Showcase 2008

Well, the East Lothian Instrumental Service Showcase Concert is over for another year. The sell-out event featured our String Orchestra, Percussion Ensemble, Big Band, Guitar Ensemble & Wind Ensemble. Despite the fact that all were agreed that an early Easter had made this short, packed term very difficult, everyone seemed delighted with the performances.

Experience has enabled us to make the most of the 2-hour, afternoon run-through*, where seating has to be reset before each large ensemble has a run-through, and the day itself does not seem as stressed as it used to. Much of this is due to purely practical matters not the least of which is that some pupils have already taken part in several such concerts and know how to make the wheels turn smoothly. On the guitar front, one of the biggest contributing factors was the fact that a dozen or so pupils had purchased a clip-on, automatic, intelligent tuner, which enabled them to tune their own, and others guitars, while other ensembles were playing. Freed from the necessity to tune 40+ guitars, I could press on with other matters – talking through seating plans with helpers etc.

My personal preference is to listen to the other ensemble in the afternoon so that I can spend a little more time backstage with pupils (in the afternoon around 200 of them are in the hall with us but, in the evening, the seats are required for the audience and the pupils wait backstage in classrooms). Apart from keeping a lid on excitable behaviour, spending time backstage with them can present an opportunity to chat to them and see more of them than 30-minute group lessons normally allow. An example: a pupil was seated at the piano with a friend pretty much messing around. I knew that he played but was unclear as to his experience and commitment. So I asked if he could play me something and he eased into a sensitive, memorised performance of quite a long jazz-based piece with elaborate harmony. It was a positive experience for both of us – even if it hasn’t dawned on him that, having heard that, I’ll now expect more on the guitar front 🙂 It’s also a time to catch up with the colleagues we can’t normally see due to the nature of the job.

While this is most certainly a team event, I feel I should flag up the Herculean efforts of Dave Swanson who, in addition to directing the Percussion Ensemble and Big Band, also took part in the the Wind Band and provided stylish bongo savoir faire for the Guitar Ensemble’s mambo number, Ran Kan Kán – a short mp3 sample of which is included below:

Ran Kan Kán 

*I use the word run-through rather than rehearsal as there is no time to stop and discuss or fix things. It is really more of a performance experience.

7 thoughts on “Showcase 2008”

  1. I immensely enjoyed the concert, every part of it – it was very impressive. I do, however, have a suggestion – maybe you have already rejected the idea – what about listing the instrumental teachers’ names (plus instrument) in the programme? They do such valuable work. Maybe anonymous appreciation is all they want, but I would like to have seen them more obviously thanked.

  2. Fiona,

    Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you enjoyed the concert to much. I imagine that anonymous appreciation is not really the position of choice of the staff. However, we’re not really part of the programme design – it’s a fait accompli by the time we see it. However, I’ll pass on your suggestion to our coordinator.

  3. Thanks to all involved for an excellent concert which I really enjoyed.

    Even with a full house, though, the number who have the opportunity to share the performance is very limited.

    Could we consider also using the web to showcase these performances, and perhaps also school ones? Or would we start to run into performing rights issues?

    Blame your recording for kick-starting this line of thought… I enjoyed it and wished it wasn’t just a short sample! 😉

  4. I vote for anonymous appreciation. “Don’t give them your name Pike!”

    Name and address witheld

  5. I cannot agree with this call for anonymity especially in the case of the immensely talented Mr Swanson. His dash,pizzazz and elan left me quite breathless and I look forward to his next performance with eager anticipation.

  6. David,

    I’m glad you enjoyed the performance. I think that performing rights might be an issue. There are also practical concerns. I only managed to record the Guitar Ensemble by bringing along my new toy (Zoom H2) which, working on batteries, was not adding peril by introducing trailing cables into the situation. It was its first outing and, placed right at the front of the ensemble, it turned out not to be a very balanced recording – with the exception of the posted clip.

    There are also occasions when an ensemble survives rather than nails a performance. The causes can be various – pupil illness, balance problems when pupils, playing in an unfamiliar acoustic, cannot hear the people upon whom they normally rely etc. In such cases, those involved might be glad if a performance had the permanence of a snowflake landing on a passing racehorse.

  7. I was sorry to miss this this year but am assured it was a very good evening. My other half singled out Dave Swanson and the percussion as one of the highlights. And my youngest was happy because he finally reached the high B he’s been struggling to find! Perfect timing, I’d say.

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