Genovia Quartet Spring Concerts 2019!

What a beautiful weekend we just had! For those who are not in Scotland at the moment, we are in the middle of a mini ‘heatwave’…not always so great for reeds but perfect for a wee Scottish Genovia Quartet adventure! We gave two recitals at the weekend, one in St Conan’s Kirk (by Loch Awe) and one in Dower House, Corstorphine (Edinburgh’s West End).

At the moment our Miss Rodriguez is busy studying hard in Spain (she is collecting Master’s degrees it seems)! So we were delighted to have Anthea Wood as our guest – she is a fantastic Glasgow-based bassoonist who adores chamber music just as much as we do! So a huge thank you to Anthea for the great musicianship and enthusiasm you brought to our group over the past few days.

Our trip to Loch Awe was….AWEsome (had to be said)! Even the 2.5 hour train journey from Glasgow was a picturesque adventure through hills, forests and rivers. Although we love being based in Glasgow, it’s always great to get out of the city and see different parts of our beautiful country – there is always new inspiration to be found! One of the perks of the job for sure.

We arrived to St Conan’s Kirk which is nestled quietly by the banks of Loch Awe. Upon entering the Kirk you are hit with truly spectacular architecture from all angles. This church is a real hidden gem – we recommend a visit if you are in the Argyll area! They offer tours, concerts and even a lovely wee tearoom (essential!). https://www.stconanskirk.org.uk/

We performed some of our favourite pieces - including music by Verdi, Berlioz, and Grieg’s Peer Gynt featuring Rhiannon on the contrabassoon! Along with some folky and jazzy numbers of course. Audience member Liz had this to say:

“This delightful quartet certainly delivered on their promise to take us on a whirlwind musical tour!

Playing a variety of pieces which ranged from true classical to jazz, from old favourites to new contemporary arrangements, they demonstrated how amazingly versatile the bassoon can be. Of course this could only be possible in the hands of truly talented musicians. We are so pleased to  have again had such a really high quality musical performance in St Conan’s, brought to us once more by Classical Musicians Scotland.

The concert was followed by a very delicious Easter Afternoon Tea featuring a variety of sandwiches, hot cross buns, Easter biscuits, lemon simnel cake, Easter rocky road and chocolate egg cupcakes.

A feast for all senses!”

 

Thank you Liz! Everyone made us feel so welcome. After stuffing our faces with cake (of course) we headed back to Glasgow to rest for the evening.

On Sunday it was another beautiful sunny day as we headed to Edinburgh, ready for our performance in Dower House as part of the Corstorphine Trust. It was great to represent our alma-mater the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in the last of a series of performances from the students and alumni.

We were welcomed and given coffee (very important for bassoonists!) before heading out to catch a few rays of sunshine before the recital.  Everyone made us feel so welcome once again and it seems that a few people had never seen a live bassoon before! It is always a pleasure for us to share our joy and love of music and bassoon with new audiences, playing a mixture of well-known tunes and more unusual repertoire. In Genovia Quartet we want our concerts to be enjoyed equally by highly-trained musicians and first-time concert goers alike. We hope we brought this joy and fun at the weekend – we certainly had a wonderful time!

Thank you to Classical Musicians Scotland and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland for organising these events, to our fantastic hosts and to Anthea for joining us! See you all in June back in the bold Glasgow…

Gillian

GQx

 

 

 

Glasgow Reunion....A Spooky Hallowe'en Special

We were delighted to have been reunited in Bonnie Scotland this past week for some concerts in our home city of Glasgow! With Ana flying over from Granada and Rhiannon from Den Haag, we couldn’t wait to get back on the Genovia train with some exciting concerts in some very lovely venues.

On Friday 26th October we performed twice at the Glasgow Cathedral Festival - a really exciting young festival set in the iconic Glasgow Cathedral with its spectacular gothic architecture.

We were lucky to give two concerts in the cathedral itself. Firstly at 11am we gave a private performance for the primary children of Royston School who were very welcoming to us, and we taught them about the bassoon and the amazing sounds it can make! They particularly loved the jazzy Raymond Scott pieces we performed….(who wouldn’t?? They are so catchy!)

Time for a quick hot coffee before we performed a lunchtime recital open to the public. They came in their numbers despite the cold frosty weather to hear us perform some of our favourite pieces - including Mozart’s Magic Flute Overture, Khachaturian’s Lullaby and of course Pato, Pato!

It was lovely to see not only some of our regular concert attendees, but also some families who didn’t even know there was a concert happening and got a lovely bassoony surprise! Thank you to all the staff and audience at the Cathedral Festival who made our day really special.

The next day we were treated to a lovely home cooked curry by our mentor/bassoon mother/her royal highness Alison Green…always nice to get all the bassoon chat with a wee cheeky wine!

We spent the next couple of days preparing some brand new repertoire for our concert at Merchant’s House on the 31st. We were particularly excited to have contrabassoon involved in this next concert, as we are fortunate to have a very talented contra player in the quartet - the wonderful Rhiannon of course. We put together some new arrangements of the ‘Peer Gynt’ suites by Grieg, although it was not easy to play ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’ with a straight face…the contrabassoon really is the devils’ instrument, which makes it even more perfect for a Hallowe’en concert. We even spent an evening rehearsing in Rhiannon’s family home where we got to meet little Harry, the newest, fluffiest addition to the Carmichael clan!!

Finally, Wednesday arrives! We were so excited to return to the Westbourne Music concert series after the fun we had in our 2017 debut recital there, and the day did not disappoint. The audience at Westbourne is always so welcoming and positive, and it was such a pleasure to showcase our work from the past week to keen eyes and ears. We performed some new arrangements, including the Peer Gynt Suite, some Georgian folk music and more Raymond Scott tunes….with added Hallowe’en accessories and squeaky toys! (videos to follow……)

Many people commented on how much they enjoyed the variety of music that we performed, which was wonderful to hear. We love the sound world of the bassoon and all the diverse characters you can create, which is why we are constantly exploring new styles. Having the trust and support of your audience is such a great feeling and helps us to put even more heart and soul into the music, so thank you all for letting Genovia Quartet take you for a crazy bassoony Hallowe’eny ride!

Sadly Ana and Rhiannon are jetting off again, but don’t despair as Victoria and I are busy preparing for some upcoming Genovia Duo concerts! Check our ‘Calendar’ page to find events near you.

Hope you all had a lovely Bassoonwe’en!

Gillian x

Genovia on Tour: The Tales of Granada

Chapter Two: Our Spanish Debut

Churches, Siestas and Homemade wine...


August 22nd 2018

Concert day in Galera! We woke up feeling well rested after a lovely sleep in our cuevo (cave) and had coffee and breakfast outside on our patio, including some delicious cake baked for us by Ana’s mother!

We began rehearsals straight away, playing some of our absolute favourite pieces in preparation for our Spanish debut in the local church of Galera. Our excitement was obvious straight away - being apart for several months it’s clear that we are addicted to playing in Genovia Quartet…after some joyful and intensive music-making we sat down to lunch, and we were delighted to be joined by Ana’s sister Irene who also happens to be a very talented oboist!

After a wee siesta (mostly for the benefit of the Scottish contingent) we headed to the church for a short rehearsal. Our cuevo was ‘nearly’ within walking distance from the church but Ana’s father was kind enough to ferry us back and forth between rehearsals and meals. After a quick dinner and just a smidgen of reed stress(!), we donned our all blacks and headed to church for our performance.

The church was absolutely packed to the brim with excited locals who were so warm and welcoming to us. We played some of our favourite pieces including some classical rep by Verdi, Sibelius and Prokofiev and some of our favourite Raymond Scott tunes which brought the house down!! Rhiannon and I even introduced (attempted) pieces in Spanish which went down a treat.

We were delighted to receive a full standing ovation, so it felt only right to treat our amazing audience to one more tune - ‘El Gato Montes’, one of the most famous pasodobles in Spain. One sly audience member caught this on camera….

 

After the concert we joined Ana’s family and friends for some tapas and ‘tinto’ (red wine) and we were offered a discount for our drinks if we played again in the bar….well, who are we to say no?

After a most fantastic evening in Galera, we got driven home (with me in the baby seat) and went to bed a very happy Genovia Quartet indeed.

 

 

August 23rd 2018

For our last day in Galera, we began with a relaxed brunch at the cuevo before heading to ‘la piscina’ (swimming pool). We then visited Ana’s grandparents and other family who live locally (including Sultan the dog). After a siesta, we headed to our friend Javi’s house for what we thought was a small glass of his homemade wine…which turned into a huge dinner party with lots of friends, family, bilingual singing and laughs! See below….

We couldn’t have felt more welcome during our time in Galera, not only from Ana’s amazing family (who cooked all our meals for us) but from all the local people - young and old - who turned out in their numbers to support us and encourage us in our Spanish debut. We feel extraordinarily blessed by the amazing welcome…and the mayor even invited us back for Christmas!

Galera, this is not the last you will see of Genovia! Watch this space….

Blessings to all your reeds,

Gillian x

 

P.S. Cuevos in Galera are available to rent all year round - we cannot recommend highly enough!! Such a beautiful village <3