Fantasia for 4 (SATB) by Frescobaldi
Allmand (SAATB) by William Brade
"Upon my Lap my sovereign sits" by Martin Peerson
“Sfogava con le stelle” [Sparkle like the stars]. (SATB) by Monteverdi
"Woodland Whimsy" (SATB) by Gary Betts (SATB)
"Happy Birthday" by Patti & May Hill, arranged by Paul Clarke
We played an interesting variety of pieces, including the following:
A Fantasia by Frescobaldi (late Renaissance/early Baroque) which gave us some practice in switching between time signatures and counting different rhythms;
A delightful song by Martin Peerson (early Baroque), of whose work little seems to be readily available. This gave us an opportunity to consider appropriate phrasing and places to breathe, especially in the sections that had lyrics;
For a change of pace, we tried a recent addition to the ARS Members’ Library Editions, Woodland Whimsy by Gary Betts, composed in 2015. This piece did indeed, as was suggested in the accompanying notes, conjure up an image of quiet woodland with bird and animal calls. It also gave us practice in playing in A major, changing tempo and the use of various articulations, not to mention keeping us on our toes (or fingertips??) as we negotiated the repeat and the D.S. al Coda.
Monteverde’s “Sfogava con le stelle” gave us some stereophonic effects with the two soprano parts on opposite sides of the room, as did Brade’s Allmand.
We ended the day with a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday and six variations of the melody by M and P Hill.
In her usual style, Stacey coached us gently through some of the intricacies of these pieces, encouraging us when the counting got tough and reminding us to keep listening and think about playing in tune. As always, Stacey was well prepared for the workshop and very ably demonstrated the phrasing, articulation and tuning that she wanted us to emulate, both on recorder and viola. Several of us did not bring the full complement of SATB instruments (I only brought SAT), but one of the most valuable parts for me was switching between instruments for some of the pieces to accommodate different arrangements, different numbers of parts, other people who wanted to switch or instruments that were just too soggy to play any more. This is something that I still find to be a challenge, but the only way to get better is to keep practicing. I also enjoyed the opportunity to sit beside, listen to and chat with various other players. During the breaks, we continued our conversations while enjoying a variety of delicious snacks brought by the participants, and an endless supply of fresh, hot tea, coffee and juice ably provided by Jan.
Dorothy Brown and Anthony Morgan