How Versatile is the Violin?

June 2022: Saturday night, Alnwick Playhouse, and I find myself attending the ‘What A Wonderful World Festival’ on June 25. 

The 4-day festival highlighted the never-ending questions of sustainability. Speakers, artists and activists took to the stage to share their thoughts with us.

Saturday night was a display of amazing artists forming an eclectic group culminating in the festivals ‘Concert For The Planet’.  It felt like I was moving from one stage to another to embrace a different genre of music, or take in a slower pace of art. But I didn’t move from my seat. The artists came and went providing variety that I have never experienced whilst sat in one place at one time.

Bradley Creswick opened the show with the enchanting, emotionally charged work ‘The Lark Ascending’ by Ralph Vaughan Williams. I have recently seen it played in its original form, as it was intended, written for piano accompaniment only, a fascinating piece.

On the night Bradley had 4 teenagers accompanying him, a life changing moment for them playing with one of the NE’s greatest violinists. I have also had the pleasure of Bradley playing ‘The Lark’ privately to me here when he needed some work doing on his violin. It is a piece that I can never tire of.

We also heard from a poet now living in Northumberland after she fell in love with the landscape, Degna Stone, and also from a local indie band ‘Maximo Park’ who did a 40mins set, both providing us with food for thought. Their words and lyrics resonating with the festivals fiercely debated topics. 

Nancy Kerr and James Fagan offered up a taste of their extensive repertoire by taking to the stage after Bradley. Nancy is one of the countries most exciting fiddlers. She is an English folk musician, player and singer song writer who is also Principal Lecturer in Folk Music at Newcastle University. The music couldn’t have been more different from Vaughan Williams, and the technical differences in how Nancy and Bradley played demonstrated beautifully how a classical player and a ‘fiddler’, both at the top of their game, can produce such excellence.

It reminded me of how VERSATILE this amazing instrument is. A violin can do whatever is asked of it. It will play and perform and resonate. Ask it to step back in time and play Bach, or ask it to make peoples feet tap by delivering a Scottish reel, and it will deliver every time. On a personal level it can turn your mood from sad to happy in an instant, and on another it can bring so many people together over a common cause like this festival. 

It never ceases to amaze me at how just a few bits of wood glued together and covered in varnish can be so emotive.

Paxton House Music Series (22-32 July 2022)

It is nearly that time of year again for the Paxton House Music Series which runs from Friday 22nd – Sunday 31st July.

The Summer Festival of Chamber Music at Paxton House is a ten-day event full to the brim of fantastic artists and repertoire.

Its in our neck of the woods and we should support it as much as possible. World renowned artists in abundance!!

Click  the link for everything you need to know about the Paxton House Music Series.

Phew! What a scorcher! 

Most of us love heatwaves at this time of year with the proviso they don’t get too hot or last longer than is comfortable! Excessive heat, however, is not too healthy for your instrument tucked up in its case!  Seams are vulnerable at this time and glued areas can come apart.

How can you tell? Your instrument might lose power and presence. Or you may even hear the slightest little buzz indicating  a seam may have opened. 

These simple issues are easy to resolve. Just get in touch. If you’re unsure whether the heat is affecting your instrument arrange an appointment and I can have a closer look anyway. Keeping on top of these little issues prevents larger problems from developing.   

Enjoy the rest of the summer whilst making sure  your instrument enjoys lots of TLC! 

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