Wonderful Winds came to Peterborough

Wonderful Winds came to Peterborough
Type of post: Ensemble news item
Sub-type: No sub-type
Posted By: Charlie Kisby
Status: Current
Date Posted: Tue, 3 Sep 2019

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.