SPOTLIGHT ON: IMOGEN

   

Imogen Savage – Bassoon:   

My love for music began with my mum who played clarinet and piano.  She also sang in a local choir society and I used to go and watch all of their concerts.  My parents had an eclectic record collection that I would rummage through and play.  It gave me exposure to jazz clarinet, skiffle, 1960’s/1970’s pop, country and western, organ music, military bands and even bagpipes.

The first instruments I learnt whilst at primary school were piano and recorder.  When I was eleven, I joined a weekly music school in Chelmsford and really wanted to play the bassoon because I loved the music to the children’s programme Ivor the Engine and also The Sorcerer’s Apprentice from the film Fantasia.  At that point I wasn’t big enough to hold a bassoon so I chose the cello as I liked low pitched instruments.  It wasn’t until I was sixteen that I came across a dusty old case at the back of the school music cupboard and found a bassoon inside.  I borrowed it, started teaching myself and soon convinced my parents I was serious about learning it.  I took lessons with a fabulous young teacher who was ESO’s own principal bassoonist, Catherine Gunnett.

I played my bassoon in Caprice Wind Orchestra, school and county youth orchestras, then continued at university in the Symphony Orchestra and a wind quartet.  I studied with Simon Durnford, principal bassoonist with the BBC Philharmonic and bassoon tutor at the Royal Northern College of Music, as part of my degree. During a year at the University of Minnesota I also studied jazz and performed in the university’s concert band.

I joined the brilliant group of people that make up ESO in 2015.  With classical music, my ‘go to’ composers for piano are Debussy, Liszt and Schubert and I do love Stravinsky on the bassoon.  My orchestral favourites include Canteloube’s Songs of the Auverne, Elgar’s Cello Concerto, Grieg’s Piano Concerto, Puccini’s O Mio Babbino Caro and Sibelius 5th Symphony.

 

PREVIOUSLY …

Stephen Pegrum – Cello – featured in the November 2018 concert programme:  I started playing the cello over 40 years ago after my father told me that if I wanted to play the trumpet (having given some hints), I would have to practise in the garden shed! I think he was kidding at the time. I grew up in a very musical family where most Saturday evenings were spent playing piano trios and quartets with friends with Dad on piano and occasionally mum singing or playing the flute. It was in those early years, when Dad would go out and buy all kinds of cello and piano music and then help me play them, that I was exposed to a lot of sight-reading which has held me in good stead ever since. I attended Redbridge Music School until I was 16 during which time I progressed to Grade 8 and had the privilege of playing in the Royal Albert Hall.
After leaving school I played in a couple of string quartets and was principal cellist in the Woodford Symphony Orchestra for a number of years. In 1996 I moved to Chelmsford and joined a local string quartet and then Springers (amateur theatre group) pit orchestra in 2008. A friend then introduced me to Southend Symphony Orchestra in 2012 as they were short of cellists and I am now their deputy principal cellist. When I have time I also help out with Colne Philharmonic Orchestra, so juggling performance dates can be a little tricky at times!
My first concert with Essex Symphony Orchestra was in June 2018 after noticing that the Summer programme was all film music which I enjoy but hadn’t much opportunity to play. However, my favourite composer is JS Bach which stems from my early youth. I grew up hearing my father play Bach’s preludes and fugues and struggled to play the Bach cello sonatas, having been introduced to them when I was about 10 years old by my father! Being a professional engineer probably also explains why I enjoy Bach’s mathematical techniques such as counterpoint, fugues and inversions.
Naming a favourite piece of music would be difficult as I enjoy all kinds that have good melodic and harmonising structure and which ‘paint a picture’. Libertango by Astor Piazzolla (particularly played by the Berlin Philharmonic 12 cellists) and Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 would be high up the list along with anything from JS Bach (of course!). More recently I have started to enjoy military brass band music which may have something to do with my younger son learning to play the trumpet (he doesn’t practise in the shed!).

Ruth Teverson – Double Bass – featured in the November 2017 concert programme:  I started playing the bass when I was 13 as it was the only way my parents would let me stop having piano lessons.  There was a bass sitting in my school music room and no one to play it.  It was the best move for me as I started having fun with music, the bass being an instrument used in many genres and usually with other people.  I played in the school orchestra and other smaller groups including the wind band as there was no bassoon.  Occupational Therapy College meant no space for a bass but I started playing and singing in an all girls folk type band in my early 20s.  I took up orchestral playing again in my late 20s for the Norfolk Symphony Orchestra who were desperate for bass players and when I moved to Witham joined the Essex Symphony Orchestra around Autumn 1983.  Since then I have played with a wide variety of local orchestras and choral societies and other groups needing a bass player.

I have to confess that I don’t have  a favourite piece of music .  However, along with many other bass players, Brahms is a favoured composer, but I enjoy having a go at most things.

Like many people who grew up in the 60s, I taught myself guitar as a teenager, and then in the 90s took up the melodian to play for my daughter’s school clog morris side.  Although I am not playing at the moment, I do dance with the Maldon clog side, Alive and Kicking, and have risen to the dizzying heights of Squire.

Currently I am also bass player and backing singer in the Great Waltham Seekers, a tribute band to the 60s group, which raises money for various local charities.

Bass playing has added so much to my life and, as you can see from the photo, I was having withdrawal symptoms whilst away from home and decided to play a guitar like a bass!

Ian Granger – Horn – featured in the June 2017 concert programme:  My first ‘wow’ musical moment came after attending a BBC Prom with my father to hear Alan Civil playing Mozart’s 4th Horn Concerto with Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Otto Klemperer. I told my dad I wanted to play one of those ‘shiny curly things’ and so I was bought a French Horn. Once I’d started to play I began to find out about other star horn players. My Horn Hero became Barry Tuckwell – I loved his no nonsense approach to the thing.
I had lessons at school and at the Redbridge Music School. After playing for only a year I played Mozart’s 3rd Horn Concerto at our school Christmas concert, followed by induction into the Music School Intermediate Orchestra. My rise to fame was meteoric (!) and I soon progressed to the Senior Orchestra and the Redbridge Youth Orchestra, which met twice a year. The Easter course at Aldeburgh in Suffolk was a total immersion in music and  finished with a concert performance at Snape Maltings – pretty inspiring stuff for we musical teenagers. Many of my friends became professional musicians – LSO, Royal Liverpool Phil, Scottish Opera and The Royal Opera House. The Redbridge Music School certainly was an inspiring place to be for a young French Horn player and served as a wonderful foundation to my musical life. I made the decision not to pursue a career in music per se but remained a player, some years later attending Guildhall School of Music as a part time mature student. Lessons at GSMD with Tony Halstead helped to consolidate my good habits – and hopefully reduced some of the bad ones!
I’ve been in the Essex Symphony Orchestra for nearly 14 years. I also play in the London Lawyer’s Symphony Orchestra. I have wide musical tastes although horns seem to feature in most pieces. My favourite composers would have to be Richard Strauss, Wagner, Bruckner and Mahler – all the late romantics. I have a passion for classical music and am a real ‘anorak’ collector of my favourite works; I enjoy comparing versions of each (I have over 2,500 CDs!). I’ve enjoyed attending many classical music concerts, including in Berlin – something of a pilgrimage for someone with as many yellow topped LPs (Deutsche Grammophon) as I have. Recently I’ve branched out and listened to some jazz Proms (Lincoln Centre Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis) and have also been to Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club staying awake until 2 am – such is the power and pull of music. Ever since my father took me to the Promenade concerts all those years ago music has been a very important part of my life and I really couldn’t imagine living without it.  

Stuart Pinborough – Principal Trumpet:  I have been a member of the orchestra for three years although I started depping for the orchestra four years ago. When I was a young child my father gave me a record of the Coldstream Guards Band playing music from Changing the Guard. Two things struck me about this record. Firstly I liked the sound of the trumpet/cornet and secondly I wanted to wear the scarlet tunic and bearskin cap. A few years later I was taught the Cornet at my local Salvation Army. I had the privilege of playing in the Regimental band  of the Honourable Artillery Company for almost 20 years where I became their principle Cornet and achieved the rank of Sergeant. I got to wear a scarlet tunic and bearskin cap. The HAC is a Territorial Army unit based in the City of London. 
As a trumpet player I love playing the Bach and Handel Oratorios but my favourite composer is actually Elgar. My favourite piece of music is Nimrod. I have played this on many Remembrance Parades over the years and  I still get goosebumps on the back of my neck when I play this piece. I currently play Cornet with the Aveley and Newham Band, who came 3rd in the National Finals (1st section) this year. I also help out many local brass bands when needed. I play regularly with the Colne Philharmonic and can often be heard playing piccolo trumpet with various choral societies in Essex.

Roger Strange – Viola:  I joined ESO in 2004 and enjoy the weekly rehearsals we have.  
I remember my mother saying to me when I was quite young “of course you want to play the violin, don’t you”,  so when there was the opportunity to join a violin class at primary school I joined a class of about six budding violinists using an old cheap violin bought from a neighbour.  The teacher encouraged me to have viola lessons so at the age of eleven I switched to viola.  From that time playing the viola became a significant part of my life, playing in many different orchestras and chamber music ensembles.
My secondary school music teacher actively discouraged anyone thinking about a career in music but from an early age I had been interested in how things work so I went on to study for an engineering degree.  
One of my school day memories that made a lasting impression was going to a very enjoyable concert in the local church in Lowestoft given by the London Philharmonic Orchestra with Sir Adrian Boult conducting.  I remember distinctly the ram rod stance of the conductor with tiny movement of his baton even when the trombones where at their loudest in the last movement of Schubert’s 9th Symphony.  I’m looking forward to playing this work again in our autumn concert this year.
I don’t have a favourite composer.   I just enjoy playing whatever is in front of me.  
I also play in the Colchester Symphony Orchestra and really enjoy playing chamber music at home with musical friends.   More recently I have begun to play second violin parts in chamber music although I am finding this to be quite a challenge

Penny Milsom – Principal Cello – featured in the November 2015 concert programme:  I count myself very fortunate to be someone whose teachers, schools and family gave me opportunities aplenty to forge a lifelong love of music. I was encouraged to practise, perform and play with others. I was thrown into situations that stretched and excited me, whether in the pit at school shows, on tour with the county youth orchestra, or hauled in for chamber music sessions that introduced me to a vast array of repertoire – and helped me develop sight-reading skills that are very useful in a symphony orchestra!

I started off playing the piano and the violin and came to the cello when I was eleven, moving happily to an instrument that I already loved for its haunting and expressive sound, heard many times in Paul Tortelier’s recording of Elgar’s Cello Concerto. Belonging to an orchestra and playing chamber music have been the backcloth to everything else I have done since. I joined Essex Symphony Orchestra in 1989, shortly after I moved to Chelmsford to begin work in London. I immediately found a cello section with a strong team spirit, something we top up today with a tradition of occasional meals out in the interests of good ensemble (we take to heart the wise counsel of our conductor, Tom, who once told us that “The section that eats pizza together plays together!”)

My taste in music is eclectic and it is almost impossible to name a favourite composer or work. Music, of many different kinds, just makes me feel good. But up there at the top end of my list must be the pleasure of playing Haydn’s string quartets with the friends I have made through the ESO.

Sarah Sanders – Flute – featured in the June 2015 concert programme:   I joined ESO playing Flute and Piccolo in 1988 when we moved to Essex from Suffolk. I started playing recorder at Junior School. I was extremely lucky to have June Emerson as my teacher and one day she called a small group of us together and gave one person a clarinet, one person an oboe, one person a bassoon and she gave me a flute. All four of us went on to play in the Norfolk & Norwich Youth Orchestra and three of us studied music in higher education. My favourite composer is Mozart and my favourite piece is the Mozart Flute Concerto. I have played with other members of the ESO in the Danzi quintet. I also enjoy playing in theatre orchestras for operas and shows.

Simon Sanders – Trumpet – featured in the June 2015 concert programme:   Like Sarah I started playing with ESO soon after coming to Essex, initially as a guest player whenever needed and then as a permanent member as second trumpet. I started learning the piano at the age of eight but it wasn’t until I went to secondary school at the age of eleven that I had the opportunity to learn an orchestral instrument. I was given the choice of either the clarinet or the trumpet. I chose the trumpet because I liked the brassy sound. I don’t have a favourite composer or a favourite piece of music, but enjoy most styles of music, particularly if they have a good trumpet part. I play cornet with the Essex Police Brass Band and occasionally with other brass bands. I also enjoy playing for theatre orchestras. Sarah and I met through music and it has been a major part of our lives together for the past 41 years.

Tom Ellwood – Principal Double Bass – featured in the March 2015 concert programme:  I joined the Essex Symphony Orchestra in 2003 and for the last 10 years have served on the committee as treasurer. On joining, I was immediately tricked into leading the bass section, a responsibility which I have so far failed to shake off! Growing up in Suffolk, I learnt the piano before taking up the violin at the age of 8, but when I was 12 my teacher felt I could do with a change and initially suggested the viola. I showed little enthusiasm for this idea, and my string playing career was put back on track only when he revealed that he could lay his hands on a double bass. In the meantime I had also begun playing the trumpet, which I continued into my university years, but I have always found there is more demand for someone to play the bass. In addition to instrumental playing, I spent 5 years as a chorister in St Edmundsbury Cathedral Choir.

Given my choice of instrument, I have quite often been asked whether I play jazz, but I have chosen to concentrate on the many possibilities offered by orchestral music. It’s hard to pick a favourite composer but, in common with most other bass players I know, I do enjoy playing the music of Johannes Brahms. I also have a fondness for the choral music of Herbert Howells. As well as ESO I play regularly with Essex Chamber Orchestra and the Colne Philharmonic Orchestra. 

Fiona Palmer – Oboe and Cor Anglais – featured in the November 2014 concert programme:  I started playing recorder at primary school at five years of age.  I had always wanted to play the oboe but was told I was too young, and needed to have longer fingers and definitely more developed lungs!  I took up swimming to help with the lungs bit and finally had my first oboe lesson when I was nine years old.

At age 11, I was lucky enough to be awarded a junior place at the Royal College of Music and spent the next five years on Saturday mornings getting a broader musical education learning theory, history of music, having oboe and piano lessons and playing in ensembles and orchestras. I also liked science and so went on to study food science and analytical chemistry, choosing to keep music as an enjoyable hobby.

 

Karen Greenhouse – violin – featured in the June 2014 concert programme:   

I began playing the violin at 7 years old after my junior school offered lessons.  Naturally, after my Grandfather and Aunt had both learned to play, I felt it was my turn to keep the family tradition going! 

I also learned to play piano, recorder and guitar, but the violin is my main focus not only as a classical instrument but in folk and bluegrass ensembles and also as part of a rock band of which I am also a vocalist.  We have played at many charity events and wedding parties.  I have been a member of ESO for nearly 30 years, joining aged 19.  As well as ESO, each year I meet with a group of musicians in Kitzbuhel in Austria where we play under the baton of Chris Adey.  Last year we played Nielsen’s Symphony No 2 and I fell in love with the piece for the sheer emotion it expressed.

Until recently, I was leader of the Music Personal Interest Group at the management consultancy I worked for in London.  It grew to 100 members creating a sense of connectivity and belonging amongst employees.  As part of this, I directed the annual Spring concert and yearly Christmas programme. We also recorded the soundtrack for a film we showed at the Empire in Leicester Square. 

I feel very privileged to have been a part of all these wonderful musical accomplishments and live the social aspects of my musical pursuits. 

Haydn Oakey – Principal Horn – featured in the March 2014 concert programme:  

I think it’s fair to say that my reason for taking up the horn at school was that there simply weren’t enough trumpets to go round! However, it didn’t take me long to realise its special qualities and to be very happy about how things had turned out. At that time, the horn and I were fairly evenly matched in size and I still have the scars on my legs from having to lug the thing home to practice during school holidays, but it’s a bit more manageable now.
When I began, I hadn’t realised that the horn has a lot of historical baggage, meaning you can’t just play the notes but often have to transpose them up or down depending on the key.  The wide range of notes you can get without even pressing a valve key means you have to hear a note in your head first and then pucker up and then see if you can get your lips to make the same sound.  Not a straightforward instrument, but I love it and fifty-five years later I still enjoy the challenges of doing this within the Essex Symphony Orchestra.

Catherine Gunnett – Principal Bassoon – featured in the November 2013 concert programme:

Music began for me with the recorder at primary school, moving on to clarinet and finally discovering the bassoon at the age of 13.

I first learned with Essex peripatetic teachers and then moved on to lessons with Vernon Elliott. He took me through to my LTCL bassoon diploma at Trinity College of Music whilst I was studying at Royal Holloway College, University of London, for my Bachelor of Music. I then trained as a teacher.

I started my orchestral experience with KEGs Orchestra and then played in Essex Youth Orchestra throughout my teenage years. I joined Essex Symphony Orchestra when I returned to Essex to begin my teaching career and have been here ever since! I also play with the Danzi Wind Quintet, a group of Essex Symphony Orchestra wind players.

I have combined teaching primary music and instrumental teaching for many years. Following my marriage in the summer and subsequent move to Wickford, I teach bassoon, clarinet, saxophone, flute and recorder both in schools and at home and my client base is continuing to expand. If you would like more information, please visit my website: bassoonplus.co.uk

Hilary Cheek – Principal Viola – featured in the June 2013 concert programme:   

Not quite born but raised in Chelmsford, I’ve been associated with the Essex Symphony Orchestra for many years having been brought to concerts as a child by my parents. My first performance in the Orchestra was in November 1985 and I have served on the Committee as Treasurer and Librarian until appointed Secretary in 1998.

I started learning the violin aged nine progressing to Grade V before my teacher, Pat Beckett, suggested the viola. I loved the deeper, richer tone and, having realised that practice made a difference, never looked back!

I learnt orchestral technique and repertoire in the Essex Schools String Orchestra, Brentwood Youth, KEGS senior orchestra and in the National Youth Orchestra for 4 years, playing under inspirational conductors in some of the top concert halls in the country.

Subsequently I’ve played with Cambridge University Chamber Orchestra, Colne Philharmonic, Southend Symphony, the Kingfisher Sinfonietta and now lead the violas for both Essex and Colchester Symphony Orchestras.

Music is wonderfully varied- in the last 3 weeks I’ve performed a Louise Ferrenc piano quintet, played for a wedding and now tonight’s concert.

Spare time? Spent either in the garden, on the allotment, cleaning out the chickens or when it’s cold and wet, patchworking.

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