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December 2013 concert - a personal account from Gill in the cellos

8th December 2013

DannyMillerThe orchestra performed its December concert in Polwarth Parish Church under the baton of Dean McGain-Harding. Dean heroically stepped up from his usual seat in the brass section to be our guest conductor during the autumn term of 2013.

As we were preparing for the pre-concert rehearsal in the church, I was delighted to notice that our erstwhile conductor Hector Scott had arrived and was unpacking his viola in order to play with us. This provided some welcome support for the only viola available to play in the concert and indeed to the lower strings generally.  We have a good number of cellos in the orchestra but no double basses so two cellos nobly play the double bass part despite their concern that the audience might think they are not quite able to follow the proper cello music.Brahms’s haunting Symphony No 2 in D major filled the first half of the programme. We played movements 1,3 and 4 of this wonderful but challenging work. During rehearsals, I didn’t know why we were not working on the 2nd movement but one glance at the music made me very grateful that someone had made the tactful decision to edit our version! It was a brave choice for an amateur orchestra to perform but I certainly felt that my skills had been stretched (or even developed) by playing it. Also, when I recognised a recording of Brahms 2 being played on the radio, it made me realise that our interpretation had not been too bad at all although I don’t think members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra should suffer sleepless nights with any job security concerns.

Our relief at having completed the performance of the Brahms was enhanced by having the Edinburgh Military Wives Choir join us to sing carols during the interval. The choir helped to create a lovely festive atmosphere while audience and orchestra enjoyed mince pies and refreshments together.

The second part of the evening began with a stirring performance of the finale of Mozart’s Grand Partita played by the brass and woodwind sections of the orchestra so we happy string players were able to take a break and sit amongst the audience to enjoy this piece.

Danny Miller joined us as the soloist in Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor and impressed us not only with his brilliant violin playing but also his helpfulness, patience and unassuming nature. It was a genuine pleasure to accompany him and I still can’t believe that he felt he had to apologise to us when once he made a mistake during rehearsals.

The orchestra played along with the Edinburgh Military Wives Choir in Dean McGain-Harding’s own Coventry Carol Medley which formed the festive finale to the concert. We’re very grateful to Dean for all his hard work with us in the autumn term and hope he will enjoy getting back to playing his trumpet with us in the spring.

In January2014 we’re very pleased that the very amiable Julian Appleyard, who has worked with us on several previous occasions, will take up the CAOS conductor’s baton for the next session.

Life Membership

5th November 2013

The orchestra has created the new membership category of Life Member. This will be offered to long-serving players on their retiral from the orchestra. The aim of this initiative is to retain links with ex-players by keeping them up-to-date with the orchestra’s activities and providing them with complimentary concert tickets.

Summer 2013 rehearsals

1st September 2013

As a new venture, informal rehearsals have been held over the summer with the string and wind players meeting separately. Dean McGain-Harding did the conducting and the regular attendance of many members showed the popularity of the sessions. Thank you Dean.

May 2013 concert

12th May 2013

Piano_smallFor this evening’s concert we were joined by the pianist Anna Mavromatidi for a performance of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 under the direction of Hector Scott. It is always a thrill for the orchestra to play with a soloist, especially one as accomplished as Anna. The audience was captivated by her brilliant playing.

The second half was a performance of Dvorak’s Symphony No. 6 conducted by Julian Appleyard. Julian is an old friend of the orchestra, having taken many of our Tuesday evening rehearsals. It was a pleasure to finally perform under his direction.

December 2012 concert

16th December 2012

Polwarth_201212The winter chills of Polwarth Parish Church were well  and truly blown away by the orchestra's December concert which included Schubert's Symphony No.8 - Unfinished, Sibelius' Andante Festivo and Beethoven's Symphony No.3 - Eroica. What a bill!

Audience feedback was great with many appreciating the emotion of the Andante Festivo. Well done strings! The string section echo that feeling with all having enjoyed expressing emotion through our performance and having that emotion received as intended by the audience.

The technical stepping stone between Sibelius and Beethoven came in the form of Schubert. This was nice middle ground, however we weren't safe for long! 

The  resounding feedback from the orchestra was that the fantastic boot camp at Clifton Hall in October paved the way to helping us confidently perform Eroica to the  best of our abilities, what an achievement for CAOS! We all  succeeded in raising the bar with Hector's patient nurturing.

The personal introduction to each piece brought them to life and was great at connecting our audience to our varied programme. More of the same please!

And so we come back down to earth from our musical high and make our way onwards to May's concert - we look forward to it!

Contributed by the second violins

Colinton Orchestra has joined Facebook!

5th November 2012

We may play 200-year-old music but CAOS is now part of the technology revolution with a presence on Facebook. We have our own page filled with information about CAOS events and activities, concerts, stories of interest, and photos.

To ‘Like’ us on Facebook, simply join Facebook yourself and click on the thumbs up button on our page. You can also leave comments on posts, browse through Colinton’s Facebook history, get links to other items of interest, and enjoy a peek behind the scenes at some of our events.

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Orchestral mini-weekend

7th October 2012

Clifton2A substantial proportion of the Orchestra, augmented by a number of friends, took part in an orchestral mini-weekend over the evening of Friday 5th October and nearly the whole of the following day. The event broadly followed the pattern of the Scrapers and Tooters weekends run by the SCO in which many of us have participated; these offer two concentrated days of playing a small number of pieces under expert tuition with the aim of getting them up to quite a reasonable standard.

In our case, mainly under Hector’s guidance, we focussed hard on Beethoven’s 3rd Symphony, which the Orchestra is working on with the December concert in view. This symphony is big in every way and places substantial demands on all sections of the Orchestra, so the weekend afforded an opportunity to really get to grips with some of the symphony’s technicalities and expressive features in a way that it is rarely possible in our customary evening meetings.

Primarily we were all together as an orchestra, but for some of the time, we broke into sectionals to enable separate instruction for the strings, brass and wind. Hector naturally took the strings while brass and wind were coached by Harry Johnstone and Anna Jones respectively to whom we are most grateful. So that the weekend was not too monolithic, whilst in sectionals we took a breezy look at some other pieces: the strings played through the Andante Festivo by Sibelius while wind and brass had a bit of a romp through Gounod’s delightful Petit Symphonie. In addition, near the conclusion of the meeting, we were treated to an inspiring talk about Beethoven and the 3rd Symphony by Tim Paxton, which amplified and enhanced the background and analysis of the music that Hector has been regularly touching on during our weekly rehearsals.

The weekend was enhanced by the excellent and highly imposing location, Clifton Hall School, where Hector now teaches, and which we were able to view in crisp October sunshine. The school provided us with good fare to sustain us through our efforts, much appreciated, as the Saturday, particularly, was a long day for all of us. Though most of us felt quite tired at the conclusion, there seemed to be broad agreement that the event had been most worthwhile.

May concert

12th May 2012

JohnLawHume2Tonight’s concert was a commemoration in words, pictures and music of the life and music of the violinist John Law Hume from Dumfries. John Hume was one of the eight musicians employed to play on the ill-fated Titanic. Sadly, all eight perished when the ship sank in the Atlantic on the 15th April 1912.

The orchestra performed a selection of music typical of the type that would have been played by John Hume and his fellow musicians on the liner. This ranged from a Vivaldi concerto to Edward Elgar’s stirring Pomp and Circumstance March No 1. Three of the works involved soloists. Guest soloist Freya Gillon played Mozart’s Horn Concerto No1, Jenny Kerr and Sheila Wotherspoon, the orchestra’s oboists, played Vivaldi’s Concerto for two oboes and Hector Scott, our conductor, played Massenet’s Meditation from Thais. In between the pieces of music, members of the orchestra read short descriptions of John Hume’s life, his career as a musician and the events leading up to the disaster. Throughout, images of the musicians and the Titanic were projected above the orchestra.

During the interval, the audience were treated to refreshments that included home baked biscuits in the shapes of ships, stars and icebergs. The proceeds from the raffle will be donated to the Marie Curie Hospice in memory of Maureen Wallace, a flute player in the orchestra, who died earlier this year.

CAOS at Scrapers and Tooters

25th and 26th February 2012

CAOS was well represented by ten players who attended the Scrapers & Tooters weekend organised in Edinburgh by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. We were extremely fortunate in having Robin Ticciati, Principal Conductor of the SCO to rehearse the first movement of Serenade No 1 by Brahms. David Watkin, Principal Cello of the SCO put the orchestra through its paces on the second and third movements of Beethoven Symphony No 7. His image of pixies in ballet shoes at the start of the third movement will live long in the memory! In addition to the full orchestra rehearsals, sectional rehearsals were taken by players from the SCO who provided numerous tips on the playing of our instruments – some achievable and some just fascinating to learn about. An informal concert at the end of Sunday afternoon rounded off the two days.

This was an enjoyable way to spend a weekend gaining an insight into how music-making is approached by musicians from a professional orchestra. 2012 is Scrapers & Tooters 10th anniversary and the experience was made all the more enjoyable by ending with birthday cake and tea. A good time was had by all.

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Scrapers & Tooters enjoying a well earned lunch

December concert

3rd December 2011

Tonight’s concert of Sibelius, Fletcher, Haydn and Beethoven was again played against the backdrop of a black and white silent film. This time, the audience was treated to The Son of the Sheik starring Rudolph Valentino and Vilma Banky. This 1926 film was the last made with Rudolph Valentino who collapsed at its New York premiere and died soon after. He stars both as the Sheik and his son Ahmed who is lured into a trap by a beautiful dancing girl, Yasmin, the daughter of a local bandit. He escapes and then takes revenge by kidnapping Yasmin. What happened? Did love conquer all? The audience knows but members of the orchestra don’t, having sat with their backs to the screen throughout.

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Rudolph Valentino

Orchestra logo

26th October 2011

Over the past several months, the orchestra has been running a competition for members to design a logo for use on programmes, promotional material, the website, etc. This winner is violinist Sharon Thompson. Look out for her logo on everything relating to CAOS from now on.

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Music, Mystery & just a little Mayhem

29th January 2011

Sherlock5Our latest concert, held on January 29th, was full of drama in more ways than one!

Having been foiled by the white-out in December (our first drama), it was a relief to see no sign of snow the evening of our rescheduled concert. And there was extra anticipation in the still chilly air. This concert there would not only be sound but pictures - Sherlock Holmes, starring John Barrymore, accompanied by the Colinton Orchestra! Drama number two.

Alas, alack, Moriarty was plotting evil schemes of sabotage. Just as the show was about to start, the projector failed. There was a mad dash by our conductor’s very own Watson (wife) to get another. Drama number three! A mere 15 minutes behind time, the film rolled and the orchestra struck the tense opening chords of Beethoven’s Egmont Overture.

Our soloist on violin, Ruairidh Holwill, changed the mood with Beethoven’s Romance No 2, and later kept the popcorn-munching audience on their toes with a sinister twist in the plot, playing Saint-Saens’ Danse Macabre with devilish talent. Our very own Jekyll and Hyde?

Intermission had a Christmas feel with a late flourish of mince pies. Orchestra and audience fortified, it was back to the appropriately named (and still chilly!) Watson’s auditorium for the conclusion. Two symphonies, a mystery to unravel… Would we and Sherlock Holmes find our conclusions together? Or would we both come to a sticky ‘fine’?

It was touch and go, but right prevailed. The audience applauded with appreciation as our conductor guided us to the last notes and the flickering film announced ‘The End’. Just one mystery remains.

Will the orchestra, who had their backs to the screen, ever see the film?!

Supporting Sistema Scotland

29th January 2011

As a new venture, a raffle was held at tonight’s concert. We have chosen to donate the 100 proceeds to Sistema Scotland. This is a charity that gives children the chance to learn musical instruments in the belief that they gain huge social benefits by playing in a symphony orchestra. Music making is used to foster confidence, teamwork, pride and aspiration in the children taking part. Known in the community as Big Noise, the first centre is now established in Raploch, Stirling. 

CAOS on the radio

11th October 2010

The orchestra’s long awaited performance of Nina Whiteman’s “Book of Walks” was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 this evening. The recording was made at the orchestra’s concert on 8th May. The broadcast was preceded by an interview with Nina during which she outlined how she worked with the orchestra and developed the piece from the players’ descriptions of walks in the Colinton area. 

Art in the Park

29th August 2010

This afternoon, a group of players from the orchestra performed at Art in the Park. This is an annual event held in Colinton’s Spylaw Park and features a wide range of activities. The group entertained the crowds with a performance of Teleman’s concerto for two clarinets and strings with the solo parts played by Riona Bell and Shinobu Scott.  

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Comments from members about performing “A Book of Walks”

10th June 2010

‘Well I enjoyed the challenge and I think we did Nina's piece justice.  It will be very interesting to listen to the recorded concert and hear the piece as a whole - it's hard to tell from within the orchestra what the overall sound is like. I particularly liked the Expanding Sky chapter - very atmospheric, especially near the end.’

‘I thought it was really wonderful to work on Nina's piece.  I particularly appreciated the fact that she took our favourite local walks as her starting point which gave the piece a very personal, immediate feel and a relevance to us all.  This, her enthusiastic commitment to the project and the end result made it a great experience.  I really enjoyed the challenge of following such unfamiliar-looking pages of music!  As a fairly new member of the orchestra, I was thrilled to be part of something so refreshingly modern - not my image of an amateur orchestra at all! (Not to dismiss all the other great composers whose work I have been enjoying playing too!)’

‘I really enjoyed the challenge of playing Nina’s piece’

‘Although I was a bit unsure about the piece, to say the least, I came to view it with greater sympathy as the rehearsals continued.  I believe the composition came together at the performance and that the hard work of both Hector and the orchestra, required for such an unusual challenge, paid off.  I do hope that it will be broadcast and look forward to hearing it from the point of view of the audience, either on air or as a CD.’

World premiere of “A Book of Walks”

8th May 2010

At tonight’s concert, the orchestra gave the first performance of “A Book of Walks” by Nina Whiteman. This was the culmination of a nine month project under Making Music’s Adopt-a-Composer scheme.

Following a successful application to Adopt-a-Composer, we were fortunate to be teamed with Nina Whiteman, a young composer and singer living in Manchester who was commissioned to compose a work for the orchestra. In the programme notes for the concert, Nina wrote:

“My idea for the piece from quite early on in the process was to focus on something that both the orchestra and I have in common, and to create a piece of music that somehow related to the local area, or was site-specific. I decided that walks (taken by the players in the orchestra) were a good starting point. A questionnaire asked the players to describe a walk they enjoyed in the surrounding area, and one of the questions asked them to draw the line of the walk from memory. The questionnaire responses provided me with the raw materials for the piece: I used the maps they’d drawn to create melodic shapes, and the players’ thoughts on walking gave me ideas for the characterisation of the music and for the titles of each ‘chapter’ (or movement) in the piece.”

The chapters were Woven footsteps, Industrial ghosts, Expanding sky, A quick scramble and Air. During the performance, images of the walks were projected behind the orchestra. The concert was recorded by BBC Radio 3  and we are eagerly awaiting news of when it will be broadcast.

Adopt a Composer- Hector Nina and David3