A World Premiere (with strings attached), and a return trip to Buxton

2017 has been a relatively busy year for the SSO.  We often only play one concert a year, but this year there have been two performances already.  We’ve also had a change of personnel, with Dorothea moving on to pastures new, and being replaced on baritone saxophone by Pauline, as well as a change of rehearsal venue.

Octet2017

Last Wednesday was the date for our now-traditional annual trip to the Buxton Festival Fringe.  The traffic on the A6 out from Stockport was slower than ever, but the venue, the volunteer organisers and most importantly the audience more than made up for any frustrations in getting there.  (We got another nice review, too.)  Here’s our programme for the evening:-

  • The Lone Arranger Goes Sax Mad ~ arr. Phillip Nuttall / Nigel Wood
  • Clouds ~ Mike Dale
  • Singin’ in the Rain ~ Brown / Freed, arr. Don Ashton
  • Sheep May Safely Graze ~ J.S. Bach, arr. Alun Cook
  • Flower Duet ~ Delibes, arr. Nigel Wood
  • Black Coffee ~ Webster / Burke, arr. Mike Dale
  • Chatterbox ~ Pauline Gordon
  • Tomcat ~ Chattaway, arr. Don Ashton
  • Swingmatism ~ McShann, arr. Mike Dale
  • Cushion Foot Stomp ~ Williams, arr. David Webber
  • Marigold ~ Mayerl, arr. Gordon Robson
  • The Zonk Zone ~ John Halton
  • Forgotten Dreams ~ Anderson, arr. Helen Southall
  • Crucifixus ~ Lotti, arr. Chris Jolly
  • The Pearls ~ Morton, arr. David Webber
  • Sidewalk Blues ~ Morton, arr. David Webber
  • Masquerade ~ Khachaturian arr. Gordon Robson

There were a couple of premieres in our Buxton programme: this was a first public performance for both Clouds and our arrangement of Forgotten Dreams.  We gave a more unusual first performance in May though, at Helen’s 50th birthday party.  Two SSO members (Helen and David) are both also members of the Infernal Twangers ukulele group, and Helen decided that a joint performance by both groups was an essential part of her birthday celebrations.  David duly obliged with an arrangement of ‘It’s Tight Like That’ which is probably unique in its instrumentation (at least since the the song was written in the 1920s), and was definitely a lot of fun.  Now for a few weeks off, before we start planning our next campaign!

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The Sovereign Saxophone Octet in Concert at the Buxton Festival Fringe

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The Sovereign Saxophone Octet at Buxton Methodist Church [Photo: Brian Lightowler]

We were back at Buxton again last night, with more new tunes to add to the well-tried favourites.  As ever the Festival Fringe organisation was spot on, and the good folk at the Buxton Methodist Church (along with band partners helping with tickets and refreshments) did us proud.  There was a good and enthusiastic audience, and we garnered another complimentary review to add to our collection.  A thoroughly enjoyable and worthwhile evening out!

Here’s this year’s programme in detail:-

  • African Waltz ~ Galt MacDermot arr. Gordon Robson
  • Sheep May Safely Graze ~ J.S. Bach arr. Alun Cook
  • The Pearls ~ Jelly Roll Morton arr. David Webber
  • Beale Street Blues ~ W.C. Handy arr. David Webber
  • Canzona “La Padovana” ~ Ludovico Gross de Viadana
  • Nimrod ~ Elgar arr. J.J. Ashley
  • Wachet Auf ~ J.S. Bach arr. Adrian Budgen
  • Carnival ~ Karen Street
  • Tahiti Trot ~ Shostakovich arr. Gordon Robson
  • O Magnum Mysterium ~ Giovanni Gabrieli arr. Stephen Hutchinson
  • Building Blocks ~ Mike Dale
  • L’il Darlin’ ~ Neal Hefti arr. Gordon Robson
  • Take Five ~ Paul Desmond
  • Oblivion ~ Astor Piazzola arr. Gordon Robson
  • Witch Hunt ~ Ulrich Schultheiss arr. Nigel Wood
  • Moon River ~ Henry Mancini arr. Don Ashton

 

An Evening with the SSO – Buxton 2015

Sovereign Saxophone Octet

The Sovereign Saxophone Octet at the Buxton Festival Fringe, July 2015 (l-r: Helen Southall, Gordon Robson, David Webber, Karoline Brennan, John Bowyer, Mike Dale, Stephen Hutchinson, Dorothea Livesey)

Well this is becoming a very enjoyable habit – it’s July, so it must be Buxton!

This was the octet’s fourth visit to the Buxton Festival Fringe, so we made sure to add some new tunes to our repertoire for the event.  This did lead to some anxiety at pre-concert rehearsals: would we ever manage to fit all of those notes in (and more to the point, put them in the right places)?  Would we manage to play this piece fast enough – or that one slow enough? But, as ever, it all came together on the night, and a splendid time was had by all.  (There’s a review by the Festival’s roving reviewer Keith Savage here.)

The programme for the evening was:-

  • Tiger Rag (ODJB, arr. Webber)
  • The Chant (Stitzel, arr. Dale)
  • Black Coffee (Webster & Burke, arr. Dale)
  • Tomcat (Chattaway, arr. Ashton)
  • Chatterbox (Gordon)
  • The Zonk Zone (Halton)
  • Dream and Reality (Ashton)
  • Canzona – La Padovana (de Viadana)
  • Concerto for Two Saxophones* – 1st Movement (Vivaldi, arr. Walton)
  • Flower Duet from Lakmé (Delibes, arr. Wood)
  • Chug (Gordon)
  • Mrs. Malcolm, Her Reel (Funky Freuchie) (Ingham)
  • The Sheik of Araby (Snyder, arr. Webber)
  • Caravan (Tizol, arr. Halton)

We finished with a repeat performance of Tiger Rag, this time with community singing of ‘Hold that tiger!’, with the audience ably rehearsed by Dave Webber.

Thanks are due once again to the volunteers who organise the Buxton Fringe events so efficiently, to the members of Buxton Methodist Church for the use of this excellent venue (and help with everything from the microphone to the tea facilities), and to the octet members’ friends and partners who helped out with tickets and refreshments.

*Vivaldi was a very forward-thinking composer, but saxophones were hard to come by in the early 1700s, so this was originally known as the Concerto for Two Trumpets.  (It didn’t do to let on about owning a time machine in those days.)

Back to Buxton We Go!

Festival Photo

Buxton Bunting & Balloons [Photo by Ian J. Parkes]

Well I know it’s been a busy old year, but honestly, where does the time go……?  I hadn’t even got around to putting the programme for our concert at last year’s Buxton Fringe* up here, and already it’s time to tell everyone about the next one.

The Sovereign Saxophone Octet will be returning to our regular spot in the Buxton Methodist Church at 8 p.m. on Sunday 19th July, 2015.  Full address and ticket information is available via the Buxton Fringe 2015 website.  (Scroll down to July 19th to find us.)  We’ll be introducing lots of new tunes and arrangements this year, as well as a few old favourites, so put the date in your diary now.  We look forward to seeing lots of you there!

 


 

 

*The programme for the SSO concert at Buxton last year was:-

  • Engine No. 9 (Don Ashton)
  • St. Pauls Suite (Holst, arr. Halton)
  • The Lone Arranger Goes Sax Mad (arr. Buttall)
  • La Vie en Rose (Louiguy, arr. Dale)
  • Sidewalk Blues (Morton, arr. Webber)
  • The Chant (Stitzel, arr. Dale)
  • Waltz from Masquerade (Khachaturian, arr. Robson)
  • Canzon Primi Toni & Canzon Septimi Toni (Gabrieli, arr. Frankton)
  • Crucifixus (Lotti, arr. Jolly)
  • Puttin’ on the Ritz (Berlin, arr. Thorne)
  • Singing in the Rain (Freed, arr. Ashton)
  • I Got Plenty (Gershwin, arr. Ashton)
  • Take Five (Desmond)
  • Chug (Gordon)

A Bicentennial Celebration of Sax

Buxton Festival Fringe Programme Cover

2014 Buxton Festival Fringe programme cover, designed by University of Derby student Helen McIvor

After a flurry of activity at the end of 2012 and the start of last year, the SSO went a bit quiet concert-wise, largely due to family and work commitments and other musical activities.  But we don’t go quiet for long, and we’re happy to say that normal service will be resumed this summer with our now traditional visit to the Buxton Festival Fringe in July.  On Saturday July 19th the octet will be returning to the Buxton Methodist Church, which we’ve enjoyed playing at in the past.  Full venue details can be found on on the Buxton Festival Fringe calendar. Tickets will be bookable in advance from early June via the Buxton Opera House online booking service, by phone from the Opera House Box Office on 0845 127 2190, or  at the door on the night.

 

2014 is a significant year for saxophonists and saxophone fans everywhere, as it is the 200th anniversary of the birth of the instrument’s inventor, Adolphe Sax, so we’re planning to include some snippets of Sax-related gossip and history to enliven the proceedings, along with our usual eclectic mixture of music from many eras, arranged for eight saxophones.  We hope to see you in Buxton in July!

Sax Sculpture, Dinant, Belgium

Sax’s birthplace – Dinant, Belgium

More Pieces for Eight – Buxton 2012

SSO at Buxton Festival Fringe, 2012

The SSO returned to the Buxton Festival Fringe last Thursday evening, and once again a splendid time was had by all!  (As well as lots of smiling faces and applause on the night, we received a very complimentary review from the Fringe’s reviewer Andrew J Hodkinson.)

Big thanks are due to the hard-working and highly efficient people who organise the Fringe, and to the clergy and congregation at Buxton Methodist Church which is such a lovely venue to play in.  It helps so much to have venues and publicity organised so well!  If it’s possible, even bigger thanks go to all the friends and relatives who helped out at the concert with things like ticket and cd sales, and serving refreshments.   Thanks everyone!

The weather was pretty horrible on Thursday, so we were quite relieved to see a steady stream of audience members appearing from the rain-sodden street outside at concert time.   We had a great time time playing tunes old and new to friends old and new.  Looking forward to next year already – by which time we do intend to have a new cd available, hopefully including the Gabrielli double quartets which several audience members asked for.

More Pieces for Eight: Programme

African Waltz
 Galt MacDermot arr. Gordon Robson
Medley from ‘The Sound of Music’  Richard Rodgers arr. Don Ashton
Flower Duet
 Leo Delibes arr. Nigel Wood
Marigold
 Billy Mayerl arr. Gordon Robson
The Pearls
 Jelly Roll Morton arr. David Webber
Cushion Foot Stomp Clarence Williams arr. David Webber
Carnival Karen Street

*** Interval ***

Canzon Primi Toni Giovanni Gabrieli arr. Mike Frankton
Canzon Septimi Toni Giovanni Gabrieli arr. Mike Frankton
Crucifixus
 Antonio Lotti arr. Chris Jolly
Danse Bohemienne Claude Debussy arr. James Crockford
Tahiti Trot Dmitri Shostakovich arr. Gordon Robson
Swingmatism Jay McShann arr. Mike Dale
The Zonk Zone Jon Halton
Witch Hunt
 Ulrich Schultheiss arr. Nigel Wood
The Sheik of Araby Ted Snyder arr. David Webber

The Hills are Alive…

with the sound of Camels….?

One of our camels on its way home from choir practice

Our Buxton Festival Fringe concert is approaching fast, and the programme is starting to take shape.  Currently that shape is at least twice as long as it needs to be, so we spent much of the last rehearsal running through some of the possibilities and awarding marks out of 10.  There’s still a bit of sifting and sorting to be done, but a few things are already more or less certain to be on the programme on July 19th.  Our in-house arrangers have been busy again, so there are likely to be at least a couple of new arrangements from them.  We have some new classical (if not Classical) arrangements, including music by Debussy and Delibes. And of course the camels in ‘The Sheik of Araby‘ proved very popular last year, so they’ll be back again, this year joined by a new arrangement of songs from ‘The Sound of Music’ by renowned saxophone arranger, teacher, repairman and all-round single-reed expert Don Ashton.  As usual it will be an eclectic mix!

Tickets (£7/£5) will be available on the door, or on the Buxton Opera House ticket site.  (They can’t spell saxophone, but we’ll let them off for letting us use their box office!)

Back to Buxton…

… or ‘How to win an award without really trying!’

Back in July last year we played a concert as part of the Buxton Festival Fringe in Derbyshire.  The festival organisers were friendly and efficient, the venue was a splendid Methodist church with wonderful acoustics, lots of people turned up to listen, we all had a thoroughly good time and went home happy; definitely a success.  Then we got a very nice write-up from Andrew Hodkinson, one of the festival’s roving reviewers, which we were very chuffed about. Shortly after that, we heard that we had won an award for producing the ‘Most Enjoyable‘ musical event of the festival.

We do aim to put on concerts which are as enjoyable for the audience members as they are for us, and we do really enjoy ourselves, so maybe this shouldn’t have been such a surprise.  We were pleased as Punch even so, and will be putting on another concert at Buxton on Thursday, 19th July 2012.  Hope to see you there!