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Classes are going well

I haven't had time to post -- or at least, when I have had time, I"ve been tired. When there isn't a class or a meal or dancing or a dropin session, it feels like time for bed.

But on Wednesday, they take a much-needed break from the concerts and the evening is pretty free, so I decided to catch you up on what's happening.

Cornetto Class with Doug Kirk

We did more playing the first day than we did all week when I took the class 4 years ago. A lot of the advice I've gotten is goingn to be long-term beneficial rather than making me sound better instantly, but I feel like this class is a success.

I was initially a little disappointed that I ended up playing serpent in the ensembles instead of cornetto, but it really does make for better ensembles to have lots of sizes. The piece we'll probably play on the student concert is a six part piece with me on serpent, two tenor cornettos, one alto cornetto (in F) and two regular cornettos on top. I was having to work very hard to get the low F's centered and in tune, and then today Doug said, "I wonder if this piece would sound better a step up." And it did. Apparently the sixteenth century people were always doing that -- if they were playing an instrument that liked sharps better than flats, they transposed it.


This year there are nine people in the loud wind section -- two cornettos, 2 sackbuts (alto and tenor), 1 tenor and 2 bass dulcians, me on serpent, and a guy who switches between tenor serpent and tenor dulcian. I think it's going to be fun.

The conductor made parts for the major piece on the program from the score with partify, and didn't give the parts other than the top line the measure numbers, but keeps telling people what measure number he wants to start on. And I can't always follow his beat on mensuration chages. But he picked good music and is enthusiastic about performing it with a cast of thousands.

Afternoon: Gombert and others with Marilyn Boenau and Pervernage with Dan Stillman

This year, there weren't any famous brass players on the faculty, but there is a famous dulcian player, and the not-so-famous dulcian players have been recruiting new people faster than the brass or other reeds have. So although they didn't want me in any of the advanced loud wind classes, they have classes for the less-experienced dulcian players that don't mind me playing with them.

I was expecting to mostly play cornetto, since I can play cornetto a bit higher than anyone plays dulcian. But it turns out they like the serpent, too.

Marilyn even let me play the tenor serpent on a top line that would have been low on the cornetto, but was the right kind of soaring on theh tenor serpent. It turns out I sound pretty good if I hear good pitches to play with and am warmed up on cornetto.

Dan has been experimenting. Monday, I played cornetto higher than the dulcians could play. Then yesterday, he had me play serpent lower for longer than he'd expect a dulcian to play. It turned out not to be such a good idea on the serpent, either. But it was educational.

Today he found a 7 part piece with a top line he's playing on alto dulcian, and a bottom line that's fine for a bass dulcian. So he has me playing a baritone line. 7 parts in that range is pretty close harmony, and sometimes sounds pretty wierd, with the less experienced dulcian players playing notes their fingers or their reeds don't know what to do with. But it's a good class of people working really hard at something they really want to do.

Dancing with the New London Assembly

I frittered away a lot of the free time I had today on napping and eating. I did manage a pretty full practice session, where I played parts to some of the music we'll be doing in the Collegium.

And at the reception after the orientation session, I introduced myself to the collegium director and told him how much I was looking forward to playing serpent with the group. He turns out to have spent an afternoon drinking with Christopher Monk, so he says he's looking forward to having a serpent. The director of the collegium loud winds looked right through me and walked away when I tried to introduce myself, though, so I can't tell whether he's as serpent-hostile as some of the other loud wind coaches.


So the only workshop-specific thing to do was the English Country Dance after the reception. I was a little dubious about it, since they billed it as being for experienced dancers. (They're having a dance program this year, so there are a lot of experienced dancers.) And the demonstration they gave at the orientation certainly did less teaching and calling than I'm used to.

But I went anyway. The caller certainly did less than at other dances I've been to, but the other dancers are quite good at filling in if you need it. There was one dance with a particularly unfamiliar "hey", where you had to either count something I didn't know how to count, or know where you were supposed to end up by some algorithm I hadn't absorbed. Luckily, my partner knew what she was doing. I was starting to get it, and thinking it must be about time to end since even I had figured it out, but it went on for two more times.

Unfortunately, my brain isn't up to learning patterns and listening to music at the same time. So I can't tell you how wonderful the music by Emily O'Brien, Shira Kamen, and Jacqueline Schwab was, even though they're all very good and I'm sure it was.


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News of the week of July 8, 2014

Meeting report

We played:


There doesn't seem to be a critical mass of people who want to meet on July 15, so there won't be a meeting.

Regular meetings will resume on July 22 and 29, starting at 7:45pm at 233 Broadway, Cambridge.

August 5 we will not meet so that people can go to Francis Roads' West Gallery workshop.

On August 12, I will be in Spain, but if people want to meet at Stuart's in Somerville, it can be arranged. But you do have to express your interest before I leave so that appropriate music can get there.

After that, normal meetings resume.

First post about the Amherst Early Music Festival in 2014


You would think that after what happened last time, I wouldn't be anxious to go back. I did have a long conversation with Marilyn before signing up. It seems that what I want this year is something they're probably set up for. I've been working hard on the cornetto, and need a teacher, and one has heard of people who have learned something about cornetto playing from Doug Kirk, who will be the cornetto teacher this year. Marilyn thinks the chorus director will like the idea of a serpent playing with the chorus, and I think I can probably handle three cornetto classes, and if not I can sing or dance or something for one of them.


Here's what I told them on the class selections form:

Early Morning 1st Choice: Cornetto (Kirk)
Early Morning 1 Comment: I'm at the point in my cornetto playing where a teacher would be helpful, so this class is one of my reasons for coming.
Early Morning 2nd Choice: Shawm & Dulcian (Stillman, Verschuren)
Early Morning 2 Comment: I suppose if you cancelled cornetto, I could borrow a shawm and make noises come out of it.
Early Morning 3rd Choice: Brass Tacks (Ramsey)
Early Morning 3 Comment: Again, if you cancelled cornetto and wanted to teach a sackbut beginner, I could borrow an instrument and make noises.
Late Morning 1st Choice: All-Workshop Collegium for Reeds and Brass: Compere and Beyond Compere (Eisenstein)
Late Morning 1 Comment: I'm expecting to play serpent here.
Late Morning 2nd Choice: All-Workshop Collegium for Reeds and Brass: Compere
and Beyond Compere (Eisenstein)
Late Morning 2 Comment: I could play cornetto if the faculty were serpent-hostile.
Early Afternoon 1st Choice: Regensburg Manuscript (Kirk, Stillman)
Early Afternoon 1 Comment:
Early Afternoon 2nd Choice: Bassus (Verschuren)
Early Afternoon 2 Comment: This would require Verschuren to be non-serpent-hostile, and I expect he'd rather have all dulcians.
Early Afternoon 3rd Choice: Mouton adn Gombert (Boenau)
Early Afternoon 3 Comment: This is third choice only because I work with Marilyn all the time.
Late Afternoon 1st Choice: The Vermeer Project (Verschuren)
Late Afternoon 1 Comment: This is first choice because it's probably where the cool kids will be; I'm not really an advanced cornetto player.
Late Afternoon 2nd Choice: Pevernags (Stillman)
Late Afternoon 2 Comment:
Late Afternoon 3rd Choice: New London Assembly: English Country Dance... (Marsh)
Late Afternoon 3 Comment:

Since starting to write this, I've had a phone conversation with Marilyn, and it looks like I'll have my first choices in the morning, and work with Marilyn and Dan in the afternoon. Marilyn claims to be happy to have me play serpent some of the time; Dan would want cornetto.


I'm leaving tomorrow, and will take the laptop so I should be able to post from my dorm room the way I did last time. I don't know how much time I'll have for writing, with all the playing and singing and dancing I'll be doing, but I'll certainly let you know how it works out.