Mid-Peninsula Recorder Orchestra Newsletter


OLD WINE IN NEW BOTTLES by Shelley Gruskin

On November 10, Shelley Gruskin will be presenting a workshop for the Mid-Peninsula Recorder Orchestra entitled, Old Wine in New Bottles. For further information about this workshop please see the announcement which appears in the September issue of UpBeat or contact Mary Carrigan.

There are certain words that serve as titles or headings for instrumental compositions, and these words appear and reappear through the centuries. The compositions associated with these words can be seen as musical archetypes which develop as they attract fresh associations to their "magnetic" cores while traveling through time. It is fascinating to trace pieces inscribed "pastoral," "prelude," "aria," "fantasy," etc. and try to identify their essences while following them through the ages and seeing how they have changed and how they have stayed the same.

To do this, however, takes more than a historical investigation of a particular genre. While it is necessary and very interesting to know, for example, that the saraband evolved from a wild and highly suggestive dance in the 16th century to a slow and elegant dance in the late 17th century and then reappeared as an impressionist character piece in the early 20th century, a complete understanding of this genre involves discovering what is essential to any music entitled "saraband." This includes investigating the atmosphere of the music and what technical elements in the composition evoke that atmosphere. How, for instance, is the atmosphere which Debussy creates in his saraband related to that found in earlier examples, and how does the way Debussy, an impressionist, go about creating this atmosphere compare with that of a baroque composer like Handel? This also brings up the question of which elements of the saraband have endured and attracted composers through the centuries as this dance is recloaked in different styles and idioms. Is it the infectious and often majestic rhythm associated with the saraband that has fascinated composers since the 1500s, or are there other features of the saraband responsible for this? Once these relationships can be identified it becomes clearer how a particular genre is transformed into a legend. This is important to the study of historical musical practice in the same way that legend, in general, is important to students of history: The facts become secondary to the romance which is attached to the subject.


Don't forget: our workshop, Old Wine in New Bottles, led by Shelley Gruskin, will be held on Saturday, November 10, 2001, at the Hope Evangelical Lutheran Church, 600 West 42nd Avenue in San Mateo. Workshop fee is $39 for MPRO members and $42 for non-members. Phone Mary Carrigan at (415) 664-9050 for information.


Dear members of the Mid-Peninsula Recorder Orchestra,

The orchestra's holiday concert will take place at Hope Evangelical Lutheran Church, 600 West 42nd Avenue in San Mateo on Saturday, December 8 at 2:00 P.M. All those planning on taking part in this performance are expected to attend the dress rehearsal at 7:30 P.M. on Wednesday, December 5, at J.L. Stanford Middle School in Palo Alto. Please note that the rehearsal on November 14 will also begin at 7:30 P.M. A sign-up sheet for those planning on taking part in this performance will be available at the meeting on November 14. Small ensembles are invited to appear in this concert, and those groups which intend to perform on December 8 are asked to give me the following information by November 14: the title(s) of the music to be performed, the name(s) of the composer(s), the name of the ensemble (if any) and the names of the ensemble's members. I encourage all MPRO members to take part in the holiday concert and to invite their family and friends to attend.

Listed below is the music for the remaining meetings of the orchestra in November and December. Please note that krummhorn players will be needed at the meetings on November 14 and December 5 and that there will be assigned seating for the dress rehearsal on December 5.

November 14
This meeting begins at 7:30 P.M.
Praetorius: Puer natus/Ein Kind geborn
Bach: Sinfonia and Choral
Vejvanovsky: Serenada
Brahms: Es ist ein Ros' entsprungen
Harrison: Serenade, Gigue en Rondeau

December 5
Dress rehearsal for the holiday concert, 7:30 P.M.
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, The First Noel, Jingle Bells
Praetorius: Puer natus/Ein Kind geborn
Bach: Sinfonia and Choral
Handel: Overture for St. Cecilia's Day
Binchois: Se j'eusse un seul peu d'esperanche
Harrison: Serenade, Gigue en Rondeau
Brahms: Es ist ein Ros' entsprungen
Nigun, Die Grineh Kuzine, Oif'n Pripetshik

December 12
MPRO holiday party, 7:30 P.M.
Location to be announced.

I look forward to seeing you at these upcoming meetings.

Fred Palmer



On Saturday, November 17, 2001,at 8 pm, Hausmusik will present Mozart and "Mozart of the North", early classical quartets by Mozart, Joann Fuchs and Bernhard Crusell (the "Mozart of the North") for historical clarinets and strings. Featured performers are David Barnett, historical clarinets and basset horn; Kate Button, violin; Meg Eldridge, viola; and Farley Pierce, cello. The concert will take place in the sanctuary of St. Alban's Episcopal Church, 1501 Washington St. in Albany. Wheelchair accessible. Tickets are $18 (general) and $15 (students, seniors, SFEMS members) and include refreshments. Advance reservations are recommended. Please call 5610-527-9029 for information and reservations.

The new MPRO Membership List is enclosed with this newsletter. To make any additions or corrections, please contact Chris Flake.

(See printed newsletter for Chris' phone number).

Practice Makes Perfect

Practice recorder technique every day. Even if you do only a little bit, your technique will gradually improve and you will feel ever more comfortable and confident on your instrument.

Recorder technique consists of breathing and blowing, fingering, and tonguing. I suggest dividing your daily practice time into three segments: use the first segment for technique work, the second for etudes (or working on technical problems in your pieces), and the third for playing music.

Frances Blaker

(American Recorder, Nov. 2000)

American Recorder Of the West (AROW) presents

an All Recorder Orchestra of Intermediate & Advanced Players; Richard Geisler, Director ~ Calvin Wall, Assistant Director in concert at: Zion Lutheran Church ~ Saturday, November 10 ~ 7:30 p.m. ~ 5201 Park Blvd., Oakland ~ Donation. For more information contact Richard Geisler, richgeis@jps.net ~ (530) 477-2293

The program begins with Schubert's symphonic work "March Militaire". Then the orchestra goes "neo Baroque" to present the world premiere of "La Follia Variations for Recorder Orchestra" by AROW member Glen Shannon. Shannon's work is in 12 parts scored for sopranino, 2 sopranos, 3 altos, 3 tenors, bass, great bass and contra bass recorders. Following La Follia is the Concerto Grosso in D Minor by William Boyce, 1711-99, a baroque work arranged for recorder orchestra in 1999 by Ulrich Herrmann. This technically challenging work features solo soprano and alto recorders played by Shannon and Kim Raney. Pieces by Debussy, Brahms, Haydn and others will also be performed.