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Free Sheet Music

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We are currently offering customers  a Free Sheet Music violin and cello duet which can be played at their wedding ceremony or event.
free sheet music

Our increasing repertoire

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.

The power of music
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.  We will be continuing to widen our selection of songs over the coming year with more and more sheet music arrangements. You can like to our sheet music sales’ page here:

Violin and Cello Folk Duets

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Next week we start rehearsing violin and cello folk duets for our forthcoming series of Fedora Strings’ engagements and recordings.  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.

Folk music  like Sir Roger de Coverley, Lilliburlero and Loch Lomond  dates back hundreds of years and no one is sure who originally composed the music, which makes you wonder what makes a song last for centuries.
Violin and Cello Folk DuetsLoch 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.

Classical performances of folk music

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Next year we will be focusing on classical performances  of folk music, using different aspects of string sounds to make our arrangements more imaginative.We love so much of the folk repertoire and feel there is plenty of scope to develop classically-based   versions  of  these well known tunes and that they are ideal for expanding the different effects you can achieve on  strings.

Varied approaches
But there are so many different ways of playing  folk tunes. My favourite recordings  include the interpretations of Russian folk songs by the great bass singer Chaliapin, violin versions of folk music by Heifetz  and Percy Grainger’s string orchestra arrangement of Molly on the Shore. There are also many traditional folk performers I enjoy -one of whom is Duncan Chisholm
duncan chisholm

Is folk music  more free? …
…well it’s more free in that there’s more scope for improvisation and most performers never use music. On the other hand, it is also far more repetitive and far easier technically – which has advantages and disadvantages.

You can only play as you are
Ultimately you can only play as you are, and for me classical performances of folk music for strings are the ultimate – but is good to borrow ideas and rework them in your own way. We already sell an album of six of our folk tune arrangements which you can find out more about here:

classical performances of folk music

Violin and Cello Duet Sheet Music

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You can now buy the violin and cello duet sheet music  of some of our music. Last week we launched a page on our website where four of our arrangements can be purchased. We decided to start by selling our versions of four of the works  we have made videos of –  Arrival of the Queen of Sheba, Summertime, La Cumparsita and Minuet and Trio –  and we hope to continue to add to the selection over the next few months.

As almost all the duet music we play is of our own arrangements we now have a  large repertoire, but it takes a surprising amount of time to translate these versions into completely accurate printed editions where everything has to be perfect. We tend to make so many changes as we rehearse that our own copies are full of changes and sometimes partly improvised.

The standard of the music is medium to difficult and you can hear all the arrangements  we are selling  by clicking on our  videos.

Eleanor Rigby string duet

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Today Roger and I have been rehearsing Eleanor Rigby string duet for a concert next week where we’ll be playing some arrangements  which are new to us. These include other Beatles’ songs like  Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds and Imagine. Although we both love classical music we’ve been enjoying the Beatles’ music we now have in our repertoire. Many of the songs  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.

Eleanor Rigby string duet
 About Eleanor Rigby string duet
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.

Widor Toccata String Duet!

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Roger has just completed an arrangement of the euphoric Widor Toccata string duet. This famous composition was originally for the organ and, by exemplifying all of that instrument’s specialist characteristics, it creates a mood of grandeur and manic energy. It’s often used as wedding ceremony music for the couple’s exit. Making it work for violin and cello 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.
widor toccata string duet

Learning to use Finale Print
Over the last few weeks I have finally worked out how to use Finale Print myself and have now completed four duet 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. Have you ever wondered how many marvellous pieces of music there are in the world? There must be  as many as the stars…



Bach CD

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Next Monday I’m recording a Bach cd of his third  cello suite at Wadenhoe Church. The music is so happy in spirit that however fed up you may be feeling it usually has an uplifting effect. It’s in the uncomplicated key of  C major and has a certain virility and confidence  that makes it a joy to play, despite its technical challenges. You can link to our cd page here:
Bach cd
Baroque Music
I’m not an early music specialist but I’ve been reading musicologist Robert Donington’s book A Performer’s Guide to Baroque Music  which has some interesting things to say:

When  a virtuoso cellist conveys a sense of undue strain in Bach’s unaccompanied  suites by too massive a sonority and too heavy an articulation, this is not from any unsuitablity in his noble  instrument; it is because  he is applying a mental concept which, powerful and impressive though it may be, does not really lie within the baroque boundaries of style and is not really matched to the implications of the music.”

” The baroque performer was meant to set his stamp on the music. Reverence for the written text can be a virtue, but was no part of the baroque attitude. A text left deliberately incomplete was not meant to be exactly established but imaginatively realised. Options left open by the composer cannot be tied down to any exact intention: the intention was that they should remain the performer’s options.
Fab Mr Donington
Quoting  sentences out of context is a bit like the dodgy practice of manipulating phrases from the bible to make your point.  But one interesting aspect of the book is that Mr Donington believes that baroque performers were trained in a completely different way from modern performers and that improvisation in concerts and creatively altering music you were going to play was the norm. This must have given players a wonderful sense of freedom which would be hard to regain today. Perhaps the main point though is just to enjoy it. You can buy the book by clicking here:

Concert at Peterborough Town Hall

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Yesterday we gave a concert at Peterborough Town Hall – a 1930s building which has  an art deco feel and an impressive marble staircase and pillars.
Concert at Peterborough Town Hall
About the programme
The choice of programme  was classical and folk, and we played our own arrangements of 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, My Love Is Like A Red, Red Rose, Gabriel’s OboeThis Is The Day, Chanson de Matin, The Lark In The Clear Air and the aria One Fine Day from Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly. The audience listened to our playing  intently  throughout and the acoustics were resonant and felt relaxed to play in. Many of the arrangements we performed can be bought at our online shop here:
Peterborough Town Hall 2

Cello Teaching Ideas

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One of the great advantages of You Tube is being able to see and hear other wonderful musicians play, which can inspire new cello teaching ideas. Recently I’ve found two stunningly good cellists who I love listening to: David Finckel and William Molina Cestari.
William Molina CestariCestari makes a beautiful sound, phrases expressively and has a touch of the hero from The Mask of Zorro about him. I especially like his performance of Beethoven’s Triple Concerto, which is one of my favourite pieces and has a fiendishly difficult cello part.

100 Short Cello Talks
David Finckel is the cellist in the Emmerson Quartet but gives a lot of solo recitals as well and you can see why, as both his playing and his rapport with his pianist wife are superb. He’s recently posted 100 short Cello Talks on You Tube.
These are particularly suitable for professionals and discuss the problems of concert hall projection and getting used to different acoustics, lighting and seating in a performance situation.But they’re also useful for students  and  give insight into a professional musician’s life – weird though it probably seems to be to the outside world.  Of course everyone’s approach is slightly different and what works for one person isn’t always effective for another. Nevertheless, if you’re a cellist these videos are well worth viewing.


Kirby Hall Videos

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We’ve just completed  Kirby Hall videos of our two new violin and cello duet arrangements – Boccherini’s Minuet and Trio and Gershwin’s Summertime. Staff at English Heritage were generous enough to allow us to use this magnificent building as a setting for the filming session and Kirby Hall is a building with great charisma.
Kirby Hall

Deciding on the best setting
We filmed the Boccherini outside in the ‘great garden’ which contains statues, topiary and urns – very appropriate for the classical period. Finding a backdrop for the Gershwin’s Summertime was more of a challenge: the song comes from the opera Porgy and Bess which is set in South Carolina and has a sultry blues feel – not at all English stately home. Eventually we decided on a sandy-coloured walkway with a gravel  floor which  evoked some of the character of the music.
Kirby Hall Videos

Lux Technical
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 comfortable about being filmed close up. However, everything went well although it was a relief when it was over. You can see the end result here:

Kirby Hall website:

Lux technical website: