Tag Archives: flute

Deck the shelves…

Opal Flutes at Westminster Music Library, December 2016So it’s that time of year again, the tree has gone up, we’ve covered the place in tinsel, the Santa hats have been dusted off and we’re starting to get sick of certain songs already… yes, Christmas time is officially upon us.

And it wouldn’t be Christmas without us sharing the many festive musical events we’ve held in Westminster Music Library since the start of December…

Opal Flutes at Westminster Music Library, December 2016

Opening proceedings with a cracking selection of winter themed arrangements were the fabulous Opal Flutes flute choir, a bunch of keen amateur musicians of all standards and from many walks of life; as well as the standard flute we’re all familiar with, they also boast players of piccolo, alto flute and bass flute. So popular are they that they even have music specially arranged for them, Jingle Bells never sounded so good.

Staff get into the swing of the under fives' Christmas party at Westminster Music Library, December 2016

Having bid them all the very best for the festive season, it was time for the Music Library staff to take over and present the madness and mayhem that is the Under Fives Christmas Party, as ever with the help of the indispensable Georgina from Victoria Children’s Library:

Father Christmas came to the under fives' Christmas party at Westminster Music Library! December 2016“Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without the Under Fives Christmas Party in the Music Library, it’s right up there with the Queen’s Speech”

And of course there was a visit from the one and only Father Christmas (we know who you are, and your secret’s safe with us…).

Our musical entertainment managed to conjure up a lot of happy faces although there were a few tears. It’s amazing how competitive parents can be when it comes to the race for getting a Christmas present for being “good all year”…

Carols with Knightsbridge Brass at Westminster Music Library, December 2016

Once Santa had departed to continue his gift distribution and we’d tidied up the tinsel, our thoughts turned to our grand finale Westminster Music Library Christmas event – a carol evening including mince pies and silly stories, and the amazing musical accompaniment of Knightsbridge Brass, a quintet of brass players from The Band of the Scots Guards.

Carols with Knightsbridge Brass at Westminster Music Library, December 2016A little different from Trooping the Colour, they were all game enough to trade in their bearskins for Santa Hats and provide exceptional musical back up for the carolling crowd – which reached a record breaking number this Christmas.

And that’s us done for this year’s Christmas celebrations in the Music Library, although we’re still eating the mince pies…


Take Three Girls

Aisha Meade at Westminster Music Library, December 2014 Sue Yieng Lee at Westminster Music Library, December 2014 Aurelia Apanavičiūtė at Westminster Music Library, December 2014

When a talented flautist, pianist and soprano with a shared passion for classical music all found themselves studying together for music degrees at Middlesex University, it seemed like a golden opportunity to combine forces and form themselves into a musical trio. So why not go a step further and share your passion with an audience? We in Westminster Music Library like to think that we’re helping young new talent by offering them a chance to play to the public. OK we’re not The Wigmore Hall, but in order to progress in the highly competitive world of music performance, you have to get that first step into the public domain, and finding venues for chamber groups is not always an easy task.

So it was that a packed Westminster Music Library welcomed Aisha, Aurelia and Sue last Thursday evening, and sat back to enjoy a varied and delightful programme of music ranging from baroque to the present day.

Concert flautist Aisha Meade has performed in such exalted venues as Cadogan Hall, The Barbican and The Royal Festival Hall; soprano Aurelia Apanavičiūtė, although originally a pianist from the age of four, was recently discovered to have “something of a voice”, and pianist Sue Yieng Lee, having already achieved one music degree, is now studying hard for another in performance at Goldsmith’s University.  A multi-talented trio if ever there was one.

Their programme opened with Poulenc’s Sonata for flute and piano; this sonata is as typical of Poulenc as anything he ever wrote, combining elegant charm and sophistication, conjuring up an image of fashionable Parisian boulevard cafés. Although titled ‘sonata’, none of the three movements is in sonata form, and the flute is definitely the star, with the piano cast only in a supporting role. A challenging piece to perform and one which Aisha appears to have mastered with ease.

We were then treated to four works in which the whole trio could showcase their talents: Le Rossignol by Delibes, Caccini’s Ave Maria, the famous song by Schubert – An Silvia, and Pie Jesu from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Requiem.  Le Rossignol (the nightingale), a romantic piece written for flute, voice and piano, features a “call and answer” motif between the flute and soprano, mimicking the song of the nightingale, it transported us from a cold and gloomy winter night in London to a warm, summer evening in the French countryside.

After two dazzling piano solos from Sue – a Schubert  impromptu and an intermezzo by Mexican composer Manuel Ponce –  the concert drew to a close with Sunstreams, a piece for flute and piano by British flautist and composer Ian Clarke, a beautiful piece with a melody that soars up to the very top of the flute.

Aisha Meade, Sue Yieng Lee and Aurelia Apanavičiūtė at Westminster Music Library, December 2014

A memorable evening of relaxing and enjoyable music, played confidently by three girls who are sure to be going places, a sentiment with which our audience seemed to agree:

“It’s lovely to hear such beautiful music and allow students to showcase their talents.”

“Delightful! Most promising young musicians.”

“Most enjoyable – three delightful performers.”







Licence to Trill

On a sultry late spring evening, Westminster Music Library hosted a concert given by the wonderfully named Licence to Trill.

Licence to Trill at Westminster Music Library, May 2014Licence to Trill are bassoonist Hannah Benton, clarinettist Kelly Fisher and flautist Sharon Moloney. These three talented young musicians are friends who in 2013 decided they would like to meet once a month to play chamber music together. They also play in a wide variety of groups in South London. We are always pleased to support new artists by providing performing opportunities, and we were especially pleased to welcome Licence to Trill for what was their first public performance.

As the trio had decided to play their programme through without an interval, members of the audience were able to enjoy a glass of wine on arrival before taking their seats. And so, with refreshments in hand and the ceiling fans swishing, Licence to Trill, showing no visible signs of first night nerves in front of a hot full house, launched into the first two pieces of their programme. These were by French composers; François Devienne’s Trio in B flat and Eugene Bozza’s Serenade en trio. The latter has a special resonance for the three musicians as this was the first work they played together.

After these pieces by two relatively unknown composers, we moved into more familiar territory with Mozart’s delightful Divertimento in B flat major, K. 439b, originally written for three basset horns, an early type of clarinet. In introducing the piece, Kelly informed us that a divertimento was a piece of easy listening music written as after dinner entertainment. Sadly, we were unable to provide a banquet, but the music was very enjoyable nonetheless.

Licence to Trill at Westminster Music Library, May 2014

By way of contrast, this was followed by two pieces by twentieth century Russian composers. Both were arrangements by Quinto Maganini. First, we heard the quirky Pastorale by Stravinsky (originally for soprano and piano), and then two of Shostakovich’s Preludes (originally for piano), the second of which amply displayed the wit and humour for which he is known in his lighter pieces.

The final work in Licence to Trill’s varied programme took us in another direction altogether. It was a piece by American jazz bassoonist Ray Pizzi. Pizzi has played with a number of the great jazz musicians as well as artists such as Madonna, and has appeared on countless Hollywood soundtracks including Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. Our three accomplished musicians had no difficulty slipping into the syncopated rhythms of mischievously named Linguine, described as a be-bop duet for bassoon and piano, but played in this arrangement, for flute, clarinet and bassoon.

After the generous applause which greeted the end of their concert, they still had a little gem up their sleeve to send the audience out with broad smiles tapping their feet. With a name like Licence to Trill their tongue in cheek encore couldn’t be anything else but the James Bond theme!

And so ended a very enjoyable and informal evening with a group of fine young wind players of whom we will surely be seeing a great deal more.


A mighty wind

Apollo Wind Quintet at Westminster Music Library, July 2013

Last Thursday, on possibly the warmest evening of the year so far, Westminster Music Library played host to a recital by the Apollo Wind Quintet, a group of professional musicians who have played with some of the most prestigious orchestras in the country, and whose engagements have taken them across Europe, Russia and the USA.

For wind ensembles, it’s not enough to be fine exponents of your instruments; the lack of much suitable repertoire means players must also be inventive with programming. With this in mind we were looking forward to a selection of music either arranged or composed for this combination.

Tuning up complete, our audience settled and suitably refreshed with a cooling drink, Apollo took off like a rocket with an arrangement of Schubert’s Marche Militaire for piano duet. A somewhat fitting choice, as for their “day job” this outstanding Quintet plays with The Welsh Guards Band.

There followed an arrangement of Gounod’s Petite Symphonie (originally scored for flute and wind octet), described by the composer in 1885 as “just a trifle”, but to our ears it was anything but.

Apollo Wind Quintet at Westminster Music Library, July 2013Following the interval, when our stars took a well earned break to get their “puff” back, we heard more arrangements of well known classics such as Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, Elgar’s Salut D’amour, both played with sparkle, polish and a good deal of panache.

However, the best was yet to come.

Since the twentieth century, the combination of flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and horn has been enjoying a renaissance, and with their next piece: Charleston from Norman Hallam’s light hearted Dance Suite, Apollo demonstrated just how versatile they are. This piece is something of a challenge for a classical horn player, but he rose to it with consummate skill. We loved it, and clearly this piece is also a firm favourite with the performers.

To round the concert off we were taken back to the eighteenth century with Tambourin – a dance tune by François Joseph Gossec – originally written for the flute.

Apollo Wind Quintet at Westminster Music Library, July 2013

All five musicians demonstrated so clearly the art of successful ensemble playing, this was a thoroughly enjoyable concert given by a group of versatile and committed musicians. More please!

“An excellent event – playing of a very high standard and a most attractive programme. An ideal combination for a summer evening!”

“I appreciate the informality and intimacy of these performances, my wife and I have become addicts.”

“Faultless and captivating performance. Nice un-stuffy atmosphere, thank you for a pleasant evening.”


Flute flourish

Rachel Smith, flautistViolin, piano and vocal recitals are fairly common now, but concerts featuring solo woodwind instruments are still rarities.
So thanks go to Westminster Music Library for presenting this concert given by multi-talented flautist Rachel Smith, principal flautist with the Coldstream Guards Band.

Having studied at Royal Holloway, University of London and the Royal Northern College of Music, concerto and recital performances have taken Rachel across the UK from The Fairfield Halls and St John’s Smith Square, to Europe, Japan, Zimbabwe and the USA.

Her recital last week was a demanding one, but this stylish performer maintained a cool front throughout. Opening with the Partita in A minor for solo flute by Johann Sebastian Bach, it was apparent to our audience that this musician is of an exceptionally high standard, tackling florid passages and lightning speed runs with deceptive ease.

Rachel Smith at Westminster Music Library, June 2013Rachel has made numerous recordings and broadcasts for BBC Radio, TV and film, including BBC Radio 3’s Hear and Now and Radio 4’s Classic Serial. Her playing has inspired new works from British composers such as Paul Lewis, whose Three Flute Diversions for solo flute are recorded on her début CD Summer was in August, and which she performed for us in this concert.

The concert drew to a close with two very contrasting pieces – Debussy’s Syrinx – a beautiful impressionist work named after a wood nymph in Greek mythology, followed by Tango etude no. 3, one of six etudes in a tango style by the 20th Century Argentian composer Astor Piazzolla.

A truly memorable evening which our enthusiastic audience clearly enjoyed:

“Quality magnificent, but what makes these performances so satisfying is the intimate atmosphere – it’s as if the artists were performing specially for us – for me!!”

“An excellent and varied programme given by a very talented performer.”

“A lovely evening which I really enjoyed, thank you very much!”