Do you want to keep reading Da Capo (our playing session/meeting re-cap) articles?
In October, December and January I will not be able to attend the monthly Seattle Recorder Society meetings, and thus won’t be able to write the Da Capo articles for the newsletters. I’m looking for one or more people to help out by writing an article (or two or three). You can write in your own style, and no worries if your writing is a bit rusty – we’ve got a team of proofreaders/editors standing by! You can attend the meetings either via Zoom or at Faith Lutheran Church. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or President Dave Gloger at email@example.com if you are able to help. This is a great opportunity to volunteer for SRS without a long term commitment 🙂 .
With summer break behind us, we met at our new home at Faith Lutheran Church in Seattle for our September meeting. A record number of recorder people attended – our largest attendance for a monthly playing session since pre-pandemic: 29 physically present and 10 virtually present! Attending for their first time, four guests introduced themselves and were welcomed, and Vicki introduced the SRS Board of Directors.
The pieces for this evening were selected by Vicki to be accessible to everyone (the Back Room Gang will commence for the season next month). She sent out the music ahead of time with explanations (some quoted here), as well as a couple of YouTube previews so we could get a feel for the music we’d be playing.
Would you like me to sing you a sweet sound of love?
The Medieval French Voulez vous que Je Vous chant was a charming twelve bar melody playable on any recorder size for our warm-up piece. The basses could opt to play a drone line the second time we played, and by the third time, players wanting to add their own diminutions (with no judgement!) were encouraged to do so.
Une Jeune Fillette
“There was once a young girl, noble of heart, charming and pretty and of great worth, against her will she was made a nun; this doesn’t please her at all, so she lives in great pain.” Another French piece, this plain melody had lyrics about a girl whose parents apparently couldn’t afford a dowry. Vicki had us count in two beats to the measure, and noted the occurrences of the strong-weak pattern at the end of several phrases. We were instructed to “sniff” air at the commas in the text – no gasping!
From there we segued into Eustache DuCaurroy’s (1549-1609) Fantasias No.32 and No.29 on the melody we’d just played. For the first time through No. 32, Vicki had the basses playing their part: the melody. The focus then shifted to the most obscure line of the soprano/alto-up, which had its own agenda but also chimed in with the melody, but Vicki promised it would all sound good together! The top soprano line was then added in, and after conducting all four parts together, Vicki exclaimed, “Lovely, beautiful!”
No.29 had some interesting rhythmical challenges that wove around the homophonic melody. Sopranos were assigned to the now-familiar sounding top line. Altos/tenors had the second line, and basses the third line; these two lines were transcribed from what was originally the lute part. Vicki described the alto/tenor line as very “wordy, chatty, had its own opinion about everything.” When all the parts were put together, Vicki conducted us a bit more slowly, and it sounded pretty good!
Alleluia by William Boyce
Originally a three-part canon for voice, this familiar piece was arranged for SATB recorders by Helen Hooker. It was a “great piece for syncing up articulation patterns in the homophonic sections, and for awareness of clarity of tone and direction of melody in the solo sections.” William Boyce (1711-1979) was an 18th century English composer who helped mold our modern music. It should be noted that he was employed at age 15 as a church organist, and was also a harpsichordist, conductor, and continued to compose after he became deaf. Vicki asked us to use smooth pairing of the fast eighth notes with d-r tonguing where each syllable of alleluia was a separate note. On the descending scale-wise eighths (all on the single syllable “lu” of alleluia) we were told to slur the eighths in sets of four as written. The second and final time through was faster – and even more glorious!
St. Augustine Rag by Bill Ruthenberg
This entertaining and toe-tapping piece for SATB recorders was recently published by the American Recorder Society. If you are a member of the American Recorder Society, you received this along with the 2023 summer magazine. If you’re not a member of ARS: why not? what are you waiting for?! It’s a fabulous organization and you are missing out! Membership is half price for the first year for new members: https://www.viethconsulting.com/members/newmem/registration.php?orgcode=ARSO
ARS members can access play-along versions of this jazzy rag on the ARS website, which I happily did prior to the playing session. Bill Ruthenberg’s (1939-2023) biography contained some fun memories related to my own childhood TV viewing, including performing in Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. He joined the Ray Charles Singers with Perry Como, and performed the bass voice in the commercial: “Use Ajax, (bum bum) the foaming cleanser!” The ARS publication quoted Bill with his wonderful sentiment, “What a fantastic life I have led, and how fortunate I have been.” His ragtime composition was both fun to hear and to play, and made for a happy ending to our delightful evening.
If you made it this far in your reading, please go back and re-read the first paragraph of this article. I’m hoping to hear from you!
Evy Dudey, SRS Secretary