Fantastic Day

 Every flute choir member in our competition won a goody bag with a Haynes pencil, a Beaumont cleaning cloth and this adorable Azumi bear

Every flute choir member in our competition won a goody bag with a Haynes pencil, a Beaumont cleaning cloth and this adorable Azumi bear

I think it is fair to say that everyone involved in our Flutewise Live! 2017 on Sunday 16 July really enjoyed themselves. I'm still recovering! It was quite a lot of hard work, but well worth it.

During the morning of the event we held the final of the Flutewise/ABRSM Flute Choir Competition. It was the very first time of doing this and I learnt a great deal. There were 4 groups performing in the two classes, Open Class and School Age Class. They all performed amazingly and I know they all worked extremely hard to be there, not just with their playing but also, for some of them, raising the funds to get there. Groups came from all over the country, which was amazing. The Open Class ensembles performed first to our judges, Gareth McLearnon, Ana Kavcic Pucihar and Blaz Pucihar. They had to play Gareth McLearnon's Flutewise Theme and then a piece of their own choice lasting no more than 4 minutes. We heard the following groups:

    •    Chichester Flute Choir directed by Julie Twite

    •    Glasgow University Flute Club directed by Frances Barnett

    •    Bedfordshire Woodwind Academy Flute Ensemble directed by Liz Childs

    •    Classic Flutes, East Sussex directed by Sue Gregg

For the School Age Class we heard:

    •    Les Six, Yorkshire directed by Nikki Warrington

    •    Hampshire Flute Choir directed by Carrie Hensel

    •    Funky Flutes, Hampshire directed by Sarah Finch

    •    Loughborough Flute Choir directed by Jo Kirkwood

The School Age Class performed The Dolphin from Luna's Magic Flute by Blaz Pucihar and Walk Like This by Ian Clarke.

After the performances the judges put their heads together to work out the winners. They had given each group marks out of 20 for 6 different categories - Ensemble, Intonation, Dynamics, Tone Production, Accuracy/Interpretation and General, meaning each group could score a maximum of 300 marks. They also each gave written feedback on each category. It was a relief  for them to agree on everything!

We didn't announce the results until later in the afternoon, so you need to read on about what happened next before I tell you!

We had a lunch break and then the afternoon event started with a sublime performance from Blaz Pucihar (pianist and composer) and his flute playing wife, Ana Kavcic Pucihar. They played three pieces from Blaz's Flute at Play collection; Flute at Play, Dreamy Flute and Erica at the Playground. Then they played two pieces from their flute tutor book, Fluting Stars, they were If I met a Martian and Idaho Cowboy. They finished their recital with a new piece that is on the new Grade 7 syllabus, Moonlit Blue.

After this Louise Matthew led everyone in a huge warm up. It was great to hear everyone playing together. Then it was Gareth McLearnon's turn to teach everyone his Fanfare which he wrote for a Flutewise event in 2013. We had experienced huge problems during the morning with the projector but I was so relieved that thanks to the hard work of Joleigh and an emergency dash to the shops, the projector was working for the afternoon and everyone managed to read the dots!

John Holmes, the chief ABRSM examiner then gave a fascinating talk entitled Hallmarks of Distinction! Helping you do the best in your next exam.

Sight reading is an essential skill we all need, not only to get through those exams but to make us into a really good musician and to help us develop these skills, Abbie Burrows and Clare Jefferis gave an entertaining, interactive presentation.

We then had a break and everyone had the chance to explore the travelling flute shops. We had huge displays from Just Flutes, Top Wind and Wonderful Winds. We were really grateful for their support.

One of the highlights of the event for me happened next. It gave me that wonderful 'tingly spine' sensation. Gareth Davies welcomed all the flute players onto stage to take part in a Star Wars Playalong. It really was quite magic. Gareth had arranged the main theme, Cantina Band and the Imperial March for us with the backing of the LSO none the less!

The Wrong Grade Exam was next. You really needed to be there to understand the genius and hilarity of this. Abbie Burrows put it together and not only was it brilliant and funny but it was very educational. Some professional players took Grade exams and got things terribly wrong!

There was the very naughty boy who hadn't done any practice played by Gareth McLearnon. He took Grade 4 and even tried to bribe the examiner (John Holmes) with sweeties! It didn't work.

Gareth Davies was the next candidate attempting Grade 1 but he was so very, very nervous.

Clare Jefferris had entered Grade 7, after proudly announcing she'd taken a grade exam every term. She was very badly prepared as you'd expect.

Ana from Slovenia then arrived late to take her Grade 3 and she played a very lovely piece composed by her husband, Blaz who was the exam pianist for the event. It hadn't occurred to her to check the syllabus as the piece wasn't on it! However it was reassuring to know even if you do play something not on the list, you won't necessarily fail, although it isn't a very good idea.

The highlight had to be the next candidate, taking Grade 2 and playing Wouldn't it be Loverly?, it was Darth Vader! The piece was hilarious but problems occurred when the examiner asked for scales and Darth Vader got a bit cross. So cross that he MURDERED the chief examiner! There is a video, I will try and work out how to post it.

During the afternoon there had been some separate workshops for parents and for flute teachers. Parents enjoyed exploring the beginnings of learning an instrument with Abbie and Clare and how to help their child prepare for an exam with John and Ana gave a workshop for teachers about sound production followed by Louise exploring the new music on the syllabus with them.

We ended the day with a lovely concert. The two winning flute choirs performed after everyone played Gareth's Fanfare. We then had a selection of favourite pieces from the new syllabus. There is some gorgeous music and we experienced divine playing:

GRADE 1 - Brahms - Cradle Song (A2) - Gareth Davies  

GRADE 2 - Trad - Loch Lomond (C3) - Abbie Burrows             

GRADE 2 - Offenbach - Can-Can (A1) - Simon Williams

GRADE 3 - Trad - Irish Washerwoman (A2) - Gareth McLearnon  

GRADE 4 - Handel - Allegro (A2) - Abbie Burrows

GRADE 4 - Trad - Mexican Hat Dance (C3) - Clare Jefferis

GRADE 5 - Verdi - Violetta's Aria (A3) - Gareth McLearnon 

GRADE 6 - Gaubert - Madrigal - ClareJefferis

GRADE 7 - Poulenc - Cantilena - SimonWilliams

GRADE 8 - Faure: Fantasie - Gareth Davies

If you play like any of our performers in your next exam you will do exceedingly well.

It was a really lovely event and I'm grateful to all the performers mentioned and all of the people behind the scenes who made it possible - Lorna Brown, Joleigh Saunders, Elisabeth Saunders, Tomoko and Peter Watson, Sue Burrows, Pat Daniels, Lizzie Sinnett, Mark Goodwin, Jane Dennison (and anyone else I've forgotten!) Also enormous thanks go to the staff from the travelling shops and everyone who gave prizes for the competition. Oh yes, the competition! The winners? Well they were all winners in my opinion. I really do hate competitions as I like to encourage everyone just to take part and do their best - and have fun. I think we all did and everyone taking part in the competition won a goody bag containing a booklet from Flutewise, a Haynes pencil, a lovely cleaning cloth from Beaumont Music and an amazing teddy bear from Azumi! But there were other prizes. The results were:
Open Class

1st Prize Bedfordshire Woodwind Academy Flute Ensemble directed by Liz Childs. Mark 277/300 Prize Guo G treble flute

2nd Prize Classic Flutes, East Sussex directed by Sue Gregg. Mark 269/300 Prize £150 Gift Voucher from Top Wind

3rd Prize Glasgow University Flute Club directed by Frances Barnett. Mark 254/300 Prize £30 Gift Voucher from Wonderful Winds

4th Prize Chichester Flute Choir director Julie Twite. Mark 244/300 Prize Chocolates

School Age Class

1st Prize Hampshire Flute Choir director Carrie Hensel. Mark 267/300 Prize £300 Gift Voucher from The Vibe towards a low flute

2nd Prize Loughborough Flute Ensemble director Jo Kirkwood. Mark 262/300 Prize £150 Gist Voucher from Just Flutes

3rd Prize Les Six, Yorkshire directed by Nikki Warrington. Mark 256/300 Prize £30 Gift Voucher from Wonderful Winds

4th Prize Funky Flutes, Hampshire director Sarah Finch. Mark 242/300 Prize Chocolates

Congratulations to all. Everyone was a winner! 

Now I'm having a bit of a rest before I put my mind to planning rather a lot of events for the 12 months coming. Watch this space.