Thursday, September 21, 2017

Which Horn?

Bob Ashworth - Principal Horn Opera North
The perennial question – which horn should I be playing on? – and its follow up questions - will it make things easier and/or make things sound better. OK, I reckon I make a reasonable sound on whichever instrument I play on but it’s nice to ring the changes sometimes and think outside the box.
I come around to these questions time and time again even though I’ve been known as a ‘diehard’ Alexander 103 player since college days. However this perception is not entirely true as I’ve spent long periods of time on Yamaha horns (models 665G and 667), Conn (nickel silver 8D), a goldbrass  Alexander 403S and dabbled from time to time with my Paxman (old-style goldbrass model 40L – bought from Mike Purton many moons ago) usually when there’s something high like Handel’s ‘Julius Caesar’.

More recently I bought a Holton 181 (goldbrass standard double) in an attempt to have a fuller, richer sound. This went very well for Ein Heldenleben and Janacek’s opera ‘Jenufa’. But, for the Ring operas of recent years I played the Alex 403S. 
Still the quandary remains. Having done a reasonably decent job of Britten’s ‘Billy Budd’ at this year’s Aldeburgh Festival (on the Paxman) I’m now favouring it for general use – for various reasons - full sound, ease, useful alternative fingerings. Looking back now I wish I’d done the ‘Siegfried’ Horn Call on this instrument for more security and ease (but not necessarily for the F alto side!).

The quandary continues as a mouthpiece also needs to be matched to whichever horn one chooses and I have found that this may change over time depending on one’s physical/mental state and the desired horn sound for certain repertoire. For instance I’ll probably go back to the Holton 181 for the imminent performances of Janacek’s ‘Osud’ which has great horn parts. It needs a generous sound (perhaps of a Viennese nature) and I’ll be using a Klier S3 mouthpiece which suits this horn and repertoire very well. On the Paxman 40 I’m currently on a PHC H23A.
All of this may well be a bit ‘over the top’ as many players stick with one horn and one mouthpiece (or one mouthpiece for whichever horn they play)  for years for ‘comfort’ and ‘security’ (i.e. familiarity) – which, of course, are ‘must have’ facets to successful horn playing. However, if you keep an open mind and put in the right preparation it is certainly possible to play different horns and mouthpieces and make your horn playing even more interesting and please note I haven’t even mentioned the natural horn and Vienna horn options……😉 Of course the added bonus of playing all one’s horns regularly (if you’re lucky to have more than one) is that it avoids the problem of the valves seizing up out of neglect!

Wishing all horn playing readers fun and stress-free horn playing!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Samek Music News

by Victoria Soames Samek
(Acclaimed clarinettist and publisher)

In celebration of the 25th anniversary of Clarinet & Saxophone Classics, I am excited to announce that the company has expanded. To reflect this expansion we have rebranded the company.

Samek Music is now the home for Clarinet & Saxophone Classics CDs downloads and our publications to which all printed sheet music is now available through our new collaboration with June Emerson Wind Music.

In addition the company is now offering educational and musical opportunities. I will be offering lessons and mentoring, lectures and group coaching, written and spoken educational blogs, master-classes and performances.

 Samek Music is now the ultimate resource for clarinet &  saxophone players and all music enthusiasts.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

2017 Launchpad Prize Winners #3


Aesthesia Saxophone Quartet

(Royal College of Music)

The Players

Jonathan Vaux - soprano sax
Daniel Scott - alto sax
Stephanie Frankland - tenor sax
Ashley Brand - baritone sax


The London based Aesthesia Saxophone Quartet is an award-winning chamber ensemble from the Royal College of Music, studying under Kyle Horch. Despite having only recently formed in September 2016, the members (Jonathan Vaux, Daniel Scott, Stephanie Frankland and Ashley Brand) have developed a strong affinity with one another, and this is apparent through their communicative approach to performance.At the 2017 Nordic Saxophone Festival in Aarhus, Denmark, the Aesthesia Quartet performed in a masterclass with Evgeni Novikov, following which they were asked to also give an evening recital. Closer to home, they were given the opportunity to play in a masterclass led by Melanie Henry.Recently, the group were awarded the June Emerson Launchpad Prize in the Royal College of Music’s Woodwind Chamber Competition and are supported by Talent Unlimited.

June Emerson Wind Music would like to thank Alice Kelley for organising 
the awarding of the Launchpad Prize at the Royal College of Music.


Aesthesia Saxophone Quartet

Royal College of Music

Thursday, August 24, 2017

2017 Launchpad Prize Winners #2


Chameleon Wind Quintet

(Royal Northern College of Music)

The Players

Anna Murphy - flute
George Strickland - oboe
Jessica Tomlinson - clarinet
Joshua Jones - saxophone
Eleanor Mills - bassoon


Formed in October 2016, Chameleon is a group of musicians who met at the RNCM in Manchester. United by their ability to double/triple, they formed a group where each member performs on multiple instruments, often within the same piece.
As there is no existing repertoire for Chameleon, we do our own arrangements (though we would love to collaborate with orchestrators/arrangers/composers for future projects!). This means we can push the boundaries of typical wind ensembles, and can experiment with new combinations of wind instruments.
We base our set-up on a traditional wind quintet, replacing French Horn with Saxophone, and each member is principally one of the other four instruments - Flute, Oboe, Clarinet and Bassoon. Our unique range of doubling instruments also means we can transform from a wind quintet to a sax group during a piece.
We have a keen interest in performance and outreach, bringing our music to other people in both the concert hall and in the community.

June Emerson Wind Music would like to thank Suzy Stonefield for organising 
the awarding of the Launchpad Prize at the Royal Northern College of Music.


Chameleon Wind Quintet

Royal Northern College of Music

Thursday, August 17, 2017

2017 Launchpad Prize Winners #1


Coburn Saxophone Quartet

(Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama)

The Players

Sarah Knight - soprano sax
Sarah Smith - alto sax
Megan Davies - tenor sax
Amber Reeve - baritone sax


Formed in 2015 at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, the Coburn Quartet are an energetic and upcoming female saxophone ensemble based in Cardiff. We are a close group of friends and colleagues who enjoy rehearsing and performing together. Our experience includes events ranging from concert recitals to private engagements. With our extensive set list varying from jazz and pop to concert repertoire, we are available to hire for all events and functions throughout the UK. We are extremely thankful for the continued support and specialist coaching from many industry professionals.

June Emerson Wind Music would like to thank Kevin Price for organising 
the awarding of the Launchpad Prize at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama.


Conurn Saxophone Quartet

Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama

Friday, August 11, 2017

The June Emerson Wind Music Launchpad Prize 2017

About the Prize

The Launchpad Prize was an idea that began as a desire to help young musicians in some significant way. With our limited financial resources it was difficult to come up with something that would make enough of a difference to make it worthwhile. The idea of sponsoring a prize at one of the UK music colleges was something we just couldn’t afford, and we also felt that we’d like to be able to offer something to more than just one college and be a little more ‘hands on’. We eventually decided that we would assist one predominantly final year wind ensemble from each of the major UK music colleges to launch themselves onto the professional circuit.

First awarded in 2009, the Launchpad Prize consists of practical help, including:a substantial JEWM music voucher; dedicated space on the JEWM website; publicity at any time through our online media channels (JEWM blog, Twitter, Facebook etc); editorial coverage wherever possible; unlimited free advertising flyers in JEWM music orders in order to publicise themselves; exclusive access to the JEWM shop with use of all music and facilities; complimentary copies of any existing and future Emerson Edition publications which fit their instrumental line-up, and anything else we can think of.

The 2017 Winners!

Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama
Coburn Saxophone Quartet

Royal Northern College of Music
Chameleon Wind Quintet

Royal College of Music
Aesthesia Saxophone Quartet

Profiles of each of this year's winners will appear on this blog over the coming weeks...

Friday, July 7, 2017

Wonderful Winds Flute Days 2017

Two days of Flute Ensemble fun

for players of all ages and abilities

with Mel Orriss & Joss Campbell

Saturday 19th August 2017

Suitable for novice/intermediate players and rusty returners!
(Approx. Grade 1 - 5)

Sunday 20th August 2017

Suitable for more confident or advanced players.
(Approx. Grade 5 - Diploma)


The Ockment Centre
North Street
Devon EX20 1AR


£35.00 one day/£60.00 weekend
Under 18s:
£25 one day/£40.00 weekend
(Two bursaries are available - see link for further information)

Information and Bookings: