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.

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!)