Grace Notes: What did the audience think?

A few days ago I did my concert in Oxford that I’ve mentioned in a number of previous posts. Inside each of the programs I included a survey for the audience.

I chose the questions so that, if I were to do another concert again, I’d know who to target my marketing at what mediums to use for promotion.

Here is an example of the survey I used.

pic of survey


At the end of the concert I got a survey back from almost all of the audience members. I’m looking forward to collating the results, seeing what people thought and how far my last attempt at promoting reached.


Grace Notes: Oxford concert

On February 6th, the concert I’ve been constantly blogging about finally happened! I set off early and got a coach to Oxford so I was in the city centre by about 10am.

I met my brother Sam and we made our way to the Music Faculty to rehearse. We first had an hour on our own to work out any final kinks in the Bach Oboe and Violin Concerto. Then we both met with our accompanists and had a chance to rehearse. Barney and I worked particularly hard on getting emotion into the pieces and making sure all of the rubato was perfectly in sync.

In the late afternoon Sam and I headed over to St Peters Chapel to rehearse with the orchestra. This was very exciting for me as I hadn’t had the chance to do this and I was excited to meet all the musicians. The rehearsal went well and made me really look forward to doing concert!

After meeting our parents and a few of our friends for a quick dinner, we went back to the Chapel to get dressed and set up for the audience.

Overall the concert went well. Sam started with the Saint-Saens oboe sonata and played beautifully. I was very nervous for my first two pieces, but by the time I got to my third (Nigun by Bloch) I managed to calm myself down, settle into it and enjoy myself. The double concerto went well and Sam and I managed to play well together.


The Bach Oboe and Violin concerto

Afterwards we got really good feedback from the audience, which is always nice to hear. Overall I did enjoy the concert and I think I’ve taken a huge step forward in terms of performance anxiety. Hopefully this concert will lead to more opportunities to play concerts in St Peter’s sue to the connection made through this performance.


My family and I after the concert. We were all very pleased and a little relieved!

The best part about this concert is that we managed to raise £150 for the National Youth Orchestra of Wales through everyone’s kind donations. Thank you so much to everyone who played!

Grace Notes: Less than a week to go!

In 5 days my brother Sam and I will be performing in St Peters Chapel, Oxford at 7.30pm. There have been a few stressful moments in the planning process, but I think everything is now coming together.

Oxford Poster

I had a violin lesson today and I wasn’t sure what to do with it. I didn’t want to do anything too radical on the pieces I’m playing on Saturday, as I’ve had some bad past experiences of teachers changing things on the day of the concert and resulting in me mistakes due to the unfamiliar new fingering or bowing. In the end we just worked on technique (arm weight) which was actually really helpful and I’m excited to start working on it after the concert.

Both Sam and I have been busy practicing and promoting. We’ve been sharing our event on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and are hoping we can draw in a few more audience members through social media.

If you happen to be in the area, would be amazing to see you there!

Grace Notes: Concert News!

I mentioned in my first post of the year that my brother and I are putting on a concert in Oxford. We’ve been planning this for a while, but things are finally starting to slot into place.

The concert is on Saturday February 6th, at 7.30 in St Peter’s College Chapel. We’ll be playing a selection of music by composers including Bach, Bartok and Saint-Saens. The piece we’re most excited about playing is the Violin and Oboe Double Concerto by Bach.

Today I spent the day printing out posters and flyers and I’m heading up to Oxford tomorrow to hand them out and display them. Sam (my brother) and I are also going to have a chance to rehearse together and with the pianist which will be great! I’m really excited to hear how everything sounds.

Oxford Poster

Please feel free to share this poster with anyone who may be interested!

The concert is completely free (with optional donations towards the national Youth Orchestra of Wales) and please come along if you are in the vicinity and fancy a lovely hour of music!

Grace Notes: Music of the Week – October 10th

Welcome back to Music of the Week. This week I’d like to share two more pieces of music that I have been enjoying.

The first piece is by  J.S. Bach and it is the first of his sonatas for solo violin. It’s in the key of G minor, giving it a very dark tone throughout. I am currently studying the Fugue movement (the second movement) with my teacher at Trinity, and I have previously played the other three as well. I find that Bach is very challenging to learn and perform because there are so many different ways to interpret the piece and often the listener (or worse examiner) will have a different idea of how it should be played to how you actually want to play it… That being said, I love how you can put your own take on this music and through studying and practice it becomes your own.

My favourite movement is the Adagio opening. It’s in G minor (which sits really nicely on the violin) and it’s full of beautiful chord patterns and improvisatory passages. The fugue is very complicated with all of the different voices weaving in and out of each other creating a beautiful flowing texture (it messes with your brain a little trying to play three voices with one hand!). The Siciliana is a lilting sea-like dance (originating from the island of Sicily ) followed by a fast and exciting Presto to end the whole sonata in a blaze of semiquavers.

Below is a version of this sonata by Ruggiero Ricci. This is the first recording I ever heard of solo Bach (my dad has an old LP of it) and it’s beautiful. Made even more impressive by the fact that it was done in a single take!

The second piece I want to share for  with you is something completely different. It is called ‘Ballad of the Great Eastern’ and if from Sting’s new album ‘The Last Ship’. The whole album is fantastic but this song particularly stuck with me because it’s so haunting (both in lyrics and melody). The album itself is inspired by a musical of the same name that Sting wrote the song for. It’s about a shipyard, drawing on his own experiences of growing up in Wallsend. Many of the songs from the album appear in the stage play, but a few have not been included such as the one below. I’d seriously recommend the whole album (the Deluxe version if you can get your hands on it) as I think the songs are all beautiful and manage to tell a story, without sounding too ‘musical’. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do!