Line drawing

Line drawing
Drawn by the talented Luke Braddock

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Week 5 Rehearsal

"Did you ever stop to think,
When the band plays 'rink-a-tink',
Where all the music comes from?
From a toot, and a whistle, and a plunk, and a boom."

Of course, we manage just fine without the 'plunk' in SUWO.

So, Week 5! Yet another fantabulous rehearsal. With just two more Thursday rehearsals before our big concert, you would hope that we were making progress by now, and that certainly seems to be happening with us.

We kicked things off with Overture for the Mayors of Barton by Anthony Hedges and then worked on a few tricky sections of A Soliloquy for Solferino by Martin Ellerby, before engaging in one of the two main highlights of the evening: A rehearsal of Peter Meechan's magnificently atmospheric piece, Burn, with solo clarinetist Linda Merrick.

As with many of these solo pieces, Burn is the sort of arrangement where listening to the clarinet is key. The clarinet forms the lyrical basis, the essential beauty of the piece, while the rest of the orchestra provides the shading and colouring that makes the clarinet sing out that much more. It was a joy to watch Linda making musical magic earlier this evening, and even more of a joy to play with her. She said she was happy with us afterwards, which is obviously good to know.

Before break we talked briefly about the AGM, which stands for some doubtlessly practical title and refers to a meeting whereby the new SUWO committee are chosen. Those of us lucky enough to have been in the committee this year said a bit about our current roles, and with a bit of luck a lot of the current first years will be eager to fill the roles. Although they have some pretty big shoes to fill. Whoever our two new PR reps are will have their work cut out for them in particular, considering the two spectacular specimens of human who have been taking care of that job this year...

*ahem* anyway. Gareth Widdowson took to the conducting podium, and after receiving a condescending pat on the head from someone taller than Gareth and the podium combined, took us through Ides March by Derek Bermel. Tony then resumed his place and we worked again on Tales Aus Dem Vood Viennoise by Bill Conner, this time looking at the third movement, entitled Just Retribution.

And here marks the second highlight of the evening, as this piece requires the use of plastic bendy tubes that generate noise when spun around. These tubes are, quite appropriately, dubbed 'whirlers', and they sound a bit like voices. The combination of these somewhat unfortunately-shaped and therefore unendingly hilarious instruments, combined with George Morton possibly taking on more than he had bargained for in assuming the 2nd Tuba chair, made for what might just be one of the funniest rehearsals of a piece SUWO has experienced in quite some time.

Enough of me nattering on, I think. Photos!

Fairly epic shot of the orchestra, minus horns, a couple of trumpets, and perhaps a percussionist or two somewhere to the left of the picture.

This is what Gareth looks like, standing on a podium. It's fairly similar to how he looks when he's not standing on a podium. Except the rest of the time there's... no... podium...

Because whirlers are far more important than trumpets or horns in this piece, we had a few non-percussionists subbing in when the percussionists' arms got tired.

And lastly, a video of the beginning of Just Retribution. You might have to turn up the volume on your computers to hear this one. One might argue that the whirlers look a bit silly, but we would like to counter-argue that by saying 1) the sound they produce is very effective, and 2) when you're a member of SUWO, looking silly is a factor that does not matter in the slightest.
Also pay attention to the flutes, who are exhibiting double amounts of awesome here by playing a long, low (and therefore quite difficult, because low notes and flutes aren't exactly two concepts that go hand in hand) note, and voicing a whirler-ish sound at the same time. Tricky, tricky stuff.

Thats all from me this week! Stay tuned for another post, with photos and videos a-plenty, next week!

Note: Apologies for the video from the Rehearsals 1 and 2 post not working. The settings on Youtube were wrong. It should all be fixed now.

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