We’ve just given a concert at the 12th century Wadenhoe Church. The programme was of our own string duet arrangements plus the first performance of a piece I composed for solo cello called Morning Prelude.
The audience at Wadenhoe were very welcoming and feedback has inspired us to plan a recital programme – and cd – of English folk music ( plus some of our own pieces.)
We have often recorded music at Wadenhoe because it has ideal acoustics for chamber music and a beautiful sense of calm. The church is currently recovering from having had their roof vandalised, but it’s good to know that repair work is taking place and should be completed by the end of October.
Roger Stimson’s new composition Tangerine Tango is now online and for sale in the ‘new compositions’ section of our shop! You can hear a recording and buy the sheet music here: Tangerine Tango
This is what Roger has to say about his piece: ” Tangerine Tango was the first of set of three tangos I wrote – each with different moods. It was written for my youngest daughter and expresses something of the struggle of life – the trials we have to go through to reach peace of mind. The harmonies are just out of the comfort range until the first theme appears which triumphs over this. The overall theme is twists and turns.”
I’ve recently been composing for cello and guitar with the guitarist and songwriter Spencer Price. Spencer had written six songs for guitar and voice and always envisaged them with cello parts. He contacted me to ask if I’d like to compose cello parts. A few months later we recorded the results with Carlos Parlato at El Tano Recording Studios in Peterborough. The songs have both pop and classical elements and the guitar and cello work beautifully together. Each part will be recorded separately – which is standard in the pop world – and the voice and drum parts still need to be added to complete the project
About the songs
Spencer’s songs are imaginative and gentle. The titles are: Mind’s Eye, The Old Man and the Sea, Death of a Salesman, I Still Believe, The Spy who came in from the Cold and Tears to Dry. I will include a link to the songs once the project is completed.
If you feel practising the cello can sometimes be a bit isolating, reading cello blogs is a good way to stay in touch with other cellists’ enthusiasms and obsessions.
As with all blogs beware of believing everything you read! Everyone’s approach to the cello is different. What suits one person may not work for another.That said, I think it can be beneficial to hear others’ views, as long as you remember you don’t have to agree with them.
Here are some of the most interesting websites:
The Cello Internet Society – accessible through Facebook, easy to join and unpretentious. It’s full of ideas, suggestions, videos and enthusiasm, and if you have a problem you can post a question and get lots of replies fast.
Cello Bello – a fairly new website covering most aspects of cello playing including teaching videos, masterclasses and a legacy section about famous cellists from the past.
David Finkel’s 100 Cello Talks on You Tube ( see Talk 1 below) are fascinating. They present practical tips from a wonderful cellist with loads of performing experience.
On a lighter note Extreme Cello is hugely impressive and full of energy and fun!
Finally, if all this cello talk inspires you to want to learn some new duets why not visit our online shop on the link below: Cello Duet Shop
Following on from the last blog here is some more narrative playing – that is, where there is a clear interpretation that is full of ideas.
Example 1: Casals and Bach
Casals’ heartfelt recording has spellbinding drama .
Example 2: Rachel Podger and Andrew Manse
The imaginative dialogue between the two soloists in this performance of Bach’s Double Violin Concerto makes the music sparkle into life.
Cello Duet Narrative
The cello duet arrangements of Puccini’s aria Your Tiny Hand is Frozen and Mozart’s Non PiuAndrai have a clear story line so lots of opportunities to play with narrative. You can hear and buy this music on the links below:
Music narrative is an essential part of great interpretation. By narrative I don’t mean something you could necessarily put into words, rather the performer having a clear idea of what the music is about and what it has to say.
Examples of Music Narrative
The example above – though crackly – is a superb example of performers who are completely at one with the mood of the music ( Massenet’s Elegie ) and convey its character wholeheartedly and beautifully.
Here are some relevant quotes from the great Russian actor Stanislavsky:
” Create your own method. Make up something that works for you. Keep breaking traditions, I beg you.”
“You’ll never see any two great actors approach a role in the same way.” “Play well or play badly, but play truly.”
The overall point is that if you come up with imaginative ideas that are true to you they will breathe life into the music – just as an actor hopes to breathe life into a character he portrays.
Opera has its own narrative
One of the easiest ways to respond to narrative is when playing opera arrangements, where there is a defined story. Our arrangements of Toreador Song and Habanera – from Bizet’s opera Carmen – are good examples of this.
Our filmed recording of La Cumparsita sheet music has just received 1000 ‘likes’ on You Tube. This great tango is immensely popular and our arrangement has now been viewed by more than 137,000 people.
We filmed the video in 2011 at Kirby Hall – a beautiful stately home owned by English Heritage.
About our arrangement of La Cumparsita
The setting for the film was a partly covered courtyard, which had caught the eye of one of our Lux Technical film crew who thought it would be especially suitable for the character of the music. Today our sheet music arrangement of La Cumparsita is the most popular piece we sell, and it’s also one of the least complicated to play. Our aim was to project the darkness and sensuality of the tango mood. I hope we have achieved some of this.
Roger has achieved music success by having his 15 Insect Songs accepted for publication by Spartan Press. The songs are based on a children’s story Roger wrote several years ago called The Quest for the Golden Orchid. The story features a bee called Hermia – and a variety of other insect characters- and their adventures in escaping dangers caused by pesticides.
About the songs
The music is fun and imaginative in illustrating the different characteristics of the various insects. The number of solo voices or choruses vary per song and there is a violin and piano accompaniment.
” These songs are ideal for use in schools, ” said Roger. ” Each song works on its own with or without the book – or all the songs and the book can be combined to create a children’s musical.”
Find out more
If you’d like to be kept in touch with up to date information about publication of the book and the songs please email Roger direct at email@example.com
And to find out how we can custom write and dedicate a piece of music for you, click below Gifts and Dedications
Can cello books – or music books in general – change your playing? My own feeling is yes. This doesn’t mean I think that any cello book can compensate for one to one teaching. It’s rather that my own teacher recommended certain books which resonated with me and have been a major influence on my life.
I was lucky enough to experience some excellent string teaching.My cello teacher was the inspiring Christopher Bunting, and he recommended I read Stanislavsky’s Systems and Methods of Creative Acting – much of which relates directly to music. As well as helping me develop a secure technique, Christopher constantly focused on the difference between being an instrumentalist and being an artist and the importance of interpretation. Roger and I generally agree on this approach when we work together in Fedora Strings – and La Cumparsita is an example of the results. Christopher Bunting
I haven’t always been able to be true to these ideas in the past – for various reasons – but I have always known that they are right and they have given me something to steer by. Another major influence for me was the well known violinist Manny Hurwitz, whose down to earth, characterful playing and approach to performance I still remember – and even today it helps my confidence.
What would they think?
If I could sum up the most important thing that I took away from all this, it is that to be an artist you need to find your own voice. And you need to project your ideas with all your heart in performance. Last week an American cellist and scholar who is researching Christopher Bunting’s cello books came to my house for a chat. I found myself wondering what Christopher would think of my playing now. I know for certain he would not interpret things in anything like the same way I do. But I hope he would be glad that at least I am following my own instincts and ideas and projecting them as confidently as I can – something he always, always emphasised and that I regard as his greatest legacy to me.
Remembering the past
Good teachers are almost like family. How much you wish you could see them again and talk to them. And how much you hope that they can see you and know what a positive effect they had on your life. Ultimately good teaching – like good parenting – gives someone the freedom to be fully themselves. It’s beyond price.
To get some idea of Christopher’s superb playing listen below…
This is his cello duet based on the Bourees from Bach’s 3rd cello suite: Bunting Cello Duet