Les Six Flute Ensemble were selected from the regional rounds that took place in April to perform at the Music for Youth National Festival in Birmingham.
We were thrilled of course but then had some serious work to do. We had to go from performing two pieces to three to fill the 12 minute time slot.
We decided on The Bumblebee Fantasy arr Ann Cameron Pearce, which we had played for the first round and in the Mrs Sunderland Festival in February it was difficult to the other pieces. We had a 5 hour rehearsal trying out various pieces but couldn’t settle on the other two pieces and I was discussing it with my very good friend Paul and he said I’ll arrange you something. After batting a few ideas around we decided on Cantilena, the 2nd Movement from Poulenc’s Sonata for Flute and Piano. I liked the idea as the group is called Les Six and Poulenc was a member of Les Six, a group of six French composers around the 1920’s. So now there were two pieces decided on!
Eventually we decided on Leroy Anderson’s The Typewriter arr. Mel Orriss to finish our programme. I LOVE Mel Orriss’ arrangements and have used several of them in the past. This is the perfect end of programme type of piece that has a bell and guiro in it, to replicate the sound of a typewriter.
Our next rehearsal rolled around pretty quickly, it’s really not that easy to get 7 people’s schedules to match up and we got stuck into our rehearsing. We only had the first half of the Poulenc, as Paul didn’t want to do it all if we didn’t like it. He was also merrily rehearsing at the time time to do the Saint-Saens Piano Concerto No.2. Not an easy concerto to learn!
Anyway, we didn’t like it….we LOVED it, it really worked well and was going to be pretty special if we could get it together,
A couple more rehearsals were all we could schedule in before our trip to Birmingham so everyone was sent away with the music and a recording of the Poulenc 2nd movement to listen to and to play along with if they needed to.
In our penultimate rehearsal things were really taking the shape, the Bumblebee Fantasy was good as was The Typewriter, the Poulenc still had a way to go. Now I was a bit worried. I know all 6 of them can play, they’re my students and 3 of them are diploma standard or above and the other 3 grade 8 standard but it just wasn’t coming together.
In the final rehearsal something weird happened, I’ve witnessed it before, but it is still an absolute joy when it happens, it all came together, the rubato worked, they watched and followed! Perhaps we were going to be OK!
What can I say about the Music for Youth National Festival, it was brilliant! From our arrival at The Royal Birmingham Conservatoire to the moment we left, everything was organised, everything ran to time and people were friendly. (This is not always the case, Les Six qualified for another National Final the previous year and it was chaos and actually a waste of everyone’s time.)
I was absolutely thrilled with the six of them! They played superbly well and except for about 4 bars out of the whole programme, I was so chuffed with them and for them! I really don’t think in a live situation, they could have done much better.
We had excellent feedback and lovely comments from the music mentors.
Now is a waiting game to see if they’ve been selected to perform in the School Proms in November. September seems a long way off! It would be a fitting end to the current very successful Les Sic Flute Ensemble, we will have two members down at music college in London from September and trying to keep this going is going to get increasingly difficult. I am on the look out for two other flute players or maybe we could has a Les Quatre??