Parnassian Ensemble offer Pagham concert

The Parnassian Ensemble will continue to fly the flag for the much-maligned recorder as they offer the second concert in the new Pagham Concert Series.

The Parnassian Ensemble
The Parnassian Ensemble

“It’s still hard for me to be a professional recorder player and to be taken seriously,” laments Sophie Middleditch who will be playing the recorder alongside Helen Hooker in the concert on Saturday, January 30, at 7.30pm in St Thomas à Becket Church, Church Lane, Pagham.

Completing the quartet are Lynden Cranham on baroque cello and David Pollock on harpsichord, offering a programme entitled Cross Currents – the Best of Nations.

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As Sophie says, it will be the perfect concert for anyone who feels they might like the 18th century pieces but aren’t so sure about the more modern works.

The Parnassian Ensemble

“There will be no difficulty at all about the music. They are all lovely pieces.”

And it will be the perfect concert for anyone still harbouring doubts about the recorder after perhaps unhappy experiences with the instrument at school.

“We are going to have lots of different sizes and varieties.”

The result will be an insight into just why it’s an instrument Sophie loves.

“It’s actually the first concert we have done in the area for a while, and we really wanted to do something that would appeal to as wide an audience as possible. The concert is really a showcase for the best recorder music, old and new, from around the world. We have got Handel and Vivaldi, and David is doing a magnificent Bach piece. Alongside that, we are really excited to be doing some pieces for modern-pitch recorders. There is such a variety of repertoire for our instrument.”

The programme also includes a new work specially composed for the group by Steve Marshall: “He has written about 500 pieces for the recorder. He is a really fantastic composer. His music is brilliant. He is very well respected in the recorder world. We are really lucky and so pleased.”

And it’s by putting together a programme such as this that Sophie feels she and her fellow recorder players can tackle the prejudices: “But it is still difficult. There are still concert promoters who are nervous about having a recorder group because they think it is going to be loud and squeaky and really not very good! But when you are talking to promoters you have just got to mention the kinds of places you have played, high-profile places that will put their mind at ease, just to make them realise that you are not going to turn up and be dreadful. If you say you are a string quartet to people, they will know straightaway what they are going to be getting. When you are playing the recorder, it is a bit more difficult!

“The way you combat that as a professional recorder player is just to keep playing the concerts and to build up a good following. The other thing, of course, with this concert is that we have got a brilliant new work with the Marshall.”

It’s also great to be playing again in the ensemble’s home area: “We have been away for various reasons. We have been working hard. As you can imagine, as four freelance musicians we have been busy doing other things.

“I have been really lucky to be able to kidnap the others and say it is time to work for the Parnassians again!”

Tickets £12.50 are available on 07758 657775 and in church

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