Mid-Peninsula Recorder Orchestra Newsletter



Something old: We had what I think was a good performance for our Christmas concert. (It was last year - can you believe it?) And weren't the acoustics in that church great! Two of the solo groups performed without flaw as far as I could determine: Dan Chernikoff bravely teamed with our own Great Omniscient Director (G.O.D.) to play a duet setting of the Michael Praetorius "Wie schon leuchtet der Morgenstern", and Amy Booth, Mary Carrigan and Sue Casey worked their way flawlessly through another setting of the same work. I can't say too much about the other two solo groups because they both included Moi, and although both got some very complimentary comments, both faltered a bit. Is Moi the jinx?

Some of us celebrated the annual Christmas party at Fred Kamphoefner's the following Wed. We entered his lovely home to the music of Mancini, the most recent CD of Musica Pacifica. After imbibing some of Mary Carrigan's very good wine (and some so-so stuff which I and others donated) and delicious goodies, we made our own music with carols compiled from MPRO files by Laura Gonsalves, and other Christmas music brought by George Greenwood and Lee Hukill. Those who didn't play, sang, and it was all great fun, especially when Chris Flake improvised.

Something new: For the first time since I've been a member of the Orchestra there are ads in [the printed version of] UPBEAT, the proceeds of which are intended to offset the costs of UPBEAT and to provide you with a newsletter of high, and continually improving quality. Please support our advertisers in any way you can (and don't forget to mention that you saw it here).

Coming up: Kim Pineda's workshop, guest conductor Tish Berlin, Easter eggs, the June concert and July 4th. Happy New Year!

Stephen J. White



"The Instrumental Music of Schein, Scheidt and Muffat", directed by Kim Pineda. Held at Unitarian Church, 505 East Charleston Road, Palo Alto, from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Phone Mary at (415) 664-9050 for information.


Dear members of the Mid-Peninsula Recorder Orchestra,

Listed below is the music for the orchestra's next four meetings of the new year. Please note that krummhorn players will be needed for the meetings on January 17 and February 7. Also, please remember that Tish Berlin will be guest director for the meeting scheduled on March 21. She will be presenting selections from The Well-Tempered Clavier and St. John Passion by J.S. Bach as well as a Lied by Ludwig Senfl and an anthem by John Sheppard. I encourage all of the orchestra's members to plan on attending this meeting, which will feature some of the finest music ever composed.

January 17
Lassus: Tutto lo di
Harrison: Serenade, Gigue en Rondeau
I Want Jesus to Walk with Me

January 31
Handel: Overture for St. Cecilia's Day
Brahms: Es ist ein Ros' entsprungen
Schütz: Jauchzet dem Herrn

February 7
Harrison: Serenade, Gigue en Rondeau
Binchois: Se j'eusse un seul peu d'esperanche
Lassus: Tutto lo di
Mozart: March of the Priests

February 21
Handel: Overture for St. Cecilia's Day
I Want Jesus to Walk with Me
Schütz: Jauchzet dem Herrn

I look forward to seeing you at these upcoming meetings.

Fred Palmer


Check out the MPRO Web Site at <http://www.sfems.org/mpro> for the latest rehearsal schedule, concert and workshop information, and lots of pictures of MPRO members. There are several new pictures in the Consort section -- including an MPEG movie of the Belmont Consort in action! Send your consort pictures, movies, sound clips, whatever, to Dan Chernikoff for inclusion on the Web Site.

Dan Chernikoff

The Life and Times of Frances Blaker

by Abby Eller

During the course of our annual fall workshop, held last October at the Palo Alto Unitarian Church, I had the opportunity to interview our talented and capable workshop leader, Frances Blaker. Frances is a Berkeley California native, and her family was living in Walnut Creek when Frances started playing the recorder in the third grade as part of a school program. She resumed playing at age 13, inspired by her cousin who also played the recorder. Frances' parents were supportive of music lessons and enabled her to study the guitar for 2 years. They gave her an alto recorder and the von Trapp instruction book as a Christmas present. They challenged Frances to learn the alto recorder on her own -- and she did! In 6 months she completed working through the book.

Impressed, Frances' mother arranged for lessons with a well-known Berkeley recorder player, Calvin Wall. Frances studied with him for 5 years. Calvin had her diversify to soprano, tenor, and bass, and Frances played with a quartet which occasionally performed in such venues as churches. Frances learned sopranino and great bass as well. She babysat to earn money to buy Moeck instruments.

She went on to play for the annual Junior Bach Festival held in Berkeley each spring. One year she played with a string & recorder group that performed the Fourth Brandenburg Concerto. In her senior year at high school, Frances took a master class with Eva Legene.

Frances has divided her musical career evenly between teaching, directing and performing, primarily by being self-employed. She lived 13 years in Copenhagen, where she studied at the Conservatory of Copenhagen, and 5 years in Atlanta, Georgia, before returning to the Bay Area in 1998. Of her sojourn in Copenhagen, Frances commented that she found Copenhagen to be "A very clean city!", ethnically very homogeneous but otherwise similar in outlook to the Bay Area: highly educated and tolerant of differences. Like many northern Europeans, Danes are reserved and low key, but once you get acquainted, they're wonderful friends.

Frances made a special point of saying that it's much more common in Europe than in the US for ordinary people to have a good musical education as children. Also, first rate symphonic music is more affordable and accessible.

In Atlanta, Frances and her partner, Tish Berlin, promoted early music successfully. They founded an early music society there which is still going strong. The society's Baroque orchestra puts on a performance every year. Frances spoke favorably of the more relaxed pace of life in Atlanta, and commented on how many amateur recordists are to be found there.

Frances' enthusiasm and knowledge of early music is appreciated by all who meet her. We are fortunate to have her living in the Bay Area!


This is the third of a series of sketches of members of our Board. This month meet the new editor of our newsletter, Dick Davies. In 1957, Dick, an electrical engineer, moved from Philadelphia, PA, to Palo Alto where he helped start Philco Corporation's west coast division (later Ford Aerospace, now Loral Space Division). He spent most of his time designing communication and weather satellites. One year (1959?) Dick's mother gave him a recorder for his birthday. After going through the von Trapp book, Dick joined the MPRO under Bill Barnhardt. Later, the press of work and family activities caused him to drop out. He rejoined MPRO in 1997. Dick's journalistic experience is limited to a couple of years as a teen-age editor of his Boy Scout troop's newspaper, where he learned to cut stencils and turn the crank of a balky (and messy) mimeograph machine. Now retired, Dick lives with his wife in Palo Alto.