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New Term, New Task…

Small children on long journeys often ask what the grown-ups are thinking – ARE WE THERE YET?? – and the question on all our minds is not are we there, but is it over yet?

Sadly not. The virus is still out there and although we have had some lovely weather, the days are looking both shorter and more grey (and soggy!) lately and the blissful small socially distanced gatherings in fields and parks might not be possible for very much longer.

Don’t worry! We are still hanging in there, and it is more important to make music now than ever before. We musn’t lose the music! However I am very aware that there also needs to be a goal, motivation, and a sense of community. After all, that is what ECCO is all about.

Over the summer we have met every week over zoom to catch up, talk about various composers, talk about practicing, musical questions, and even to arrange groups of 3 or 4 to meet up. Those online meetings will continue, and we do have tentative plans to resume in-person meetings in January. -of course this is if allowed by government guidelines. Our group is important to the university and they are making sure we can access the Chapel from January so if the possibility exists, we can indeed meet! If restrictions are lifted earler, I have access to space in Bosham that we can use. …watch this space.

In the meantime we have a plan!

David has written out Fly me to the moon in lots of different clefs and provided music for us on this DROPBOX LINK.ย  The idea is that we have a go playing it. You can play along with the backing track, and if you would like to record any contribution – a few notes, a bass line, a verse of the tune, a solo, some version of arpeggiated accompaniment – anything is welcome and Laura (I) will compile them.

In discussion people pointed out that simply having a recording project was hard. It didn’t give a sense of ‘playing together’ and this at least starts with a backing.

The other thing we discussed on our Zoom calls and decided to put to everyone (there are about 15 who have come all summer, and it would be great if others wanted to dip back in either to chat or to take part in some of these ideas/tasks ๐Ÿ™‚ ) was to prepare a couple of pieces for when we can get back together.We decided on these:

  • Florence Price’s Symphonic movement Jubba Dance: The parts and an mp3 are here
  • Mark’s Simon & Garfunkel arrangement: backing tracks are hereย  and parts are here
  • and I’m finishing the arrangement (with cuts!) of the 1812 so we can finally learn that once and for all!

๐Ÿ™‚ (if we are allowed to meet outdoors, maybe we can have a real canon? -there have to be some perks to this situation!!!)

Any comments are welcome! If you need the zoom link for our 7pm Wednesday meets, please email Laura, Ray, Alex, or Sally.

Keep well! x

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Zooming ahead with a new approach

We love to be an orchestra, but you know, it just doesn’t work on zoom. We’ve been doing various recording projects that are GREAT and have stretched us in so many different ways, but we are not aiming to be the next on stage at the Royal Albert Hall, and to keep the balance of fun and work in check we’re taking a new approach.

Yes, we are still recording the Simon & Garfunkel medley arranged by our very own Mark (trombone), and we are still meeting regularly (on zoom) but we are not meeting to rehearse…

We’re chatting! and checking up on one another ๐Ÿ™‚ Life has gotten slightly weird, and it’s time to put the fun back into it, in new at-a-distance and online ways.

We are meeting every Wednesday on Zoom at the normal time of 7:00 pm and we chat! This week we decided to add a musical task! We are going to have a ‘Composer of the Week’ and people are invited to find out something about the composer, the music, the private life, the harmony… whatever takes your fancy and then share with the group in the next session. YAY! A PROJECT!!!!

If you’d like to ‘claim’ a topic please leave a comment! Or if you have something you would particularly like to have researched, leave that as a comment too!

Wednesday 13 May we’ll be talking about Vaughan Williams (as well as cats, baking, gardens, and anything else that comes to mind) If you would like to join us, you can message Laura via this website and you’ll be very welcomed!


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Ku’u Pua I Paokalani

Here is our virtual piece! (for the intro to the project, please see my earlier post HERE)

I love that it was written by Queen Liliuokalani (from Hawaii) and as an orchestra we are very grateful to Duane Padilla for making the string quartet arrangement, and for letting me arrange the parts for you!

Here is the LINK TO THE PARTS on dropbox.

I know everyone has different access to online facilities at home. You can record via a phone, and I am very happy to have either video or audio. I would LOVE to have everyone be a part of this, and you DO NOT need to feel pressured to play everything perfectly. ๐Ÿ™‚ If you can set up a metronome to flash at 90 that will help us all to stay together.

If you do not want to be ‘seen’ in the recording, you can send an audio, but could everyone send a picture of themselves or of your instrument?

My plan is to print and put up all the pictures and to conduct you! ๐Ÿ™‚ Then I can video me, and ‘drop’ in various images or videos of you playing to create a dynamic performance. …that’s the idea anyhow! I’ll mix all the sound together.

If you have a phone, you shouldn’t need a fancy microphone. Most modern phones/tablets actually have pretty good mics!

Below is the video from Duane for Dorothy about how to do the percussion. I can’t wait to make this happen!

Please can you send me your contributions by FRIDAY 27 March.

(nothing like some homework!?) ๐Ÿ˜€

Laura x

and here’s a picture of an Ipu (traditional gourd)

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Play On! The song continues

Oh Lovely Orchestra!


Of course this is a very serious time and my last formal communication was to end all face-to-face meetings until this health crisis is over. As you know, and can each attest to, we love our music and I am very strongly of the #YesICan attitude. This does NOT mean ignoring rules or being reckless, but instead it means thinking wider.

I was touched by some of the informal chat messages suggesting how you would like to learn something at a distance. Your messages came just after a dear friend of mine posted this gorgeous piece:


View this post on Instagram


A beautiful song by Queen Liliuokalani โ€œKuโ€™u Pua I Paokalaniโ€

A post shared by Duane Padilla (@duanepictures) on

I wrote to him and asked if we could play it. He not only sent me the parts and score, but has made instructional videos about the traditional percussion (for Dorothy our percussionist!)

Also it is SO FITTING that we play this as he said:

Interesting history of the song. The song was written when the queen was imprisoned under house arrest for 8 months after the fall of the monarchy at the turn of the century. They tried to isolate her but she was allowed to receive flowers from her garden picked by an 11 year old boy, who secretly wrapped them in newspapers so she could at least hear about what was going on in Hawaii. The lyrics talk about the beautiful flowers

Regarding percussion, I think something inspired by the percussion used in traditional chanting and dance would be appropriate and sound good. There are a few basic Rhythm patterns that are traditionally played on โ€œipuโ€ which are gourds played like drums that are easy, Iโ€™ll make a video and send. Would be nice in the middle from mm 18-40. The middle section has a bit of the hula dance feel. The beginning and end are in the style of part singing.

Our plan is to learn it, record it, and I will present it at the #OER20 conference on April 1-2- where we were already invited to present, but with the turn of events, the conference has moved online and this is just so cool- we will ALL have a voice.

So instructions…

  1. Listen to Duane’s playing
  2. Download your part (I have to type them out for the instruments first – so give me a day please!)
  3. Learn your part with Duane’s recording, for timing
  4. Record yourself (we will all need to be exactly together – I’ll send instructions!)
  5. Send it to me!
  6. Send me a PHOTO of you playing your instrument (or just of the instrument if you would not like to be ‘seen’)

Everyone has the option of recording either audio (can use the voice recorder on your phone) or video (can use video on phone) My current plan is to tile people’s contributions together (mixing the sound nicely!) and either compile the video, or make a collage of your pictures and conduct the audio with you all in front of me ๐Ÿ™‚

It will be grand!

Parts to follow!