I still play bass with the Aldworth Philharmonic Orchestra, though not in the Concert Hall concert, because of the difficulty of access. I now play horn in the Saturday Morning Orchestra and occasionally in chamber music with friends. A recent, unusual and very interesting opportunity was to play bass with the St Giles Orchestra at Radley College, Oxfordshire, for a Conducting Masterclass, part of Abingdon Music Festival 2015. The coach was Peter Stark, whom I first met c. 1982 at Canford, and the conductors were eight very musical teenagers, all Oxfordshire based. We played three 19th C. overtures, Strauss' “Fledermaus”, Suppé's “Beautiful Galatea” and Offenbach's “Orpheus”, and the “Emperor Waltz”, also by Johann Strauss the younger.
Composing and arranging
In recent years, I have arranged more music than I have composed. In 2013/4, I arranged Wagner's Prelude to “Tristan & Isolde” for 15 wind instruments (double wind quintet with piccolo, cor anglais, bass clarinet and contrabassoon) and in 2014/5 Humperdinck's overture to “Hansel & Gretel” for 13 (same instruments as the Strauss Serenade Op. 7 and Suite Op. 4). However, I have also managed to add three movements to one of my first compositions, “Patrol”, in a version for 15 wind instruments (same as above).
I have also written a program in the language MPL (MIDI Programming Language) to apply pitch bend to a MIDI sequence from sequencer to synthesizer in such a way as to make the intervals better tuned than equal temperament. Another program in this language was designed to help an electronic keyboard simulate a harp: seven of the Function keys on the computer keyboard provide the same functions as the harp pedals, so that the white keys can be made to produce the notes a semitone on either side. This allows glissandi on the white keys to produce any of pitch combinations possible on the pedal harp, such as diminished chords. Other versions of this program are optimised for Ravel's “Mother Goose” suite (the small orchestra version, not the ballet) and Debussy's “L'aprés-midi”.
Patsy 's activities have been somewhat inhibited by back trouble, and I have been helping her to run Da Capo, conducting parts of the rehearsal in addition to the arranging and composing that I have done from time to time since it started.
My interest in the teaching of reading continues, and I have written some computer programs to help in the production of vocabularies for decodable texts, though I have not yet made use of them.