Our first workshop of the year was our 'Mystery and Intrigue' workshop, in which we studied how composers for stage and screen use particular devices to manipulate our emotions. Mancini's The Pink Panther and Hermann's Psycho (AKA The Scary Cat) provided the perfect vehicles for this. Our players enjoyed getting their fingers around the chromaticism, rhythmic challenges and precise articulation required to build a sense of mystery, intrigue and fear.
It was especially good to welcome new players whose horizons were broadened with techniques such as col legno, sul ponticello and slap pizzicato.
Marking the centeneries of the end of World War 1 and the beginning of Womens' Suffrage in the UK, we were joined by Scordatura Women's Music Collective to explore music written by women.
"This was the best workshop ever!" (9 yr-old cellist)
One of the rewards in our recent Crowdfunder Campaign was a chamber music coaching session. A group whose generous donation qualified for this reward recently undertook their session with Michelle, which proved a hugely rewarding experience for all concerned.
Those who choose to re-visit their instrumental studies, or to take up an instrument in later life, often feel an understandable lack of confidence. As adults, we are used to being competent, and whenever we challenge ourselves to do something new, we must overcome our initial insecurities. What enables us to do that is our passion and our drive to do something we love. What a pleasure it is to work with those who have chosen for themselves, and who are driven by a deep desire to play - they are true 'amateurs' in the very best sense of the word.
What an amazing opportunity this was! Wiltshire Music Centre invited us to take part in a masterclass with the Berkeley Ensemble, and our quartet benefited from a session of wonderful coaching from Dan Shilladay and Andrew Watson on Mozart's Quartet in G Major K156.
There can be few things more inspiring that having an world-famous virtuoso violinist as your desk partner! This was the case for one of our young players, taking part in a workshop at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama on 13th October.
We were delighted to be able to take a group of young musicians on a trip from Bath to Cardiff to take advantage of this fantastic opportunity. The students took part in ensemble rehearsals and sectionals with Nicola Benedetti, Leonard Elschenbroich and a team of coaches from RWCMD, including cellist Alice Neary, violist Laura Sinnerton and violinist Cerys Jones.
During the morning 'Benedetti Basics' session, Nicky spent a whole hour working on how to stand/ sit in a balanced way, and how to hold the instrument and bow with complete relaxation. She emphasised the importance of constantly going back to these basics, even as we become more advanced players. The teachers in the room were delighted to have this message reinforced by a player of such stature! The young musicians then studied two recently composed works: Blue Grit by David Le Page and Perpetuum Mobile by Julian Winn. All of our players showed incredible focus, and despite the long day, came away enthused and 'buzzing' from the event.
The following day, we congregated again in Bath to take part in two sessions of chamber music, with four differentiated groups studying quartets, trios and duets, with multiple players per part. Below is a small sample of what one group produced after only an hour and a half's rehearsal. It was a truly inspiring weekend. Nicola Benedetti is a passionate educator whose wisdom had a great impact on us all. Amongst many wise words, the following stood out: