Thursday, October 4, 2018

Francis Baines


It was early in the 1970s that we received this little note:

"I heard my comic variations the other day for the first time and liked them and have accordingly sent the enclosed. Will you publish it? I don't want any money. Yours sincerely Francis Baines"

At the time, as well as looking for good music for young players, we were looking for pieces that were fun to play. It was still the era of Hoffnung cartoons and Fritz Spiegl broadcasts - classical music fun was in the air.
We decided to push our luck even further and ask the famous cartoonist Bill Tidy whether he would illustrate the cover for us. He produced the above, accompanied by a very modest bill. "I'll charge you  more when you're in Tin Pan Alley" he said.

Needless to say we did send him money, and the Comic Variations have been earning their keep, and making people laugh, ever since.

E4 Francis Baines - Comic Variations for clarinet & bassoon

Thursday, September 13, 2018


Alexandr Manukyan - Professor of Saxophone
Conservatoire, Yerevan, Armenia

Alexandr (Sasha) Manukyan has been teaching at the Conservatoire in Yerevan for many years. At the moment he has 39 students, and the level of their accomplishment is astounding. The Alma Saxophone Quartet is named after the first letters of his name, and 'my boys' can be seen and heard on the following links:

Rimsky Korsakov - Flight of the Bumblebee

Bach - Italian Concerto

Thierry Escaich - Tango Virtuoso

Alexandr is often on the juries of international saxophone events, particularly the Selmer Paris Saxophone Competition. He enjoys friendships with saxophone specialists worldwide, and is always interested to hear what other people are doing. He was  particularly impressed recently with the playing of our own Young Artist Jess Gillam, seen here rehearsing for the BBC Young Musician competition last year:

Jess Gillam 2017

Alexandr Manukyan is on Facebook

Thursday, August 9, 2018

2018 Launchpad Prize Winners #2


Festivo Winds

(Royal Northern College of Music)

The Players

Leila Marshall - flute
Adam Bowman - oboe
Andy Mellor - clarinet
Sara Erb - bassoon
Thomas Edwards - horn


Festivo Winds are a dynamic group of young musicians from around the world who formed at the RNCM in December 2017. They are a strong group - each member has numerous personal accolades - and together they create a palpable sense of energy and fun. 

The ensemble specialise in the core quintet repertoire, whilst maintaining an interest in arrangements and new works. 

Festivo Winds are the winners of the 2018 Fewkes Woodwind Competition and the June Emerson Wind Music Launchpad Prize. The members are very excited to see what the future holds.

June Emerson Wind Music would like to thank Suzy Stonefield for organising 
the awarding of the Launchpad Prize at the Royal Northern College of Music.


Festivo Winds

Royal Northern College of Music

Thursday, August 2, 2018

2018 Launchpad Prize Winners #1


Rosewood Clarinet Quartet

(Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama)

The Players

Joanna James
Carwyn Thomas
Katherine Nunn
Jason Hill


Based in Cardiff, the Rosewood Clarinet Quartet was formed in September 2017 by Joanna James, Carwyn Thomas, Katherine Nunn and Jason Hill, four Master's students at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Within its first year alone, the quartet has already gone from strength to strength, securing the Wind Plus Chamber Music Prize, being highly commended in the McGrenery Chamber Music Prize, and most recently winning the June Emerson Wind Music Ensemble (Launchpad) Prize 2018. The Quartet have raised money for charity, regularly working with Music in Hospitals and Care, and have most recently played for the College's Open Day. Some pieces the Quartet have played over the past few months include Uhl's Divertimento for Clarinet Quartet, Lenny Sayers' "Bute" and Clare Grundman's Caprice for Clarinet Quartet.
In 2018 they won the June Emerson Wind Music Launchpad Prize.

June Emerson Wind Music would like to thank Kevin Price for organising 
the awarding of the Launchpad Prize at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama.


Rosewood Clarinet Quartet
Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama

Thursday, July 26, 2018


Jack Brymer (1915 - 2003)

In the winter in the United States there is a problem in concert halls which become so dry with the excessive heating.  In my bassoon case I would put a humidifier,  a sort of rubber tube soaked in water. 'A London Symphony’ of Vaughan Williams has some very pianissimo sections.  In one of these, with Previn conducting on an LSO tour, one of the double basses literally exploded.  It was an amazing noise, followed by the Mancunian voice of Stuart Knussen (father of Oliver, the composer and solo double bass), ‘git off the platform, Robin!’, to Robin McGee, the owner of the ruined instrument.  Previn really enjoyed that.

Once in the Royal Festival Hall we had just finished the first movement of a symphony when Jack Brymer, sitting next to me,  got up and walked off the platform through the violins.  I think Previn must have suspected what was the trouble for he just stood on the podium and waited.  Sure enough, after probably not more than two minutes, back comes Jack, who says in his marvellous, sonorous voice ‘Sorry, AndrĂ©!’ and goes back to his seat to complete the performance of the symphony.

Roger Birnstingl

Thursday, July 12, 2018


The British Flute Society - Summer Flute Festival

Friday August 17th - Sunday August 19th

This year the theme of the festival is all things new in the flute world

The instrument

Its technique

Its music

There will be celebrity recitals, workshops, a flute choir, trade stands
and opportunities to meet players, teachers and composers.

To book a place contact
To join the British Flute Society contact:

The Future Flute Fest 2018 is for everyone who loves the flute.

Thursday, July 5, 2018



Four playing days open to clarinet players of all ages from Grade 5 to Diploma level.

Stephanie Reeve will direct rehearsals focusing on ensemble skills, technique and sight-reading, using a wide variety of repertoire and the full range of clarinets from Eb to contrabass. An informal performance will be given at the end of the four sessions.

Further information from:

Stapleford Granary, Bury Road, Stapleford, Cambridge CB22 5BP