Saturday, June 29, 2019

Beethoven's 5th Bossa Nova

Terence Greaves, when we first met him, was Dean of Undergraduate Studies at the Royal Northern College of Music. A quiet, unassuming academic we thought. However we soon found out about his naughty side. In his earlier life he had been a lecturer at the Birmingham School of Music, where he had contact with the CBSO - in particular the wind section.
It was the clarinettist John Fuest who encouraged him to write for the CBSO wind quintet, which is where Terry's mischievous side came to light. Beethoven's Fifth Bossa Nova is wicked fun to play, and audiences absolutely love it. He went on to write Rimsky's Rumba and Mozart's Turkey Rock Mambo, all of which are published by Emerson Edition. However it is the Beethoven that is the firm favourite, and inspired this jazzy cover from the cartoonist Bill Tidy.
Terence Greaves 1933 - 2009
composer, lecturer, accompanist, and music consultant on ABRSM examinations
E42 Terence Greaves - Beethoven's 5th Bossa Nova
E191 Rimsky's Rumba
E245 Mozart's Turkey Rock Mambo

Thursday, June 6, 2019

The Hunt


The wind quintet line-up appeared just a little late for consideration by the major classical composers. It was not until Reicha and Danzi came along in the early 1800s that it began to be recognised as an ensemble. Although since that time there have been some wonderful works composed specifically for quintet,  there have also been a lot of arrangements, made to fill out the earlier repertoire. String quartets, of course, have a  rich supply of musically satisfying works, many of which have been converted for quintets to play - with varying degrees of success.
Mozart's 'The Hunt' however is a major achievement in this arrangement by Geoffrey Emerson. It is done by someone who knows intimately how each instrument, and instrumentalist, works. Many string quartets have passages ('scrubbing, pizzicato, string-crossing arpeggios and the like) that don't translate musically for wind instruments. These he refuses to arrange as they will never sound convincing.
'The Hunt' however is a supremely wonderful and satisfying musical experience for wind players. If you only try one - try this one!
June Emerson

E28 Mozart 'The Hunt' K458 string quartet
arranged by Geoffrey Emerson for wind quintet



Thursday, May 16, 2019

Horn or Bicycle?

Christine Muskett cycles for charity again..

"Shall I bring my horn or my bicycle?" is the usual question when Christine Muskett comes to Yorkshire. Whenever she comes we try to organise a quintet session, or she visits our local orchestra. The bicycle option is for keeping her muscles in trim and enjoying the fantastic countryside in this part of North Yorkshire.
Every summer Christine cycles for a chosen charity. This year is is for Dementia UK, a charity that makes a huge difference to people's lives. She will be cycling C2C2C2C (Close to Coast to Close to Coast) covering a distance of about 450 miles. This is as nothing to someone who did London to Paris in two days a few years ago.

Please support Christine's ride if you can:

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Online Oboe Masterclasses

Celia Craig

Celia’s oboe teaching approach comes from a lifetime of experience at all levels – tertiary, school children, adults, professional development of teachers, beginners, workshops and within the industry at the manufacture and design level.
In addition, Celia’s playing experience is second to none, stemming from her own education at some of the world’s top training opportunities, encompassing orchestral, commercial, solo, chamber, lecturing, curating, performance practice and experience upon a number of instruments. Celia’s own teachers and mentors have been superb players and educators to whom she pays tribute as having nurtured her unique outlook which differs from the traditional model of oboe teaching.
Formerly National President of Australasian Double Reed Society, Chairman of BBC Symphony Orchestra, former active member of BBCSO Education program, Music Curator for The National Trust of South Australia, coach for Australian Youth Orchestra and Adelaide Youth Orchestra, State Music Camp of SA, leader of masterclasses and workshops at Elder Conservatoire, Royal College, Royal Northern College, Royal Academy, Guildhall School, Trinity Laban Conservatoire, YST (Singapore) Conservatory, Purcell School and others, Celia is a contributor to the new Arts Plan for SA and committed to improving its outcomes for oboists

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Albanian International Brass Festival

23 - 27 April 2019

Masterclasses by outstanding players from

Thursday, April 11, 2019

E 17 Hartley Suite for 3 bassoons

It was that wonderful sound...

Archie Camden - 1888 - 1979
(Halle Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra)

It was in the summer of 1965 at Queenswood School, Hertfordshire, that I first heard bassoons in any quantity. I was attending one of the Ernest Read summer schools as a helper. When my household duties were finished, I was allowed to play second violin in the Second Orchestra.
Walking across the netball courts one sunny afternoon I heard this magical pouring out through the open window of a nearby room. Three bassoons playing some joyful music. What a sound!
Straight away I tracked down the bassoon tutor, Archie Camden, and said 'I've decided I want to learn the bassoon!' He smiled and said 'You find an instrument my dear,  and I will give you some lessons.'
Wow! He was Famous! (I only had three lessons from him, but it was a great start.)
One of the other bassoonists on the course had an instrument to sell. When I got home I borrowed money everywhere possible and bought it. I was hooked for life!
Several years later the 'joyful music' that I had originally heard on that memorable day came into my hands, through some friends.: Suite for Three Bassoons by Geoffrey Hartley.
In 1976, with joyful gratitude, Emerson Edition published it.
June Emerson
E17 Hartley - Suite for Three Bassoons
Hornpipe, Waltz, March

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Bassoons again...

A Noble Project

Laurence Perkins - former principal bassoon of the Manchester Camerata

Laurence Perkins is an active and enthusiastic ambassador for the bassoon. Not many students choose the bassoon as their instrument. The cost of an instrument can be an obstacle, and it is (let's face it) not the most extrovert and showy instrument in the orchestra. What's more it doesn't often play solos, so is seldom very visible.
However there is an impressive repertoire of wonderful solo works, and Laurence is making it his business to make sure they are heard and appreciated. Together with Hyperion he is recording two CDs of some of the most significant pieces. Please take a look at his site:

The bassoon is the good-natured philosopher of the orchestra. Although often at the middle or bottom of the harmonic structure, the bassoon adds warmth, stability, lyricism and character - and sometimes fun. When it has an orchestral solo it can often either make you laugh (Malcolm Arnold Scottish Dances) or break your heart (Tchaikovsky Symphony No.4). It is a most wonderful and rewarding instrument to play.

I am supporting Laurence in this project - I hope that you can too.

June Emerson

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Michael Head

Michael Head

Michael Dewar Head (1900 - 1976)

As well as being a composer, singer and pianist, Michael Head was an examiner for the Associated Board. It was when he came to Ampleforth College to examine the music students that we first met him. We knew his lovely songs, and had recently heard Siciliana for oboe on the BBC. As well as offering hospitality we were definitely hoping to get our hands on this lovely piece!
I drove down to Ampleforth College to bring him up to our house. My son Daniel, aged about 9, was in the car with me.
'Now Mr. Head is quite an old man, and may be a bit deaf. When you speak to him try to speak very clearly,' I told him.
Michael got in the car, and I went back to the music department to get his suitcase. When I returned to the car he was roaring with laughter, and so was Daniel. Apparently Daniel had said, extremely distinctly 'I think you are the oldest man I have ever seen.'
Our relationship was very warm from then on (thank you Daniel!) and we not only acquired his lovely Sicilana, but also a very striking song The World is Mad, for voice, clarinet and piano, and three other works including oboe and bassoon.
Geoffrey asked his advice on adjudicating, as he had his first engagement coming up. Michael said that however awful the playing, it was important always to say something nice - even if it was just to compliment them on the way they walked on to the stage.
That first meeting was on March 10th 1976. In April I sent him the Louis MacNeice poem that eventually became The World is Mad. During the following couple of months several other works arrived. On August 3rd he wrote from Bulawayo, South Africa, where he was not only examining for the AB but also singing his songs at recitals, including The World is Mad - ink still wet on the paper.
You can imagine our shock when, on August 24th, we heard that he had died suddenly in Cape Town. It was peritonitis - he had not reached a hospital soon enough.
June Emerson
Siciliana - oboe & piano
Three Hill Songs - oboe & piano
Three Fantastic Pieces - bassoon & piano
Trio - oboe, bassoon & piano
The World is Mad - mezzo, clarinet & piano

Thursday, February 21, 2019

E10 Six Low Solos

Six Low Solos

Eric Hughes 1924 - 2000

Eric Hughes was an electrical engineer, who worked at GEC in Wembley during the 1950s at the time when transistors were first being developed. He was a talented jazz pianist and composer, and used to write a musical show each year for the members of the company to perform. I first met him when I was invited to play in the orchestra for one of their productions.
He decided to study composition more seriously, and enrolled for classes at Hendon Technical College. We sat next to each other for the theory and harmony classes and generally caused a lot of trouble - he was such a joker. Through our friendship he started writing shows for the Ballards Lane Methodist Church in Finchley, North London, which had a thriving dramatic group. Everything was fun. I still have copies of his songs 'I've got a Toothbrush in Kensington' and 'Knitting Sandwiches for Jim' - created for some comedy sketch.

Trying out some songs for a show - please note paper snakes coming out of the recorders.
Left to right: June Emerson, Laurie Hetherington, Eric Hughes, Jean Gunderson,
Ken Gunderson, Sidney the choirmaster.

The composer Alan Bush came to Hendon Tech. to teach the more advanced students and Spike (everyone called Hughes ended up being called 'Spike' of course) developed his style to a much more advanced level. Several of his works have been since been published.
It was at my request, and detailed information about which notes were learned first on the bassoon, that he composed Six Low Solos, which have been a godsend to beginner bassoonists ever since.
He always signed himself E. S. C. O. Hughes, which stood for Eric Spike Consecutive Octaves Hughes.
June Emerson

E6 Six Low Solos - Eric Hughes Grade I/2

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Gordon Jacob and his pigs...


Whenever we visited Gordon Jacob the first thing my children wanted to do was to sit on the big leather pig in his sitting-room. Gordon loved pigs and had an enormous collection: china, wooden, plastic - even a marzipan one that he couldn't bring himself to eat.
He was helping us to build our catalogue of pieces for young wind players, and it was the pigs that reminded him to introduce us to Alan Ridout, one of his ex-students at the Royal College of Music. Alan had written a piece for four bassoons called 'Pigs' as a gift to Gordon to add to his collection. Alan soon became one of our favourite composers.

Pigs eventually became Emerson Edition No.9. With a cover illustration by the legendary Bill Tidy it has remained a favourite since 1973

Thursday, January 24, 2019

The Rehearsal Orchestra - London Weekend Courses


How would you like to play...

Stravinsky - Petrushka & Scherzo a la Russe
Dvorak - Carnaval Overture
Janacek - Sinfonietta (Oooh yes!)
Mahler - Das Lied von der Erde
Strauss - Ein Heldenleben
With a bunch of great players, under an excellent conductor
(with a good sense of humour), for a day of intensive work
with an open rehearsal at the end for your mates to come and listen?


The Rehearsal Orchestra


You'll love it!


Friday, January 11, 2019

British Flute Society Competition

British Flute Society

Competition for Young Flautists 2019



The closing date for entry is 22nd January 2019


School Performer

Open to flute players aged 13 and under on 31 August 2019. They should play a piece, or pieces, of their own choice lasting (including breaks) not more than 5 minutes.
Grade 5 or above

Young Performer

Open to flute players aged 14 - 18 years on 31 August 2019. They should play a piece, or pieces, of their own choice lasting (including breaks) not more than 7 minutes.
Grade 7-8 or above

Young Artist

Open to higher level players aged 19 - 24 years on 31 August 2019. They should play a piece, or pieces, of their own choice lasting (including breaks) not more than 8 minutes.
Grade 8 or above
More detailed information, and an online application form: