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George Caird's Weblog | George Caird

Royal Society of Musicians

By on February 3, 2024 in Royal Society of Musicians of Great Britain

I have been a member of the Royal Society of Musicians of Great Britain since 1996 and have been proud to be a part of the UK’s oldest music charity over the years. It is a remarkable organisation that provides vital financial assistance, advice and guidance to those professionally active in the wrold of music but who are unable to work due to accident, illness, stress or anxiety. Founded in London over 300 years ago by a group of musicians including G.F. Handel, we are a charity run by musicians for musicians and we are a charity that is open to membership from across all areas of the music sector.

The Society is run from its home at 26 Fitzroy Square in London by its professional staff headed by Chief Executive, Charlotte Penton-Smith. Regular members meetings are held there whilst the Society also organises regional meetings to ensure as wide as possible engagement across the UK. A successful meeting in Cardiff in October 2023 will be followed by meetings in Northern Ireland and Scotland in 2024.

Last year, I was elected as one of the twelve Governors and in this time have greatly enjoyed working with the Chair for 2023, Clare Tyack, Vice-Chair, Clare McCaldin, Honorary Treasurer, Jonathan Rennert and all Governors. In January, I was elected as Chair for 2024 and have been joined by two Vice-Chairs, Carl Jackson and Jacoba Gale, while Jonathan Rennert continues as our Honoray Treasurer.

I am looking forward to a very active year not least in welcoming guests to our annual Jacqueline du Pré Charity Concert at the Wigmore Hall on 14 April when flautist Emmanuel Pahud will perform with harpsichordist Trevor Pinnock and cellist, Jonathan Manson. I

I hope that I can assist in growing the membership of the Society and this is to invite as many musicians as possible to join. Details of membership can be found on the Society’s website at www.rsmgb.org/join

Charlotte Penton-Smith
Chief Executive, Royal Society of Musicians
Clare Tyack,
Chair of RSM 2023 in front of the Society’s portrait of founder, G.F. Handel

Lenthall Concerts recital

By on November 13, 2023 in Concerts

I was so pleased to be asked by Michael Bochmann to play a recital for his Lenthall Concerts series in Burford. The recital on 11 October, proved to be a most rewarding project in combining a full programme with pianist Charles Matthews and a workshop and performance by the Grendilla Double Reed Ensemble directed by Joanna Rhind-Tutt.

I visited two rehearsals of the Grenadilla Ensemble before the day and worked with Joanna Rhind-Tutt to prepare an improvisation and a performance of Elizabeth Sharma’s Samba from Permutations. I was really impressed with the ensemble of oboists and bassoonists and enjoyed playing with them, joining Joanna on cor anglais in the Liz Sharma work.

The recital featured works by Bach and Handel, including the Bach Oboe and Violin Concerto which Michael Bochmann joined us for. Charles Matthews and I also played Finzi’s Interlude and recital pieces by Alan Richardson (Roundelay), John Mayer (Abhut Sangit), Madeleine Dring (Italian Dance) and Ennio Morricone (Gabriel’s Oboe). And Charles gave a beautiful performance of the Handel Harmonious Blacksmith. My teacher, Janet Craxton, was married to Alan Richardson and this was a chance to celebrate the huge influence that she (and he) had on me. John Mayer taught for many years at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and wrote his Abhut Sangit for me in 1994. I was delighted to have this chance to play this evocative work.

It was so good to play with Michael Bochmann again after many years. We recalled that we had performed the Bach E Major Violin Concerto together in Oxford over 50 years ago!

Michael Bochmann

Charles Matthews, piano

Kammermusik 2023

By on November 13, 2023 in CHAMBER MUSIC, Kammermusik

It was a great moment in August when we gathered in St Edmund Hall, Oxford for this year’s Kammermusik Workshop after a four-year pause due to the pandemic. Our visit to Santa Fe in July/August 2019 seemed an age ago as we caught up with our friends Will and Daren, Janet and William, Keith and all the Kammermusikers who made the journey for another Oxford week.

Kammermusik is a very special organisation. The music making combines playing well-known works with a fearless approach to new and unusual repertoire which this year included the Martinu Nonet, Onslow Septet, Farrenc Nonet, Amy Beach Piano Quintet, Vincent d’Indy Septet, Holst Sextet, Copland Sextet, and Khatchaturian Trio. It was a real treat for me to work on Martinu’s La Revue de Cuisine, amongst other works.

It so enjoyed working alongside Robert Manasse, Marie Ross, Steve Stirling, Anthea Wood, Roger Coull, Jane Salmon and other coaches. Our coaches concert, put together in the small amount of time available, was huge fun – with the Linckelmann quintet arrangement of the Magic Flute Overture starting us off and followed by the Reicha E flat Quintet. Steve Stirling’s Mozart Horn Quintet was a joy to hear and Roger Coull’s direction of Colin Touchin’s Sinfonietta proved to be a moving ‘in memoriam’ for the composer.

Many thanks to Will Buss, Janet Yaker Murray, Keith Bowen and all those involved in organising this week.

The spirit of Kammermusik 2019: Oboist and President, Will Buss, in rehearsal with GC

York Wind Chamber Course 2023

By on November 5, 2023 in CHAMBER MUSIC, York Wind Chamber Music

I hugely enjoyed my return to the York Wind Chamber Music Course in August this year. Not quite as blisterlingly hot as in 2022, the venue and campus at York University was a perfect one for a week’s coaching, playing and spending time with so many committed and interesting chamber musicians. Thanks to Richard Ingham, Suzie Palmer and all those involved with the excellent organisation, the week ran beautifully with large and small chamber groups discovering the huge range of wind music on offer in the course’s library.

One highlight for me was having the chance to explore Strauss’ Sonatina No 1, ‘Invalid Workshop’, with a very fine ensemble. I also admired some lovely Mozart playing in the C minor Serenade as well as some more unusual repertoire including the Theodore Gouvy Petite Suite Gauloise.

Some of the most enjoyable sessions, though, were with smaller ensembles – trios and quartets – and here Malcolm Arnold’s Divertimento for flute, oboe and clarinet stays with me as a long standing favourite of mine.

It came as sad news in the summer that Jim Parker had died and I was moved to hear two ensembles play his Mississippi Five for wind quintet to remember an oboist and composer who wrote so brilliantly for wind instruments (let’s not forget House of Cards!).

Thanks to string players Eric Clark, Alison Major, Ruth Addison, David Brereton and Thomas Rushton the course was able, as ever, to explore music for wind and strings. Bax’s Quintet for oboe and strings, the Beethoven Septet, Spohr Nonet ansd many other works kept the strings very busy all week. Mention needs to go to Andrew Black (piano) who played a full week of piano and wind chamber music including, of course, K452 and the Beethoven Quintets, Poulenc Sextet and trio, Ludwig Thuille Sextet and many more.

YWCC is a most impressive course for wind players. I so enjoyed working with colleague-coaches Stephen Reay, Ken Smith, David Campbell, Fergus Kerr and Bob Ashworth in a memorable week. It was a social joy too – with breakfasts (Quarks), lunches and dinners (Derwent), trips to the pub, the tutors dinner out in York and the highly diverting informal concert at the end offering much camaraderie and sheer fun. Thanks to all for a brilliant week.

Richard Ingham, Director, York Wind Chamber Music

Gloucestershire Double Reed Day

By on October 16, 2023 in Oboe matters

Looking back over a busy summer of music-making, I have fond memories of my day at the Gloucester Double Reed Day held at Pate’s Grammar School, Cheltenham on 2 July. Brilliantly organised by Caron de Burgh and her amazing team, the day was packed with events including masterclasses for oboe and bassoon, chamber music and double reed band, reed making classes (Liam Fleet and George Bailey), Alexander Technique (Jenny Steele) and more. The trade stands included Crook and Staple, Wiggins Music, Army Recruitment and the British Double Reed Society as well as a highly-supportive presence by Howarths and I enjoyed my conversations with Will Ring and Iona Walker whilst trying out a range of new oboes!

The classes that I gave that day included some lovely oboe playing from Helen Venn, Daniel Ho , Sue Newman, Leandra Gorgulu, Iona Nettleton, Barney Ratcliffe, Nicola Leitao, Hugh Major, Aidi Lu and Isaac Stringer. Beautifully accompanied by Kit Perona-Wright, I also enjoyed playing the first movement of the Rubbra Sonata with him in our performnace at the end of the day. It was great to share this event with the wonderful Jarek Augustyniak whose performances of many famous orchestral bassoon solos were captivating!

Well done all and thank you to Caron for masterminding an event that had done so much for double reed playing!

Bromsgrove International Music Competition

By on June 9, 2023 in Bromsgrove International Music Competition, COMPETITIONS

It was a privilege to join the jury with Sarah Bruce and Christopher Glynn for the 2023 BIMC held at Bromsgrove School between 30 May and 3 June. From a large entry, 24 fine musicians came through to the final rounds in Bromsgrove and twelve excellent semifinalists were chosen: Raymond Brien (clarinet), Ezo Dem Sarici (violin), Robert Finegan (saxophone), Gerard Flotats (cello), Adam Heron (piano), Vanessa Hristova (viola), Anna Im (violin), Hiroki Kasai (viola), Yu-Chieh Lin (piano), Matthew McLachlan (piano), Marika Tsuchiya (marimba) and Arthur Yiu Chung Yu (piano).

Many wonderful performances from these musicians come to mind: Raymond Brien’s playing of Salvatore Sciarrino’s Let me die before I wake for solo clarinet, cellist Gerard Flotats’ reading of Janacek’s Pohádka, saxophonist Robert Finegan in Ryo Noda’s Maï, Adam Heron in Bach’s Italian Concerto, Vanessa Hristova’s playing in Rebecca Clarke’s Viola Sonata, Hiroki Kasai, viola, in Reger’s Suite No 1, Rosenblatt’s Carmen Fantasy played by Eso Dem Sarici, violin, Marika Tsuschiya in Christopher Norton’s November Evening for marimba solo and Arthur Yiu Chung Yu’s pianism in Schumann’s Symphonic Etudes, Op 13.

After careful consideration, three finalists came through to play on the 3 June in the Routh Hall at Bromsgrove School. Performing with distinction throughout the competition, I remember especially Yu-Chieh Yu’s moving performance of Scriabin’s Valse Op 38 and Prokofiev’s 8th Sonata, Anna Im’s intense and personal playing in Amy Beach’s Romance for violin and piano and Matthew McLachlan’s outstanding performance of Stravinsky’s Petrushka.

All three finalists contributed to a memorable concert with highly positive responses from the audience. In the end, the 2023 BIMC winner was Matthew McLachlan. Congratulations to him and to all those who participated at such a high level.

In the afternoon of the final, the Bromsgrove Young Musicians Platform was held in Routh Hall featuring some outstanding young talent from 9 -17 years. Congratulations to Junior section winner, Izaac Bazlov (piano) and runner-up, Nathaniel Ming-Shun Law (oboe) and Senior Section winner, Hugo Svedberg (cello) and runner-up, Casey-Joan Whyte (violin) for their impressive performances.

With thanks to Chair David Saint, former Chair Ian Morris, Young Musicians administrator Monica Toso, Beverley Needham and all the Bromsgrove School administration, Young Musicians Platform adjudicators Alastair Moseley, Richard Jenkinson and Sarah Oliver, as well as the brilliant competition accompanists Jonathan French, Janine Parsons and Kate Thompson this was a week to remember.

Matthew McLachlan, piano
Yu-Chieh Lin, piano
Anna Im, violin

Howarths at 75

By on June 7, 2023 in Oboe matters, Uncategorized

Happy Birthday to Howarths of London! It was a truly memorable evening at the celebration dinner in the Landmark Hotel, Marylebone on 25 May. With so many friends there, it was great to have a chance to meet everyone involved at both the factory and the shop in Chiltern Street. Oboists from far and wide were there – for me a treat to reconnect with Sarah Roper, Elaine Douvas, Gordon Hunt, David Theodore and many others……..

……and it is nice to note that Michael Britton’s 80th birthday will shortly follow to add to the celebrations!

Michael Britton wearing his Honorary membership of the IDRS

British Double Reed Society Festival

By on June 7, 2023 in British Double Reed Society, Oboe matters

It was great to take part in the British Double Reed Society’s Festival at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire on 17 May. There was an excellent attendance and I enjoyed looking in on the workshops by Melinda Maxwell, Emmet Byrne, Nikolaj Henriques and Margaret Cookhorn. The RBC concert featuring Emmet Byrne’s and Nikolaj Hendriques’ brilliant rendition of the Jolivet Sonatine for oboe and bassoon was a real highlight. Also Melinda Maxwell’s fascinating lecture and demonstration of the aulos….taking oboe playing back several thousand years. I also enjoyed interviewing Melinda and Nikolaj in one session and conducting the final playthrough with over sixty double reed players playing Donal Flynn’s arrangement of Holst’s Song of the Blacksmith from his Second Suite in F, featuring oboist Tommy Hill on anvil!

Thanks to BDRS and James Turnbull and to RBC and Jenni Phillips for leading this incentive. There were many happy participants by the end of the day!

Melinda Maxwell, oboe
Emmet Byrne, oboe
Nikolaj Henriques, bassoon

Margaret Cookhorn, contrabassoon

Albinoni, Rose and Friends

By on April 3, 2023 in Concerts, Oxford

Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford

Friday, 28 April 7.30pm

I am looking forward to collaborating with composer and conductor, Gregory Rose, to perform his new Oboe Concerto with the Jupiter Orchestra on 28 April. The concerto is a most exciting work, inspired by bird calls heard on Oxford’s Shotover during lockdown. The 10-minute work contains brilliant acrobatics for the oboe as well as a lyrical slow section, shared with a French Horn solo (to be played by Julian Faultless), a cadenza and a scherzo-like section leading to a reflective ending.

The concert, to celebrate Gregory Rose’s 75th birthday, will also include Janáček’s Idyll Suite and Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings. I will open the concert with Albinoni’s D minor Concerto, Op 9 No 2 – a real favourite.

For tickets, contact www.musicatoxford.com or enquiries@sheldon.ox.ac.uk

Gregory Rose

Radcliffe Orchestra Spring Concert

By on March 25, 2023 in ORCHESTRAS, Oxford, Radcliffe Orchestra, Uncategorized

It was great to be back with the Radcliffe Orchestra this spring with another highly enjoyable concert in the Tingewick Hall on 11 March.

I have long wanted to perform Berlioz’ Rob Roy Overture as the composer’s overture that has passed me by over the years. Despite the Berlioz’ own misgivings about the work, it is a wonderful concert opener with so much to enjoy. It worked in this context as it gave a chance for the orchestra’s harpist, Rupert McShane, to play the extended duo with cor anglais (beautifully played by Henry Bettinson) at the heart of the overture. Inspired by Sir Walter Scott’s novel, Rob Roy, the music admirably reflects the dramatic story of the outlaw at the time of the 1715 Jacobite Revolution with Scottish tunes, Scots wha hae and The Bonnie Woods of Cragielea quoted.

The violinist, Edgar Bailey, made a welcome return to the orchestra to play Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole in a brilliant performance of this five-movement showpiece. It was a treat for the orchestra to accompany such fine playing and there was some beautiful ensemble playing from all. Edgar captured the character of this work with real insight and poise.

We completed our programme with a spirited performance of Tchaikovsky’s 5th Symphony that gave opportunities for many players to shine. Amy Thakurdas’ horn solo in the slow movement was a real high point and Alison Matthews’ bassoon solo in the third movement was equally eloquent. Clarinetists, Steve Guard and Simon Kroll opened the symphony most beautifully whilst flutes (Andrew Turberfield, Katie Marshall, Huw Morgan) and oboes (Henry Bettinson and Sarah Pendlebury) provided many lovely moments. Brass (led by John Stradling’s trumpet, Dominic Vella’s trombone and John Underwood on tuba) gave great energy to the performance and the strings led by Sky Jaskutelyte, Helen Stradling (violin 2), Peter McElwaine-Johnn (viola), Rosie Powell-Davies (cello) and Tim Baker (double bass) played with unified commitment and musicianship.

The concert was given in aid of Guide Dogs which has done much to address the considerable need for the care and promotion of the work of guide dogs across the UK. Thanks to Amy Thakurdas for this connection and for bringing three fine Guide Dog mothers to a rehearsal and the concert. As ever, Rosie Adams is to be thanked for all her work for the orchestra along with all the committee.

I look forward to conducting another concert with the Radcliffe Orchestra in March 2024.

Edgar Bailey, violin

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