Violinist and director of the ‘Chamber Players’ course Lucy Melvin shares with us her thoughts on Stephen Dodgson’s Idyll and the young students’ discovery of connections within the musical community.
“It was a joy to get to know Stephen’s piece Idyll, during the recent Chamber Players week. The music was delicate, with a continuous gentle pulse like a heartbeat throughout in the cellos occasionally passing the violas and 2nd violins. The solo violin line soared above, with some gorgeous dissonances in the inner parts every now and again. There were some lovely moving parts within the sections of the orchestra, from cello to viola, or from violin 2 to violin 1.
When Stephen’s widow Jane asked me to have a look at Stephen’s music to see if there may have been anything suitable for the pupils on the Chamber Players course to get to know, this was the piece which I chose. I would love to get to know his chamber music more, and hopefully next year, we can include one of his string quartets in our repertoire.
The Chamber Players course is for young string players of any ability. We have pupils ranging from Grade 1 right up to those at Diploma level, who have been returning to the course each year. Junior pupils are coached in the morning and seniors in the afternoon. The primary work is the chamber music coaching, but each session starts off with a short string orchestra rehearsal. In the afternoon any senior pupil can request to perform a concerto, if they have one ready.
This year, one violinist had requested to perform Saint Saens’ Violin Concerto No. 3. The other violinist in his ensemble had performed a concerto in the previous year, but she hadn’t requested to do so this year, and so I asked her if she would play the solo line in Stephen’s piece.
I explained how it was that I had come to know some of the music of Stephen Dodgson, through violinist Harriet Mackenzie (of Karolos who have just recorded a CD of Stephen Dodgson’s string trios), whose sister Ali Mackenzie has been a long-time tutor on the course. I think that the pupils were really interested in making that connection.
I have always felt that running a course like Chamber Players is like having a large family. We watch the pupils grow up, and get to know their families: their parents, and then eventually the younger siblings who join the course when they are ready. Then we have the family of tutors and who have all worked together as chamber musicians for many years, and who provide a strong support network for the pupils who come on the course. Then there is the wider family of connections we make, through the tutors, or the performers who play in the Chamber Players concerts throughout the year, or the organisations through which we support pupils to obtain bursaries for the course. The connection to Stephen’s music feels very much like part of that wider family, and I am very pleased to be getting to know his music, and providing opportunities for the pupils to do so also.
The piece was beautiful, and just perfect for the pupils on the course.”
Director, Chamber Players