Mid-Peninsula Recorder Orchestra Newsletter

APRIL 2005


As you probably know by now, I frequently "rip information" from various sources (Web sites, Journals, Library, etc) to share with you in the President's Message. The following bits were taken from Dometsch's Website, primarily from articles authored by Dr. Brian Blood regarding the care of the recorder.

These articles noted that a quality hand made recorder will last your lifetime - but only if you take good care of it. A more modest instrument, particularly if made from a soft wood like pear wood or maple, may not last more than a few years. I am sure that many of you have less than top quality recorders that you have playing for many years with satisfactory results.

The recommended recorder servicing interval is every two or three years if use is heavy - every 5 years if use is light. Recorder servicing usually consists of re-voicing and re-tuning.

Re-voicing consist of removing and cleaning the block and other windway surfaces; and resetting the windway dimensions to the original positions when the recorder was made. The repair person will use chisels, knives and abrasive papers to re-cut and sharpen surface details. Degreasing agents and detergents are also used. When completed the windway surfaces are "renewed" and the instrument has been rejuvenated.

Re-tuning is a process of re-boring to correct problems of tuning that is the result of shrinkage. The cause of shrinkage is complicated, but in general it results from the repeated wetting and drying of the wood. This shrinkage is the most common reason for tuning problems. Only the original maker’s reamers are able to perform re-boring perfectly. In many cases the problem with tuning can be corrected by undercutting or filling holes with wax or glue. - which not only corrects the tuning problem but may also prevent the possibility of using a reamer in the future. We, as owners of such fine instruments, should not allow these instruments to be "over wetted" and allow the instrument to dry completely between periods of playing.

For additional details concerning Recorder Care I refer you to Dolmetsch's Web Site.

"Thank you for listening."

Tony Jackson, President


You will find the orchestra’s schedule of activities through May 13 below. All those who plan on taking part in the orchestra’s performance with the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra (PACO) on May 13 are expected to attend the joint rehearsal on May 4 and, if possible, the one on May 12 as well. Please note the following: (1) There will be assigned seating for the Heinichen Concerto and Biber Sonata. (2) Krummhorns will be needed at the meeting on April 20. (3) Great bass and contrabass recorders will be needed at the meetings on April 20 and May 4.

Wednesday, April 20 JLS Middle School, 8:00 P.M.
Biber: Sonata pro Tabula
Heinichen: Concerto a 8
Pass'emezzo della Paganina and Saltarello
Haydn: Allegro
Wednesday, May 4 Joint Rehearsal with PACO
JLS Middle School, 7:30 P.M.

Biber: Sonata pro Tabula
Heinichen: Concerto a 8
Hugo de Lantins: A ma dame playsant et belle
Haydn: Allegro
Thursday, May 12 Joint Rehearsal with PACO
Cubberley Community Center, Room M-2
4000 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, 5:30 P.M.

Biber: Sonata pro Tabula
Heinichen: Concerto a 8
Friday, May 13 Performance with PACO
Covenant Presbyterian Church
670 East Meadow Drive, Palo Alto, 7:30 P.M.

Biber: Sonata pro Tabula

I look forward to seeing you at these upcoming meetings.

Fred Palmer


Three notes walk into a bar, a C, an E-flat and a G. The bartender looks up and says he doesn't serve minors. So the E-flat leaves and the C and G have a fifth between them.

by Jean Ridley (from SBRS March 2005 Newsletter)

Once again the Crones - Sonja Wilcomer, Stevie White, Jean Ridley, Anne Ng, and Laura Gonsalves - were asked to play for the 5th graders of Waldorf school, but with a difference. The students had been studying the Medieval period of history. To end the study, they decided to celebrate in a truly medieval fashion with an authentic banquet. We were asked to be their minstrels and play for them while they ate. Of course, we agreed, especially when we knew there was food involved for us!

When we arrived at the "private house", we discovered that it was being held in an authentic copy of a Medieval Mansion. This really set the stage. As we walked up to the porch where the carriages would have arrived, we could see the students and their families being escorted into the enormous banquet hall. The hall had friezes on the ceiling, and the candelabra looked very medieval. The King and Queen were at the head of the table with their family, and everyone else was sitting in order of rank down the long tables. The minister offered prayers, toasts were given, and everyone began, including the musicians (us) making the music We were tucked in a corner close to the Royal Table. We had medieval music to play, and were in appropriate costume. Since we were background music, we didn't feel too threatened. Laura had put together a completely medieval music program. We continued to set the stage for the 5th graders and their families while they ate with their fingers (no silverware in those days) out of bread trenchers. Everyone was in costume. It was as authentic as I believe it could be.

At the end of the feast, while the guests went out onto the patio to learn how to dance and be entertained by the students as dance musicians - with recorders of course - we quietly ate our way through the leftovers. A pity the gentry drank all the wine, but the food was good. As we left we musicians were "paid" in gold coins (chocolate candy), much as musicians of that day would have been paid. What an experience, and how honored we felt to be a part of the pageant.

Two music seminars are offered on 13 - 19 August, 2005 at the Hidden Valley Institute of the Arts, Carmel Valley, CA:

Seminar for Recorder, Viola da Gamba, Harpsichord. Director: Letitia Berlin. Masterclasses for recorder, viola da gamba, and harpsichord. Renaissance recorder consort, viol consort, continuo class for harpsichordists, baroque ensembles and collegium for all. For advanced players. Limited enrollment. Some scholarship assistance available. Faculty/Performers: Recorder: Geert Van Gele, Letitia Berlin. Viola da gamba: David Morris. Harpsichord: Webb Wiggins. FMI:

Youth Recorder Academy at Hidden Valley Institute of the Arts. Director: Letitia Berlin. A week-long workshop for recorder students ages 12-18. Masterclasses, ensembles, theory/musicianship, improvisation. Student and faculty recitals, recreational opportunities. Harpsichordists may take Webb Wiggins' masterclass in concurrent workshop. Faculty/Performers: Letitia Berlin, director and recorder; Cléa Galhano, recorder; James Brown, theory, improvisation, choir.

For more information contact Peter Meckel, Director, Hidden Valley Institute of the Arts, Hidden Valley Institute of the Arts, P.O. Box 116, Carmel Valley, CA 93924; tel: 831-659-3115; fax: 831-659-7442; hvms@aol.com; hiddenvalleymusic.org

Please contact Letitia Berlin at 510-559-4670 if you have loaner viols for a beginning viol class for this workshop.


On SUNDAY, APRIL 17, 4:00 PM HEALING MUSES presents "On the Slopes of Parnassus, The Life and Times of Georg Muffat." A musical tour of the countries and composers who inspired this cosmopolitan baroque composer, with works by Lully, Corelli, Muffat and Schmelzer. David Wilson, violin; Lisa Grodin, violin & viola; Tekla Cunningham, violin & viola; Farley Pearce, viola da gamba & cello; Katherine Heater, harpsichord. St. Alban's Episcopal Church, 1501 Washington St. (at Neilson), one block north of Solano Ave., Albany. Wheelchair accessible. Tickets: $18/$15. Advance reservations recommended. Information and reservations: (510) 524-5661; www.healingmuses.org.