Tag Archive: London


Only a part day of practice today as we headed up to London again in the afternoon to see the Nash Ensemble perform at Wigmore Hall. I’ll write up a proper review tomorrow, but I thoroughly enjoyed the concert – I just wish it had been longer! There were three works that had been commissioned by the ensemble through their 50 year history, one for solo viola, then two chamber works. I could happily have listened to more.

Beforehand, I went for a long walk in Regent Park, which was busy despite the chilly, overcast weather. Then I caught up with my lovely flute friend Brönte for rather decadent slices of cake in a lovely little cafe come food store on Marylebone St.

Back to studies tomorrow…

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Just got back from a full day in London watching Emily Beynon’s masterclass at the Royal Academy of Music and a London Symphony Orchestra concert. Also managed a few beers with a friend in between. We still have class tomorrow, so it’s high time for bed!

Not much to report today other than that I practised a lot. Six hours playing flute and then some time listening and studying scores. What with two trips to London in the next few days and Trevor’s zeal for more studies, I felt like there weren’t many options but to knuckle down and really do as many hours as I could manage.

Compared with yesterday, I felt like all the practice sessions were productive. The Reinecke Ballade isn’t terribly difficult note-wise, and I could focus on the music, which was nice. As for studies…they’re happening. Andersen No. 14 is a lovely piece of music but being in D#/Eb minor makes it a bit of a minefield for notes!

In the afternoon, I took myself off on a long walk across the fields and round the back way to Bodsham. The fields were still half-covered in snow, and the air was crisp and delicious. We’re heading up to London tomorrow, and to be honest I’m glad of a day free from playing!

January ArtStart Reflection

I think it’s a good idea to write a short reflection each month on what I’ve achieved with my 2015 ArtStart grant from the Australia Council for the Arts. While my main focus for the moment is the flute studio course, I’ve already started the ball rolling with a few other things as well:

– Most importantly, I submitted my application to the Bang on a Can Summer Festival on January 15th. A trip to the US in July/August to attend the festival, take some lessons and attend the National Flute Convention was a central element of my grant proposal. I was happy with the application, but can never know who else is applying. I find out whether I’m going in early March.

– I started work on my website, which is very exciting. So far, I’ve done most of the written content and had a bit of a play around with design. My lovely friend Matt has been doing some of the trickier bits. While we’ve managed to embed a twitter feed, we’re still working on getting this blog as part of the website, as well as sorting out bits and pieces of back end design. I also need to go back over my performance videos and recordings to decide which ones I really want to put up. Rather than just making the website about my flute playing, I’m keen for it to reflect the range of things I do in music, writing and radio.

– I joined ArtsHub for the year. I put this on my application both to look at the range of arts jobs available and to have access to various resources and articles on work in the arts industry. The jobs board hasn’t been amazing so far – more targeted towards arts admin jobs – but the articles have been interesting.

– I’ve downloaded Max 7, a program which allows me to generate electronics patches. Following the Blackbirdwhich was written for my final MMus recital by the lovely Andrew Aronowicz, used Max for the electronics component, and I’m keen to use it further in creative and collaborative projects. But firstly, I need to learn how to use it… cue tutorial videos!

– I’ve looked into the small business management course I want to do following my time here in Kent. Still need to book though.

– And finally, I’ve made trips up to London to attend masterclasses and concerts. Once my budget was all planned out, I had about $120 left over, and so decided that it could support travel up to London while I’m here. While my 16-25 railcard is a big help, trains in the UK are still expensive!

So far I feel like I’m on track to complete all my ArtStart grant activities, though there is a lot of work ahead. More importantly, though, there is a lot of artistic growth to look forward to.

This morning we were off up to London for another of William Bennett’s flute masterclasses. The repertoire was pretty standard, and the only work I hadn’t heard before was Philippe Gaubert’s Sonata No. 1. It ended up being my standout piece of the day – it’s stunning and was also played beautifully by masters student Katy Ovens. I’m rather tempted to see whether Trevor might let me have a go for the February piano masterclass!

As always, Wibb was an engaging and energetic teacher, whose use of little sung phrases (many of them rather naughty!) to show musical direction and emphasis had everyone in fits of laughter. Musical direction and musical intent were the themes of the day, and every note had to fulfill its proper place in the musical line. Expressive breathing was also key – even if a breath isn’t needed, it should be felt if the musical sentence needs it.

In the afternoon, Wibb seemed to become even more animated, breaking out into some impromptu dancing on not one but two occasions. The Allegro movement of J.S. Bach’s E major sonata was a jazzy Charleston – all the syncopation needs to be felt and played upon. Wibb’s Charleston itself was also quite impressive! Then the final work of the day was Paul Taffanel’s Mignon Fantasy, whose gavotte Wibb danced to show how light and flexible the tempo needs to feel.

Good coffee at St Pancreas Station, lunch with some lovely friends at the Royal College, and arriving home to Elmsted to find some faint traces of snow made for a nice day, though am hoping our dairy will warm up a little overnight!

I haven’t left much time to write tonight’s post, and should be heading off to be ready for another trip up to London tomorrow. This time we’re off to William Bennet’s masterclass for the day, and I’m hoping to gain as much inspiration from it as I did at the London Symphony Orchestra’s concert last night!

Today’s class has a few ups and downs. A distinct down was when we were talking about practice schedules, and Trevor honed in on my playing of tunes. I’m starting every day with a tune, and no matter what he may think am working to play it expressively and with feeling and dynamics. All of a sudden in class I had to stand up and give him a demonstration. And another, and another. I think I ended up playing seven or so different tunes, most of which he seemed to quite like. It just so happened that the one I started off with he didn’t know, and then the next one that I landed on I wasn’t as sure of the notes as I wanted to be! So then he went off on a tangent about me trying too hard to play from memory! It got to the point that I felt like no matter what I did I couldn’t win, and I just wanted to sit down and let him focus on someone else for a while!

Once we got past that, I ended up playing quite well. My first B in Debussy’s En Bateau was flat, and earned a bit of a lecture, but otherwise the excerpt went quite well. I also played the second movement of Lennox Berkeley’s Sonatina, in a way that earned the comment “very nice, lovely control”, which made me quite pleased.

I can’t let these rants get to me!

Another late one. I’ve just got back from a truly lovely evening out in London, catching up with wonderful friends and then going to see the electrifying London Symphony Orchestra play play a program of Prokofiev, de Falla and Rimsky-Korsakov. More tomorrow.

To be honest, today doesn’t feel like it’s been a terribly special one. Despite the chill in the air when I woke up I decided that a clear sky was a good excuse for a run, and really enjoyed myself. Rain, coupled with no walks for the last week, has really made me crave the outdoors and some exercise. Of course, it started raining again within an hour of my getting back!

This afternoon, Trevor sent round an email reminding us of all the things coming up, and all of a sudden there is a lot of extra music to work on! Our class with Juliet Edwards had now been changed to January 30th, but piccolo class with Patricia Morris is back on for next Saturday. I’m also heading up to London with Roya and Shannon this Sunday for a concert (and for me a lovely catch-up with some Aussie friends!), and we’re spending the whole day up there on Tuesday for William Bennett’s masterclass. Then there’s another class with Juliet in mid-Feb, and all of Trevor’s regular classes to prepare for as well.

For the moment, I’m still feeling buoyed up by the positive feedback in class yesterday, and the most frustrating thing in my practice today was arriving at the five hour mark and realising that my lips had definitely called it quits for the day. I’m motivated to work more than I can physically play, and so need to keep remembering the benefits of mental practice, score study and listening.

I should also perhaps start doing some serious work on the second part of my project some time!

Just got back from a lovely day out in London, where the theme was not masterclasses or concerts but seeing the city and having a day off. I had a wonderful time catching up with friends – one of whom I hadn’t seen in about eight years -, getting a bit of Christmas shopping done, and having some chill time at the National Gallery. While I should perhaps have done a little more on the Christmas shopping front (remember our normal weekly civilisation is Tesco), it was great to just have some time away from the isolation of Elmsted/Hastingleigh and our tiny group here.

We left Hastingleigh bright and early at 8am, and the coach arrived in London at 10. I spent an hour or so wandering round the National Gallery, and finding myself particularly drawn to all the Dutch masters; Rembrant, Rubens etc. I love the detail with which they render landscapes and yet the intimacy with which they focus on the internal as well as the external when it comes to painting portraits. It felt almost strange at first to be going round a gallery – I did it so much during my European trip over the summer but have not been in one since the Musée de Cluny in Paris back in mid-September. By then, I could spend hours drifting from piece to piece, totally oblivious of the time and totally focused on the art. I would try to pick one work to sit and copy, picking out ever-increasing detail and marveling as the work grew richer before my eyes. I do think it’s a state of mind. Today I was drawn to the works, but too fidgety to loose myself totally.

I met Cara in the gallery cafe, and we caught up on years of news over coffee and cakes. Then we went off to do some Christmas shopping, though seemed to spend a little more time enjoying all the little shops in Seven Dials than sorting out gifts! Cara has become a Londoner, and knows the ins and outs of where to go for what. She’s still so bubbly, and I feel like we could have gone on talking for hours!

My one touristy photo or the day! Me, Peter and the afternoon sun on Big Ben.

My one touristy photo or the day! Me, Peter and the afternoon sun on Big Ben.

Then I met Peter, and Aussie composer who’s studying in London. We walked and talked, winding our way through the Christmas market outside the Royal Festival Hall (with a cup of mulled wine of course!), along the river and up to Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. Then back up to Soho for a (very) late lunch at a little Japanese place where the thick, gingery savoury pancakes were cooked on the table in front of us. We talked music, student living and the reality of being torn between home in Australia and the buzz of Europe.

The coach home wound through central London, taking in all the bright Christmas lights of Oxford and Regent streets. I wasn’t really a tourist today – I still haven’t seen St Paul’s or the Tower of London, or even gone inside Westminster Abbey! Friends, conversation and laughter were much more important, and I’m feeling wonderfully refreshed despite the chilly temperatures back here in Elmsted.

Another late night and with it no desire to write a long post! We’re just back from the monthly whist drive, which was good fun. I didn’t do as well as last time (back in October), but did manage to come away with a packet of Sainsbury’s Turkish Delight Thins for getting the highest score in the first half of the evening. More importantly, though, I had a lovely time chatting with some of the other villagers, and supper there was a lovely treat!

The rest of the day wasn’t terribly productive – I did a few hours practice in the morning, though it felt like I was just showing myself how much work I have to do rather than really achieving much. One of my Altès studies for this week is all slurred octaves, and I need to remember not to cut the second note of the slur but to make it softer. Easy in theory, but whole strings of them at speed is rather doing my head in! In the afternoon we had a rehearsal for Tuesday’s concert, though I think it’s got to the point where everyone is mentally a sick of the repertoire. Hopefully our excitement will reignite in time for the concert itself.

Tomorrow we’re off bright and early to London – there’s a coach going from the village and it means we get a day there for £10 return. I’m looking forward to it; catching up with friends, Christmas shopping, hopefully some time for the National Gallery. I think it’ll be good for everyone to let off some steam.

Then hopefully I’ll find a bit of time to write about the Rachel Brown masterclass!