Thursday, March 1, 2018

A Near Death Experience

Jane Marshall - cor anglais

The trouble with recording sessions is that you never know what you're going to be in for until the moment you walk through the studio door…
Imagine my delight, on arriving at Air Studios in NW3, to find that we were doing a new album for the great Michel Legrand (remember Windmills of your Mind from The Thomas Crown Affair?) with the man himself conducting. It was to be called Between Yesterday and Tomorrow and was a series of songs telling the story of a woman's life from birth, through childhood and motherhood to old age and ultimately, death. The piece was originally written for Barbra Streisand but after a couple of initial sessions was abandoned, until the French Opera star Natalie Dessay heard about it and was desperate to record it.
As usual, I had a quick look through the part after warming up and there did seem to be a couple of Cor Anglais solos but nothing too onerous I thought…

Ha! How wrong can you be?

When it came to it, the two solos were to be played segue, constituting one of the longest and loneliest solos I've ever had to play, even after twenty odd years in a symphony orchestra. Inevitably (for the Cor Anglais) it was in the last song called, rather aptly, 'Last Breath' and so I started playing in what I thought was a suitably sombre and discreetly dying sort of style.

'NON NON NON NON NON NON NON!!!!!' shouted M. Legrand from the podium, followed by one of those ghastly silences in a room when nobody dares to breathe.  He may be small and in his mid 80s but my goodness he can be fierce!
Clearly I had totally misinterpreted Michel’s feelings about death. He wanted the voice he had given to me to rail against death, passionately, powerfully and with anguish, only then to mellow and eventually fade away.

From a technical point of view this was a huge challenge; a long, lonely continuous solo with limited breathing opportunities, screeching at full volume up the top of the range and then gradually getting lower and quieter, all those things you'd rather not have to do on the Cor Anglais. Michel made me dig incredibly deep to give him the emotional intensity that he wanted, but we got there. He was delighted with the end result and I had had an extraordinarily fulfilling experience, even if my heart had nearly stopped in the process!

All over now!

Jane Marshall is a freelance London musician and Professor of Cor Anglais at both the Royal College of Music and Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She was formerly Principal Cor Anglais of the Philharmonia Orchestra for 16 years and prior to that, the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Happy Birthday to 'Big Noise'
10 Years old in 2018

Big Noise, Raploch, Stirling, Scotland 

 Big Noise is run by the charity Sistema Scotland, and transforms the lives of children living in disadvantaged communities. The symphony orchestra, and learning a musical instrument, are the tools used to equip children with a range of social and life skills: confidence, resilience and aspiration.
Big Noise works across four communities, with more than 2,500 children, from birth to adulthood, in school and nursery, after school and in the holidays. It enables children to reach their full potential, and to bring about permanent social change in their communities.
It was started by Richard Holloway, who went to Venezuela to see how Sistema worked and then  set about making it all happen initially in Raploch, Stirling.

2008 - 35 Children
2010 - 317 Children
First Side-by-Side concert with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
2012 - 428 Children
2013 - Launch of Big Noise, Govanhill, Glasgow
2014 - 1100 Children
The Big Trip to Venezuela
2015 - 2000 Children
Launch of Big Noise, Torry, Aberdeen
2016 - Side-by-Side Concert with BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
La Mortella - Concert tour to Italy
2017 - Launch of Big Noise Douglas, Dundee

2018 - 2,500 Children
10th Birthday Celebrations

For more information, or to make a donation, go to:

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Want to Celebrate Handel's Birthday?

George Frederic Handel - born 23rd February 1685

There will be cake!

On Handel's birthday, 23rd February 2018, there will be free entry at Handel House from 11.00 - 6.00. Refreshments will be available to visitors throughout the day. Every hour, on the hour, there will be a 15 minute recital by members of the Amadè Players, starting at 11.00, the last one at 4.00 pm

Handel moved into the newly built house in Brook Street, London, in 1724 and lived there until he died in 1759. It was here that he wrote some of his most famous works, including Zadok the Priest, and The Music for the Royal Fireworks.

It is now called Handel House Museum with the mission to promote the knowledge, awareness and enjoyment of Handel's music to as many people as possible. Events include live performances, educational and outreach activities, and exhibiting and interpreting objects connected with his life.

In addition the museum promotes the diverse and continuing musical heritage of 23 Brook Street, through its association with Jimi Hendrix who lived there in the late 20th century.

Handel House Museum, 25 Brook Street, London W1K 4HB     Tel: 020 7495 1685

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Can anyone help to make this reality?

Dr Sokol Saraci, Professor of Trumpet, University of the Arts, Tirana, Albania

 As a professional trumpet player I would describe the brass (especially trumpet) situation in Albania as follows:
The Albanian brass school has shown good progress, after enduring a poor and isolated political and economic history in Albania during the 1990s. Looking back, I can remember how hard it was for us. After graduating we had to build step by step a professional background, seeking out information that could help to make us well educated, so we could feel comfortable facing the world.
Contact with Western musical traditions and expanding our knowledge and exchanging artistic experiences with our American colleagues developed a complete different level in the Albanian brass school. It also gave professional players access to quality pedagogical sources, so of course most things are definitely getting better.
However, as a professional player, and professor and teaching every day in the University of Arts in Albania, I am concerned about many unresolved issues, in particular the diversity of trumpets. All Albanian trumpet players - orchestral performers, professionals and students - only have a Bb trumpet. This creates not only difficulties in performing original orchestrations in various music styles, but it also makes gives us huge problems with transpositions. However at present funds are not available for these additional instruments.
My desire is to create a real trumpet laboratory in the University to give the students the chance to play all types of instruments:  flugelhorn, cornet, trumpets in C, D and Eb, natural trumpet and piccolo trumpet. It would be amazing for them to feel all those sounds and to have the possibility to discover all the tone colours of each instrument, to experience a wide trumpet repertoire, and raise their playing to another level.
Being a teacher and guide to my students has always been my dream, and that is what I hope for the future – to open a new window for the next generation.. I will always search for improvement, which means sometimes dreaming of a different reality. As the great Richard Wagner said: ‘Imagination creates Reality’.
Dr. Sokol Saraci
Professor of Trumpet, University of the Arts, Tirana, Albania 2018

Sokol Saraci is professor of trumpet and director of the chamber music and wind instrument department in the University of Arts in Albania. His education started with a degree from the University of Tirana and continued with a master’s degree from the University of Tetovo, Macedonia. After that he won a Fulbright Scholarship to the Truman State University in Missouri USA. On returning to Albania he gained a PhD with his research into wind orchestras in Albania. His publication Trumpet and the Trumpet Player is a guide to daily practice. He is well known as a successful teacher, bringing inspiration, brightness and wisdom to his trumpet classes.
He has been principal trumpet in the National Opera in Tirana for many years. He also plays chamber music and appears as a concerto soloist in Albania and around Europe.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Someone to Watch in 2018

Thomas Simaku - composer - b. 1958

When Thoma (Thomas) Simaku first came to the UK from Albania in 1991 it was the beginning of a long and fruitful friendship with Emerson Edition. Little did we anticipate the musical heights he would achieve in subsequent years.The first work we published was his haunting Nokturn for clarinet and piano, which has been a favourite with clarinettists ever since. Fortunately for us he produced several more wind pieces before the big world took over, and he was able to develop his full potential internationally. He has been winning awards and prizes ever since. In 2013 he won the International Competition for Lutoslawski's 100th Birthday with Concerto for Orchestra. It was chosen from 160 compositions submitted anonymously from 37 countries. He now holds a senior position as Reader in Composition at the University of York.


Sea Images - flute & piano
From Across the Sea - flute trio
Nokturn - clarinet & piano
Four Wedding Songs and a Dance - clarinet & piano
Tanglewood Trio - clarinet, viola, piano
Andante & Scherzo - 4 bassoons
Six Albanian Folk-Songs - horn & piano
The Eagles - 4 tpt, hn, 4 tbn, tba
Elephas Maximus - 2fl, 2ob, 2cl, 2bn, cbn, 2hn



Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Last Posting Dates - Christmas 2017

Last Posting Dates

To ensure you don't miss the last post before Christmas,
these are the December deadlines that Royal Mail have issued:


(Applies to all international airmail services)
Friday 1st December:
Africa, Middle East
Wednesday 6th December:
Asia, Cyprus, Far East, Eastern Europe
(except Czech Republic, Poland & Slovakia)
Thursday 7th December:
Caribbean, Central & South America
Friday 8th December:
Australia, Greece & New Zealand
Wednesday 13th December:
Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Poland
Thursday 14th December:
Canada, Finland, Sweden, USA
Friday 15th December:
Austria, Denmark, Iceland, Portugal,
Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia,
Spain, Switzerland, Belgium,
France, Ireland & Luxembourg


Wednesday 20th December:
Royal Mail First Class
Thursday 21st December:
Royal Mail Special Delivery

Christmas Closing Dates

Our office will close at 12pm (midday) on Friday 22nd December and 
will re-open on Tuesday 2nd January 2018.
All orders placed online during that period will be despatched as soon as possible.
If your order is particularly urgent, please let us know and
we will prioritise despatch for Tuesday if at all possible.

Thursday, December 7, 2017


What's your Favourite Wind Quintet?


When looking for a photo of this composer smiling, this is the nearest I could find. Nevertheless there is humour and tenderness in his music, and it's a pity that it isn't heard more often. When my quintet gets together there is nearly always a moment when someone says 'Oh let's play the Milhaud!'
On a concert-giving holiday near Aix-en-Provence a couple of us tracked down his house and found it was a sub-police-station on the ring road. We bounced into the front office and asked whether it would be possible to come and play his quintet in his house. The desk-sergeant, or whatever they are called in Provence, looked completely blank. Who was this 'Milhaud' and what were these two bizarre Englishwomen on about? I believe the building has since been demolished.

Each of the seven short movements of 'La Cheminée du Roi René is a little masterpiece, with its own character, style and unexpected but delicious harmonies. It starts with a solemn village procession, followed by a gentle summer Morning Serenade. The Jugglers come along next, larking about, followed by a rather poignant dance-like 'Maousinglade'. 'Joutes sur L'Arc' is a lively jousting contest on the river Arc, followed by an energetic hunting scene, where the piccolo adds some fizz to the activity.
My favourite movement of all is the final Madrigal - Nocturne. You can imagine that all the villagers have gone home, exhausted, and the countryside is bathed in moonlight. The ending is heart-stoppingly tender.
June Emerson