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.

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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.)

A Unique Evening of International Music (Part 2)

Luciano Gerber

Luciano Gerber playing and singing contemporary Brazilian songs

Alice Wang playing the Chinese piano

Alice playing the Chinese piano

This was certainly an evening that lived up to its title!

Detail of Alice's piano

Detail of the beautiful craftsmanship of Alice’s Chinese piano

I’ve never heard a Chinese piano (or guzheng) played live to this standard before, and it was something of a revelation.  Alice Wang is currently studying accountancy in Manchester, but has been learning the instrument from a young age and brought hers with her when she came to the UK; no mean feat in itself as it is both bulky and delicately beautiful.  Alice explained the origin and meaning of each piece she played, and the audience certainly seemed to appreciate the complex and intricate music.

Luciano Gerber then expertly played and sang us a selection of contemporary Brazilian music.  His explanations of the Portuguese lyrics and the different styles of music from various corners of his vast homeland certainly added to the enjoyment of the evening.

SSO, after the Bramhall concert

The SSO after the Bramhall concert
[photo by Gordon Jackson, Bramhall & Woodford Rotary Club]

After some very welcome refreshments during the interval, the SSO took over, and attempted to cover the rest of the world in the second half of the concert.  Here’s the programme we played:-

  • Tahiti Trot – Shostakovich arr. Gordon Robson
  • Medley from ‘The Sound of Music’ – Richard Rodgers arr. Don Ashton
  • Engine No. 9 – Les Hooper arr. Don Ashton
  • Marigold – Billy Mayerl arr. Gordon Robson
  • The Sheik of Araby – Ted Snyder arr. David Webber
  • Moon River – Henry Mancini arr. Don Ashton
  • African Waltz – Galt MacDermot arr. Gordon Robson

All in all, a very successful and enjoyable evening, which raised somewhere in the region of £1000 for  WaterAid, End Polio Now and local Rotary Club charities.