“Several people commented that this was the best course they had attended, and I certainly agree it was right up there”
“I have never enjoyed a course more”
Feedback from two course participants in 2019
in the beautiful English Lake District near Bassenthwaite Lake in north Cumbria
- Three outstanding wind chamber music courses
- Inspiring location and venue
- Excellent accommodation
- Superb food
- Affordable prices
Sunday 1st -Thursday 5th March 2020
Sunday 5th - Friday 10th July 2020
Monday 19th - Friday 23rd October 2020
❋ Music sent in advance
❋ World-class professional tuition
❋ Superb food and accommodation
❋ Excellent value for money
Course details below
from 2019 Wind Serenades
courses at Higham Hall
About Higham Hall...
“Warm, welcoming, perfect setting - a very special place”
”Lovely location in which to make music. A haven of peace and tranquility with ever-changing views”
“Spacious, clean, welcoming, relaxing, in beautiful surroundings and attended by friendly staff”
...and the food:
“Very tasty and varied”
“Great (optional) vegetarian menu choices”
“Loved the large variety of salads at lunchtime - difficult to resist the puddings!”
About the music for the course...
“An excellent, varied selection of music”
“The level of technical difficulty suited me well”
“Excellent choice. I liked the three different styles chosen to develop different skills in ensemble playing”
“Just right - a nice balance of styles and techniques”
“Very appropriate for our level, giving opportunity to listen to others and improve various techniques”
... and the tutoring:
“Absolutely first class! A big thank you to the tutors for their patience, encouragement and expertise”
“Excellent. Always supportive and positive. Lots of attention to detail, and encouraging through to final performance”
“Difficulties were instantly analysed and remedies made clear”
“Top notch. Very informative, nice mix of technical and instrumental. I learnt a lot. Tutor’s concert was stunning!”
Sample Wind Serenades at Higham Hall for yourself...
ABOVE: images and musical samples from the July 2019 course
BELOW: audio excerpts from the July 2018 course
(1) Samuel Barber "Summer Music" (2) Richard Rodney Bennett "Reflections on a Sixteenth Century Tune" (3) Irving Fine: Partita (4) Carl Nielsen: Wind Quintet
Tutors at Higham Hall include:
Solo bassoonist - former principal bassoon, Manchester Camerata Orchestra (Wind Serenades Course Director)
Flute soloist - member of Nash Ensemble
Principal Clarinettist in Opera North Orchestra
Jan Willem Nelleke
Concert pianist - tutor at Royal Conservatory, The Hague
Clarinettist - former member of Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
What to expect from a Wind Serenades course at Higham Hall...
- Superb music-making with musicians of roughly the same playing standard
- In-depth exploration of the music with world-class tutors
- Developing ensemble skills to enhance your chamber and orchestral playing
- A chance to play your music in an informal public concert
- Relaxation and inspiration in one of the most beautiful locations in the British Isles
- Enjoy excellent Cumbrian food and stunning Lakeland views
2020 Spring Course
for advanced players (above grade 8)
Sunday 1st - Thursday 5th March 2020
This hugely popular course is already fully booked, but just occasionally a player has to withdraw - so, if you are interested, do please send your details (name. instrument and playing standard) via the CONTACT form (click HERE), and you will be added to the Wind Serenades email list.
2020 Summer course
for high-advanced players (diploma level)
Philippa Davies, Jan Willem Nelleke, Colin Honour and Laurence Perkins
Sunday 5th - Friday 10th July 2020
Sunday 5th - arrive 2-3pm / Friday 10th - depart 4pm
Music from Britain
A celebration of music from British composers, including* original works by Guy Woolfenden, William Hurlstone, Malcolm Arnold, John McCabe, Richard Rodney Bennett, William Alwyn, Paul Reade and Christopher Brown.
* exact programme details are to be confirmed
LATEST UPDATE: This course is now fully booked. However, enquiries are still welcome, as you can join the waiting list in case a player cancels their place. Please send your details via the CONTACT form (please note the playing standards required for this course).
After a stunningly successful course in July 2019, Philippa Davies, Colin Honour Jan Willem Nelleke will be returning to Higham Hall to join Laurence Perkins for an entirely new musical programme celebrating some of the wonderful music by great British composers.
This is a rare and exceptional opportunity for advanced players of diploma levels 1-3 (see Required Playing Standards below) to work at a very high musical level, playing substantial original works with approximately 15 hours of detailed in-depth tuition.
❋ Music sent two months in advance for practice
❋ Approximately 15 hours of tutored session time
❋ Two end-of-week concerts performing complete works
❋ Mid-week tutors concert
❋ Chances for untutored DIY playing, just for fun
❋ Time to explore the beautiful area near Higham Hall
❋ Social relaxation time, including a well-stocked bar
All the groups will be working to a very high standard with the tutors, so individual players will need to have a fluent command of their individual parts beforehand. If any player applying for this Summer course is new to Wind Serenades, you may be asked to submit a short recorded sample of your playing before your application is accepted - short excerpts will be sent to you by PDF, and these can be recorded on a mobile phone or audio recorder and sent via email or website download (Dropbox or similar).
Fantastic value for money!
Residential: £676 / Non-residential: £497
Click HERE for on-line application form.
2020 Autumn course
for elementary (grades 3-5) and intermediate (grades 6-8) players
Mandy Burvill (clarinet)
Laurence Perkins (bassoon)
with guest tutors on flute, oboe and horn for instrumental classes
Monday 19th - Friday 23rd October 2020
Monday 19th - arrive 4-6pm / Friday 23th - depart 2pm
Music of the Mountains
A wonderfully inspiring themed programme for 2020, including music from Norway, Switzerland, Scotland, the Appalachian mountains - and, of course, Cumbria!
This rapidly expanding course is ideal for elementary and intermediate-level players of roughly grades 3-8 standard (see Required Playing Standards below) - a superb introduction to chamber music playing. Laurence is joined for this course by clarinettist Mandy Burvill, who has played with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and many other orchestras and ensembles in the UK.
❋ Ensemble playing in large and small groups, with friendly relaxed tutoring
❋ Instrumental sessions with professional tutors - help and advice on your individual instrument
❋ Help and advice on ensemble technique
❋ A short tutors concert
Flute, oboe and horn tutors will be present for part of the course to lead the instrumental sessions and offer specialist help and advice on your individual instrument. Smaller ensembles will be graded to roughly similar playing levels.
This is a great opportunity to enjoy the beautiful Lakeland Autumn colours alongside wonderful music-making!
Residential: £551 / Non-residential: £419
Click HERE for the on-line application form.
Relaxed Woodwind Playing
Playing and Listening in a Relaxed Way
A special 4-day course at
Hawkwood College, Stroud, Gloucestershire
led by Laurence Perkins
Monday 23rd - Thursday 26th March 2020
Details and on-line booking on the Hawkwood College website - click HERE to go directly to the webpage.
Relaxed Woodwind Playing is a special course for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and horn players (from grade 5 to advanced level) that explores the sense of well-being and relaxation through playing in ensemble and listening to fine recordings, all in the peaceful setting of Hawkwood College.
Enjoy the music of Mozart, the folk-inspired works of Vaughan-Williams and Copland, medieval plainchant, and much more - all with the positive energies that this music offers. The calm surroundings of this special venue, with its comfortable rooms and excellent food (including some home-grown and organic produce) adds to the special experience.
As a solo and orchestral bassoonist, course leader Laurence Perkins has often worked in very challenging performance situations, and can offer first-hand experience in specific techniques that can help you to relax and find a greater fulfilment in your own playing.
There is no counselling or therapy element to this course, simply the joy and inspiration of music-making and musical appreciation. Ensemble music (including versions of the music listened to) is mostly technically unchallenging - a chance to relax and enjoy your playing!
Dectets and quintets at Aberystwyth
A Wind Serenades wind chamber course for intermediate wind players directed by Laurence Perkins, as part of the 2020 Aberystwyth MusicFest
Saturday 25 July - Sunday 2 August 2020
(Events through the week, performances on Friday and Saturday evening, party Saturday evening, return home Sunday morning)
Course fee: £640 / self-catering accommodation £240
(all payable directly to MusicFest)
10 players: Peter Warlock: Capriol Suite / Carl Orff: Carmina Burana (5 movements) / Beethoven (arr LP) - Battle Symphony
5 players: Bartok: Rumanian Dances / Gustav Holst: Wind Quintet
(Ensembles will be pre-formed into groups, each player will be in one of the two quintets. PDF music will be sent to you one month in advance for personal practice).
For the first time, Wind Serenades will be in Aberystwyth in July 2020, as part of the very popular annual MusicFest. https://musicfestaberystwyth.org/festivalprogramme/ Alongside a week of inspiring chamber music playing, you can enjoy - and indeed be a part of - a major music festival featuring orchestral, chamber and solo concerts by internationally renowned performers.
The Wind Serenades course will be for intermediate level players (ABRSM grades 6-8 - see ‘Required Playing Standards’ at the bottom of this page for guidelines). Daily rehearsals through the week will lead to two performances, in the Great Hall on Friday evening and as a more informal ‘foyer’ concert on Saturday evening. After the main Saturday evening concert, there is the ever-popular MusicFest party with lots of musical contributions, which will include the legendary fight between the English and the French in the form of Beethoven’s ‘Battle’ Symphony, complete with ‘virtual cannons’ (bass drums) and two musical armies - huge fun for everyone!
For this particular course, application should be made initially via the Wind Serenades website (click HERE for the on-line form) - then your details will be forwarded to the MusicFest administrators who will process your booking and make arrangements for payments.
On-line applications: click HERE
Wind Serenades at
St. Ives, Cornwall
A new one-week Summer course (7 nights) for advanced players, tutored by Laurence Perkins
Sunday 23rd - Sunday 30th August 2020
at Treloyhan Manor, St. Ives
Course fee plus 7 nights full board from dinner 23rd to breakfast 30th
Single room (ensuite): £1051
Single room (shared bathroom): £904
Twin or double room (ensuite) sharing with another player*: £981
Twin or double ensuite with non-playing partner: £1662 (total for two people, or £831 per person)
* Sharing arrangement needs to be agreed with both players before booking can be accepted
Beethoven: Quintet (piano / winds)
Nielsen: Wind Quintet
Brahms: Serenade (Sextet Op.18 in a version for 10 winds)
Judith Bailey: Concerto for 10 Winds
Another wonderful location for a Wind Serenades advanced chamber music course, in a manor house / hotel just a few minutes walk from the beautiful town of St. Ives on the north Cornish coast.
This is a superb opportunity to enjoy playing some really fine music, with in-depth rehearsals and an informal free-admission public concert on Saturday afternoon when all the works will be played complete. Judith Bailey is a Cornish composer (and clarinettist, ex-Royal Academy of Music) living very close by in Hayle, just along the coast from St. Ives, so this is a great chance to perform and celebrate the music of a fine local composer.
Travel days are both on Sunday, normally much quieter and easier than on Saturday - sessions will begin on Monday morning, so you can arrive and relax at your leisure after your journey there, which can be by car (good roads via M5 and A30) or by train (change at St Erth for St Ives, then a 10-15 minute walk or short taxi ride to Treloyhan Manor).
All meals will be served at Treloyhan Manor - cooked or continental breakfast, a lighter buffet lunch, and an a la carte menu for dinner. Treloyhan Manor has a small bar serving wines, beers and spirits, but there is also the Cornish Arms just five minutes walk away - a delightfully atmospheric traditional west-country pub!
There will be a break every day after lunch, and a completely free afternoon during the week for longer walks and explorations. After our Saturday concert, we will be having a party that evening!
On-line application form - click HERE
Two three-day courses at Park Place, Wickham, Hampshire
Janet Hilton clarinet (Wednesday - Friday)
Laurence Perkins bassoon (both courses)
Yoshiko Endo piano (Wednesday - Friday)
For 2020, the ever-popular Wind Serenades series of courses includes a special celebration of the 250th birthday of Ludwig van Beethoven in November, which is as near to his exact birthday as we know.
Wednesday 18th - Friday 20th November 2020
for advanced-level players, tutored by Janet Hilton, Laurence Perkins and Yoshiko Endo
Octet, Op.103: 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns
Sextet, Op.71: 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns
Quintet, Op.16: Piano, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn
plus a free Tutor’s Concert including the Beethoven Trio Op.38
Players arrive Wednesday 18th at 4pm, depart Friday 20th at 4pm
Course fee: 2 nights, full board from Wednesday dinner to Friday lunch £430
This is a wonderful chance for advanced amateur players to work in-depth (in pre-formed groups, each player playing one work) on one of Beethoven’s three great original wind chamber works, in sessions tutored by two world-famous woodwind players and a distinguished concert pianist. Janet Hilton and Laurence Perkins will tutor the Octet and Sextet, while Yoshiko Endo will play/tutor the Quintet - about six hours of tutored sessions, plus a final rehearsal in the Chapel. All three works will be performed in full in a Friday afternoon informal concert. The tutors will also give their own informal concert on Thursday evening, which will include the Trio Op.38 - Beethoven’s own arrangement of his hugely popular Septet, Op.20.
Friday 20th - Sunday 22nd November 2020
for advanced and intermediate-level players (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn), tutored by Laurence Perkins
‘Eroica’ Variations, Op. 35
12 Kontretänze, WoO 14
Players arrive Friday 20th at 4pm (or 2.30pm for free concert), depart Sunday 22nd 4pm
Course fee: 2 nights, full board from Friday dinner to Sunday lunch £385
Here is a unique opportunity to take part in the first performance of outstanding new wind-ensemble versions of two Beethoven works - his mighty ‘Eroica’ Variations (15 Variations and a Fugue based on the theme from the last movement of his ‘Eroica’ Symphony), and in complete contrast, his delightfully colourful, light-hearted set of 12 Kontretänze.
Both works will be played one-player-to-a-part. Advanced parts will be for players of above grade 8 level, and intermediate parts will be for players of grade 6-8 level. Parts will be allocated to specific players, and sent out a month in advance for personal practice before the weekend sessions.
Players on this weekend course can arrive slightly earlier on Friday 20th (at 2.30pm) to listen to the informal concert performances of the Octet, Sextet and Quintet, if desired.
Special discount rate for players attending both courses (Wednesday - Sunday): £750 for both events (a saving of £65)
On-line APPLICATION form - click HERE
Wind Serenades on the island of Guernsey
Saturday 25th September - Saturday 2nd October 2021
at Les Cotils, St. Peter Port, Guernsey
More details of this course will appear here very shortly. This was a hugely successful course in October 2019, and is likely to be very popular in 2021 - if you're interested, send your details via the website CONTACT form.
Required Playing Standards
(for all courses)
It is very important that you assess your current playing standard as accurately as possible. Assessing playing standards is not (and cannot be) an exact science, and the grade system established by the Associated Board and other examiners is at best an approximate guide.
Please use the guidelines below to help you make this assessment, remembering that the description and details are at least as important as the grade or qualification itself.
Elementary players: AB* grades 3-5
You need to be reasonably fluent and confident with fairly straightforward music in keys of up to three sharps or flats, and play reasonably well in tune with some dynamic contrast. In these sessions parts may be doubled in some pieces. Clarinets only require B flat instruments, horn parts will be in F.
Intermediate players: AB* grades 6-8
Good fluency is needed in a range of music which will involve some technical challenges and may be in keys of up to five sharps or flats. Good tuning, tone production, dynamic range and articulation will be required. The music will normally be played one-to-a-part, unless there is a special reason to do otherwise. Clarinets normally only require B flat instruments. Horn players may be required to do basic transpositions.
Advanced players: Above AB* grade 8 / ABRSM
Fluency in all keys is essential, as many of the pieces in these courses are technically and musically demanding. As well as excellent tuning, tone production, extreme dynamics, and a wide range of articulation speeds and characters, players will also need to be able to cope with occasional rhythmic and counting complexities. These sessions will be one player to a part, unless otherwise specified for a particular musical reason. Clarinettists require B flat and A instruments, alternative instruments (e.g. piccolo, bass clarinet, etc.) may be required (please check for details), and horn players need to be proficient in all the normal transpositions. High-advanced (diploma levels 1/3, dipABRSM, LRSM, FRSM) is similar, but performing music which is even more challenging both musically and technically.
What NOT to do:
Under-assess yourself ‘just to play safe’ – if you’re happy to play easier parts, that’s fine, but if you want to play up to your level and meet a suitable level of challenge, please follow the guidelines above.
Over-assess yourself ‘just to get to play with the best players’. This can and does cause problems and can be embarrassing for you and others in the group. Make your challenge a realistic one – be confident that you are applying for a course of the right standard according to the specifications listed above. If you are uncertain, please check with Laurence Perkins before applying.
* approximate playing standards based on Associated Board (ABRSM) examination grades
All repertoire listed in these course details are subject to the right number and combinations of instruments applying for these courses. In the event of there being an insufficient number of players on a course, the organisers reserve the right to change the music being played.
Please pass the word round, to ensure that we have enough players to make each course a good experience for everyone!