Our meeting began with a few fun announcements. Virginia Felton gave us an overview of the new SRS website—“a labor of love” that took several months to produce—as well as the new format for our newsletter. If you’re viewing the new website, you can see all the newsletter items in the Recorder Notes section of the site, where new items will always appear at the top. Note that if you’re having trouble receiving the new newsletter in your inbox, make sure you add email@example.com to your address book or safe senders list.
We welcomed the return of the Back Room Gang, now led by Laura Townsend! This group provides a safe and supportive space to play for novice players, rusty players, and anyone else who wants to join in. The sessions are concurrent with the SRS meeting’s large-group sessions.
Also returning this month are the Moss Bay Recorder Society’s in-person meetings! Laura Townsend is the new musical director of this group. We learned their first meeting of the year would be at the Redmond branch of the King County Library System on Saturday, October 15 from 2–4:30pm.
Finally, we welcomed two new members: Fred Philbrook and Deirdre Cochran. Both are returning to recorders after some time away, and we’re so glad to have you with us!
Our music this evening was all composed by Edvard Grieg, a Norwegian romantic composer. Though he studied briefly in Leipzig, most of his education took place in Copenhagen, where he was surrounded by and enamored of the folk tunes of northern Europe, which deeply influenced his music and set it apart from other romantic composers such as Tchaikovsky and Liszt. His partner in both life and music was Nina Hagerup, a lyric soprano for whom Grieg wrote all his vocal music.
Our first piece was a splendid Ave Maris Stella for double choir arranged by our own Charles Coldwell and performed on low voices. The parts divided our group into tenors/basses and C bass/contra, giving each group a chance to bring out their melody and shine. The sound filled the space and was, appropriately, quite heavenly.
Second we played Våren, which translates to “The Spring” but is implied to mean “The Last Spring.” This firmly romantic-era piece contrasts sweet melodies against a sometimes-somber accompaniment originally written for piano; our arrangement was by Eric Haas. We passed the melody around between parts, varied the pace to really feel the mood of the song, and explored some notations we rarely see in baroque music! Double sharps, E and B sharps – oh my! Vicki assures us that it’s ok to write in “F” or “C” above these notes to get comfortable with the fingerings despite the strange appearance on the page. (I’m also firmly convinced Vicki would like to eat this music—I’ve never heard “yummy” and “delicious” so many times in reference to one piece!)
From the sweet and somber, we moved on to peasant dances and drinking songs! The Stabbe Laaten and Jolstring were both arranged by the Japanese recorder player Papalin (check out his multi-track recordings on YouTube!). Here we got to play with rowdy te-ke articulations (the sort which Genassi restricted to use “only in harsh circumstances”), bouncy great bass and contrabass trills, and wacky offbeats. Our orchestra ran the gamut from two contras (what fun!) to a delightful sopranino (which we took care to move away from the microphone to avoid deafening the Zoomers!). Even these fun romps were an opportunity to learn new techniques, though, as we looked at how to emulate trombone-esque decorative figures and reduce a complicated ornamentation to its core pieces to get it under our fingers.
Meanwhile, the Back Room Gang explored techniques for articulation and high notes while playing several delightful duets, including Prince Robert’s March by Jacob van Eyck, an anonymous Anglaise, and several pieces by Michael Praetorius.
We ended the night with a lot of laughter and fun all around! Many thanks to everyone who helped set up and tear down, and special thanks to Vicki for sharing with us some music that is near and dear to her.