Mid-Peninsula Recorder Orchestra Newsletter

MARCH 2004


The Message From The President gives me the opportunity to seek interesting articles about early music and instruments. Last month’s message was concerned with various types of woods that are used in the construction of wooden recorders. An appropriate follow up of that subject is the care of the wooden recorder.

Kenneth Wollitz, in the 4th Edition of his “The Recorder Book” (1984) indicated that a new wooden recorder does not improve as you play it. The perceived improvement is more likely than not due to the player becoming more familiar with the instrument. He further states that if the new instrument is giving the player trouble, it is not due to an incomplete break in period. Either the player has not learned to play it or the instrument is faulty.

Wollitz notes that a recorder should be made from thoroughly seasoned wood which has gone through a process of drying, leaving moisture of 6 percent or less. Wollitz also believes that most mass produced wooden recorders are made from wood that is imperfectly dried and seasoned wood. Because of this cracks, splits, etc are likely to occur and the slow intermittent process of breaking a new recorder maybe only postponing the inevitable.

Most articles on the care of wood recorders do recommend that a break-in period is necessary to obtain decades of reliable service. Dr. Brian Blood who is associated with Dolmetsch’s Musical Instruments suggest the following schedule to give your instrument a good start for long service:

During the first two weeks (1 & 2) play up to 10 minutes each day.

During the second two weeks (3 & 4) increase to 20 minutes per day.

During the third two weeks (5 & 6) increase to 30 minutes per day

During the fourth two weeks (7 & 8) increase to 40 minutes per day

If after this, you need to play your instrument heavily (say for more than 40-60 minutes at a time) seriously consider having a second instrument to share the workload. A plastic instrument would be a good choice. Most instruments lose their tone from overplaying. Re-voicing can recover the tone, but each time this is done the overall service life of the instrument is shortened. The heavy use of the wooden instruments leads to steady and irreversible deterioration. The most important thing to avoid is “water logging”, where the instrument is still wet from the previous period of playing when you come back the next day, or later the same day, to play again. It is very important that the recorder has dried out completely between periods of use.

Tony Jackson, President


Dear members of the Mid-Peninsula Recorder Orchestra,

Please mark Wednesday, March 31, on your calendars. That is when award-winning Bay Area composer, Glen Shannon, will direct the orchestra in a program of his works. This will be a wonderful opportunity for those in MPRO to work on a variety of musical selections under the direction of the composer, and I urge all of the orchestra's members to plan on attending that evening.

Listed below is the music for the next three meetings of the orchestra. Please note that krummhorns and violas da gamba will be needed for the meeting on April 14 and that great bass and contrabass recorders will be needed at the meetings on March 17 and April 14.

March 17 MPRO Rehearsal
Mozart: Minuet
O infame deloyaulté
Shannon: Stroll
Vivaldi: Sonata Op. 1, No. 10
March 31 MPRO Rehearsal
Glen Shannon, guest director
Compositions by Glen Shannon
April 14 MPRO Rehearsal
Palmer: Sonata for Four Recorders
Pepusch: Concerto in F
Byrd: Fantasia 3
La Cornetta

I look forward to seeing you at these upcoming meetings.

Fred Palmer


Last month the MPRO received a check for $3,000 from the estate of Phil Hand, a founding member of MPRO who died recently. We are grateful to Phil for his generosity.

The Board has not yet decided on how the funds will be used.

Mary Carrigan


The acclaimed Coastal Repertory Theatre of Half Moon Bay (on the nearby San Mateo Coast), an all-volunteer community theater, will be staging a production of “Twelfth Night” by William Shakespeare in June. We are looking for several intermediate to advanced musicians (recorders, “buzzies,” strings) to play between scenes and to accompany the actors in the traditional songs written into the play. If this sounds interesting to you, please contact Greta Hryciw at (415) 861-3902 or hryciw@pacbell.net as soon as possible.


George Greenwood, the MPRO Consort Coordinator, grew up in Boston, and attended Northeastern University, graduating with an EE degree in 1958. Most of his work experience following graduation was in the microwave field, specifically involved in defense electronics. For the past 27 years he consulted for overseas companies, and has had his own consulting company since 1994.

He became interested in the recorder after hearing a street musician play an alto when he lived in Munich from '73-'75. He immediately bought a wooden alto (with German fingering, but didn't realize it then), blew it a few times, put it back in the box, where it sat (and is still sitting!) for 20 years. About 10 years ago, a friend of his sparked his recorder interest again, so he took some lessons at an adult community class in Palo Alto. Most of his study after this was self-taught, although has taken a few private lessons during the past 9 years. He can play all instruments from sopranino through contra-bass (which he borrows!). His most recent recorder acquisition is a square-style great bass made by Dolmetsch in England.

In addition to the orchestra, he plays with two consorts, a baroque ensemble with gamba and continuo every Tuesday evening, and a Sunday morning group playing baroque and renaissance music (at 466 pitch). He is a member of ARS, EBRS, MBRS, SBRS and the Seattle Recorder Society.

He also took up the baroque flute a few years ago, and is still improving on this instrument.

George is 90% retired, lives in Los Altos, is divorced, has three sons, three grandsons and one granddaughter. His closest son lives in San Jose with a son and daughter. The other two sons live in Massachusetts and Connecticut. The youngest of the three recently announced that his wife is expecting their first child in September.

At the last board meeting, George was appointed Workshop Director Coordinator. His job is to recommend and help select potential Workshop Directors, along with associated activities, including venue, publicity, and hospitality, etc., which are required to produce a successful workshop. He is confident that other board and orchestra members will assist him with some of these activities as needed.


March 4 - 7: Musica Pacifica will present concerts of rousing Baroque folk and dance music from the British Isles at four Bay Area locations. Information: 510-444-4113, or www.musicapacifica.org

March 20, at 8:00 pm, and March 21, 4 pm, HEALING MUSES presents "LA FOOLIA!" At St. Alban's Episcopal Church, 1501 Washington Ave. Albany. Information: (510) 524-5661 *3; www.healingmuses.org

March 28 at 7:30 PM: Bay Area Recorder Series presents Hanneke van Proosdij at St. Alban's Episcopal Church, 1501 Washington Ave., Albany. For more information, call 510-559-4670, or email barecorderseries@mindspring.com.


Save the dates, May 21-23, 2004, for the annual Marin Headlands workshop for Recorders sponsored by East Bay Recorder Society, an affiliate of SFEMS. As always, viol players are welcome at this workshop. This year the workshop is moving up the hill to Point Bonita YMCA at Marin Headlands.

The workshop format will remain the same, presenting a variety of repertoire and technique sessions for intermediate-to-advanced, or high-intermediate-to-advanced players. Our expert faculty includes David Barnett, Cindy Beitmen, Tish Berlin, Frances Blaker, Louise Carslake, Frances Feldon, Eileen Hadidian, Judy Linsenberg, David Morris, and Fred Palmer.

Registrations forms will be available on the EBRS website (www.sfems.org/ebrs) and at chapter meetings in March. For information, contact Britt Ascher at brittascher@comcast.net or 925 283-7134.