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London Sinfonietta Academy Diary

Lynn Henderson image

A horn player from Cornwall, Lynn spent two years on the specialist music scheme at Wells Cathedral School before attending the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in 2015. She's written about her impressions on day 1 of the London Sinfonietta Academy in the first of our diary posts. More to come throughout the week...

Day 1: Monday 9 July

Arriving at Central Saint Martins this afternoon and leaving the fountains, big-screen tennis and sunshine outside in favour of some serious contemporary music may have seemed like an odd choice. However, as soon as the music stands arrived and we got playing, it was clear how intense rehearsals were going to be.

We started off with Deborah Pritchard’s Wave Returning. From the Brass section we were pretty confident as our parts didn’t have too much of the daunting water-like figurations we left those to the wind and strings! With the composer in the room, we still had to keep our wits about us. After the break, we moved on to Harrison Birtwistle’s Silbury Air, a daunting work and mind-boggling when you first look at it. After reassurance about the metric modulations from the conductor, Peter Rundel, we got stuck in. Semiquaver subdivision galore! As first days go, things are looking very hopeful but there’s a lot of notes, counting and concentration to go before Thursday’s concert...

By Lynn Henderson

Olivia Palmer-Baker

Olivia is currently due to commence her third year of studying bassoon at the Royal Academy of Music under the tutelage of London Sinfonietta Principal Bassoon John Orford and Amy Harman, alongside Fraser Gordon on contrabassoon and Andrew Watts for baroque bassoon. Read on to hear about day 2 of the London Sinfonietta Academy...

Day 2: Tuesday 10 July

The first full day of tutti rehearsals are over, and already this project is shaping up to be something great. We are covering four excellent and challenging pieces by Benjamin, Rihm, Pritchard (who was present at rehearsals), and Birtwistle  which we rehearsed in sectionals in the morning, and brought together for tutti rehearsal in the consequent rehearsals.

Three Inventions, by Benjamin, requires larger forces than just those of the London Sinfonietta Academy, so it forms a collaborative project with other London Sinfonietta players, who rehearsed with us today. So far, it’s been great fun, and Peter Rundel  our excellent conductor – continues to raise the bar, asking for everything with have, but with great encouragement and an infectious smile! In the wind section, we have received some specific tutoring and feedback from Simon Haram, Mark van de Wiel, and Chris O’Neal, all of whom have great knowledge of performing this type of repertoire, or have performed this repertoire with the composers present! I’m excited for tomorrow and, having already learnt a lot, now feel ready for some final polishing!

By Olivia Palmer-Baker

Rebecca Toal

Rebecca Toal has recently finished her currently undergraduate course at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, where she studied with Paul Beniston, Will O’Sullivan, Anne McAneney, Nicholas Betts and Stephen Keavey. In September she will be enrolling at the Royal Academy of Music with a scholarship to study as a postgraduate. Read about day 3 of the London Sinfonietta Academy in Rebecca's words...

Day 3: Wednesday 11 July

Today was our last full day of rehearsals before our concert and so our concentration powers were pushed to the max, though despite the long day yesterday, spirits were high! We had our last chance to pick the tutors’ brains in the morning sectionals, and the brass section not only found time to work on the Benjamin and the Birtwistle, but also to play some musical games which tested our ears and inner pulse. After the break we rehearsed both pieces from the morning, plus Rihm’s Chiffre II. Personally, the first movement from the Benjamin has been my favourite to play, as I play a lyrical flugelhorn solo over the top of the ensemble, though I have also thoroughly enjoyed locking in with everybody’s groove in Silbury Air.

Over the past few days, it has become even more apparent to me how essential it is for everybody to subdivide and feel the pulse at all times – even if just one player is a little out of time, it can really throw the whole group rhythmically We are all very much looking forward to playing the works through in the concert tomorrow with the adrenaline and energy that comes with performing.  

by Rebecca Toal

The London Sinfonietta Academy is supported by The Barbara Whatmore Charitable Trust, D'Oyly Carte Charitable Trust, Harold Hyam Wingate Foundation and The Roger and Ingrid Pilkington Charitable Trust.

Published: 10 Jul 2018