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Peterborough Archives - Fedora Strings Sheet Music for Sale

Duo wedding violin and cello music at Orton Hall Hotel, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire

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Orton Hall Hotel is one of the best wedding venues in Peterborough, so we were delighted  when our string trio was invited to play wedding music here again a couple of weeks ago.



We performed for  three hours during drinks and the wedding breakfast, moving from the conservatory – which is light and airy – to the main dining room.


The bride and groom had chosen extremely elegant decorations for the table settings and, as this was an Italian wedding, they had asked us to include some Italian music; so we played  Ave Maria, a selection from Vivaldi’s The Seasons, Italian arias – including Nessun Dorma and pieces from  La Boheme, La Traviata and Rigoletto – and  our own sheet music arrangement of Speak Softly – the love song  from The Godfather movie.


Orton Hall is an 18th century manor house surrounded by 20 acres of beautifully cared for grounds, which give  it a very open, relaxed feel. Organisation was excellent  throughout the day and the weather was wonderfully warm for October.

Wedding receptions and ceremonies in Northamptonshire and Peterborough: St Mary the Virgin Church, Bozeat

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On Saturday our string duo played for a wedding ceremony in Bozeat in Northamptonshire. I hadn’t been to this village before, even though it’s relatively close to our Oundle base, and it dates from Saxon times; its unusual name probably means Bosa’s gate – Bosa being a local earl who owned lots of land a  long, long time ago.  The wedding took place in the  secluded St Mary the Virgin Church, which is as pretty and traditional as you would hope a village church might be.


We played a mix of classical and popular pieces as the guests arrived, interspersing  Can You Feel the Love Tonight, Palladio, Paradise, All You Need Is Love and Songbird with a selection of baroque music. The bride had requested  Bridal Chorus for her entrance, Moon River, Flower Duet and Somewhere ( from West Side Story) for the signing, and Viva la Vida as exit music. We also accompanied two hymns: Amazing Grace and Morning Has Broken – which, by chance,  is my own favourite. All of the pieces we performed were our own string duo sheet music arrangements.

There were around 70 guests and the sun came out to help celebrate  the ceremony.

String Ensemble Playing in Cambridgeshire

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Last Sunday Fedora Strings’ violinist – Roger Stimson – and myself  led the violin and cello sections of the City of Peterborough Youth Ensemble ( CPYE) in a concert of string orchestral music in Cambridgeshire. It reminded me of what a marvellous experience string orchestral playing can be. The repertoire is superb and every member of the ensemble is crucial: you play as part of a team – with no conductor – so trust and interdependence are vital.

I musiciI Musici in concert

I  used to love exploring  the great works for string orchestra when I was a member of the Scottish Baroque Ensemble and later, as artistic director of Peterborough String Orchestra.  I could name one superlative piece after another: Tchaikovsky Serenade for Strings, Dvorak Serenade for Strings, Suk Serenade for Strings, Shostakovich Chamber Symphony, Britten Simple Symphony and Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge, Arensky Variations on a Theme by Tchaikovsky,   Bach Brandenburg 3, Grieg Holberg Suite, Stravinsky Concerto for String Orchestra, Rossini String Sonatas, Elgar Serenade for Strings and Introduction and Allegro, Handel Concerto Grossi, Purcell Chaconne in G minor, Mozart Divertimenti , Warlock Capriol Suite, Vivaldi The Seasons and Sinfonia in G…….the list just goes on and on.

Yet  now, having played Roger’s  adaptations of more or less anything for string duo, and beginning to create  sheet music arrangements myself,  I realise that the string orchestral repertoire  could be widened far further. In fact, for its next Peterborough concert in Cambridgeshire, CPYE will be playing an arrangement of Monteverdi’s famous Beatus Vir – which was originally written for voices with string accompaniment. The title of this early baroque work means ‘Blessed is Man’  and you can hear the joy in every phrase; there’s an  excellent performance on You Tube by the Swedish group  Vox Scaniensis  which has some delightful string playing.

monteverdiPainting of Monteverdi

Isn’t it amazing to think this work was composed around four hundred years ago, yet  is still easy  and straightforward to understand ?  As  musicologist Robert Donington says:” We are of this modern age and much has changed which could not be changed back again, even if we so desired. But not our deeper human nature and not the essential musicianship so intimately bound up with our human nature: these do not change.”

Youth String Ensemble Playing in Peterborough

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Last night Roger and I were coaching and leading the violin and cello sections of Peterborough Youth Ensemble: two string groups with about eight members each which play without a conductor. It reminded me  of what a great experience it is for kids to work in an ensemble without a conductor. In a small string orchestra every individual player counts. You need to know your part extremely well and come in confidently at all the entries, yet you also have the pleasure of being  part of a group  responding to other people’s playing and ideas. For me it’s the perfect balance, and the professional string orchestra repertoire is truly  wonderful.

In the ensemble we’ve starting discussing ideas for interpretation, dynamics, character, different bowing techniques  with the aim of  achieving different sounds and more variety . We’re working on European Children’s Songs, Monteverdi’s Chiome D’oro and Roger’s string sheet music arrangement of Over the Hills and Far Away and there’s a concert at the end of March. Each section leader has alot of responsibility – but that’s where the fun and excitement is. The group meets on Wednesday evenings between 5.30pm and 7.45pm at Werrington in Peterborough. To find out more about joining Peterborough Youth Ensemble you can email us at info@fedorastrings.com or contact Dave Parsons on dave.parsons@talktalk.net

I musiciI Musici – one of the world’s finest professional string orchestras

Free String Sheet Music Pop Arrangements

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One of the extras we are offering our customers this year is a free duo arrangement of a piece of music of their choice which can be played at their wedding ceremony – or at a party or event. Over the last year we’ve  added more and more  pop songs to our repertoire and most of these adapt excellently for string duo as they have long, flowing phrases. My favourites include Just The Way You Are by Billy Joel, Close to You by Burt Bacharach, Songbird by Christine McVie  and If You’re Not The One by David Bedingfield.

Music has a way of expressing feelings that is often more powerful and intense than words, and we are very committed to helping clients chose the piece which will fulfil their most romantic dreams of what they would wish their occasion to be.  We will be continuing to widen our selection of songs over the coming year with more and more sheet music arrangements as we play for events and recitals in Peterborough, Northampton and beyond, and are enjoying  playing different styles very much.

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New Year String Ensemble Rehearsing in Northamptonshire

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Next week we start rehearsing for our forthcoming series of Fedora Strings’ engagements and recordings, most of which are taking place in the Northampton and Peterborough areas.  It’s surprising how lost you can feel by missing  a few days of practice, although it never takes that long to be back to performance standard again.

The music we’ll be rehearsing will include our new arrangements of folk songs and today I was researching the background to some of these.  Songs like Sir Roger de Coverley, Lilliburlero and Loch Lomond  date back hundreds of years and no one is sure who originally composed them.  Which makes you wonder what makes a song last for centuries, while others are never remembered, and what makes a good tune.

Loch Lomond

One of the things I love about the arts is that it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what combination of factors does make something musical, intuitive, memorable and emotional. I  just feel lucky that there is so much wonderful music around and that we have so many opportunities to play it.

Wedding ceremonies and receptions in Peterborough and Northamptonshire: Marholm Church, Peterborough

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Last Friday our duo played for a wedding ceremony at St Mary the Virgin Church in Marholm, on the outskirts of Peterborough. The church is close to Helpston, home of the famous poet John Clare. Whenever I’m in this area I’m always reminded of Clare’s poetry and his gentle love of the countryside.

We had been asked to play as the guests arrived and during the ceremony. The music requested was classical – including the well known Pachelbel Canon and Morricone’s beautiful aria Gabriel’s Oboe – with some appropriate pop songs like Imagine, Close To You and P.S. I Love You. The bride chose the traditional Bridal Chorus by Wagner for her entrance and as there were several pageboys and bridesmaids we played the complete piece, which lasted around two minutes. For the signing the music selected was I’ve Had the Time of My Life, Can You Feel the Love Tonight and Songbird, and the exit music was All You Need Is Love, which we followed with Money Can’t Buy Me Love. We’ve found that usually three pieces are needed for the signing, which takes between five and seven minutes , and we’ve started playing two pieces for the exit so that the music continues until all the guests have left.
Some of the music was new to us on this occasion, but we are expanding our repertoire all the time and put a lot of imagination into creating our own string ensemble versions that enhance the expressive qualities of string instruments and add to the romance of the occasion. Overall this was a peaceful, countryside wedding in a traditional setting and the acoustics in the church were excellent.

Wedding receptions and ceremonies in Peterborough and Northamptonshire: Peterborough Town Hall

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Yesterday our string duo played  for a wedding at Peterborough Town Hall: a 1930s building which has  an art deco feel and an impressive marble staircase and pillars. The ceremony took place in one of the upstairs rooms and we were asked to  start perfoming one hour before it began, which was when the guests started to arrive.We set up at the top of the stairs initially, moving into the wedding room itself half an hour later, and the acoustics in both settings were beautifully resonant.

The choice of programme  was classical and folk, and we included Air on a G String, Fairest Isle, Vivaldi’s Gloria, Pachelbel’s Canon and Gigue, Flower Duet, Clarke’s Prince of Denmark’s March, Arrival of the Queen of Sheba, Londonderry Air and My Love Is Like A Red, Red Rose. The bride selected Gabriel’s Oboe as her entrance music, This Is The Day, Chanson de Matin and The Lark In The Clear Air to be played during the signing and the aria One Fine Day from Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly as exit music. The guests listened to our playing  intently  throughout, which was lovely for us.

The Most Beautiful String Playing in the World

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This week we’re performing eight new arrangements of music for weddings at the weekend so it’s quite a busy time. But while driving to a rehearsal in Peterborough today I was completely inspired by the most marvellous recording of  Heifetz  playing encore pieces. So far my favourite tracks are Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair, Gweedore Brae and Deep River – all of which are full of the most intensely passionate slides I have ever heard  and the sound quality is far, far better than You Tube. The cds even include Heifetz’s arrangement of White Christmas – the first time I have ever liked this song – and a recording of him playing one of his own 1950s pop songs – When I Make Love To You  – on the piano. It’s touching to realise that, despite the lack of  expression on his face when playing , Heifetz obviously had the most sincere empathy with sentimental love tunes; and when you hear him perform you know that, somehow, somewhere, there must be a heaven.

  • Heifetz – It Ain’t Necessarily So  (Deutsche Grammophon) can be purchased from www.amazon.co.uk or www.jaschaheifetz.com

Rehearsing a String Ensemble in Peterborough

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We’ve been rehearsing string trio arrangements of Bach’s Double Violin Concerto and Vivaldi’s L’Estro Harmonico in Peterborough this week, for a Fedora Strings’ recording in June. Though the Vivaldi is not suitable for wedding ceremony music, the slow movement of the Bach is ideal.

These pieces were originally written for string orchestra, continuo and two violin soloists, yet a trio version still sounds dynamic and exciting. Of course it means you have to know your part inside out, but imaginative ideas that you could never get away with in a larger group work  well for a smaller ensemble. I suppose the reality is that the music is so marvellous that it would be effective in almost any string combination.

It’s interesting that however outstanding composers are today, they will never be greater than composers from the past. The same applies to art, literature and architecture. Who is going to paint more powerfully than Michelangelo, Caravaggio or Leonardo de Vinci? Who will write more sensitively and creatively than Shakespeare? What building is more beautiful than St Paul’s Cathedral?


Superb artistry doesn’t seem to be something humans are going to ever improve on, just do differently. I don’t find this idea depressing, just reassuring somehow. I expect it applies to performance too, although we’ll never know for sure. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there were recordings from the 17th century?