Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra is delighted to be working with a range of partners in Gloucestershire on an exciting strings project that will see at least 130 young string players aged between 7 and 21 rehearsing and performing Fiddler’s Hill by professional composer and violinist Jeff Moore. Jeff has written his thoughts of the project so far.
“I turn up at Sir Thomas Rich’s School in Gloucester on Saturday morning, nervous and apprehensive. How will they all respond to the music? Will they be bored? What if I’ve made the parts too difficult and they just can’t play it? It’s a familiar feeling before the first rehearsal of a new project, and even though this particular piece of mine, Fiddler’s Hill, has already been played a few times, the feeling of nervousness is just as strong. That feeling doesn’t subside as the young players start turning up, (wow, there are a lot of them), but ah, here’s Jon Trim from Gloucestershire Music. Jonathan’s Celtic Fantastia will also be in the programme, and we’d met a few years before when my piece The Gyspy’s Violin was played in Cheltenham Town Hall with another massed string orchestra. He’s a lovely chap and soon puts me at my ease as he starts rehearsing the youngest players in the piece.
Yes, this is challenging music and a lot of them are soon struggling, but Jon carries on and gets through the piece with everyone more or less together. It’s a bit of a scramble but at least we know what we’re up against now. After we take a break, I take over conducting duties for a bit and start getting into some more detail. Every time we play a passage, it comes to life a little bit more. This is encouraging. They do say practice makes perfect…
After a while, I leave them all to it and nip over to the Gloucester Academy of Music (GAM) where a slightly smaller group of younger players are being put through their paces by BSO violinist Alison Boden and GAM tutor Rob Jones. Everyone seems exhausted and they’ve clearly been hard at it, but Alison and Rob have come up with some excellent results and it’s starting to take shape. The two groups combined will make a sizeable sting orchestra of their own, but that’s only half of the story. Will there be enough players to balance the more senior parts, as well as the select group of BSO musicians playing the professional parts? Time will tell soon enough, and a couple of days later I’m back at the Gloucester Academy to rehearse the senior parts, aided and abetted by BSO cellist Phil Handy and GAM tutor Rob Jones.
There are some seriously impressive young musicians here, and almost straight away they’re getting the character of the piece. Rough corners are smoothed with ease and everyone starts to dig in. This is going to be fun! The performance is only a couple of weeks away but feels like an age, and I’m itching to get all the different groups together along with the BSO players to hear the full force of the music. It’s a very energetic piece, and I’m expecting my socks to be blown off by all that youthful enthusiasm. What a fantastic thing to look forward to! Bring it on!”