maker/repairers in London who would be able to do it, but in Boston there are certain things only they can do, for instance a special bath to clean the flute and restore the shine, that can only be done in Boston!” “Besides which” Marie says with a cheeky grin

“Its always nice to have an excuse to go back!”

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CBSO Tour of Europe March 2014 Day Twelve–Hamburg

Good evening, and welcome back to our lengthy perambulations around Germany. Today was a short journey from Hannover To Hamburg by coach, or so we thought. Because of a bad accident on the autobahn we sat in a queue for what seemed like hours, and then because of time on the coach and drivers regulations we had to have a stop for coffee and toilets etc. We did not arrive in Hamburg until one and a half hours later than scheduled.

Given how many journeys we have made already, very little has gone wrong, so one should be grateful.

There was still time to get to ones room, freshen up, grab some lunch and the go to the rehearsal in the beautiful “Laeizhalle” we have played here many times before, and I didn’t really have time to photograph it, so here is a link!

http://www.elbphilharmonie.de/laeiszhalle.en

It really is a lovely acoustic!

On the way here I heard Thomas our tour guide and Friend discussing with the driver a building off in the distance as we approached Hamburg.

It was too far away to get a picture, but apparently a new concert venue is being built. As is often the case with these projects it has gone vastly over budget! When Thomas asked who was footing the bill the driver put up his hand and said ME!!! Apparently Hamburg is like a city state and he is a tax payer in it!

After a bit of delving about on “ye internet” I found this,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elbe_Philharmonic_Hall

- it looks amazing and presumably will hold a lot more people than todays venue. I can’t help wondering if the sound will be any better though. Maybe I’ll get to play there before I retire, then I can find out!

Back to the concert. Today we returned to the Brahms violin concerto With Anne-Sophie Mutter. I didn’t play today it was my turn to be “reduced off” so I was able to get some shots of the rehearsal.

In as far as violinists go, though the real heroine of the day was Zoe Beyers our Deputy Leader (sorry if that’s the wrong title, but the CBSO website doesn’t actually give her one!) Laurence Jackson our Leader was under the weather today with some sort of fluey, virus type thing and Zoe led in his place. I have praised Zoe before for leading extensively when Laurence was seriously ill a few years ago (now fully recovered) and it gives me pleasure to do so again. She  excelled herself today, particularly in the solos in Strauss’s “Don Juan”.

Thank you Zoe, its good to know that we have such a talented reliable player to take the helm when needed.

And so on to the photos, todays batch are mostly of players, since, what with Grandsons, Dogs and days off we seem to have gone, as they say in boardroom speak “off message!” So, here are some old faces, and some new ones!

My apologies to Zoe for the quality of her photos, there was another lady violinist standing in between her and my telephoto lens wouldn’t focus quite right. I’ll try to get better ones soon!

 

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CBSO Tour Of Europe March 2014 Day Eleven–Hannover Free Day

 

 

Welcome back, another day off today, and the last before we come home. I’m beginning to think touring is a bit like a rondo or a theme and variations! It’s the same underlying thing day after day-travel –hotel-rehearsal-concert-coach hotel-travel -day off travel, and so on, but then each day brings new surprises, new places (sometimes) new Grandsons (first time) new people (like in Heidelberg). Or in the case of today new art and new buildings in the guise of the Sprengle Museum –

http://www.sprengel-museum.de/v1/englisch/smhframes.html

And the Hannover Rathaus –

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Town_Hall_(Hanover)

Both were fascinating, the Sprengle art gallery for it’s wonderfully eclectic selection of paintings, including Picasso’s Klimt’s Miro’s and Klee’s and the Neu Rathaus for the beauty of the building and the spectacular curved lift to get up to the top of the dome.

We were lucky enough that a very nice German Lady, a native of Hannover, stopped us on the way to the Art Museum and talked to us, just out of being friendly and seeing us looking at maps. It was she who mentioned that you could go up the dome, and it was very much worth it! Thank you!

So without more ado here are the pictures of what I did on my day off!

See you in Hamburg.

Good Night and God bless.

 

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CBSO Tour of Europe, Day 11 – Hannover Quick Correction!!!

Hello everyone, in my last post I said It was Helene Grimaud’s last concert yesterday. This was an error! She has one more on Friday 28th of March – Brahms Piano Concerto no 1 with Andris and your Very own CBSO at the Alte Oper in Frankfurt 20:00 PM.

Sorry!

All the things I said in the previous post still apply though!!

See you later for “What I di on my day off”

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