Playing the flute in the time of Anne Boleyn
Slow Hand at 70 Eric Clapton’s 70th birthday concert at the Albert Hall in London
A Russian violinist scheduled to play a piece by Prokofiev with the Seattle Symphony
Apart from singing in the church choir, music has been taking a back seat in my activity schedule. BUT – I have resumed that activity with my attendance yesterday at the meeting of the Moss Bay Recorder Society over in Kirkland. And happy was I to be playing again even if I couldn’t remember much of what I knew before and I have developed arthritis in my hands since I last played 3 (?) years ago. The fingering was difficult. But I was very happy to be playing again and to meet up with some old friends.
This past week was so interesting at the Early Music Workshop, named Port Townsend, but now held at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma – only every 2 years so it was a real opportunity to find that this was the year. I really liked the setting and the ambience of the University. It seemed a smallish college/university – very attractive and elegant brick buildings, not too far apart except the distances seemed to lengthen the more musical instruments one had to carry – and the shorter the time between classes. Oh well, I was glad I wasn’t lugging one of those big viols. A music stand and several recorders and a bottle of water and a miscellany of other items seemed quite enough. The university is expanding and there was a fair bit of construction going on – it was hard at first to find one’s way around – some people got lost. I didn’t get lost but I did miss several events due to poor planning, mostly on my part. The security system was daunting for getting into the main building where everyone was staying and was the focus for many of the events. Actually getting into the building was o.k. since the main door was unlocked during the day – but then there was the problem of getting into one’s suite (shared with 2 others) and then into one’s room. By the end of the week I finally had those keys and locks figured out. I was on the 3rd floor of this building so that of course added to the drama – fortunately there was a lift/elevator. I had 4 workshops each day, interspersed with coffee and meal breaks. The locations of these workshops did shift a bit. Of course, the dining hall was in yet another building.
What a surprise it was to find that among the 75+ participants and 15 or so tutors there was actually a classmate from Middlebury, for one; and two, a woman hailing now from Kelowna B.C. but who went to Trinity in Dublin and went to secondary school on Zion Road – when we first moved to Dublin in 1968 we lived on Zion Road, just a block from the school she attended. I walked past it every day. Her attendance there preceded our arrival but all the same, that’s quite a coincidence. I so enjoyed chatting with her about all things Irish and Dublin.
Another very nice thing about this week-long workshop was that by the end of the week I was getting to know various people and where they came from. Hopefully we will be able to get a little group together of people who live near me here in Seattle and I’ll be able to play more often than the once a month meetings of the Seattle Recorder Society.
I am just going to go back a few days to write about what kept us busy before we went to Anacortes. Womderful visits with old friends. One of my college roommates, Rachel, and her husband, Jim, came to Seattle en route to a Road Scholar trip in the San Juan Islands. After graduation from Middlebury College, Rachel came out to Seattle to teach in one of the elementary schools in West Seattle. A year later I came out to visit her and ended up staying and working here for about 8 months. This was back in 1959-60. It was through Rachel that I was introduced to Mary Ann who was also a teacher and needed a third housemate in Magnolia. During those months when I was here in Seattle, Rachel and Mary Ann and I had many good times together. Now 50+ years later we added to the good times as of old. In the meantime through the years our 3 lives had intersected at various points and in many different parts of the globe – Colorado, Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, Minnesota, Hawaii, London England, Heidelburg Germany, Nairobi Kenya. The list could go on. Let me just say that it’s very special to get together with treasured friends of many many years.
A few days later we had a visit from a friend of almost as many years – a neighbour from Dublin. Again I could tell you of many ways in which our lives have intersected. In this case it was a chance to get caught up not only on his news but also life in Dublin.
So now after these wonderful visits we feel more in touch with the world we left behind in making this move to the far Northwest corner of the U.S. And the visits also opened our eyes a bit more to travel opportunities for the future.
Meanwhile here in Seattle there was a big music and entertainment festival over the 3 day Memorial Day weekend. On the Monday, just back from Anacortes, I was in time to participate in one of the events. Folklife 2011. The University of Washington Klezmer Band. I only recently joined but the convenor was kind enough to include me in the big performance.
University of Washington Klezmer Band, on stage at Folklife 2011. I’m there with the blue shoes, behind the fiddle player in red. The girl on the cello is the choir director at Ballard First Lutheran where I’ve been singing for the past few months. It’s thanks to her, Maren, and the director Ethan, that I have been included in the band. There are numerous clarinets. A very talented group and fun to play with (or at least hold my clarinet and try to play). The photo is courtesy of Ann Maki, who was in the audience.
Folklife was really big. Very very crowded but our performance venue was fine. A large theatre, nearly full. The music was so catchy that some of the members of the audience danced in the aisles. That was such a boost to see.
After the performance I wandered around for a little while but found it just too crowded to enjoy it for long. I did buy something though. I am signed up for a Music Camp, the Port Townsend Early Music Workshop, scheduled for July 10-16. This is primarily for playing the recorder but a couple of percussion workshops are on offer and I want to give that a go. With that in mind, I found a sweet little hand drum, made in Vietnam.
Now to the subject of this post. While we were living in Dublin in recent years I became interested in learning to play the recorder and proceeded to take lessons and to play with the Irish Branch of the Society of Recorder Players. This Irish Branch was quite small and as a relative beginner I found it a challenge to integrate with the group of more experienced and expert musicians. Nevertheless, I persevered and made other contacts as well so that I could develop as a player. It was very enjoyable. Now here in Seattle I have joined the Seattle Society of Recorder Players. This group is a different kettle of fish altogether. A very encouraging and welcoming group for all levels – at least that is what I have found. It is large and one can feel less conspicuous compared with a smaller group.
Last night was the monthly first Friday of the month meeting of the Seattle Recorder Society. This is held in the Maple Leaf suburb of Seattle. A lovely name but difficult to get to from Ballard, particularly in the dark and the rain. And it has rained each first Friday. Bad luck, but I got there and back each time.
Last night I wanted to play the bass recorder. That meant reading the bass clef – which I can do – but I just couldn’t seem to transfer that knowledge to my fingers on the recorder to produce the right notes. I can read the bass clef for playing the piano……but not for playing the recorder, at least not yet. I will persevere. I also want to get a special support for taking the weight of the instrument. It is quite heavy on the thumb. I enjoyed last night even though I really was not able to play very much. I will practise and hope to get better in time for the big workshop being held for a week in July down in Tacoma. This is the Port Townsend Early Music Workshop which is held every 2 years, only it won’t be in Port Townsend – it used to be but for this year has been shifted to Tacoma.
As part of the celebrations of The American Handel Festival, we have Handel in Seattle – and on Saturday I participated in a Handel Play-In. It was a special community event at St. James Cathedral here in the downtown/First Hill part of the city. The Seattle Recorder Society and the Moss Bay Recorder Society joined forces for play 2 movements of Handel’s Water Music. Recorders, viols, Baroque flutes etc. All each musician had to do was bring an instrument (pitch A=440) and a music stand. Parts were provided by our conductor Peter Seibert.
photo taken by husband Ian – you can see the conductor, Peter Seibert. I am in the second row on the right in the Tenor 2 section. I would estimate that there were about 50 players and a sprinkling of 30-40 in the audience. Speaking for myself, I had a wonderful time playing non-stop for an hour and a half. And Ian tells me we sounded quite good.
It turned out to be an all-day exercise to get downtown on the bus, have a nice lunch at the Elephant and Castle, find our way to the Cathedral – it wasn’t far really but it involved a bit of steep hill navigation. The Cathedral is near a big hospital – by the time we had puffed our way up those hills, we wondered if we might need the services of the Emergency Room.
After the concert we wended our way downhill and back to Barnes and Noble, familiar territory. But that part of downtown on Saturday afternoon was not a nice place to be. Very crowded, armed policemen patrolling around, some rather suspect characters roaming the streets. We headed for home. Unfortunately the bus routes had been changed since we had last been in town. We had trouble finding the outgoing bus stop – and then we waited and waited for the right bus. We finally gave up, took another unfamiliar bus, got off part way home to make the connection to the right bus. Waited again a fair while – 3 other potential passengers got into an unpleasant row and a lot of bad language was in the air. Finally the bus came, the rowdy fellow passengers got on and then exited a few blocks further on without paying, deliberately cheating. All rather unsavoury after our wonderful concert. We were glad to get home.
In the past couple of weeks I have been doing more crochet than knitting, partly because I felt that my shoulders were getting sore from being hunched up over the knitting. This morning I was delighted to find a reference to crochet in the Seattle Times. There was a little clip about a book written by a mathematician at Cornell University in Ithaca New York. The title of the book is “ Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes.” This title won the Diagram Prize for last year’s oddest book title. According to the article, the Diagram Prize is Britain’s quirkiest literary award. The book charts the frontier between handicrafts and geometry – sounds interesting. I must look out for it in my wanderings to book shops.
Now for a few pictures, quirky or not.
crochet project no. 2
and a change of subject – a vintage (1973) baritone Giannini ukelele from Brasil