The Recorder Group usually meets every Thursday from 10am to 12 noon in St Arvans Memorial Hall, St Arvans, Chepstow.
About the group
Back in 2008 an idea for starting a complete beginners' recorder course was conceived by our Musical Director, Moira Fraser-Hook. Originally there were fifteen of us - most had never played a recorder before and some could not read music but with Moira's kindness and patience we were knocked into shape. Gradually over the years more experienced players have joined raising the standard to excellent. The group now numbers about 30.
We meet every week during term time and aim to give a number of performances each year. Until Covid struck, we performed in the last eight of the popular annual John Lester lunchtime concert series at St Mary’s Priory Church in Chepstow, and raised significant sums for charity. We also gave summer and Christmas concerts at local schools. The children seemed to really enjoy hearing us play and joining in with some jolly rhythmic pieces. Our repertoire spans 5 centuries of recorder music, from 16th Century dances by the well-known composer “Anon”, English and European folk tunes, Klezmer music and arrangements of favourites such as “Teddy Bears’ Picnic” and “Bobby Shaftoe”.
During the pandemic when we were not able to meet in person, we kept in touch with regular Zoom sessions, alternating quizzes with "talkies" where members of the group spoke for about 5 minutes on subjects such as "My first paid job", "An event which changed my life" and "My most memorable holiday". There were some fascinating stories told in those sessions!
We discovered that a number of us enjoyed crafting - knitting, crochet and stitching - and had some enjoyable "Knit and Natter" sessions. We got to know each other better and began to plan for the day when we would be able to play together again.
When restrictions began to ease in May 2021, we were able to meet up and play together in our new venue at St Arvans, and were delighted to be asked to play at the inaugural Chepstow Festival of Arts in July and the u3a Picnic in August. We were pleased that we weren't too rusty! Our programme was topped and tailed with some popular pieces by Handel. In between we played some Welsh, English, Irish and American toe-tapping folk tunes. We are now planning a Christmas concert - it's so good to be playing and performing together again.
At Christmas 2021 we gave our first public concert, at St Arvans. Music in the first half was taken mainly from the pieces we had been playing since May, including Northumberland folk tunes, "Blow the Wind Southerly" and "Dance to Your Daddy". The second half was much more Christmassy, including carols, Christmas songs and the Pastorale from Handel's "Messiah" - not often heard played by recorders! Nibbles, mince pies and cakes kept the audience going, and it seemed that everyone, both players and audience, had a very enjoyable festive evening. We were really pleased to raise £285 divided between Alzheimer's Society, Dementia UK and the Macular Society.
Our MD, Moira, is an experienced recorder player, a talented teacher, and is always enthusiastic and patient! She has given and taken part in many concerts locally and further afield - both as a soloist and with her popular consort "The Divertimenti".
If you have played recorder and would like to take it up again (even if it’s years since you played), then come and join in. If you are unsure of your standard, do come along and sit in on one of our sessions. You will be given a friendly and enthusiastic welcome and can talk to Moira about joining us.
In July 2019 we were invited back to play in the John Lester lunchtime concert series at St Mary's Priory Church. We started with a rousing fanfare from two sackbuts (the fore-runner of the trombone) played by two of our talented members. The group performed a varied programme, including Bach and Handel, some Klezmer music and our favourite, "The Foggy Dew" which is a traditional Irish tune. We were chuffed that we raised £318 for this year's charity, The Macular Society which carries out research into, and supports those with, age-related macular degeneration.
June 2019 saw us returning to St Mary's School and Rogiet Primary to play to the children, who particularly enjoyed doing the actions along to a Native American song called "the River".
We played at the successful inaugural open day for the Chepstow U3A in October 2018, and also provided the entertainment after the AGM in March 2019.
In the summer of 2018 we took part in the John Lester lunchtime concert series, attracting a large audience and raising over £300 for St David’s Hospice Care. We also performed for the children at St Mary’s RC Primary School in Chepstow and at Rogiet Primary School, and returned with a fun, seasonal programme for the schools at Christmas.
We celebrated our 10th Anniversary in January 2018 with a concert and lunch at the Piercefield in St Arvans. The national motto of the U3A is to Learn, Laugh and Live. We certainly achieved this aim at our fun anniversary party!
Click here to see the Video Montage: Recorder Playing 2017
Rehearsal at St. Mary's Church, Chepstow (13th July 2017). Click on the following links:
|Bobby Shaftoe||Southern Roots||Blues for Barley||Out in the Open||Love and Kindness||La Volta|
|Five Pieces for Bass Recorder||Song & Jig (Marg Hall)||Allemande||Gracieusement||Migildi & Cathleen||Fatal La Parte & Fantasia 1|
Click on a picture below to see it full-size with more details.