On this page:
1st (top): Higham Hall - wind chamber music courses in north Cumbria (3 courses)
2nd: The Birnam Experience! A weekend in Perthshire, Scotland (green background)
Buffet-Crampon / BDRS Double-Reed Day, Friday 9th November 2018 - cancelled event, see note below
3rd (bottom of page): Required Playing Standards
Wind Serenades at Higham Hall
in the beautiful English Lake District near Bassenthwaite, north Cumbria
One of the leading wind chamber music courses in the UK
❋ Music sent in advance
❋ World-class tuition
❋ Superb food and accommodation
❋ Excellent value for money
Listen to audio samples from 2018 Wind Serenades ensembles at Higham Hall.
Click below to play - and if you like what you hear, read on...
The excerpts you are listening to are 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
What players said about the scheduled music...
"Absolutely perfect for me. Top-notch music, pure music which was hard but achievable"
"Really interesting and enjoyable"
"Good variation of repertoire"
"Enjoyed music I have not heard or played before"
... and the tutoring:
"Positive, full of ideas and different ways to achieve something"
"Friendly, supportive, extremely helpful"
"Wonderful, every tutor had a different approach which was very refreshing"
"Gave us a lot of new ideas and inspiration"
... and the accommodation and food:
"Absolutely wonderful, idyllic setting, good rooms"
"Wonderful food, well served, in a lovely environment"
"A superb venue in a magical setting"
"They accommodated my allergy so well - very tasty and varied"
Three fantastic courses at Higham Hall in 2019
(and more planned for the future)
Spring 3-7 March
Summer 7-12 July
Autumn 16-20 October
(see below for more details)
Outstanding courses offer music-making in one of the most beautiful locations in the British Isles. They are specifically for players who love wind chamber music and are seeking in-depth exploration of the works being played. Tuition is at the highest level - Laurence Perkins (the Director of Wind Serenades) has worked for more than 40 years as a bassoon soloist, chamber musician, principal orchestral player, and tutor at some of the leading courses in the UK. For the summer Wind Serenades course he is joined by flautist Philippa Davies (soloist, and member of London Winds and the Nash Ensemble) and concert pianist Jan Willem Nelleke, who has a wide experience of working with wind chamber groups.
In each of the courses the emphasis is on developing ensemble skills, not just to make the most of the music being played that week, but also learning musical and technical approaches that can enhance your chamber music and orchestral playing at home. The peaceful surroundings of Higham Hall with its inspiring views and local walks makes it an ideal setting for enjoyable music-making at its best. Each course includes some time to walk and explore locally. With comfortable rooms, excellent Cumbrian food and a well-stocked bar - plus course fees at astonishingly competitive prices - Wind Serenades at Higham Hall is simply too good to miss! Travel to Higham Hall is very easy, either by car or by train with transfer from Penrith station.
Applications: Please complete and send the on-line application form. You will receive an email confirming whether there is a space available on your selected course - if so, your details will then be sent to Higham Hall who will contact you directly with accommodation and payment details.
for high-intermediate and advanced players
Sunday 3rd - Thursday 7th March 2019
tutored by Laurence Perkins
Sunday 3rd - arrive 4-6pm / Thursday - depart 1.30pm
Wagner arr Popkin: Siegfried Idyll
Elgar arr G Emerson: Serenade in E minor
Schubert Minuet and Finale
Bach Trio Sonata in G BWV1039
2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 3 bassoons (one doubling contra), 2 horns
A wonderful programme* to welcome the Spring in an inspiring location! This is a chance for in-depth exploration of fantastic original works by Beethoven (great horn parts!), Schubert (his only wind chamber composition) and the amazing Bach Trio Sonata. Alongside these, everyone joins forces for top-drawer 11-part arrangements of two sublime classics by Wagner and Elgar.
Residential: £418 Non-residential: £291
Click HERE for on-line application form
*Please note that exact programme will only be confirmed nearer the date
- details may be subject to change, depending on availability of players.
for high-advanced players (diploma level)
Sunday 7th - Friday 12th July 2019
Sunday 7th - arrive 2-3pm / Friday 12th - depart 4pm
A celebration of music from Eastern Europe or with Eastern inspirations, including* original works by Enescu, Janacek, Ligeti, Thomas Simaku and Ferenc Farkas
* exact programme details are to be confirmed
tutored by Philippa Davies, Jan Willem Nelleke and Laurence Perkins
After a stunningly successful course in July this year (see feedback and hear audio samples on this page), Philippa Davies and Jan Willem Nelleke will be returning to Higham Hall for an entirely new programme with a brilliant Eastern European theme (and maybe a little further, too...)
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: £653 Non-residential: £477
Click HERE for on-line application form.
for elementary and intermediate players
Wednesday 16th - Sunday 20th October 2019
A special 5-day course, tutored by
Mandy Burvill (clarinet) and Laurence Perkins (bassoon)
Wednesday 16th - arrive 4-6pm / Sunday 20th - depart 2pm
This course has been expanded for 2019 to include elementary and intermediate-level players of roughly grades 3-8 standard (see Required Playing Standards below). 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.
The course is an ideal introduction to chamber music playing, offering:
❋ 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
❋ Ensemble music will include a wonderful 5-movement Mozart Divertimento
Flute, oboe and horn tutors (as required) 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: £540 Non-residential: £411
Click HERE for the on-line application form.
Players comments from past Wind Serenades courses at Higham Hall:
About Higham Hall
"perfect. really comfortable bedrooms, great playing rooms"
"A wonderful venue, very comfortable and a delightful situation."
"One of the best I’ve been in - food unbeatable!"
"An excellent venue in all respects – location, accommodation, catering, and rehearsal rooms."
"Fantastic venue - Rehearsal rooms airy and good acoustics, food amazing, and outlook stunning."
About the course - set repertoire and tutoring:
"For me it was perfect ... Debussy was super"
"I really enjoyed working in detail on the ensemble and interpretation"
"Well paced and patient producing results beyond my expectation"
"Tutoring was excellent. Well focused on playing the music"
"I welcomed pieces which were rewarding and where I could focus on how to play - and how to play together - rather than 'can I get the notes' "
"Emphasis on musicality and communication within the group"
The Birnam Experience!
A favourite event - but now a one-day or two-day course (see details below)
Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th November 2018
tutored by Laurence Perkins and Geoffrey Bridge
The Birnam weekend is the longest-running of all the Wind Serenades courses, a highly popular event in the wonderful surroundings of the Birnam Institute 10 miles north of Perth (just off the A9), an area of great beauty, steeped in Shakespearian history.
The two-day programme will feature two smaller ensembles, one playing the wonderful music of Guy Woolfenden (former music director of the Royal Shakespeare Company), the other a classic Beethoven work - places are strictly limited, so early booking is advised!
(Please note - scheduled music is subject to the right combination of players being available.)
On Sunday, players on the one-day course will join the smaller ensembles for a fabulous new wind version of the wonderful Introduction and Allegro by Sir Edward Elgar - this is for intermediate and advanced level players (from grade 6 to diploma level).
Two-day course: Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th November 2018
(Please note: these dates are correct, there is a misprint on some of the paper leaflets and posters)
Course fee: £120
One-day course: Sunday 11th November 2018
(playing Elgar Introduction and Allegro only)
Course fee: £60
Click HERE for on-line application form
Grateful thanks to Buffet-Crampon for their financial support that has made this event possible. Their trade stand will be there throughout the weekend offering instruments, accessories and professional advice.
Photos of performance in Birnam Institute and River Tay by Miike Bell http://discovered-light.co.uk
Buffet-Crampon / BDRS Double-Reed Day at Birnam
Friday 9th November 2018
Unfortunately, circumstances have arisen recently, which have resulted in this free-admission event being cancelled. We are very sorry to bring this news. Any player who is interested in trying out oboes or bassoons, or any non-player who is curious to find out more, is very welcome to visit the Buffet-Crampon trade stand at the Birnam Institute on Saturday 10th or Sunday 11th November (daytime). Other woodwinds will also be available to try, along with a range of accesssories.
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 / ARSM
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!