I started going again last year, because they decided to
start a loud wind class, and hired one of the better loud wind
coaches in the area (Marilyn Boenau) to coach it.
I’m really glad I did support that effort, because although
last year the
group had serious problems as a music making organization (it
worked fine as a way to give my brass chops a good workout once a
month), enough people were enthusiastic enough about the idea that
this year it’s even bigger and better.
We lost two people from the group we had last year. One of
them is a very good crumhorn player, who also plays shawms, but
there really are problems with playing both crumhorns and shawms
with the other instruments in the group. The other was a sackbut player
without a lot of experience playing Renaissance music, and he was
struggling with both the music and his instrument. It’s a better
group for people who are struggling with fewer things than he was,
and he lives pretty far away and had to miss several meetings.
We gained a crumhorn player who is open to the idea of trying
to play dulcian and has decades of experience playing recorder
very well, and two beginning dulcian players with lots of recorder
playing experience. Also the dulcian player who was mostly
playing bass dulcian last year has acquired alto and tenor
dulcians, and is playing them well, and one of the crumhorn
players who also owns a tenor dulcian has gotten better on the
dulcian. And I was complaining about having to play too much
cornetto for my chops last year, and this year I seem to have a
little more stamina. Also the coach seems to have been convinced
that she has to find at least one piece a meeting that someone
else can play the top line on, so I can play serpent.
As you would expect, not all the instruments and reeds people
pulled out of their closets were in wonderful shape.
The new crumhorn player’s only crumhorn
turned out to have serious tuning problems (not as in she couldn’t
play a meantone low third, but as in she couldn’t play a note that
was recognizable as a G), so she borrowed one
from someone else, and one of the other group members is going to
look at tuning her instrument for her. One of the dulcian players
has been learning to make reeds and loaned some of his reeds to
the new players to see if it helped them.
But we really ended up sounding pretty good. We played a 5
part instrumental piece with some dancy sections and some fanfare
sections, and it sounded really good. Then we played a seven-part
Gabrielli, that took some time to put together but will be really
wonderful. I got to play serpent in a fairly high tenor range on
that one, and I think it worked pretty well with sackbut, four
dulcians, and two crumhorns.
So to all ensemble musicians, Happy New Year, and I hope you
have something to be as optimistic about as I do.