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string ensemble Archives - Fedora Strings Sheet Music for Sale

Buy Jerome Kern’s String Duets Here!

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Jerome Kern’s music is now out of copyright and today we have added five violin and cello duet arrangements of his music to our website.Love, in its many moods, is the theme for all but one of these songs; the exception is Pick Yourself Up – a delightful, confidence-boosting piece of positive thinking.YOu can buy the music at our shop by clicking here:
Why this is a dream to play 
From a string player’s point of view Kern’s music has great fluidity of line which makes it easy to phrase, and it also has a joyful sense of abandon which is ideal for romance. Jerome Kern himself, however, was very down to earth and declared himself nothing more than a “ musical clothier – I write music for the lyrics and situations in plays.”  Luckily for us  his classical training, craftsmanship and empathy for mood have ensured his music sounds as spontaneous and effortless today as it did 100 years ago.

Jerome Kern in Hollywood

Fedora Strings' New Wedding String Quartet Member

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We’re happy to welcome a new member to  our wedding string quartet: Amanda Lipman Amanda studied in London and Paris before returning to the UK to work with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and BBC Radio Orchestra and she has her own string ensemble chamber music group. She’ll be joining us for wedding quartet concerts in Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire, Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire this season.She plays on a 19th century violin made by Voller which is a copy of a Guiseppe Guarneri del Gesu.

Amanda Lipman

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.”

String ensemble events in Northamptonshire: Shoe Heaven at Northampton Museum

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Last Friday night our Fedora Strings’  duo played for the Shoe Heaven event at Northampton Museum and Art Gallery. Northampton has the largest collection of shoes in the world and the examples on display ranged from the exquisite and historically fascinating (Nijinsky’s ballet shoes and Roman sandals looking as modern as anything you’d find in a shop today) to the macabre ( tiny shoes for Chinese women with bound feet which must have meant the wearer’s movement was cruelly limited.)


We’d been given a free choice of music to perform and Roger had arranged Elvis Presley’s Blue Suede Shoes for the occasion. We also chose appropriate lighter music such as Puttin’ on the Ritz, Let’s Face the Music and Dance and I Could Have Danced All Night which we followed with several Beatles’ numbers. We divided the playing into three sections: Light, Folk and Classical. Everything was our own sheet music arrangements for string duo and most of the pieces we can also play as wedding quartet music.

shoes 2

Some of the more bizarre shoe designs  were shaped so weirdly that it made me question the significance of shoes in general, apart from basic foot protection. While I certainly think it’s good if shoes are imaginative and attractive, they clearly mean more to women than they do to men. I once heard someone say that you can tell what a woman thinks about herself by observing the kind of shoes she wears. I doubt that that’s entirely true, but I bet no one would even suggest it about a man.

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

String duo arrangements of Beatles' music

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Today Roger and I have been rehearsing for a string duo engagement next week where we’ll be playing some arrangements  which are new to us. These include two songs by the Beatles: Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds and Eleanor Rigby. Although we both love classical music we’ve been enjoying the Beatles’ songs we now have in our repertoire. Many of them work well for string ensemble  and have long, lyrical lines which are ideal for the expressiveness of the violin and cello sound. My favourite is Yesterday but I also like the lightheartedness of  P.S. I Love You and Can’t Buy Me Love and  the dreaminess of Imagine. While rehearsing Eleanor Rigby I remembered noticing a statue of the same name when I was working in Liverpool a few years ago. It’s positioned on the side of a street in such a way that you almost think it’s a real person until you look more carefully. Who can’t identify with the searing loneliness that  affects so many people at some time in their life?   I think the music is successful in  creating the feeling of relentlessness and alienation that the words are  about and this arrangement of Roger’s has some tricky string crossing passages too.

A string duo arrangement of Widor's Toccata!

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Roger has just completed a string duo arrangement of the euphoric Widor Toccata. This famous composition was originally written for the organ and, by exemplifying all of that instrument’s specialist characteristics, it creates a mood of grandeur, emotion and manic energy. It’s often used as wedding ceremony music for the couple’s exit. Making it work for string ensemble is going to be a challenge, and as usual it’s technically demanding, but I can’t wait to try it at our next rehearsal.

Over the last few weeks I have finally worked out how to use Finale Print myself and have now completed four duo arrangements – Gabriel’s Oboe, Time of My Life, Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair and When I Make Love To You (Don’t Make Believe) – a 1950s pop song written by Heifetz under the name of Jim Hoyl, which I love because it’s so sentimental.

This means our repertoire is expanding faster than ever before which is ideal for customers and a joy for us. Have you ever wondered how many marvellous pieces of music there are in the world? There must be  as many as the stars…



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.

Fedora Strings' new videos at Kirby Hall

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We’ve just complete the filming of two new string ensemble duos that we frequently perform: Boccherini’s Minuet and Trio and Gershwin’s Summertime. Staff at English Heritage were generous enough to allow us to use the magnificent Kirby Hall in Northamptonshire as a setting for the session.

We filmed the Boccherini outside, in the ‘great garden’ which contains statues, topiary and urns – very appropriate to the classical period.But finding a backdrop for the Gershwin was more of a challenge, as it comes from the opera Porgy and Bess which is set in South Carolina. Eventually we decided on a sandy-coloured walkway which was partly covered and had a gravel  floor, as this  evoked some of the hot feeling that is appropriate for the music.










Our film crew were the excellent Lux Technical, who made our videos last year, one of which won an award on You Tube. Despite the professionalism of our film crew the whole occasion was quite  tough for us, as, like most people, neither Roger nor I are very comfortable about being filmed close up. However, everything went well and the videos will be going on You Tube and our website next week.

Kirby Hall website: www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/kirbyhall

Lux technical website: www.luxtechnical.co.uk

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?