Thursday, December 20, 2007

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Our final get-together for 2007 was Tuesday; we played our current pieces and finished off with some carols, and we had a dozen or so family members and friends along to share our good times with. And the tea and biscuits afterwards was marvelous as well! Alison thanks all for her lovely gift-bag and wishes us a Merry Christmas. Have a harmonious holiday, everyone, and we'll see you all on January 2.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Bach for the third violins (Threolas)

The third violins who attended rehearsal on Monday were given a hand
written part for the Bach fugue.
Bach meant to write another part it seems but passed the job on to
Alison's husband Alasdair. I've written it out in Finale Print Music
and I think it's correct. Sunday should see a test drive and I'll run
off copies for everyone and perhaps Heather is going to publish it on
the site as a JPEG.

However, The last 2 bars are missing from my copy. The stalks are
visible and I am assuming the notes are
Bar 1 half note followed by 4 eighth notes Bar 2 One whole note.
Can anyone tell me the pitch of these notes. or confirm that they are
(Bar 1) B BDCB (Bar 2) A ?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

From Corelli to Mozart and Bach

We had a perfect-square crowd out Monday: four firsts, four seconds, four "thriolas", and four cellos. Unfortunately our solo-designate for Pastorale from the Corelli Concerto Grosso wasn't able to come (we miss you, Cathy!) so instead of working on that, we went on to Rondo in G by Mozart. This is a piece with canon-like elements where the sections echo each other at different times. Alison mentioned to keep the first bar-and-a-half or so of these phrases strong, and the second bit, weak; that keeps the entries obvious while making way for the entry of the next section. The eighth notes should be somewhat detached. Practice the bow patterns in the running eighth notes to get the flow going smoothly. In the middle, the cellos and inner parts pass the supporting quarter notes back and forth under the firsts' melody. The musical term of the week is Tritone, the interval in the "question-and-answer" section near the end. (I'm not quoting bar numbers since they're probably different for the different sections.) No matter how demonic, they should be played out and emphasized.

We also received Die Kunst der Fuge ("The Art of the Fugue") by Bach as out first undertaking of counterpoint. (Loads of information in the Wikipedia entry. I must read Gödel, Escher, Bach again.) The beginning is the same for each section, albeit starting at different times; it diverges after a few bars. We experimented with singing it in sections (in rhythm, not necessarily with any particular pitch!) to get used to the timing.

For next rehearsal, have a look at these two and the Pastorale; hopefully our soloist will be able to play the interesting bits of the latter so we can practise the less-interesting-but-still-important bits!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Suggestions for new music?

Alison brought forth several suggestions for us to play over the next few months, and there were quite a few differing opinions on some old standards. If you have ideas on what might be fun for us to tackle in the near future, in any genre, please leave a comment. If you have links to sheet music, audio or video, even better, so post them here. Nothing's guaranteed, but you may have heard something recently that's not foremost in Alison's mind.

Last rehearsal before performance

Thursday is our first performance of the year! Alison says we sound great, so who are we to argue? We spent most of Tuesday evening attacking the trickiest bits of both the Corelli and the Schubert, which seem to be different for all the different sections!

Schubert: The form of the Schubert is A, A, B, B, C, C, D, D, A, B. The second time the first half of the Trio is played (part C in my form notation) it should be pianissimo. The two four-bar phrases that cover bars 45-48 and 49-52 (they begin part D) should crescendo and decrescendo slightly over the four bars. There will be a slight lift at the end of bar 56: watch for it!

Corelli: make sure dynamic differences are quite clear: make the pianos piano and the fortes really forte! During the fugue from bars 48 to 54, save your down-bows so as not to end up stuck at the tip. There may be a ritardando at the end, again, watch Alison for instructions.

Alison also handed out "Rondo in G" by Mozart. We played through that a couple of times, and will do so again next time. We'll also work on trills.

On Thursday, players are welcome to come to the dinner as well, free to all guests; it starts at 6:00. Several of us will be there a bit early to get the chairs and stands (bring your own!) and to warm up. We are second on the after-dinner program, so we're likely to be on at sevenish. To wear: black bottoms and coloured tops for everyone.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Our conductor, Alison Black, has recorded a contemporary classical CD with George Morgan, of his compositions: Knockturns, for violin and piano. George was interviewed by Angela Antle on the Weekend Arts Magazine last Sunday, and the interview ought to soon appear is now posted on the Liner Notes webpage. Congratulations!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Extra rehearsal

Many thanks to Anne who submitted this week's rehearsal report in my absence. She recalls 12 players in attendance: 5 first violins, 3 second violins, 3 third violins/violas and 1 cello. They mostly worked on the Corelli Vivace piece. Notice to those participating in the St. David's Congregational Dinner on November 1: it was decided to wear black bottoms and assorted color tops for performance. I assume that's assorted among people, not among areas of shirt. But I could be wrong.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Meeting notes

  • Since the Suzuki Concerto Class rehearses in the church sanctuary on Tuesdays and doesn't finish until 7:00, we voted to move all future rehearsals to 7:30 (be there to tune up at 7:15) until 9:00, to allow for the changeover. If you forget and get there early, put your ear up against the door to hear the teen orchestra do their thing, because they sound incredible.
  • We've been invited to play at a dinner at St. David's on November 1st, and there are enough people available so that we have accepted. It's a free dinner hosted by the women's groups and attended by the congregation and guests to welcome the new minister Rev. Jonathan Dent, and there will be a variety of entertainment. It starts at 6:00 in the church hall; we ought to be there a bit early to get organized. We'll play Corelli's Vivace and the Schubert. Players are welcome to the meal as well, of course!
  • To make sure we're ready to perform, there will be an extra rehearsal next Tuesday, October 23 at 7:15-for-7:30.
  • Erin has kindly volunteered to serve as music librarian: if you have lost your music or have missed the rehearsal when it was given out, e-mail her with your polite request and she'll get a copy to you. Abuse this privilege at your peril!

Has anyone spotted a YouTube or other rendition of the Schubert online, free to listen to? if so, please post a comment with the link!

A Schubert-centric rehearsal

Our rehearsal this week was a bit short since we accidentally overlapped schedules with the Suzuki Concerto Class. Five first violins, four seconds, two thirds, two violas, and four cellos were present. We warmed up with C-major scales in unison and in round, and did some rhythm work with the spicatto technique (more about that at Wikipedia). That's used mainly by the lower strings who play bars of quarter rest-quarter note-quarter note, mostly in the Trio (second half). It gives the piece a light and airy feeling.

The following hour was a thorough work-through of the Schubert; we got a good grounding in how it's supposed to sound, and pointing in how to make it sound that way. Some things I made notes of:

  • The first note of the bar tends to be highlighted by the higher strings, and the second and third notes by the lower strings, so the notes get volleyed back and forth.
  • The four-bar phrases in the Trio need to be "hairpinned" dynamically - slightly louder in the middle than at the ends - and the phrases get gradually louder.
  • The form of the piece is as follows: play the Minuet part with repeats as printed, then the Trio with repeats as printed, then return to the top and play the Minuet without repeats.
  • Among the first violins, artistic license was invoked: in the fifth last bar in the Trio, there are four eighth notes and a quarter note, all marked to be played with one down-bow. It was decided to play the eighth notes with a down-bow and the quarter note with an up-bow, to allow the subsequent half-note to be played with a down-bow.

We finished with a quick meeting which I'll expound on in a separate post.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Schedule ready!

Margie has sorted out all the ticks, X's and emails to come up with dates most of which most people should be able to attend. (Now there's a straightforward statement if there ever was one.) They are listed in the Calendar box at lower right, and here in plain text:

  • Oct. 16/Tuesday
  • Oct. 23/Tuesday - EXTRA REHEARSAL
  • Oct. 30/Tuesday
  • Nov. 12/Monday
  • Nov. 21/Wednesday
  • Nov. 27/Tuesday
  • Dec. 4/Tuesday
  • Dec. 18/Tuesday
  • Jan. 2/Wednesday
  • Jan. 29/ Tuesday
  • Feb. 20/Wednesday
  • Feb. 26/Tuesday
  • Mar. 4/Tuesday
  • Mar. 19/Wednesday
  • Apr. 22/Tuesday
  • Apr. 29/Tuesday

All rehearsals will be at St. David's at 6:45-for-7:00 until 8:30 7:15-for-7:30 until 9:00. The next upcoming rehearsal will always show at the top of the Calendar box. As extra rehearsals are scheduled, they'll go there too. See you on the 16th!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

How's Monday?

One more thing: please email Margie (unless you've spoken to her) to tell her if you can make rehearsals on Mondays, the only day not on the yellow-ticky-sheet. We'll get this scheduling thing worked out eventually!

A note about comments

Several people expressed confusion about leaving comments on this blog... sorry for not being more clear! The ability to comment is open to everyone. Here's how it's done.

At the bottom of each post are the words "0 comments" (or, hopefully, "1 comment" or more!). Click there to open the comment window.

If there are comments already, you can read them there, and then there is a box for your own comment. Fire away!

Under that is a funnily-printed word, which you must type correctly where it says "Word Verification" to prove to the computer that you are human. (Trust me, you don't want to know what non-humans might post to a blog.)

After that is the "Choose an identity" section, and this is important: unless you have a Google or Gmail account, click on the "Other" button to be able to just put in your name and web page, if you have one. I don't need your email address or full name, just something identifying would be nice. "Anonymous" is not polite! If you do have a Google account, and want to use it, select the "Google/Blogger" button and put in your Gmail username and password: Blogspot belongs to Google, so it's safe and no one will steal your password.

Finally, go ahead and push the "Publish Your Comment" button. Your comment will appear immediately, so be sure you mean what you say. Otherwise, I hope these instructions are clear; let me know by following them!

Cheers, Heather

Second rehearsal

Another good rehearsal this evening. There were five first violinists, five seconds, two thirds, two violists, and three cellists in attendance for a total of 17 players plus conductor. We spent a good bit of time in the beginning tuning up and getting organized; I think as we go along we'll get better at getting ready to play, although it's nice that we're such a friendly bunch that do love a chat! Alison handed out selections from Corelli's Christmas Concerto: 'Vivace', 'Allegro', and 'Pastorale', and there are plans for two violin solos. We didn't play any of that tonight, but do look at it for next time. MIDI files for this piece can be found at the website printed at the bottom, .

We spent most of the evening on Corelli's 'Vivace' in C major, starting with rhythm exercises that matched most of the trickier rhythms in the piece, trading around rhythm patterns among sections. The second half has lots of counterpoint in it and needs more work than the first half; we'll concentrate on that half next time.

In the last ten minutes or so, we read through Schubert's Menuetto and Trio in C major, which we didn't attempt last time. It's sounding pretty good without any large stumbling blocks.

Musical term of the day: Hemiola, where three bars of music in 3/4 time contain 3 half notes (the middle one written as two tied quarters). Corelli's Vivace contains several. Brahms was also famous for them. More info can be found at Wikipedia.

Next rehearsal date and time, to be announced! If you haven't indicated your preference of day of the week to Anne via email or Margie via yellow-ticky-sheet, please email either and let them know when you can meet. And, if you haven't paid Margie, please do so at the next rehearsal.

Need stringed-instrument repair, music, accessories, or advice? Go see Rodney DeVries, Luthier; 77 King's Road, 753-2680 (E-mail). An unpaid and unendorsed recommendation!

All for now!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

First meeting

The Adult String Orchestra met for the first time this year this evening at St. David's. In attendance were 12 violinists, 2 violists, and 2 cellists, with a few more members promised to attend who couldn't make it tonight. We welcomed a bunch of new members, discussed scheduling for a while, and got down to business with Alison, our new conductor. We all introduced ourselves and talked about our plans for the year, and then tuned up to play. Alison divided us into sections and chose section leaders. We did a rhythm exercise to get going, and Alison handed out "Vivace" by Corelli and "Menuetto and Trio" by Schubert, both in C major. We started with the Corelli and attempted to read it through, and Alison worked with each section to improve our rhythm. By the end of the session we read through the whole thing and sounded not too bad at all for a first go!

Notes: our rough schedule so far will focus on the first and fourth Tuesdays of the month; there may be supplementary meetings on Thursdays or Fridays of off-weeks for anyone feeling the need for more technical practice, to be scheduled later. We will meet at St. David's Church, 98 Elizabeth Avenue, any time but Thursdays. Anne is our scheduling and email person; Margie holds the purse. Don't forget to pay Margie the year's fees at the next meeting, and, new people, give her your registration information (the green sheet). The next rehearsal is September 25th; come at 6:45 to be tuned up and ready to play by 7:00.

First post!

Welcome, players with the Adult String Orchestra! This blog, run by Heather (one of the second violins and resident techie) will be our spot on the web for rehearsal reports, announcements, points to discuss, or anything else on-topic worth sharing. I'm going to attempt to write rehearsal reports in the evening after rehearsal, but would welcome some help with that - no techieness required, just like sending an email. I'll also be the Keeper of the Calendar, over there on the right, and put events there as they are determined. There's an RSS feed to subscribe to, at the bottom of this page, labeled "Subscribe to: Posts (Atom)" - click there to keep track of updates to the blog. Don't hesitate to leave a comment on any entry! Any questions or requests to put stuff on the web, just let me (Heather) know.