All Posts By

Joanna Borrett

Gifts for Classical Music Lovers

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Are you looking for imaginative gifts for classical music lovers? Here are some suggestions:

Casals conducting the Brandenburg Concerti cds
These expressive interpretations are also refreshingly unpolitically correct with lots of string vibrato and the use of piano instead of harpsichord: Casals conducts Brandenburg Concerti

gifts for classical music lovers

 

Marx Brothers: A Night at the Opera
Hilariously funny even for genuine opera lovers: A Night at the Opera
gifts for classical music lovers

Gift card for The String Zone
A useful present for any string player. The String Zone sells rosin, strings and other essential accessories. Gift cards range from £10 – £250 and are sent by email: Gift Card
gifts for classical music lovers

Huffnung Cartoon Books
Only available second hand but the amusing cartoons have a definite grain of truth: Huffnung Cartoons
gifts for classical music lovers

Commission a gift or buy sheet music from Fedora Strings
For a truly original present why not commission us to compose or arrange music as a gift?:Fedora Strings Gifts  Or purchase sheet music from us?: Fedora Strings Sheet Music

gifts for classical music lovers

 

Music for Cinderella

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I went to a wonderful performance of Cinderella by  Ballet Cymru recently. I was especially impressed by the choreography and music, which had been newly created.
music for cinderella

The production was inspiring: the ballet was powerfully expressive and I loved the music , which was composed by Jack White:Rehearsing Cinderella

Using music to enhance a story
music for cinderella

Telling a story or having a clear feeling, image or mood that you want to express can be a great starting point for composing music . It can also be a fun way of improvising when you practice: Cinderella Music

Commissioning music

Ballet Cymru is an innovative company and I definitely recommend going to see them if they are performing nearby. The most comparable thing to the Cinderella music we have on our website is our music commissioning service: Gifts and Dedications

…and perhaps these opera cello duets, which have been arranged with the character of the songs very much in mind: Habanera Cello Duet

Cello Cartoons!

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It’s October half term and time for some light relief!! So I thought I would share some cello cartoons that I have come across recently.

cello cartoons

This one was posted on the Cello Internet Society and perhaps represents the wish for a holiday of all cellos everywhere? Who knows???

cello cartoons 2

Ahhhh… if only Ben Marcarto was Zorro!!!

cello cartoons 3

Well, it is possible they had a discussion like this…

That is true… it’s a fun piece to play!

But this is incorrect – you can never have too much of Handel’s Water Music!!

The last two cartoons come from Cello Heaven – a website dedicated to cello fun. Has this inspired you to play cello duets? If so click below:
Cello Duets

New Duet Sheet Music

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We have just added some new duet sheet music to our online shop. It’s called Morning Prelude and a recording will be available in November.

This is a 3 -4 minute piece in a gentle reflective mood which starts and ends with harmonics on the cello. There is a also a cello solo version: Morning Prelude for Cello Solo
The music was inspired by watching one of my baby twin grandsons looking out of the window on a wintry morning when he was just three weeks old.
new duet sheet music

 

Composing and improvising

Becoming confident about improvising on your instrument is one of the easiest ways to learn to compose. There are actually very few well known pieces for cello solo, and those that do exists are often extremely challenging to play. This is a pity, because you can achieve evocative effects fairly easily without making it too technically demanding. This is what I aimed to achieve in both the cello solo and duet version of Morning Prelude. The main mood, after the opening harmonics, is calm and relaxing, so if you are able to feel like that when you play the music it definitely helps.

 

 

Concert at Wadenhoe Church

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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.

concert at wadenhoe churchThe 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.

 

Tangerine Tango is now online!

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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.”

tangerine tango is now online!

heist

Composing for Cello and Guitar

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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
composing for cello and guitar

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.

Cello Blogs

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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.
cello blogs

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.

Cello Websites

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

More Narrative Playing

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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

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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 Piu Andrai have a clear story line so lots of opportunities to play with narrative. You can hear and buy this music on the links below:

Your Tiny Hand is Frozen

Non Piu Andrai

Four Famous Operatic Arias arranged for Cello Duet

 

Music Narrative

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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.

Stanislavsky

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.