Scottish Recorder Festival 2011

On Saturday 14 May Glasgow hosted the Scottish Recorder Festival. It was held in Ibrox Parish Church and, this year being the Glasgow branch’s 50th birthday, the occasion felt particularly special. There was a good turnout, with over sixty people attending from all over Scotland, as well as a welcome few all the way from Ireland and England.

The day began with a mass playing session. Guest conductor Marion Scott led part of Bach’s Cantata no 39 -Brich dem Hungrigen dein Brot, and Marion’s arrangement of this beautiful cantata was very much enjoyed.

Mass playing session.
Mass playing session

Participants then chose between Ed Friday, conducting his own arrangement of the Vivaldi Recorder Concerto in A minor, David Powell with Gavin Bryar’s A Family Likeness (an interesting and rather challenging contemporary piece), and Isobel Luke’s selection of ‘Intermediate’ pieces, including Paul Clark’s arrangement of Blow the Wind Southerly.

Lunch followed, with a chance to visit the Early Music Shop, Willobie Press, Recorder Music Mail and Hawthorns, as well as browsing through a selection of second hand music.

After lunch, the choice was between Marion Scott conducting J. G. Walther’s partita Jesu, meine freude, Pamela Flanagan with John Hawkes’ Septet, and Eileen Silcocks’s Just Fun by Allan Rosenheck. These sessions were followed by familiar faces Stuart Forrester and Marg Hall conducting Gaston Saux’s Quartet in F and Marg’s new Elsie Marley and other great tunes from Northumberland respectively. There was a newcomer too, Mandy Kettles, from the Hillfoot branch. Mandy teaches music at Alva Academy and is active in Hillfoot’s Music for Youth Orchestra. She presented her group with Gibbons’ Fantasy No 3 and Michael Meech’s Puppet Show.

Marion Scott's session.
Marion Scott’s session

All the playing sessions were much enjoyed and, with such an eclectic mix of styles and periods, there was something for everyone as well as the temptations of the shops available all day!

After a welcome tea break, the Scottish Recorder Orchestra, under Eileen Silcocks, performed three pieces from this year’s repertoire: Banchetto Musicale Suite II by Schein, The 17th’s Farewell to Alva by Brian Bonsor, and finally Paul Richards’ lively Joshua! Not all the players were present, but the orchestra still managed to fill the hall with sound!

The festival participants now feeling suitably ‘chilled’, birthday festivities began in earnest with not one but two birthday cakes. To the accompaniment of Happy Birthday to US! Ethel Allan cut one cake, and everyone was pleased she was able to carry out this important duty.

Ethel and David.
Ethel and David

Ethel took over as MD of the Glasgow branch when Rosemary McGillivray died in 1997 and (aided recently by David Powell) worked energetically for the branch until poor health forced her to hand over the baton to Pamela Flanagan last year.

The birthday cake crumbs had barely melted in the players’ mouths when Pamela conducted everyone in Four For Glasgow’s Fifty, which was, much to everyone’s delight, composed specially for the occasion by Steve Marshall. Steve’s piece is essentially a medley of traditional Scottish tunes, although an attentive listener may spot hints of each tune cropping up from time to time within the others. The tunes are Uist Tramping Song, I Have A Wife Of My Own, Bonnie James Campbell (sometimes called Bonnie George Campbell) and The High Road To Linton.

Four for Glasgows Fifty.
Pamela conducting Four For Glasgows Fifty by Steve Marshall – specially written for the occassion

After all the merry-making, the day was drawn to a suitably light-hearted conclusion by Marion Scott leading everyone in her arrangement of Mozart’s La Bataille Contretanz K535. This was an arrangement with a difference however, featuring as it did a percussion part for chopsticks and music stands…Mozart may very well not have considered using such a combination, but we feel sure he would have approved!

As evening shadows lengthened over Ibrox the day wound to a close, sending everyone home tired but happy; and, judging by the many compliments received, all the organisers’ hard work was greatly appreciated.

Franzeska G Ewart May 2011

Photos (courtesy of Maben Stirling)

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