We arrived in time for dinner on Friday the 17th of September, and departed after lunch on Sunday, September 19th. In between, we enjoyed ourselves hugely getting to know the 22 other participants, most of whom hailed from Edmonton, Calgary and Red Deer, and the majority of whom were much more experienced and skilled players than we are. Nevertheless, everyone, without exception, was very welcoming and supportive, which made for an especially relaxed and rich musical experience. For instance, in group sessions, we were consistently invited to sit beside a more experienced player on the same instrument who would often help us stay on track. In addition, there was an opportunity to play one-on-one with a couple of different guitar players at one point, which also was geared to our playing level.
That experience was very gratifying, as were the opportunities to participate in several group sessions throughout the weekend, focusing on different kinds of music - from modern classical, to jazz/pop, and the music of the English composer and lutenist, John Dowland. What made it all even more fun was that there were other instruments besides recorders, such as cello, viola da gamba, a number of guitars and various human voices.
Some of the most experienced players also jammed into the night on both Friday and Saturday, and even played together informally when the rest of us trekked off to circumnavigate Goldeye Lake! (The beauty of our surroundings was hard to resist, and the weather was co-operative until the last day).
The whole weekend was organized and led by volunteers of the Edmonton Recorder Society, with the exception of the staff who ran the Centre for Outdoor Education, who mainly provided meals and accommodation. The ERS members are so capable that they don't need to pay someone to facilitate the retreat, and this fact, coupled with the dorm-style sleeping arrangements, combined to keep costs very reasonable.
Besides all meals together, and the aforementioned outing, we also thoroughly enjoyed the wine and cheese reception Friday night, and the Scottish dancing with instruction on Saturday evening. Everyone was refreshingly open, friendly and interesting. We hope to be able to return in the next year or two, and can assure other BCRS members that it is definitely worth the scenic trip to make beautiful music with this lovely group of people.