Fedora Strings’ lead violinist- Roger Stimson – speaks…
The musical arrangements you hear on our website are basically mine. But adapting well known songs for string quartet, trio and especially duo is a long way from the lush sounds of a full Hollywood orchestra, containing the best players in the world on one hand, a band of mellifluous clarinets and saxophones on a second hand or a deliciously intimate jazz ensemble, such as Nat King Cole’s, on a third!
Yet when thinking of the magical effects the Broadway musical had already achieved a voice of sensitivity within me still cried out for fulfilment. I really love this music. How dare four classically-trained musicians slip off the intense training of high powered precision and rules of engagement and simply play these sentimental melodies with respect and from the heart? It’s not really that unlikely as the music can be so sincere.
In the arrangement of ‘Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye’ you will hear strange eerie harmonics at the beginning. This song was written in 1944 and these are the echoes of war, like the haunting drone of an enemy aircraft. Then the scene of two lovers: clearly he is going away to fight and she does not know if he will return – often he did not. The intense moods move between fear, warmth and longing then, at the end we hear the air raid siren which gradually fades into memory, leaving only peace. The opening was a stroke of inspiration by Jo, which she only informed me about just before the recording session. When she played it and we followed with the rest of the music I instinctively added the air raid siren at the end of the song.
Gershwin enjoys a cigar while composing.
Arranging music is not just a matter of knowing the chords and having an accompaniment strategy. For me it is an adventure into the unknown. Of course, as a Royal Academy of Music trained musician I could use my brain when arranging music – and occasionally, when I am really stuck, I do – but I have to seek out the sounds I hear in my imagination and try to place them on the stave. At times this can be a long drawn out challenge, at others a quick procedure. I arranged ‘I Could Have Danced All Night’ for string quartet in an hour and a half: ‘Bess, You Is My Woman Now’ took weeks and was changed over and over again.
Our arrangements are also quite special in that they can be played at weddings by quartet, trio or duo. The part writing is richer than most, but one then has the option of missing out a bar here and there in one or another part or doing repeats differently so that the whole performance becomes a creative experiment. I’ve found that as I gain experience the arrangements have become more individual and confident. I hope you enjoy listening to them as much as I have enjoyed writing them.