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.