Wind Serenades

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2024 Wind Chamber Music Courses

for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and horn players, directed by Laurence Perkins

Wind chamber courses with world-class tutoring, excellent full-board accommodation and superb food in stunning locations, for less money than some self-catering caravan rentals!

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Players and tutors on the Wind Serenades course at Higham Hall in July 2023

❋ Beautiful locations with excellent accommodation and superb food
❋ Inspiring music exploring rarities alongside much-loved classic favourites
❋ Chance to prepare with music sent in advance for personal practice

❋ Musical insight with time to explore in detail during rehearsals
❋ Expert guidance from world-class professional tutors
❋ Relaxation time to rest and explore local areas
❋ Impromptu playing in untutored sessions, just for fun
❋ Musical friendships through meeting new players from the UK and beyond

 

What players have said about recent Wind Serenades courses:

"Lovely venue, comfortable, good food, nice staff" (comments about Higham Hall)

“An excellent, varied selection of music”

“Brilliantly organised”

”A haven of peace and tranquility with ever-changing views” (comment about Higham Hall)

“Excellent tutoring - thoughtful, relevant, supportive, brings the best out of groups and individuals”

“A wonderful week of music-making, relaxation, meeting amazing people and making memories. Thank you for an outstanding experience.”

A big thank you to the tutors for their patience, encouragement and expertise. Always supportive and positive. Lots of attention to detail, and encouraging through to final performance”

Course details: Whilst every effort is made to ensure that courses run as planned, it may be necessary to change details on any of the courses featured on this webpage. Repertoire for any course will only be confirmed when the exact line-up of players is finalised.

Sunrise over Skiddaw - the view from Higham Hall in early Spring
Sunrise over Skiddaw - the view from Higham Hall in early Spring

Higham Hall

in the beautiful English Lake District, near Bassenthwaite Lake in north Cumbria

Three outstanding wind chamber courses

... and a 5-day course just for bassoonists!

Wind Serenades in Spring

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Sunday 18th - Friday 23rd February 2024
(6 days, 5 nights - players arrive 1600-1800 on 18th, depart 1400 on 23rd)

For advanced players
(see bottom of this webpage for details of playing standards)

Tutored by Laurence Perkins and John Anderson

‘Spring Serenades’

Rarities by Elgar, Gordon Jacob, Weber and Arthur Sullivan, alongside old favourites by Dukas, Humperdinck, Debussy and Puccini - a feast of music to welcome the Spring!

It's also a great pleasure to welcome back oboist John Anderson to 'Wind Serenades'. John was a hugely popular tutor on the recent courses on Guernsey, but this is his first visit to Higham Hall. He replaces Amy Thompson, who is now playing with South Bank Sinfonia - congratulations, Amy!

* Programme can include:
Elgar: Organ Sonata (arr G Emerson)
Gordon Jacob: Serenade for woodwind octet

Dukas: 'The Sorcerer's Apprentice' (arr K Camden)
Humperdinck: Prelude to 'Hansel and Gretel' (arr K Camden)

* Final details of repertoire will be confirmed when exact line-up of players is known. The repertoire listed here covers several groups - not everyone will be involved in every piece. Players will be allocated into two separate groups. Unfortunately, for entirely practical reasons, it is not possible to take requests for specific pieces.

Prices (6 days, 5 nights full board for residential):
Residential: £710
Non-residential: £540
For those travelling by train via Penrith, a minibus transfer can be arranged from Penrith Rail Station.

Book online now - places are limited!

Click HERE to go directly to the online booking form. You will be sent a reply email confirming if there is a place for you.

 

Wind Serenades in Summer

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Sunday 7th - Friday 12th July 2024
(6 days, 5 nights - players arrive 1600-1800 on 7th, depart 1600 on 12th)

A high-advanced course for diploma-standard players
(see bottom of this webpage for details of playing standards)

Tutored by Philippa Davies, Colin Honour, Laurence Perkins and Jan Willem Nelleke

'Across the Atlantic'

An Anglo-American theme for this advanced-level summer course creates an exciting opportunity to explore familiar and rarely-performed works from both sides of the Atlantic. Old favourites include the wonderful 'Summer Music' by Samuel Barber and the spicy, exploratory Divertimenti by Frank Bridge. Less well-known works include a new Dectet by the popular Cornish composer Judith Bailey, and a Suite written in 1889 by American composer Arthur Bird, commissioned by the legendary French flautist Paul Taffanel.

* Programme can include:
Judith Bailey: Dectet
Samuel Barber: 'Summer Music'
James Cohn: 'Little Overture' and 'Arkansas Reel'
Lennox Berkeley: Quintet
Frank Bridge: Divertimenti
Arthur Bird: Suite in D
Lee Hoiby: Sextet
Franz Reizenstein: Quintet
Amy Beach: 'Pastorale'
Gordon Jacob: Trio
Gordon Lewin: 'Scherzola'

* Final details of repertoire will be confirmed when exact line-up of players is known. The repertoire listed here covers several groups - not everyone will be involved in every piece. Players will be allocated into two separate groups. Unfortunately, for entirely practical reasons, it is not possible to take requests for specific pieces.

Prices (6 days, 5 nights full board for residential):
Residential: £755
Non-residential: £575
For those travelling by train via Penrith, a minibus transfer can be arranged from Penrith Rail Station.

Book online now - places are limited!

Click HERE to go directly to the online booking form. You will be sent a reply email confirming if there is a place for you.

 

Wind Serenades in Autumn

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Wednesday 30th October - Sunday 3rd November 2024
(5 days, 4 nights - players arrive 1600-1800 on 30th October, depart 1400 on 3rd November)

For intermediate players (grades 6-8)
Please note: this Autumn course has been amended and is now for intermediate players only. There is a new course for elementary players in Hampshire - see below for details.
(see bottom of this webpage for details of playing standards)

Tutored by Laurence Perkins and Mandy Burvill

'Classics and Chansons'

This is a newly-structured course, and is now specifically for intermediate-level players who want to play classical and more recent repertoire, but would like to leave the more challenging Mozart, Krommer and Beethoven works for a year or so! Here we have fine classical works - an original Mozart octet and excellent adaptations of Haydn and more Mozart. More recent music includes a dectet version of songs from 'A Shropshire Lad' by George Butterworth, and lighter works by Scott Joplin, Sir Edward Elgar and George Gershwin. There are also original compositions by Tanayev (for dectet) and a reed trio by Peter Schikele (the creator of P.D.Q. Bach).

* Programme can include:
Mozart: Divertimento in E flat, K.196e
Peter Schikele (aka PDQ Bach): Seven Bagatelles
Elgar: Chanson de Matin
George Butterworth: Four Songs from 'A Shropshire Lad'
Tanayev: Andante
Haydn: Divertimento in B flat
Gershwin: 'I've got plenty of nothing'
Mozart: ‘Mi trade quell’ alma ingrata’ from ‘Don Giovanni’
Scott Joplin: ‘The Entertainer’

* Final details of repertoire will be confirmed when exact line-up of players is known. The repertoire listed here covers several groups - not everyone will be involved in every piece. Players will be allocated into two separate groups. Unfortunately, for entirely practical reasons, it is not possible to take requests for specific pieces.

Prices (5 days, 4 nights full board for residential):
Residential: £620
Non-residential: £485
For those travelling by train via Penrith, a minibus transfer can be arranged from Penrith Rail Station.

Book online now - places are limited!

Click HERE to go directly to the online booking form. You will be sent a reply email confirming if there is a place for you.

Tutors at the Wind Serenades courses at Higham Hall

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Laurence Perkins
Solo bassoonist - former principal bassoon, Manchester Camerata Orchestra ('Wind Serenades' Course Director - all courses)

Jan Willem Nelleke

Jan Willem Nelleke
Concert pianist - tutor at Royal Conservatory in The Hague (Summer course)

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Philippa Davies
Flute soloist and chamber ensemble player - member of London Winds, Professor at Guildhall School of Music (Summer course)

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Mandy Burvill
Clarinettist - former member of Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (October course)

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Colin Honour
Former principal clarinettist in Opera North Orchestra, soloist and chamber ensemble player (Summer course)

John Anderson

John Anderson
Former principal oboe in the BBC Symphony and Philharmonia Orchestras. Oboe tutor at the Royal College of Music. (February course)

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Strictly for bassoonists
- and a very special newcomer to the course!

For the 2024 5-day Bassoon Course, bassoonist / tutor Laurence Perkins will be joined by legendary British bassoonist Roger Birnstingl - former principal bassoon in the London Symphony Orchestra and L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande.

This course, which is at Higham Hall from Wednesday 24th - Sunday 28th April 2024, is a wonderful chance for professional guidance, support and inspiration to help in making your bassoon playing easier and more enjoyable - and a chance to play fabulous bassoon ensemble music! Bassoonists of all playing levels are welcome. (Smaller ensembles will be in graded groups).

For full details of this, click HERE to go directly to the Bassoon Courses webpage.

Nearby Bassenthwaite Lake and Skiddaw, in early Spring
Nearby Bassenthwaite Lake and Skiddaw, in early Spring
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This is possibly the most peaceful Wind Serenades course yet! It's for advanced players in an inspiring and remote coastal location in the beautiful county of Dorset.

Monday 10th - Sunday 16th June 2024
at the Othona Community, Burton Bradstock, near Bridport in Dorset
Tutored by Laurence Perkins and Yoshiko Endo

Arrival on Monday 10th between 1600-1800, first event is dinner at 1830. Departure after lunch on Sunday 16th.

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A beautiful setting for relaxed, enjoyable music-making

This is a small course, just for 10 players and two tutors - the maximum that the venue can accommodate. The course is taking place within a small community who live and work at the venue - a quiet, peaceful location just five minutes walk through a woodland path down to the beach.

Travel It is possible to travel by train - the nearest main railway station is Weymouth, a 30-minutes taxi ride to Burton Bradstock. However, probably the easiest way is a very pleasant drive through the beautiful Dorset countryside. There is plenty of free parking space when you arrive at the course venue.

Food We will eat communal meals with members of the community, and the food (much of it prepared on the premises) will be largely (though not exclusively) vegetarian. Special dietary requirements are of course catered for.

Accommodation Rooms are simple but comfortable, and there are shared bathroom facilities for everyone on the course (roughly one bathroom between four people).

Refreshments There will be welcome drinks when you arrive, also after the mid-week Tutors Concert and on the final (Saturday) evening. At other times you are invited to bring your own wine, beer, etc. The Community can provide some fridge space to cool any drinks that require chilling. There are also good pubs in Bridport, which is only a 7-minute drive. Tea, coffee and various herbals are always available.

Concerts There will be a mid-week Tutors Concert, and a final-day informal concert performance for everyone on Sunday morning (just before everyone leaves after lunch), featuring music played through the week. Both these events will be free admission, open to the local community.

Course fee The price below includes 6 nights accommodation, all meals from Monday dinner (10th) dinner to Sunday (16th) lunch, drinks as specified above, and the course fee.

Single player (single room occupancy): £986

Please enquire if you wish to bring a non-playing partner - accommodation and catering is limited on this course, but it may be possible by arrangement.

Repertoire

The rehearsal / performance space in the photo collage above includes a grand piano, enabling us to do some repertoire with Yoshiko playing and tutoring. The music will include:

Poulenc: Sextet (with piano)
Gershwin: An American in Paris (with piano)
Nielsen: Quintet
Reicha: Quintet in F

Space is very limited on this course - so book now!

To book your place (subject to availability), please complete the online application form. (Click the blue link) As always, it's first come, first served!

The joy of ensemble playing

A new course specifically for elementary-level woodwind players who are new to playing in groups, or wish to gain more experience.

Monday 14th - Thursday 17th October 2024

at Park Place, Wickham, Hampshire

Arrive 1600-1800 on Monday 14th, depart 1400 after lunch on Thursday 17th.

This is a brand new mid-week course specifically for elementary woodwind players, led by Laurence Perkins, focusing on the techniques of playing in groups, and ways of making it successful, satisfying and enjoyable.

You need to be a minimum of grade 3 (ABRSM) standard to take part in this course - please see the 'Required Playing Standards' details at the bottom of this page, if you are not sure of your standard or grade.

The music will be a selection of classics for large and smaller ensembles, with easy-to-play parts which may be doubled (i.e. more than one player to a part), depending on the players available. There will be expert tuition in the rehearsals, and there will also be help and support on technical aspects of your instrumental playing, to help you play at your best.

There will not be a concert, simply an informal exploration and sharing of enjoyable music with parts suitable for elementary players. There will also be free time after lunch each day to allow time for walking, exploring, rest and/or DIY ensemble playing.

Park Place, Wickham, Hampshire
Park Place, Wickham, Hampshire

Park Place is in an attractive location close to the South Downs National Park. It offers simple, comfortable accommodation, good food and spacious session rooms, and is easy to access by car (just a short drive from the M27 motorway between Portsmouth and Southampton) or by rail (Fareham is a main line station, just a short bus or taxi ride to Wickham).

Course fees
(including 3 nights accommodation, full board from dinner on Monday evening to lunch on Thursday, and course costs)

Single en-suite room: £690

Book online now - places are limited!

Click HERE to go directly to the online booking form. You will be sent a reply email confirming if there is a place for you.

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 (ABRSM) 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

Please note:

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!