West Sussex Guitar Club

Charity No. 1124762

Patrons: Gary Ryan & Fabio Zanon

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Chichester Festival 2009 Review

Posted by admin on April 2, 2009

Yet another record number of entries were achieved for the guitar section of the Chichester Festival of Music held in February 2009. There were a total of 146 entries in 28 classes for the under 18s and 70 entries in 13 classes for the over 18s.

We were very fortunate in having the highly respected guitarist and composer Helen Sanderson as adjudicator over the two weekends of the Festival. Helen was very encouraging to all the players and suggested how their performances could be improved. Helen is very perceptive in spotting an Achilles Heel in a performance and can always suggest a remedy. She has the remarkable ability to produce copious notes of copperplate writing for all the performers in the short time available - an art long since lost by many with the advent of computers and keyboards.

Many of her comments on performances applied equally to the children and adults and also to some advanced players as well as beginners. Firstly ensure that you are comfortable before you start playing. The footstool height may have been adjusted for someone of a different build to yourself, so take time to adjust it if necessary. Ensure the guitar is in tune. To avoid a false start, think through the first few bars before playing and get the tempo right.

There is the temptation to pull the strings upwards in an attempt to produce more volume. However, this just produces a rasping Bartok Slap sound as the strings hit against the frets. It is better to pull the strings sideways - this is how to pluck the strings - the other technique is used for plucking chickens! Left hand thumbs have a tendency to creep around the fingerboard. The thumb should always be hidden behind the neck, so that the fingers come down perpendicular to the fingerboard thereby not fouling adjacent strings. Right hand fingering should alternate between m and i, many players were repeatedly plucking with i which Helen likened to running a race and then hopping part way through. Although it is possible to play simpler pieces like this, as the music get more challenging this will not be possible so it is better to learn correctly from the beginning.

For general playing, Helen recommended playing over the sound hole. This not only produces a good tone but is also central for changing to ponticello for a more cutting sound or tasto for a more mellow tone.

650Novice age under 9Non-competitive
650aBeginner age under 9Francesca Clayton
651Solo Novice age 10-12Non-competitive
651aSolo Beginner age 10-12Ayesha Gyening
652Novice age over 13Yoshiki Tobino
653Solo age 12 & underMatthew Veck
654Family EnsembleThe Jenkin Duo
655Solo age 12-15James Li-Kam-Tin
656Guitar Solo Bach age 12 & underJames Li-Kam-Tin
657Bach Class age 13-18Karim Bedda
658Guitar Solo Open Age 18 & underSam Brown
659Duet age 12 & underRose Duo
659aFamily DuetThe Forsyth Duo
660Novice DuoGeorge Robinson & Andrew Creswick
661Guitar Duet Age 18 & underInazuma Duo
662Guitar Trio or Quartet Age 12 & underGuns `n' Roses Quartet
664Guitar OrchestraThe Prebendal Ensemble
664aAdvanced Guitar EnsembleRyusey Ensemble
665Guitar + other instrument or voicePhilip & Patrick Sowden
665aSelf acc songZoe Barnett
665bSelf acc song age 10 & overAlex Blake
666Junior Recital Class Age 12 & underZoeBarnett
666aIntermediate Recital Class Age 12-15Patrick Sowden
667Advanced Recital Class Age 18 & underKarim Bedda
668Technical Perfection age12 & underZoe Barnett
668aTechnical Perfection age 12-15Adam Lack
668bTechnical Perfection Class Age up to 18Sam Brown
663Trio or Quartet 13 and aboveKaminary Quartet

The pulse is the most important part of a piece, this should not slow down for ornamentations or when the going gets tough. That is not to say the piece should be played robotically, but the fundamental pulse must always be there. Wrong notes can go unnoticed, but glitches in the pulse will stand out. Nearly everyone should play with more colour and dynamics. Helen likened some playing to the flat Dutch countryside and advised going for a more dynamic landscape. Don't be afraid to exaggerate the colour, since minor changes can go unnoticed by the audience sitting some way away. She likened this to an actor on stage who has to make exaggerated gestures in order to convey his feelings. Conversely a film or television actor can convey his feelings with a facial gesture to a close up camera shot, but this would not be seen from the stage.

Helen advised that singing is a good way to understand a piece of music. When singing you are totally free of the technicalities that can dominate when playing the guitar. Furthermore, when singing, you are forced to breathe and pause. The guitar requires space to breathe. Unlike a wind player, the guitarist can keep playing and never pause for breath. Rests are just as important as notes. Furthermore at the conclusion of a section there is a tendency to rush into the repeat or the next section without paying due heed to the rest required.

670Adult NoviceJoanna Morris
671Solo IntermediateSamuel Stormont
672Intermediate DuetSue & Andy Duo
672aNovice DuetDebian Duo/Tom Rimmer & Richard Frenkel
673Advanced DuetJohn Mason & Diana Green
674Guitar + other InstrumentTom & Diana Rimmer
675Trio or QuartetArcadia Quartet
676Guitar OrchestraRegis Guitars
677Solo openLinda Kelsall- Barnett/Mitch Callow
678Bach OpenLinda Kelsall- Barnett
679Recital openLinda Kelsall- Barnett
680Song accompanied by GuitarTom Jeffers
681Flamenco ClassRay Reddick

When playing in ensembles or an orchestra it is important to keep an eye on the conductor or leader so that the timing is held at the correct beat. Helen advised that when the guitar competes with a loud voice or other instrument, it is advisable to play a little nearer the bridge (but not ponticello). This will give a more strident tone that will cut through the sound of the other instrument or voice.

This was yet again a very enjoyable festival with some wonderful playing. Having seen many festivals now, the most striking feature is how the performances improve year on year. We were treated some outstanding concert performances not only from the advanced players, but also the beginners played very well indeed.

As always many thanks are due to Sasha and Nina for getting the show on the road. Not only during the weekends of the festival, but for all the work behind the scenes - encouraging entries, collecting fees, preparation in timetabling, collating certificates, chasing trophies etc so that the festival runs smoothly. Thanks also to the helpers (Jez, Maureen, Debbie, Julie, Moyria and Ian) for manning the door, helping Helen, keeping the refreshments going, washing up and generally tidying up. Thanks also to the teachers, but above all, to all those who took part and shared their wonderful music with us.