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  • Flute Fun Workshop – 18 March 2023
  •  Date Posted: Wed, 26 Apr 2023
    With trepidation and subdued excitement, a couple of dozen flautists put their flutes together while quietly chatting to those around them – where were they from, when had they last played their flute, had they played in a flute choir before, would they be daring enough to try out a bass or alto flute?

    Smiles and a little nervous laughter as Charlie got us stretching our bodies before a few flute warm-ups. Nerves subsiding now, we stood ourselves in a semi-circle and the proper flute choir playing began.

    Curiosity got the better of the more cautious of the attendees when they saw those who were feeling more plucky and eager having a go at playing bass flutes, alto flutes and piccolos. This was soon followed by smiles, and in some cases, sighs of relief, as everyone managed to make sounds on them. Over the afternoon, you could see a growing confidence from those new to these new instruments, as they realised they weren’t as difficult as we’d thought they would be. These instruments were added to our flute choir with different people playing them for each piece.

    We played a wide variety of music, each piece giving challenges to the proficient (grade 8+) players, as well as those of us not quite so accomplished. Members of Peterborough Flute Choir were spread amongst us so there was always a friendly face, and a finger to point to the music if we lost our place. Parts were swapped around for each piece and by concert time we needed a dance card to make sure we knew which stand to play from for the different pieces.

    There was time to relax, chat and snack on the delicious cakes, as well as chill before a finale concert featuring ensembles from Fenland Music Centre (recorders, strings, woodwind and brass) and our workshop flute choir.

    Parents, partners and friends enjoyed listening to our music – they were very impressed with their family members playing alto and bass flutes but subsequently perhaps a little worried when they realised how much these instruments cost and how much their children/partners enjoyed playing them!

    Beth - Peterborough Flute Choir and MD of Fenland Music Centre

    Thank you Beth for inviting us to be a part of this brilliant event. You did an amazing job co-ordinating a smooth day.

    For more photos from the day, take a look at the photo gallery 

    Charlie (Chair)
  • Wonderful Winds came to Peterborough
  •  Date Posted: Tue, 3 Sep 2019
    Wonderful Winds came to Peterborough

    Several of our members attended a workshop co-ordinated by our Chair, Charlie Kisby

    The following article appeared in the November edition of PAN:

    Review of Wonderful Winds Weekend Peterborough 10/11 August 2019

    For the first workshop arranged as part of my fairly recently formed flute choir, I immediately thought of Wonderful Winds and I’d also had a request from one of my flute choir on the way back from their Flitwick play day to arrange one closer to home. Roll on ten months, a lot of social media posts; exploratory emails to ensembles and teachers; and shameless plugging at concerts and whichever music group I was practising with and the weekend had finally arrived.

    It was really interesting to have experienced both the one and two day event and I can see why Mel recommends doing the weekend if you can.  I really enjoyed the first day which was aimed at beginner or returner flautists up to grade 5 level - it was fantastic to see a spread of ages, from 8 up to retired-ish.  As a relatively new group the whole weekend was also an excellent opportunity to meet other flautists in the area and spread the word about Peterborough Flute Choir (we have two new potential members!).

    Each day Joss had us stretching and loosening up for a whole day’s playing.  Workshops like these provide learning (or reminders) for everybody, no matter how many years’ experience they have under their fingers – there was to be no potty stance in Joss’s rehearsal space! The passing of tuning notes around the circle was a test of concentration as well as ensemble communication, never mind trying to keep it to tempo, and just like the repertoire later in the day Joss and Mel made sure to up the ante on the second day with an ingenious scale exercise to test knowledge as well as concentration.

    On our beginner day the massed ensemble warm-up not only focused on tuning but included an introduction to that mysterious presence that waves their arms about (also known as a conductor), before bringing out the big flutes.  A pleasant cacophony of alto flutes, bass flutes and of course the impressive drainpipe of a contrabass ensued.  On Saturday in particular, there was also a delightful chirruping to overlay the sonorous harmony flutes when four of the youngest attendees were totally mesmerised with the collection of piccolos also available.

    Mel had selected a varied repertoire for the massed choirs on both days, including some of her newer works, such as the Best of Bizet and Amours Amours.  I have to confess a little overexcitement when I received my pack in the two weeks preceding the weekend to find I had the contrabass part for The Elephant and this was not dampened on the actual day. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Wonderful Winds weekend without some funny noises, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was certainly a test of timing and flute juggling.

    Having two days and the superb facilities of The Peterborough School enabled us to separate into up to five chamber groups.  This meant that all groups could elect to be one to a part if they so wished, thereby adding an extra challenge for some or a different kind of enjoyment for others.  Also as each group was structured by level, we were able to choose pieces to fit with our level of comfort or daring!  At the performance at the end of each day it was brilliant to see and hear what people had chosen, yet equally frustrating as you realised you then wanted to buy yet another piece of music!

    On the first day, one young player’s parent was concerned they would perhaps find the unfamiliarly full day’s playing too much but suffice to say the youth contingent were still going strong to the last double barline.  It’s safe to say though, by the end of the two days I was pleasantly exhausted but eager and hopeful that another Wonderful Winds day will be held in Peterborough in the future.


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