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the benefits of membership include: • 56 page quarterly magazine Clarinet and Saxophone which
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Editor: Richard Edwards Clarinet & Saxophone, Fron, Llansadwrn, LL59 5SL Tel. 01248 811285, [email protected]
Editorial Team: Philip Bee, Janet Eggleden, Graham Honeywood, Kenneth Morris, Susan Moss, Stephanie Reeve, William Upton
Membership: Andrew Smith, Tel: 08456 440187 [email protected]
Printed by WO Jones, Llangefni, Ynys Môn, LL77 7JA
Advertising: Clarinet & Saxophone, Fron, Llansadwrn, Menai Bridge, LL59 5SL Tel. 01248 811285, [email protected]
Copy Dates: January 15, April 15, July 15, October 15
© All copyrights reserved 2013 • ISSN 0260 390X Views expressed in the magazine do not necessarily reflect those of the Editor or the Editorial Board.
IN THIS ISSUE
The Official Publication of the Clarinet & Saxophone Society of Great Britain Winter 2013 Volume 38 Number 4
Regulars 42 Reviews
42 cD 44 Music
46 Diary Details of concerts, courses and play days 52 Readers’ Letters 52 Classifieds 52 Notice of AGM 53 Library Booking Application Form 54 Editor’s Notes richard edwards 54 Guidelines for Contributors 55 New Members 55 Clarinet & Saxophone Society Details 52 Index of Advertisers
Features 4 News 7 Clarinet & Saxophone Society Recital David campbell and caroline Jaya-ratnam
perform after the Society’s aGM at the Manoukian Music centre, Westminster School Sunday 5th January, 5pm. you are invited
8 Bernard Parris at 90 interviewed by Stephanie reeve 10 What is it about the Selmer Mark VI? Kenneth Morris and Steve crow reflect 12 Musician’s Dystonia: A Silent Plague tim redpath in conversation
with William Upton 18 Ryo Noda’s Improvisation Performance directions discovered, ellie Parker 20 Peter Ripper a musical life, William Upton 25 Aurélie Tropez Well known in france and deserving of an audience here, John
robert Brown 26 Special Delivery Luca Luciano discusses his transcription of eddie Daniel’s clarinet
solo 30 Caroline Franklyn’s New Year Quiz Prize for the winner 32 Julian Marc Stringle Kenneth Morris’s pen portrait 34 ABRSM Clarinet Grade 4 your guide to the new syllabus, Stephanie reeve 38 Where Can I Play? Huntingdon, Slinfold, new Malden, Bingley, Machynlleth 40 Celebrating 25 Years of the Colchester Single Reed Festival full details of the gala
concert and play day, charles Hine 56 Who Are Our Readers? New Series John Davenport interviewed by Stephanie reeve
8 32 48
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Park Lane Group continue to provide a prominent platform for outstanding young musicians and performances of special interest. now in its 58th year, their distinguished young artist scheme will stage 40 events in six different venues across London throughout 2013/14. Last spring, a rigorous audition process whittled over 140 soloists and ensembles down to the final 16, and amongst those are the young artists taking part in the January new year Series at London’s Southbank centre.
two young soloists, saxophonist anthony Brown and clarinettist Max Welford will perform with their respective duo partners, Leo nicholson and Katherine tinker, in the week beginning 6th January, which promises to be an imaginative and stimulating series of masterclasses and high quality performances. Both anthony and Max will be performing works by the late richard rodney Bennett, and the premières of new commissions by Graham ross and Shiva feshareki, funded by PLG. these specially written works have been a feature of PLG’s work for over half a century, and continue to this day to fuel new soloist/ensemble-composer relationships.
Both of these promising performers have already attained great success as soloists. Max has performed at many prestigious venues throughout the UK and abroad, including new york’s Lincoln center, and is a member of the award winning Marylebone Wind Quintet. anthony’s competition success has included first prize in the Haverhill Sinfonia Soloist competition and the Bromsgrove international young Musician’s Platform, and he has also been accepted into other prestigious young artist schemes for 2013/14.
audiences attending the PLG concerts
can also look forward to performances from Ensemble Matisse, featuring clarinettist Rozenn le Trionnaire. as a graduate of the conservatoire de Paris (crr), the Paris Boulogne-Billancourt higher arts education centre, La Sorbonne University and the royal academy of Music, London, rozenn is a keen exponent of contemporary music whose career is gaining recognition on both sides of the channel. the Cataleya Wind Quintet will perform works by Ligeti and Berio and premiere a work by Vykintas Baltakas. amongst the masterclass series running alongside the evening concerts, the Jacquin Trio make a return to PLG to work with composer nicola Lefanu. they can be heard at the Southbank centre, London:
tuesday 7th January 2014, 7:45pm - Max Welford (clarinet) Katherine tinker (piano)
Wednesday 8th January 2014, 6:15pm - Jacquin trio, nicola Lefanu (masterclass) thursday 9th January 2014, 7:45pm - anthony Brown (saxophone) Leo nicholson (piano)
friday 10th January 2014, 7:45pm - cataleya Wind Quintet
4 Clarinet & Saxophone Winter 2013
News PARK LANE GROUP YOUNG ARTIST NEW YEAR SERIES
anthony Brown rozenn le trionnaire
British saxophonist, alastair Penman, has been selected alongside five other soloists and two groups to receive an inaugural award from the city Music foundation, a new charity established to support musicians at the start of their professional careers.
for each city Music foundation artist a programme will be arranged that consists of a series of concerts, mentorship from experienced performers and industry experts, plus marketing, and Pr support. in this first year, over 50 nominations were received from conservatoires, arts organisations and venues from across the UK. these were assessed by a panel consisting of artists and experts from across the music industry and reduced to a short list of 20 who were invited to audition and interview.
the 2013 award winners are saxophonist alastair Penman, cellist Mikhail nemtsov, recorder player Miriam nerval, violinist Mari Poll, harpist claire iselin, pianist
cordelia Williams, folk band Bridie Jackson and the arbour, and alternative-folk group tir eolas.
as well as being provided with an umbrella of support from the cMf, alastair has received a financial award in excess of £7,000 that will enable him to record a debut album and give a
concert tour later next year. alastair’s main musical focus is on contemporary saxophone repertoire, particularly those works involving the fusion of saxophone and electronics. to encourage more activity in this area alastair is planning to commission a number of new works and is hosting a saxophone composition competition, launched in november 2013. the competition will feature a substantial cash prize and the winning composition
will be recorded on alastair’s debut album later next year. for full
details visit www.alastairpenman.co.uk/ competition.
www.citymusicfoundation.org and for more information about
alastair and to see forthcoming concert dates visit www.alastairpenman.co.uk.
CITY MUSIC FOUNDATION INAUGURAL AWARDS alastair Penman
Winter 2013 Clarinet & Saxophone 5
the first clarinets have been made at the cambridge Woodwind Workshops at Stapleford Granary, cambridge. Under the guidance of Daniel Bangham, canadian clarinettist Simon aldrich made his own classical clarinet based on a five-keyed model by Simiot (c.1805). at the end of the two week course Simon played his new instrument in an informal concert at the Stapleford Granary recital Hall and talked about his experiences of making and playing the instrument. after improvising around some themes of Mozart, Simon commented that playing a clarinet such as this gave a better understanding of what composers such as Mozart were writing for. More closely related to the recorder than the modern day clarinet it was clear why composers were drawn to it as an instrument and the vocal quality of the sound was projected beautifully with very little effort across the hall. Simon is currently principal clarinet of orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal and has appeared with many orchestras across canada, the United States, europe, australia and Japan. He teaches at McGill University.
also attending the course as an apprentice technician was adam fedor, a language graduate and clarinettist originally from Poland. Having taken part in another of Daniel’s workshop courses,
the Barrel experiment, adam worked for three months learning skills necessary for instrument manufacture and also produced his own clarinet. He hopes to become a clarinet maker after completing further training. now based in Melbourne, adam said: “Daniel was very supportive and generous with his knowledge and he
inspired me into making clarinets in australia.” for information on the clarinet making courses visit www.cambridgewoodwindmakers.org.
MARGARET CELEBRATES Margaret archibald celebrates her 65th birthday with a concert at 7.30pm on 3rd february 2014 at the Musicians’ church, St. Sepulchre- without-newgate (on the junction of Giltspur Street and Holborn Viaduct). Her programme is performed with friends Julia Desbruslais on cello and pianist John flinders and includes Brahms trio in a minor, op. 114.
the evening features two clarinet premières. nick Planas is currently working on a suite for basset clarinet and piano in tribute to his father ted, called simply To My Father, that has been 20 years in the planning. nick has offered Margaret the opportunity to feature an extract which she will perform on the very same basset clarinet, now her own, that was the first instrument made by Selmer in discussion with ted Planas, after he made his pioneering basset instrument for alan Hacker.
Michael omer, film and tV composer and a long-standing friend and colleague of Margaret’s, is writing a new work for clarinet and piano especially for the occasion, inspired by themes of re-growth and re-birth, and in particular by a lithograph picturing a gnarled olive tree that has endured all kinds of weather and survived, it is called You Could Hear the Olive Trees Groan...
www.st-sepulchre.org.uk/concerts.html Margaret archibald
CAMBRIDGE CLARINETS Daniel Bangham and Simon aldrich with the newly made five- keyed clarinet
6 Clarinet & Saxophone Winter 2013
News yoUr LiBrary – BiGGer anD Better Loans are increasing and the library continues to expand. During the last few months we have received a large collection of music from isobel Godsell, whose late husband ted was a clarinettist, saxophonist and teacher in croydon and South London and a clarinet and Saxophone Society member for many years. ted’s collection includes clarinet and saxophone ensembles, clarinet choir and wind chamber music. Music from this collection will have the suffix tG and we are very grateful to isobel for donating ted’s collection.
flautist caroline franklyn has donated a large amount of wind chamber music to the library including many wind quintets and we have received roger tempest’s alto Saxophone concerto and several works featuring the clarinet by frank Bayford.
Both of these collections have been added to the main database which is available within the members’ area of the website. for further information on these and other collections please contact our librarian Stephanie reeve at [email protected] a library borrowing application form is available on page 54 of this magazine.
NEW WOODWIND ORCHESTRA RECORDING conductor Shea Lolin is to record an album of music for woodwind orchestra, entitled Twisted Skyscape, with soloists from the czech Philharmonic in January 2014. this unique project showcases a genre almost unheard of: an entire album devoted to music for woodwind orchestra by contemporary British composers.
the woodwind orchestra’s tonal palette is in turn boldly vibrant and delicately beautiful, excitingly powerful and hauntingly tender. it will be captured here, in all its variety, featuring the outstanding playing of soloists from the czech Philharmonic and including music by Gary carpenter, christopher Hussey, adam Gorb and Philip Sparke. the album will be released as a cD and as a digital download next March.
this project is ambitious and will not be possible without a good deal of public support. Some funding has
already been secured, but in order to raise the funds necessary to produce this album, you are invited to pledge money in support. a pledge of £12 will be rewarded with a copy of the album sent to you ahead of the release date, and you will be providing a vital part of the jigsaw which will bring this exciting and vibrant project to fruition. to find out more and consider making a pledge, please visit: www.twistedskyscape.com.
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David Campbell enjoys a varied career as a clarinet soloist, chamber musician and teacher.
at the age of 23 David was appointed as the clarinettist in Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’s ensemble, the fires of London, and was quickly invited to play with numerous other ensembles and orchestras including the London Sinfonietta and the London Mozart Players.
over recent years David campbell has developed the solo and chamber music strands of his career, performing in over forty countries as a soloist with leading orchestras and ensembles. His repertoire is wide-ranging but he still champions new works, many of which have been written for him.
recent engagements have included concerts in france, the USa, china and Mexico. Premières over the past few years have included concertos, written for him by USa composers, Peter Lieuwen and charles fitts.
in June 2010, David gave a series of televised masterclasses at the Domaine forget international academy in charlevoix, Quebec which can now be viewed on www.PlaywithaPro.com .
David campbell particularly enjoys the genre of the clarinet quintet and has appeared as a guest artist with many fine string quartets including the Bingham, Bridge, Brodsky, copenhagen (Denmark), coull, Danubius (Hungary), Delme, emperor, endellion, fine arts (USa), Maggini, Medici, Solstice and tippett. recently, David toured the UK extensively with the prize-winning Sacconi and Solstice Quartets. clarinet quintets have been written for David campbell by richard Blackford, roger Steptoe, Simon Holt, Gareth churchill, Keith amos, and Michael Stimpson, and a new work will be commissioned from rolf Hind.
as well as numerous broadcasts over the past thirty years, David has made many cDs including two versions of the Mozart concerto with the city of London Sinfonia and royal Philharmonic, two versions of the Brahms clarinet Sonatas as well as the Mozart and Brahms Quintets, Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time, two albums of music by charles camilleri, the Bliss clarinet Quintet, Phillip cannon’s Quintet, Logos and works by Martinu, Maxwell Davies and carey Blyton. His recording of Peter Lieuwen’s River of Crystal Light was released in May 2007 and the following year Reflections - clarinet concertos by carl Davis, Gerald finzi and Graham fitkin with the aurora orchestra, conducted by nicholas collon. in 2010 a recording of the
Septet by Welsh composer, John Metcalf, was issued to great critical acclaim and richard Blackford’s Quintet, Full Moon has recently been released. a recording of roger Steptoe’s Quintet is planned for 2014.
David campbell is also passionate about music education. He is currently Head of Woodwind at Westminster School and since 2002 David has been artistic Director of ‘Musicfest’, a combined summer school and festival in aberystwyth. He also gives a week of masterclasses at Dartington international Summer School. in June 2013 he stepped down from his position as a Visiting Professor at canterbury christ church University. David campbell is the UK chair of the international clarinet association, and has represented the UK at the international clarinet conferences in London, Quebec, Ghent, Lubbock, Paris, ostend, Salt Lake city, Stockholm, Vancouver and oporto. from 2010 to 2013 he was also chair of the clarinet and Saxophone Society of Great Britain.
Caroline Jaya –Ratnam read music at cambridge holding an instrumental award and a choral exhibition. following her masters degree she was appointed Junior fellow at the royal college of Music.
national prize-winning pianist caroline is in demand as an accompanist. television appearances have included accompanying international opera singers Danielle de niese, rolando Villazon (andrew Marr show) and Bryn terfel; and itV’s Popstar to Operastar with rolando and Katherine Jenkins.
caroline has performed five times on BBc radio 3’s InTune and has appeared at the royal albert Hall in numerous Proms as part of the London Symphony orchestra and the BBc concert orchestra. She
has given duo recitals at the Wigmore Hall and royal festival Hall, and internationally. She recently performed a piano concerto live on radio 3 from the Queen elizabeth Hall with the BBc concert orchestra.
as a repetiteur (freelance) at english national opera, caroline has worked with conductors edward Gardner, richard Hickox and artists such as Willard White, John tomlinson and Philip Langridge. She is a professor on the staff at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
More recently caroline has sung high treble parts for Synergy Vocals in Steve reich’s music in the UK, amsterdam, Dresden, Paris and tokyo - with personal praise from reich!
David campbell is grateful to Buffet – crampon for their support. He is playing on Buffet Divine clarinets with a Lomax mouthpiece, rico reserve 3.5 reeds and BG ligature.
Winter 2013 Clarinet & Saxophone 7
following the Society’s aGM at 4.30pm on Sunday, 5th January 2014, members and friends are welcome to a
Society of Great Britain
RECITAL David Campbell (clarinet) Caroline Jaya-Ratnam (piano) Manoukian Music Centre, Westminster School Sunday 5th January 2014 at 5pm
Johannes Brahms Sonata in eb op.120 no.2 Charles-Marie Widor Introduction et Rondo, op. 72 Richard Rodney Bennett Ballad in Memory of Shirley Horn Henri Rabaut Solo de concours, op. 10
David campbell
caroline Jaya –ratnam
Bernard’s interest in music had begun in his home town of Chatham. His family were not particularly musical although
his mother played the piano a little. Bernard had initially wanted to be a drummer and used to have sessions in his parents’ front room with a very good pianist. “We couldn’t afford a proper set of drums so I had cases, tins and home-made sticks which I rattled about.”
The main employment in the area was at Chatham Dockyard and Bernard’s father and other family members had worked there. On leaving school Bernard followed the family tradition and was taken on as an apprentice electrician at the docks. Bernard recalls: “I was expected to go into the dockyard. I had an apprenticeship which was more than my father had so it was quite a good thing. ‘You’ve got an apprenticeship, you’re going to be a proper tradesman!’” By chance Bernard found himself working opposite another musician. “I went to chat to him and I found out he was a saxophone player and I said I fancied being a drummer. He said ‘you don’t want to be a drummer taking all that kit about, why don’t you take up the saxophone?’ So I did and he put me in touch with somebody locally who sold second hand instruments and I bought my very first saxophone for £5.” This was around 1938 and as there were no teachers locally Bernard taught himself to play various tunes and pieces. “After not very long I began to take little engagements with bands.” A further connection led Bernard to a tenor saxophone player in the local RAF station band and Bernard was able to take lessons from him. “He used to come to the house and introduced me to proper technique and diaphragm breathing and for the first time I
had definite aims. These lessons, although irregular, went on for a considerable period.”
Shortly afterwards Bernard took up the clarinet. “As a saxophone player in the band it became necessary to play the clarinet so I got myself a clarinet and decided that I would take it up properly and have lessons. I made enquiries at Boosey & Hawkes and was introduced to Albert Goossens who was quite a prominent teacher. He lived in London and so I travelled up to London every Sunday morning through the buzz bombs and the V2 rockets bombs as the war was still at its height.”
Despite having a promising career in the docks Bernard made a big decision. “When the war came to an end I decided that I wanted to leave my day job and become a full time musician. And this meant I needed to take up full time study. Albert Goossens taught at Trinity College so this took me to Trinity on the teacher training course which was a two year course during which I obtained LTCL and AMusTCL diplomas.” After the first year Bernard decided not to continue with the teacher training but kept his instrumental
studies going. “I learnt the piano, the clarinet and I took up the violin because I thought I ought to know something about strings so I had three instruments. By this time I was based in Birmingham working in professional bands. I used to travel to London frequently and managed to compress my lessons at college into one day.”
After leaving college in 1952 Bernard continued to take clarinet lessons and obtained FTCL and LRAM performance diplomas. Albert Goossens had been a very good teacher and Bernard was then led to one of the most prominent players at that time, Jack Brymer. Bernard had continued to play the saxophone and realising dance bands were usually short of tenor players he bought a tenor saxophone and eventually specialised in that. The list of bands includes Ronnie Hancox, Vincent Ladbrook and others and Bernard played regularly in Birmingham and the Midlands while also doing tours to coastal towns. “I’ve had jobs all the time. I can’t remember all the details of when and where but I can remember a long term engagement at Hastings during the freezing winter of 1946.
8 Clarinet & Saxophone Winter 2013
continuing the series looking back on the long and varied careers of players Stephanie Reeve caught up with Bernard Parris to learn about his move from working in a dockyard to playing in jazz bands and from college study to involvement with the Musicians’ Union and association of Woodwind teachers. Bernard celebrated his 90th birthday earlier in the year so on a sunny day towards the end of the summer i found myself on a quiet country lane just outside the Suffolk seaside town of Southwold where i met Bernard and his wife Janet to reflect on Bernard’s life in music.
BERNARD PARRIS AT 90
Winter 2013 Clarinet & Saxophone 9
I had regular long term engagements as well as spells when I hadn’t got a full time job. I then used to come back home and play with local bands and could always rely on one or two bands to give me gigs. At that time I was doing my studying as well.”
Bernard’s teaching career has seen him as a professor at Trinity College of Music, both junior and senior colleges, and clarinet and saxophone teacher at schools including St Felix and Roedean and for Kent Music School. “While I was at Trinity I enjoyed teaching the junior exhibitioners. These were selected talented children who came on Saturdays. I was a member of the team led by Gladys Puttick. William Lovelock and Gladys Puttick were the big names at that time. Dr Greenhouse Allt was the principal, later followed by Myers Foggin.”
Bernard joined the Musicians’ Union early on in his career and became part-time secretary of the Medway branch. Invited by Tom Barton to apply for the position of Central London Branch secretary, Bernard did not want to give up his professional playing work which would have been a requirement of the job. He therefore turned it down. However when the job came up again Bernard applied and was appointed secretary in 1971. This was around the time of the BBC strikes and he was in charge of the strike fund which gave grants to musicians. He also led the salary negotiations for the London Opera Houses and the West End Theatre musicians. Bernard remained in this job right up until retirement having been there for 17 years.
Another of Bernard’s long standing involvements was with the Association of Wind Teachers, later renamed Association of Woodwind Teachers, of which he became chairman following Mary Chandler, ex- principal oboe of the CBSO. “When Mary retired she handed over to me two things which were run by what became Benslow Music Trust and of which I was also chairman at one time. One was the AWT who ran courses for various aspects of wind teaching including a course on woodwind repairs which was run by Daniel Bangham. The other was the playing weekends where we assembled about 30 or so amateur players.” These courses enabled participants to play in small ensembles but also to come together to form a large ensemble. The courses ran twice a year and in order to keep a balanced group, players were invited to apply. “From those we selected hopefully a balanced group so that we could make up about six wind quintets. The problem was always to get enough bassoons and horns. We had plenty of flutes and loads of clarinets. Oboes were a bit scarce so instead of an oboe we often had a second flute. Angela Fussell and Michael Axtell tutored on the playing courses and were both wonderful.”
While Bernard had an incredibly active and varied career throughout his life he continued to study. He had gained his diplomas whilst at Trinity but had often thought about doing a degree. “One day at an MU meeting of some kind I got chatting to Malcolm Barry who taught at Goldsmith’s College and I said ‘oh, I fancy doing a degree at some time’, he said ‘well why not!’ Lo and behold a few days later I
had a communication saying would you like to come to Goldsmiths to do a degree. So I had a formal interview and signed on to do the first year”. This was in 1976. Bernard had to take some time off during the second year due to the BBC strike and when he returned the syllabus had changed so he had to go back to year one. The end of the course also stands out in Bernard’s memory as he had to dash to London to get his final thesis handed in with just hours to spare before going off to a meeting in London. One of his tutors there had been Janet Ritterman who had given good guidance throughout.
What might interest clarinet players mostly though is his Masters degree which he completed in the early 1990s. This looked at British clarinet playing from 1940 to the present day and centred on what was the English style, the effects of recordings and developments of instruments and other factors. Bernard interviewed Roger Heaton, Alan Hacker, John McCaw and Jack Brymer. He met Geoffrey Acton, a clarinettist who had worked for Boosey & Hawkes and who had designed the last series of 1010s. Following Janet Ritterman’s input on Bernard’s first degree he requested her again as supervisor and describes her as ‘wonderful’ in guiding him through the final stages.
Our talk turned to instruments and Bernard’s own instrument history is perhaps very straightforward. As a clarinettist he played on 1010s for a long while before switching to Leblanc. “As a saxophonist I’ve had the same Selmer Mark VI tenor for all my
playing life. And I also acquired a Mark VI alto at some stage, but I was always a tenor player.” His mouthpiece was a metal Link. “Otto Link was my favourite. I acquired a 6* Otto Link at quite an early stage and I kept it because I loved it. There was nothing like it.” For straighter playing Bernard used an ebonite mouthpiece but this was not as frequently used. “On the alto I always had an ebonite Selmer mouthpiece which I used all the time.”
After such a career Bernard could not stop that easily and continued to teach for Kent Music School and play with the City of Rochester Orchestra, the East Anglian Single Reed Choir, directed by Angela Fussell, and with Noah’s Ark Wind Quintet until he finally retired eight years ago. He is now enjoying life with Janet in Southwold and Janet joined us during our chat. As a clarinettist herself she shares many of Bernard’s memories, recalling in particular detail some of the more amusing stories. Bernard kept in close contact with Jack Brymer and they were very good friends. Attending a concert in Surrey Bernard and Janet went to see Jack beforehand to say hello. They left the Green Room a few minutes before Jack was due to go on. The Green Room was under the stage and to get back to the auditorium they had to climb some stairs and enter at the front of the hall which was also the entry for the performers. Bernard led the way but owing to the similarity between himself and Jack, at least from the eyebrows up, the audience applauded! Once they realised it was not Jack they settled back down and finally Jack did emerge to perform.
There were more tales as we talked about players and places and it was clear that they have both had many immensely satisfying and enjoyable times. Now that Bernard and Janet are fully retired from playing and teaching they have very kindly donated their extensive woodwind library to the Clarinet & Saxophone Society library. We hope to collect and catalogue this over the next few months which will enable members to enjoy the varied works collected over a fascinating lifetime in music. As members of the Clarinet and Saxophone Society Bernard and Janet keep up to date with the single reed world and we thank them for their donation which will continue to be used for many years to come.
BERNARD PARRIS AT 90
Once they realised it was not Jack they settled back down and finally Jack did appear to perform
10 Clarinet & Saxophone Winter 2013
Kenneth Morris in discussion with saxophone engineer Steve Crow
KM: Well Steve, where shall we start?
SC: this is one of my favourite instruments and in the right hands (and chops) and given a bit of tLc over their now quite long life they are a very fine instrument indeed.
KM: i detect some hidden ‘buts’ here – can this be anything to do with the extraordinary prices being asked for what could be a near 60 year-old horn?
SC: they are seemingly expensive, but considering they have the perfect combination of excellent keywork, a great sound and were hand crafted, you are paying for quality. computer-aided design did not appear until well after the ‘last’ Mark Vi alto and tenor left the factory around 1973. can we please return to this ‘last’ business in a minute because other Mark Vis (sopranino, soprano, baritone and bass) were being made right up to the appearance of the Super action 80s. computer-aided manufacture of saxophone components came along much later still in the mid 1990s.
KM: So what’s all this caD/caM business to do with Selmer horns made from 1954-73?
SC: nothing, Selmer hand-made
something like 150,000 pieces using mandrels and tone-hole forming techniques not much different from adolphe Sax’s, and also made many design adjustments/improvements more or less
as they went along. i’ve noted more than 45 body/key-work changes to the altos and tenors alone in the
course of 20 years servicing Mark Vis.
KM: if you include export versus european engraving differences, original lacquering and plating
variations plus the odd low a models, along with the cumulative effect of
good and bad servicing work i’m beginning to think that there is no such thing as a ‘standard’ excellent price-worthy example of a Mark Vi out there in the market.
SC: not quite true. you know the old aphorism, “Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder”? i firmly believe that saxophone value lies in the ear of the player. i once heard two professional players try out the same sax. one claimed that the instrument was well out of tune the other stated it delivered the finest intonation he had ever experienced.
KM: So apart from stating the obvious “no- one should buy a horn without trying it
ALL SIZES
• bell tip has no bends/badly executed repair to inner wire (a very difficult repair).
• tone hole heights have not worn down to body level.
• there is a complete absence of crook cracking or crook repair.
• pearls/pearl holders are not too worn. • key-work barrels/tubing are not badly
worn or have been crudely repaired • for signs of bad re-laquering. • that the main body tube is straight.
ON SOPRANOS
• shorter bell models can have tuning problems.
• early models don’t have a half-c cover to flatten the middle c#.
• always difficult to play quietly in the middle register e and f
• some are sharp at palm keys (vent adjustment can correct this).
• all models have no front f.
ON ALTOS
• early models with short bells can be sharp at the bottom, middle models with long bells could be flat at the bottom, late models (with a medium bell) are good at the bottom.
• most models tend to have a sharp middle e/f.
ON TENORS
• tuning of early models good, middle are very good and late still good but all models tend to be sharp at middle e/f.
ON BARITONES
• long bell models from the 1960s tend to have tuning difficulties.
• medium bell models from the later years are better in tune.
• the low c# can be problematic. • some 1974 – 1986 models can be stamped
Mk Vii on the front of the bell but were made with Mk Vi tooling.
MYTHS
• five digit serial numbered and/or european assembled examples are best. all Mark Vis were made in france, whether they were finally assembled/engraved/lacquered in Paris or the USa makes no difference. • Post 1965 examples are made from a different quality brass resulting in a less good timbre. certainly many players hear a different sound when they play different vintages of Mark Vi - but it’s all in the ear of the listener. • Many suffer from poor intonation – only a minority exhibited this trait ex- factory – most cases of bad tuning result from poor set up/regulation or physical damage (rectifiable under a good engineer).
Steve’s PANEL A BEFORE PURCHASING, CHECK
WHAT IS IT ABOUT THE SELMER MARK VI? Kenneth Morris
Winter 2013 Clarinet & Saxophone 11
out”, where does this take us? What pearls of wisdom can we impart to our readers?
SC: i’m happy to provide a condition check list for a prospective purchaser to use when viewing/testing out a Mark Vi horn. it’s important to realise that just a few ‘conditions’ are at the extreme ends of repair-ability and that if these are identified it would be unwise to make a purchase without the advice of a really competent/experienced engineer. SEE PANEL A.
KM: and i’m willing to put down some salient background facts gleaned from Mark Vi owners and various websites (some of which are listed). SEE PANEL B.
SC: can i now return to the matter of serial numbers higher than 220xxx (1974 onwards)?
KM: certainly, i personally own a low a Selmer baritone sax numbered 287xxx which from Selmer’s own charts appears to be a late Mk Vii.
SC: no, Ken! it’s a Mark Vi because Selmer never made any Mk Vii sopraninos, sopranos, baritones or basses: up to and possibly a little beyond the introduction of Super 80 altos/tenors these four sizes were made with Mk Vi tooling.
KM: that’s good news, it must be worth a small fortune!
SC: not necessarily! Don’t forget the laws of supply and demand, plus all the ‘condition’ qualifications in my panel. Well heeled “pro’s/semi-pro’s” are a bit in the minority these days.
KM: are there any value yardsticks for Mark Vis?
SC: now we are entering tricky territory here. Just as a rough guide any Mark Vi alto and tenor will usually be worth more than the current new Selmer equivalent model (ref. 54 - market, not recommended retail) price if it comes with an exceptional provenance i.e. it was once owned by a very famous artist or in the hands/chops of the potential purchaser it has ‘that unique sound’ he/she is looking for. By far the majority of Mark Vi’s value is determined by condition (both playing wise and cosmetic appearance) which governs the amount of remedial work needed to get the instrument into full working order.
KM: So they are never cheap. Maybe the potential purchaser should look at other makes?
SC: Possibly. a number of my Mark Vi owning clients have chosen to supplement
their horn family with a conn 12M or new Wonder (replete with my conversion work which is designed to make the instruments ‘feel’ more like a Selmer!). Without exception these professionals have changed purely to get the sound the vintage conn emits. across the atlantic King Super 20s are favoured as a jazz horn while both in the US and europe Selmer Series 3, Buffet S1 and Buffet SuperDynaction are valued for classical and small ensemble work.
KM: oK, let’s sum up. Selmer, over the period of Mark Vi production, perfected horn design so as to make the instrument an almost ‘gold standard’ regardless of the music genre involved. if you are lucky enough to own one treat it like a valuable horse; keep it clean and lubricated, stable it securely (hard case, not a gig bag) and give it an annual Mot using a service station staffed with someone with a sound knowledge of the breed.
Kenneth Morris has owned saxophones of all sizes and many makes since 1946. Steve Crow has been repairing and overhauling saxophones for 20 years specialising in Selmer Mark Vi models for most of that time.
Kenneth’s PANEL B TRUTHS
• almost all current Selmer competitors have copied the later Mark Vi keywork topography, this makes it clear it has the best ergonomics so far. additionally Mark Vis are rugged, have good sound projection and are not ‘strident’. • the Mark Vi is the instrument of choice for very many professional players but this does not mean that a beginner or student ‘in funds’ will get the best results from his/her investment in a Mark Vi, such players should not ignore quite excellent new or second-hand student and intermediate grade instruments available for very reasonable prices. • if you have a Mark Vi to sell and a professional player is interested in purchasing it, be prepared to organise an extended loan/trial period. a genuine buyer will be happy to arrange comprehensive insurance whilst the instrument is in their possession. • Like all makes of saxophone Mark Vis need proper set- up/regulation (more accurately re-set-ups/re-regulations). ensure that your chosen saxophone engineer is experienced in dealing with the brand. • Unlike many brands of vintage horns, spares for Mark Vis (and for that matter, Mark Viis as well) are fairly easily available. • the best guide to vintage Selmer serial numbers/year of manufacture can be found at http://vintagesaxontheweb.net/SelmerSerial_no.html. other useful sites include: www.shwoodwind.co.uk , http://en.wikipedia.org/wki/Selmer_Mark_Vi and www.saxpics.com/model/14/Selmer-Mark-Vi.html.
MARK VI CUSTOMISING POSSIBILITIES
Professional players and serious amateurs should be aware that customised set-ups of most Mark Vi instruments can be discussed with and implemented by an experienced engineer e.g.:
• spring tensions • key heights • left hand table key set-up • palm key risers • octave key mechanism adjustment/alteration • matching set-ups of alto and tenor
Steve Crow Saxophone Specialist
www.stevecrow.co.uk [email protected]
12 Clarinet & Saxophone Winter 2013
We all know the story of Django Rheinhart, whose meteoric career as a banjo- guitarist seemed prematurely over when he was badly injured in a fire in his gypsy caravan. Reinhardt suffered crippling injuries to the fourth and fifth fingers of his left hand. Despite doctors’ warnings that he would never perform again Reinhardt took up the guitar and devised a unique playing style with which he emerged as the most revered jazz guitarist of all time.
Tim Redpath’s encounter with career- threatening adversity lacks some of the more colourful elements of Reinhardt’s tale. He grew up in the South of England in a house
that wasn’t ravaged by fire, cut his teeth in youth music festivals rather than gloomy bals musette of working class Paris, and he wasn’t struck by injury until his mid-40s, by which time he was already a well established orchestral and chamber musician. Nevertheless, his cautionary tale has a great deal to say about musical society in Britain.
Musicians are notoriously bad at looking after their health. Their instruments are typically in better working shape than their bodies, which sometimes isn’t saying much, and they’re often more attuned to the needs of their car than their own wellbeing. “If your car hesitates once on the way to a gig, you
worry about whether you’re going to get there”, Tim tells me. “If it happens twice you take it to a garage first thing the next day. But as a musician you just put up with all the aches and pains we associate with the profession, never considering that some of these might be the warning signs of something more serious.”
For the last four years Tim has been dealing with dystonia, a neurological condition of which there is limited understanding and strictly speaking no cure, which makes his story of recovery remarkable. Dystonia is a clinical syndrome in which involuntary muscle contractions produce twisting and repetitive movements or contorted postures; it can affect the whole body, half of the body, or specific muscle groups.
Mercifully, dystonia is rare, affecting only 0.000127% of the population. Rare, that is, until you look at professional musicians, of
MUSICIAN’S DYSTONIA A SILENT PLAGUE
tim redpath in conversation with William Upton
Imagine rising to the summit of your profession, and then having it all taken away by a condition that appears to have no cure. Once one of this country’s top soprano saxophonists, Tim Redpath found himself sitting at the back of concerts
in which he would once have been starring. Having myself suffered from a neck problem that briefly threatened my career, I approached Tim with huge sympathy, and found myself inspired by a story which has a remarkable and happy ending.
Trifarious
Winter 2013 Clarinet & Saxophone 13
whom two out of every 100 are likely to suffer from a particularly cruel sub-form of the condition called focal task specific dystonia – otherwise known as musician’s dystonia. ‘Focal’ means that it affects only one part of the body, and ‘task specific’ means it only manifests when performing a particular task – playing an instrument.
Scientists remain unsure about the cause of musician’s dystonia, and until recently it was often misdiagnosed as a psychological malaise, an analysis no doubt encouraged by the stereotype of the highly-strung classical musician. Today we understand that there are at least two genes linked to a predisposition to the condition, and the intense physical demands of being a musician can trigger this susceptibility.
When one learns an instrument to a high level, the brain adapts, streamlining the way it processes stimuli from, and controls movement in, the parts of the body most intimately involved in performance. In musician’s dystonia, these adaptations go too far, distorting the brain’s map of the body and leading to abnormal sensorimotor processing in performance situations, causing muscles to work against one another. For pianists at their instrument this can manifest in an involuntary and uncontrollable curling of the fingers, while guitarists and percussionists can be left unable to hold their plectrums and sticks. Phil Todd, who I interviewed in 2011, was left unable to lift his right-hand fourth and fifth fingers from the keys of his flute despite having full use of his hand in day-to- day life; in his case, regular Botox injections were used to weaken the offending muscle sufficiently for him to continue performing.
For Tim the symptoms of musician’s dystonia were less visually striking, affecting the muscles of his embouchure, responsible for creating a seal around the mouthpiece and controlling the vibration of the reed and the flow of air into the instrument. Tim tells me about the moment when dystonia put a stop to his career: “I was in the middle of a long run of performances with Opera North, culminating at Sadlers Wells, when suddenly I just couldn’t play; I had to stop at the end of the first act because my jaw was clamping shut towards the back of my head, all the muscles forcing me to bite onto the mouthpiece which would just slide out between my teeth.” The only way Tim made it to the first interval was by putting his tongue between his back teeth, his subconscious preventing him from biting through it. At the time this was a shocking blow, and threatened to end his career in a flash, but in hindsight the early symptoms had been bothering him for years.
Embouchure dystonia can take many shapes, resulting in severe lip tremors, loss of control of the tongue, contortions of the lip, or as in Tim’s case, involuntary jaw closure.
One of its cruellest aspects is its insidious onset, the early stages of the condition indistinguishable from the telltale signs that accompany lack of practice: loss of clarity of articulation, an unfocused or out-of-tune upper register, or a slight twitch attributable to fatigue. When Tim noticed a lack of flexibility and evenness in his vibrato he turned to the practice room to solve what appeared to be a technical niggle. This was the worst thing he could have done, further habituating the condition.
Tim is best known for his work as soprano saxophonist and founder member of the acclaimed Apollo Saxophone Quartet, formed in 1985 at the Royal Northern College of Music. Apollo have always had the air of an ensemble with a mission, whether it be their highly visual performance style, their drive to develop a uniquely energised post-minimalist repertoire, or their ‘us-and-them’ quest to have the saxophone taken seriously as a classical instrument. “Through our early years at college”, says Tim, “there was still this conservative attitude that you couldn’t make a living playing the saxophone, and that’s what drove us – we were young, very ambitious, and wanted to prove the establishment wrong.”
There have been films made and much ink spilt over the dynamics of top chamber ensembles. Most musicians agree that actors and writers never really come close to evoking the unique combination of friendship, professional rivalry, inspirational interplay, and suffocating proximity of which the onstage drama too often gives only a hint (Vikram Seth’s An Equal Music is a noteworthy exception); with Apollo the intensity has always there for all to see both on and off stage. “During the first 10 years out of college, Apollo really was like a marriage in terms of the time and effort we were putting into it”, says Tim. “There was a great intensity about that whole period, and through the competitions we were winning we were in the unusual position that we had regular well- paid gigs.” Of all the members Tim had arguably the hardest decision to make in committing to Apollo. He went to RNCM as a clarinettist, and by the end of his studies he
was already sitting in with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra as second clarinet to his teacher Paul Dintinger on a regular basis, and performing with the Hallé. “That could easily have been a career path for me, and were it not for Apollo I’d probably be sitting in an orchestra right now. But I couldn’t do Apollo and have an orchestral job, and with the exuberance of youth there really wasn’t any question about it.”
Apollo sealed their reputation when they won the 1992 Tokyo International Chamber Music Competition, and spent the next decade commissioning major works and performing at festivals. This commitment to the festival circuit, and the amount of time new works require to learn, cut them off from the more lucrative music society gigs that had been their bread and butter, and Tim was starting to understand why they’d been told you couldn’t make a living playing the saxophone alone. “I was having to drive countless hours each day just to do enough work to make ends meet”, he tells me. “I was doing a lot of teaching alongside the quartet rehearsals and orchestral work, and of the whole quartet I was the only one who was out there playing as much clarinet as saxophone. One moment I would be playing guest principal clarinet, or Eb, or bass, or basset, and the next I would find myself in the saxophone ‘hot seat’ playing works like Shostakovich’s Paradise Moscow (a social- realist opera set in a tower block, replete with magic singing flowers and crooked officials), which has a virtuosic soprano part.”
It was in 2002 that Tim’s vibrato began to falter. Vibrato, writ plain, is little more than a fluctuation of pitch created by moving the jaw up and down, but as a musical device it can be the difference between the saxophone as a piece of plumbing, and the saxophone as second only to the human voice in expressive potential. “I could make the same sound I always had done, but day-by-day I lost the ability to produce a controlled, uniform vibrato”, Tim recalls. “I still knew what vibrato was, and what I wanted it to sound like, and I even started analysing the physical movements that make it, but my body just wouldn’t do it.” Anybody who has ever had to take a penalty kick, or had the chance to make a winning putt, will know what happens when you begin to think about things that have always been second nature, and as such Tim’s problem only got worse. “I could just about cover it in Apollo, because we were never a group that used wide French vibrato, and it obviously wasn’t a prerequisite for the clarinet, but it was worrying me, and I wanted to know what was wrong.”
Tim attended a succession of clinicians, with doctors, physiotherapists, chiropractors, and vocal coaches all pointing out his excessive muscular tension and poor posture, no doubt exacerbated by long hours in the
Musicians are often more attuned to the needs of their car than their own wellbeing
14 Clarinet & Saxophone Winter 2013
car, the weight of clarinets and saxophones on the arms and neck, and poor lifestyle. But none of them could find anything to explain his embouchure travails. “I was convinced it was a physical issue, but at this point when they couldn’t find anything I was starting to think ‘Am I going mad?’” he recalls. “I was having to lift my top teeth off the mouthpiece to compensate for my jaw coming up, so the mouthpiece was starting to float around. This meant that things were becoming more noticeable in terms of my general control of the soprano, particularly in Apollo.” Apollo’s planned year-long sabbatical of 2007 couldn’t have come at a better time.
Unfortunately musician’s dystonia does not improve with rest, sufferers can retire for decades but the symptoms will still manifest when they return to play, and despite Tim’s reduced workload, the problems continued to escalate. “A year later, I met up with Apollo and we agreed it was probably better if I left the group. At that point Apollo was a year and a half shy of its 25th anniversary. I’d dedicated 23 years of my life to the group, and leaving it wasn’t just a case of losing that playing work; Apollo was my musical identity. If it weren’t for Apollo I wouldn’t have been where I was, because you get the respect and the recognition and the exposure that comes with the ensemble. When that crutch is gone you feel very empty.”
Tim’s decision to leave Apollo was rendered somewhat irrelevant when his symptoms took a turn for the worse. “The real catalyst was a performance of music from The Threepenny Opera with the Northern Sinfonia at the Sage in Gateshead. I was playing lead alto, and during the rehearsal the conductor kept asking me for wider vibrato and more stylistic flair, but the more I tried the more my jaw said no. I convinced myself it would be OK, and I went away and sat in a practice room for the whole three-hour break prior to the gig, but when nothing improved I found myself overwhelmed by a feeling of total despair. Then, halfway through the gig it was like my embouchure had completely gone, and I was hanging on for dear life just to play the melody – forget the vibrato, just get through the gig. A month later I was in Sadlers Wells and my career ground to a complete halt. I couldn’t play.”
Tim now wonders whether there was an element of hubris nemesis to his dystonia. “While I was freelancing in the build up to the dystonia I was performing a lot, but there was little time to practice, let alone take care of myself. Fortunately I’d always been a great sight-reader, so I thought ‘It’ll be all right, I’ll just go in there and do what I do’. I just wonder if, by pulling my embouchure in all these different directions with very little focused practice on any of the instruments, I was asking for trouble.” Added to this pot of
self-destruction was the physical duress of leading Apollo, waving a soprano around without a sling (like many tall saxophonists, Tim finds a sling attached to a Selmer Mark VI soprano too restrictive). Whether or not these were contributing factors, Tim was left in a situation where he couldn’t put an instrument near his face without his jaw clamping shut, and where even drinking a cup of tea or blowing on hot food could trigger his symptoms. “The one saving grace was that I had finally been diagnosed with musician’s dystonia by a very knowledgeable physician at the charitable organisation British Association for Performance Arts Medicine (BAPAM), so at least I could put a name to it. But at the time there didn’t appear to be any effective treatment available, or very much knowledge of the condition, so that’s where it was left.”
Few people identify with their work so much as musicians. Whether you call it a job, a vocation, a calling, or a lifestyle, nothing can prepare you to face forced retirement from performing. “When everything ground to a halt I cut the whole musical world off. I found it hard to be around another musician because I felt like I’d lost everything that made me who I was.” It would have been easy for Tim to slip into depression, but the drive that had made him a great performer didn’t vanish with his ability to play an instrument. “Dystonia in musicians has become much more publicised within the last few years”, Tim tells me. “However, the support required is often overlooked. Behind most musicians with dystonia, there will doubtless be a wife, partner or close family member who is living and sharing the experience of despair with the sufferer. In my case, my wife Rachel (Calaminus), herself a professional freelance violinist and violist, has experienced the journey with me. Without her constant reminders that I ‘will play again’, and her never-ending positivity, I wonder whether I would have got through it without giving in to
sticking my instruments on eBay. It has been hard for her, she has had to put up with so much, but it has been worth it.” Rachel suggested that Tim get away from the music world for a while to clear his head. “I’ve always loved restoration work and all things ‘practical’. I’d already taken a City and Guilds course in plumbing a few years earlier, so I decided to embark on some occupational therapy armed with a toolbox and an adjustable spanner! Once the word got out, I was working for half the musicians in South London – there must be at least a dozen bathrooms I’ve installed within this rather exclusive community.”
Some people might argue that the saxophone would serve equally well as a urinal as it is, subject to the application of solder, but others might find the career switch from musician to plumber hard to reconcile. Fortunately Tim has no qualms about the humorous side to his story. “I had to do that as part of the process. I love doing things, and I just wanted to get everything out of my system.” Of course, this was easier said than done when constantly confronted by ghosts from his former life. “My lowest point was when I’d finished a very long day working for an orchestral musician friend, and I was just coming downstairs in my scruffs as he turned up with his fellow orchestral clarinettists for a post-gig drink.” Being confronted by his ex-peers shocked Tim back into action. “It cleared my head and made me realise that I had to get back and try playing again, whatever it took.”
With the ubiquity of medical advice on the Internet it is now possible to unearth numerous resources on musician’s dystonia, although as with all Internet dealings one should approach most of these with healthy scepticism. For one thing, it does not take long to realise that there is something of a rift between members of the scientific community, who will tell you that strictly speaking there is no cure, and the small but significant number of musicians who seem to have recovered from the condition. Reporting on a recent medical conference in New York, James Oestreich observed that classical guitarist David Leisner, a recovered dystonia sufferer, ‘electrified the proceedings with his challenge to the [dystonia] research foundation’s claim on its website that “there is no cure for dystonia at this time.’” Tim was fortunate enough to fall on Joaquin Fabra, another musician who claims to have cured himself and led many others to a cure; his website is adorned with ‘before and after’ videos of musicians cured of dystonia. “Generous support from both The Musicians’ Benevolent Fund and the Royal Society of Musicians enabled me to spend five days with Fabra in Madrid”, Tim tells me. “Most of that time was spent talking to him about what was
MUSICIAN’S DYSTONIA: A SILENT PLAGUE
from the apollo Saxophone Quartet archive
Winter 2013 Clarinet & Saxophone 15
going on and the positive mental steps I could take. As far as he’s concerned, recovery is a thought process – a way of undoing what you’ve learnt.” Fabra’s advice is not actually far removed from the advice of many neurological specialists, although they would doubtless consider his labelling of the condition as ‘psychological’ and ‘emotional’ problematic. His advice, however, gave Tim the hope he needed. “I remember the first thing he said to me was that if I get through it I’d play better than I’d played before.”
Tim returned to the UK inspired to retrain his dystonic embouchure, but this was easier said than done. “There were times when I could almost catch myself off-guard, put the mouthpiece in for a few seconds and just blow with ease, but then my jaw would clamp shut. It was like looking at your little finger and trying to bend it all the way to the back of your hand just by strength of will – you can’t even imagine being able to do that. In the same way, I couldn’t imagine being able to play without my jaw closing. The first step to recovery was getting over that disbelief.”
Tim tried every embouchure variation he could, but temporary respite was the best he could achieve. “It went on like that for two years”, he recalls. “I was looking at photos of other players and trying to copy their embouchures, but nothing worked and I became completely obsessive over it. During my career I’d had all this information about what an embouchure was, and now my brain couldn’t process any of it.”
Enter John Harle, a controversial figure in the saxophone world, responsible for kick- starting the careers of some of Britain’s most exciting soloists. When Tim and the rest of Apollo were in their final year at RNCM they started travelling to London for lessons with Harle, who was then taking the musical establishment by storm. “I started thinking back to those first lessons with John, where he told us to forget everything we’d ever learnt”, Tim tells me. “He got us to just put the mouthpiece in without forming an embouchure and blow as hard as possible. You make this huge, uncontrolled sound which looks after itself, and all you have to think about is moving the fingers. It trains you to breathe and blow with a complete sense of freedom, and once you can do that
without thinking you gradually step back and involve the embouchure and the tongue, building up the muscle to cope with the unprecedented volume of air you’re expelling. I think everybody deals with that process of stepping back differently, and I began to wonder if I’d got it all wrong.” Going back to the exercises from that formative year was a seminal moment for Tim, who found that although he couldn’t make a nice sound, when he didn’t worry about an embouchure his jaw didn’t clamp shut. “I’d got into this vicious cycle of thinking that the clarinet and saxophone had taken me all that time to learn to play, so they must be really complicated. But they’re not. I’d been trying to make subtle adjustments to my embouchure when what I needed was to wipe the slate clean and start from scratch.”
The year of 1977 is often regarded as a blemish on pianist Glenn Gould’s otherwise remarkable career, one in which his excessive perfectionism led him to hide away from the music industry. But there is a growing theory among neurologists that the arch- hypochondriac was actually suffering from musician’s dystonia of the right hand. Close scrutiny of his diaries suggests that his year of silence was instead bustling with systematic attempts to overcome the worsening
condition. As Frank Wilson writes, ‘with his career at stake and apparently convinced no doctor could help him, [Gould] turned his studio into an experimental laboratory with his own body as object of enquiry. For the next year he used his eyes, his exquisitely tuned kinaesthetic sense, and his imagination, to dismantle and scrutinize virtually everything in his own posture and movements that might bear in any way on his playing.’ Gould re-emerged to make his defining musical statement, his second recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, and Tim’s recovery is no less remarkable. “After my epiphany I remember getting some repertoire out, and just playing it all. I didn’t care about the sound, and thankfully the fingers weren’t any worse for wear even after three years away from playing. I did this every single day, with a ridiculously soft reed, and slowly the sound started to develop, and I would hit on small things every week. But I couldn’t get complacent, because each time I let myself think about forming an embouchure I’d revert back to what I’d learnt to do and the jaw would spasm.” As Tim grew in confidence he realised that he really was rebuilding an embouchure from scratch. “Everything felt completely alien, because every muscle was in a slightly different position to where it was before. I unlearnt 30 years of bad habits, and even now I look in the mirror everyday when I play and think, Yes, this is better than yesterday.”
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Tim is that he feels lucky for having been given the opportunity to take a step back from a job that had lost its joy. “It’s very easy in the music industry to end up having to claw for air and do stupid things just to break even. As musicians we need to keep ourselves physically and mentally fit, and not take our abilities for granted. I never thought: ‘Hang on; something’s not working’, until it was too late.”
The Apollo Saxophone Quartet has of course moved on to an exciting new period in its history, with Carl Raven and Jim Fieldhouse joining Rob Buckland and Andy Scott. Similarly, Tim is determined to take the Apollo spirit into unchartered territory with his new trio Trifarious. “During the period in which I couldn’t play and I was picking
Tim is determined to take the Apollo spirit into unchartered territory with Trifarious
16 Clarinet & Saxophone Winter 2013
Rachel up from concerts, or sitting at the back of the hall, I used to yearn to perform”, Tim explains. “I made myself a promise that when I got through this we would play music together and we would go out and perform new music, including music written by the composers I’d worked with closely in the past.” Tim and Rachel have been joined on piano by Nadine André and he has made good his promise to commission new repertoire, starting with Andy Scott and Barbara Thompson. “Just before the dystonia kicked in I recorded and co-produced a CD for Andy, and we had a deal that he’d write me a piece in return. All the way through this he’s been saying ‘Just let me know when’, and sure enough when the time came he wrote me a fantastic trio called Stride.” Tim was more sheepish about getting back in touch with Barbara Thompson, whose struggles with Parkinson’s disease, a condition with strong links to dystonia, are well documented, but her response was characteristically warm. “She was just so pleased to see me, and she’d already written a piece for clarinet and piano called Russian Roulette; I just needed to persuade her to add a viola! It’s one of the most ferociously challenging pieces of music
I’ve ever seen, and when she sent me the part I said ‘Barbara, I’m going to play this for you one day’, with more confidence than I felt.” Before long, Barbara had expanded on Russian Roulette, turning it into a 20-minute four-movement suite. “I have spent and continue to spend an awful lot of time with Barbara and her husband Jon (Hiseman). Their constant positivity has been a real tonic for me, and to now have the chance to perform her music is a great privilege.”
Trifarious have now performed five concerts, and are currently recording an album for release in spring 2014 to coincide with a national tour celebrating Barbara Thompson’s 70th birthday year. This will feature a brand new 35-minute work commissioned by the group for clarinet/bass clarinet, viola and piano.
Today Tim finally feels that he can see the end of the recovery process, and is enjoying every minute of his new lease of life. “It’s taken four and a half years to get to this point, and now it’s just a case of continued muscle building and refining. I feel that I’m playing at 80% of my full potential. I say 80% because I think that’s a healthy way to look at it, because recovery from dystonia should never
be taken for granted. It crept up on me before so what’s to stop it doing the same thing again? Fabra was very wise when he told me, ‘Never become complacent. Always keep looking over your shoulder, just to be sure.’”
Dystonia is something of a silent plague among musicians, both in terms of the way it creeps up on us, and in terms of the lack of acknowledgement it receives. If as many as two out of every one hundred musicians suffer from the condition, then conservatoires owe it to their students to educate them about the risks and symptoms, because neurologists and musicians agree on at least one thing: the longer the symptoms go undiagnosed the more difficult it is to retrain and recover. We like to say that musicians are “athletes of the small muscles”, but if we are to take this analogy seriously then we are decades behind our Olympic counterparts in terms of both physical and mental wellbeing. Until we catch up we remain reliant on inspirational anecdotes such as Tim’s to guide current and future sufferers to rehabilitation.
www.timredpath.co.uk www.trifarious.com
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18 Clarinet & Saxophone Winter 2013
The score is made up of two parts, the instruction page and a two page score. The main issue with the 1974 published edition is that the translation between the French and English explanations of techniques and symbols do not translate directly. Some directions are left out completely, whilst others suggest a different playing style. The French directions are generally much more specific than the English, which might be due to Londeix’s advice. For example, the instruction, ‘grow hazy tone’ in the manuscript has evolved to become ‘grow hazy tone or Flatter’ in the English translation of the 1972 edition, but the French instruction is much longer: ‘Souffler sur l’extrémité du bec, afin de faire clairement entendre le soufflé en même temps que la note écrite ou Flattez’, which loosely translates as ‘blow on the extremity of the mouthpiece, in order to clearly hear the breath at the same time as the written note or use flutter tongue’. This instruction gives a much more specific idea of the quality of sound and the technique of the tone production desired. Such phrasing sounds like an instruction from a teacher, rather than a performance, and it is possible that the French instructions derive, in fact, from Londeix. There is also a Japanese translation of the instructions which match the English translations and seem to be a publisher’s addition rather than part of the original score.
Some of the differences between the versions result in a quite different approach. In the 1972 unpublished manuscript, Noda refers to a ‘moving tone’ and produces a waving line next to this phrase to illustrate the effect. In the published edition the instructions only refer to vibrato. If the performer only uses vibrato at this point, then the standard bending of the pitch by pulsating the bottom lip will create the effect. However, if the performer is looking to create a more extreme ‘moving tone’ technique the addition of the bottom C key alongside the use of vibrato can create a very different result. There are also some instructions in the handwritten score which do not make it into the published instruction sheet; however the
techniques do appear in the score. In the manuscript, Noda describes the repeated grace notes at the Vivo section as ‘Flushing tones’ and only stipulates that the grace note should be a middle C# by the fingering chart. However in the published edition the C# is notated as a grace note.
There are differences on the actual score too. Some are very minor, such as an added rest to create a moment of complete silence at the end of the first phrase, as well as a few minor pitch changes in the Vivo section where in the manuscript Noda notates variations between chromatic patterns and repeated notes. The biggest addition to the score occurs towards the end of the piece. After the shrieking high C# at the end of the Vivo section, Noda changes the atmosphere entirely by adding smooth, lyrical lines which allows the performer to show another side of his playing, culminating
in the bottom Bb. In the 1972 score this happens over two fairly short phrases and finishes on the low Bb with a forte dynamic, fermata and with the ‘moving tone’ line. However, in the manuscript this is developed, with Noda creating a rhythmic sequence and therefore extending the entire piece.
The final part of the phrase ending on a low Bb has the marking rubato and indicates pianissimo dynamic but still includes the moving tone technique at the bottom. In reference to the moving tone question mark from before as to whether or not it refers to dynamics or whether you should include extra keys to get a more extreme result, Bb being at the very bottom of the alto saxophone range means there is no way to add keywork to create a more extreme effect so you can only use the vibrato technique here.
Improvisation I is a mainstay of the contemporary saxophonist’s repertoire, yet it is only generally known in its published form. A chance encounter whilst travelling allowed me to consult this manuscript draft and I have since approached the work’s performance with fresh eyes. Study of the two sources allows any performance to recreate dialogue that took place between Noda and Londeix who were central to the creation of the work.
Noda, R (1974). Improvisation I pour Saxophone Alto seul. Paris: Alphonse Leduc
RYO NODA’S IMPROVISATION
ELLIE PARKER
Improvisation I by Ryo Noda has found its way neatly into standard alto saxophone repertoire. It gives saxophonists an introduction to extended techniques and unconventional scores without being too harsh to an audience’s ears. Noda (b.1948) studied in Japan and the USA before moving to Conservatoire de Bordeaux to learn from Jean-Marie Londeix. When Noda published his collection of three improvisations in 1974 he dedicated them all to Londeix. The publication by Alphonse Leduc is the only edition available for purchase, however whilst I was studying at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels I was given an unpublished, handwritten score which was sent by Noda to Londeix in 1972.
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20 Clarinet & Saxophone Winter 2013
The interwar period is remembered as something of a golden age for British musicians, and if the novels of Evelyn Waugh, Anthony Powell, and P. G. Wodehouse are to be believed, one could hardly set foot in London without being bombarded by dance bands, light orchestras, and popular songs. Many musicians played dinner music on strings before switching over to saxophones for the dance, providing a welcome dose of perspective to those of us who despair at having to double on flute. Peter’s own father was one such musician, and by the time Peter was 13 their household boasted five violins and two saxophones. Happily, he chose to play the alto, and was soon studying with a Who’s Who of the London music scene. One of his first tutors was Leslie Evans, whose name will be familiar to many Clarinet and Saxophone Society members through his Daily Practice Routines, which remain some of the most highly regarded resources of their kind. He also took lessons from Charles Chapman, now only vaguely remembered as one of the great saxophone virtuosi of his day, and Michael Krein, who was almost solely responsible for establishing the saxophone
quartet in this country. Peter even formed a band with Robin Gardner, whose father Freddy, with his distinctive vibrato and mastery of the altissimo register, gave the Peter Yorke Concert Orchestra its evocative sound. With such a wide range of early influences it is hardly surprising that Peter went on to make his name as something of a saxophonic lyrebird – capable of reproducing the sounds of the great players of the first half of the 20th century.
After a brief career as a conveyancing clerk Peter joined the band of the Scots Guards for a nine-year tour of duty during which he toured Australasia and the Far East and performed at Winston Churchill’s funeral – a poignant moment for a young man born at the onset of World War II. For a musician of the period it was preferable to join up as a regular in one of the army bands rather than to lose three years of one’s career to national service. “I would have liked to study at a conservatoire”, Peter admits, “but this served the same function, and at least I got paid!” He started on the inconspicuous third clarinet
chair, unaware that he was about to be thrust into the limelight as the Band’s alto saxophonist. “That was how I learnt to sight- read”, he remembers somewhat ruefully; suddenly there was no hiding from the band’s formidable Director – a tyrannical lieutenant colonel with no praise for anyone, and an unlikely soft spot for Jules Massenet, the much vilified French melodist and champion of the classical saxophone. The colonel’s favourite piece was Scènes alsaciennes, in an arrangement which boasts a rather beautiful melody for the alto saxophone. “Being in the army, he only knew how to shout”, Peter recalls. “So when we came to my solo and he barked ‘THAT’S BETTER!’ I knew I’d done all right. I’ve never been scared of a civilian conductor since!”
On demobilisation Peter joined the Bertram Mills International Circus on baritone and piccolo, and was then invited to tour with the Michael Krein Saxophone Quartet. “At that time I’d never played in a quartet, so it really was a baptism of fire”, he recalls. “Norman Barker, who was on baritone, picked me up,
WILLIAM UPTON
Back in 1957 when Peter Ripper took his first musical job, he was paid just three pounds a
week. The music industry has changed a lot since then (even the wages have improved a little) but the qualities required of a good multi- instrumentalist remain the same, and Peter is showing no sign of tiring of his work. I met him at the National Theatre where he will soon be deputising in the on-stage band for Luigi Pirandello’s Liolà – a one-off gig, played from memory. This seems like a lot of hard work for just one show, but is symptomatic of the dedication that has made him one of the most popular and highly regarded all-rounders of the last 50 years. Above all I was struck by the amount of variety in his career, and couldn’t help but wonder if he is part of a dying breed of musician, born of the unique British music scene of the ‘60s and ‘70s.
PETER RIPPER
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and the first thing he said to me was: ‘You know what you’re doing, lad?’” Sadly, Krein passed away six months later, and the only commercially available recording of the ensemble features Jack Brymer in his place.
In 1967 Peter joined Victor Silvester’s famous ‘strict tempo’ dance band, whose repertoire, and the inclusion of a solo violin, brought him back full circle to the popular music of the 1930s and ‘40s. Peter toured with Silvester for two years, until he became in such demand as a session musician that it was apparent that a life on the road was not for him. After that, a typical month might include a week with The Four Tops, Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition with the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, deputising in West End shows, and session work with the likes of Elmer Bernstein and Jerry Goldsmith (more recently Peter can be heard playing bass saxophone on the soundtrack to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban). He also made his début with the BBC Symphony Orchestra (BBCSO), then conducted by contemporary music giant Pierre Boulez. “I can’t say I enjoyed the music much, because it was all avant-garde”, he recalls of his time with the BBCSO, “but it was a good challenge, and an inspiration to work with Boulez, who was on another plane to us mere mortals. I can remember getting lost during one rehearsal, and him just singing my part over the top of this cacophony of sound” – a situation a more introspective musician might remember with less fondness.
In 1974 Peter was a member of the orchestra at the Palladium Theatre, accompanying the likes of Cliff Richard, when he was offered a job with the BBC Radio Orchestra (BBCRO), a job he accepted despite a considerable drop in pay. By way of compensation it offered both the opportunity to gain experience on the bass clarinet, and the chance to play a bewilderingly wide range of styles during the orchestra’s seven weekly recording sessions. The line-up of the BBCRO had nine permutations, including what is known today as the BBC Big Band. I met Peter shortly after the announcement of major cuts to the Big Band’s scheduling, a matter on which opinion has been divided, with some critics questioning whether the end of the band’s monopoly really is a blow to the BBC’s musical diversity. “I was very sad to hear the news”, Peter tells me. “But were the BBC to use a range of other live big bands I would applaud the change. Unfortunately I think they intend to use recorded music, and I
believe strongly that we should keep music live. The BBC doesn’t appreciate the live music scene at all.” Certainly it is sobering to compare the staid reaction to these cuts with the mass uproar that met the Big Band’s proposed disbandment in 1994. “I think that’s due to the diminished profile of big band music in general”, Peter tells me. “Clare Teal is doing a great job on her show on Radio 2, but audiences are starved of what they want to hear. The problem is that they don’t know they want to hear it, but when they do they like it.”
Shortly after joining the BBCRO, Peter was invited to join the London Saxophone Quartet (LSQ), led by Paul Harvey, which to some extent inherited the mantle of Michael Krein’s ensemble. Alongside their work as a chamber ensemble, LSQ were a regular feature in the thriving recording industry of the ‘70s and ‘80s, where they were often booked as a section. “That time in the music business was good, there’s no doubt about it,” Peter tells me. “There was always somewhere to go and someone to book you; you’d look in the diary and all you’d have written was ‘EMI Studios 10-5’, not who it was with or what it was, because you just turned up and did it and that was that.” On one memorable session, Peter was booked to record Bernard Herrmann’s original, unused score for Alfred Hitchcock’s Torn Curtain. Peter was one of four bass flutes, and when he turned up 15 minutes before the first take, he found that the other flautists had already ensconced themselves on the second, third, and fourth chairs, leaving the exposed first part to him. “The joke was on them, however, because they had to grovel around at the bottom of the instrument, trying to get low Cs to sound, while I didn’t have anything below an F”, he laughs. Such a culture, in which one had no idea what one might be up against each day in the studio, demanded the highest standards of stylistic awareness, sight-reading ability, and general musicianship; arguably, musicians like Peter were victims of their own success, expected to be equally proficient in a vast range of styles and on the entire range of flutes, clarinets and saxophones, a legacy we all have to live up to.
When Peter left the BBCRO in 1979 he went back to freelancing, and took up a teaching job at Eton College, where his students have proved more likely to end up in Parliament than the West End. “I say to my boys when they start, ‘I’d like you to leave here with a good grade eight and to be able to find your way around a 12-bar blues and a few standards’. But I’m not sure a parent who’s spent all that money on education will want them to go into the music industry.” One can only hope that Peter is sometimes successful in instilling a love of music into our future leaders.
Alongside his teaching work, Peter started taking on longer runs in West End shows, joining the orchestra for Bob Fosse’s Dancin’. The highlight of that show was a note-for- note rendition of Benny Goodman’s legendary 1938 Carnegie Hall performance of Sing, Sing, Sing, with Peter cast as Goodman. “We had to do it on stage from memory, and the dancing was completely choreographed to the music”, says Peter, “so there was no room for error. At the end of the solo Goodman hits a very long top B, and then squeaks up to a D. Fortunately I got it every time, and we did 96 shows!” His next show was Starlight Express. “The fixer came in during one of the first rehearsals and said: ‘You know what, this show could run for five years’. It did 17-and-a-half!”
Given Peter’s penchant for variety, 17-and- a-half years might seem a long time to commit to playing the same music every night, but in the 1980s restrictions on the number of deputies allowed in pit orchestras were not as strict as today. Understandably, musical directors and fixers want to have the best possible band every night, and this means having as many of your regular players in the pit as possible. Unfortunately, this can be frustrating for musicians who need the security of a regular gig, but have other projects they want to pursue. “Back then, if you wanted to put in a ‘dep’, you just rang the fixer and said ‘I’m not coming in next week because I’ve got such and such to do’, and they said ‘fine’”, says Peter. “It gave you a chance to keep all your plates spinning,