Alison Stephens was the leading exponent of the classical mandolin in the UK, working at one time or another with most of the country’s major orchestras. She did much to popularise the instrument too, through contributions to popular films (most notably Captain Corelli’s Mandolin), live performances, teaching and composing.
A formidably accomplished musician, educator and composer, Alison was also the founding mandolin editor of Astute Music; editing and composing a catalogue of mandolin music for all abilities, ensuring that future generations of mandolin players would have an easier journey than the difficult road of musical discovery she had to navigate.
Admired by her many friends and colleagues, and much missed by her friends here at Astute Music, we fondly salute her memory at this poignant ten year anniversary of her untimely death.
Read more about Alison's life and career here
Explore her publications here
Listen to Alison's recordings here
We're delighted to have a great review of one of our publications in this months Music Teacher magazine.
Suites No. 1 BWV 1007 and No. 2 BWV 1008 (flute solo) by J.S. Bach arranged by Clare Southworth for solo flute is available in three formats.
As a traditional hard copy, as an instant PDF download and also to stream via the nkoda app.
Movements from this publication are set on the Associated Board and Trinity Exam syllabus
ABRSM Grade 8 piece - 1st Movement from Suite No.2
Trinity Flute Grade 7 piece - Prelude from Suite No.1
Trinity Flute Grade 8 piece - Giga from Suite No.2
More information about this publication HERE
As well as being our Flute Editor, Clare Southworth is host of the no 1 flute podcast channel, Talking Flutes - Link HERE
An amazing short film by Jamie Sharp.
You can follow Jamie on his instagram page https://www.instagram.com/jamie_sharp/
More about Tim McAllister here http://timothymcallister.com/
A truly special weekend spent at Potton Hall recording an album of Saxophone repertoire by composer Andy Scott. Meet American Saxophonist Timothy McAllister, his pianist Liz Ames and have a look at behind the scenes of this album.
Andy Scott - Composer
Tim McAllister - Saxophonist
Liz Ames - Pianist
Rachel Smith - Producer
Peter Newble - Sound Engineer
Emma McPhilemy - Page Turner
Jamie Sharp - Videographer
Tjuonavagge by Andy Scott received it's North American Premiere this March with Gillian Blair and Nathan Mertens on alto saxophones.
This is a live recording of the premiere at the North American Saxophone Alliance Region 4 Opening Concert 2019 Faulkner Performing Arts Center, University of Arkansas with Dr. Chris Knighten conducting the University of Arkansas Saxophone Ensemble.
Originally written for two altos and saxophone ensemble, Tjuonavagge was commissioned by Selmer Paris Saxophones and given a world premiere performance at the 9th RNCM Saxophone Day in November 2009 with soloists Vincent David and Carl Raven. Gillian Blair and Nathan Mertens gave the world premiere of the version for two solo alto saxophones and piano with Rie Yokota (piano) at the World Saxophone Congress, Zagreb, Croatia, July 2018.
As well as performing in a saxophone duo with Nathan, Gillian is also a member of the Borealis Saxophone Quartet and the Polaris Duo (saxophone and Harp). More about Gillian on her website HERE and Nathan on his website HERE.
Tjuonavagge by Andy Scott for two altos and saxophone ensemble is available HERE
Tjuonavagge by Andy Scott for two altos and piano is available HERE
Another great live performance of Interference by Will Gregory for solo saxophone with electronics, this time by Tom Plater performing it at the XVIII World Saxophone Congress 2018 in Zagreb.
Will Gregory's says, "There are certain undefined, misheard or otherwise unclear sounds that leave our brains free to invent and delude. One device which favours sounds of this type is the AM radio. Was that someone whistling the last bar of the Czech National Anthem while playing space invaders in a revolving door; or just a low battery. The leap that we make towards interpreting what we cannot hear also has a strong element of nostalgia. Perhaps we will never again hear something quite like that. Our aerial will never pass exactly through that same strip of space. In the end we accept the shortfall between our ears and our understanding. We can choose to enjoy it. We can have a big knees-up to a good signal, even if we're not sure of what it is or where it comes from."
Check out Tom Plater's website HERE
Interference for saxophone and CD by Will Gregory is available as a hard copy and PDF download HERE
The XI OPEN INTERNATIONAL INTERNET-COMPETITION FOR YOUNG MUSICIANS "MY FAVORITE FLUTE" has chosen The Sacred Lake of Karnak by Alex McGery as a set piece.
The competition is open to young musicians up to the age of 14 and there is still time to get your entries in.
The Sacred Lake of Karnak is a short, highly melodic piece for solo flute. It was inspired by a visit to Egypt, travelling down the Nile River to the Valley of the Kings (the resting place of Tutankhamun) and on to the Sacred Lake itself, which was artificially constructed under the rule of Pharaoh Tuthmosis III in about 1473 BC.
Alex McGery writes, "I have always been fascinated by the idea of marrying the music of western and eastern cultures especially as it presents the composer with the chance to write something that is evocative of a completely different era or part of the world, and yet remains familiar to its’ audience. With this piece I wanted to give the listener the immediate impression of living within the Ancient Egyptian society in all its’ architectural and cultural splendour."
This competition has been running since 2009 and is an open event. The end of the contest takes place during the Great Flute Days in Moscow and is a complex of concert, informational, educational and cultural events.
Aims of the competition:
• to support creative and talented children;
• to assist young musicians in the development of creative potential;
• to popularize progressive methods of musical pedagogy and teaching;
• to attract attention of public to youth creativity;
• to consolidate international relationships and to increase cooperation.
The competition is also open to creative teams, performers from children's music schools, art schools, homes and centers of children's and folk art, to pupils of secondary schools and other educational institutions from different countries.
Galina Kuzennaya (Russia) – organiser
Sofi de Salis (Switzerland) - organiser
Sergio Pantso (Italy) – technical manager
FULL information about the competition is HERE
The Sacred Lake of Karnak by Alex McGery is available as an instant PDF download as well as a hard copy HERE
Adventures for Lever Harp by Lauren Scott has been gathering praise from Harp societies around the world.
"This next book is one to put on your wish list for Santa. Adventures for Lever Harp Book 1 is a delightful new book of original solos... For those who play or teach lever harp, these entertaining and innovative pieces are a welcome addition to the repertoire, and audiences should find these tunes interesting and engaging." Jan Jennings for Harp Column Magazine
"This is a brilliant collection of original compositions for the lever harp... a wonderful addition to anyone's lever harp music collection, leading away from the cliched music and I highly recommend it." Monika Stadler for Harp Magazine
"I have enjoyed these pieces for many reasons, but mostly for their very catchy tunes with lots of groove and their so very well placed extended techniques! Each piece is musically satisfying and fun to play. They are programmatic and will be very accessible to an audience of non-musicians and musicians alike." Review by Michelle Velvin and Becky Swan for The Harp Society of New Zealand
"We don't often find an intermediate to advanced book for lever harp, so I was excited to see this publication. This collection is ideal for professionals, or for the advanced student. I plan to use one or two of the selections for my annual recital." Review by Denise Grupp-Vernon for Folk Harp Journal
Adventures for Lever Harp is a series of books, each containing five pieces specially composed for fully-levered 34-string harp by Lauren Scott.
With no lever changes but pre-set levers from the start of each piece, they are of Intermediate to Advanced standard and target one or two different techniques within each piece.
Book 1 focuses on rhythm & groove in a natural and organic way, however, ultimately the pieces are about having a sense of fun and adventure.
Book 2 explores the extended harmonic possibilities unique to the lever harp through accessible and enjoyable music for the listener and player.
The books are available as either a hard copy or instant PDF download HERE
We love it when we come across videos of music available from one of our composers, and this video is no exception. A great video of Three Letter Word by Andy Scott for saxophone and piano. This is a performance by Chad Lilley on alto saxophone with Liz Ames on piano recorded at the Britton Recital Hall, University of Michigan School of Music.
Three Letter Word is dedicated to the music and memory of the Swedish composer and pianist Esbjorn Svensson, who was tragically killed in a diving accident on 14 June 2008, aged only 44 years.
Andy Scott writes “I was fortunate enough to hear Esbjorn Svensson in concert at the IAJE Conference in New York City in January 2006, where I was also performing with duo partner, percussionist Dave Hassell. In the afternoon he practised for two hours, playing classical music, and in the evening his trio, E.S.T., produced an amazing show of virtuosity and creativity, coupling inventive compositions with daring improvisations within very individual sound worlds.
In terms of writing a piece for alto saxophone and piano I have taken two sound worlds: one is rhythmically free with virtuosic saxophone lines and an underlying tremolo based around four notes from the piano, the second is based around a two-bar piano riff over which the saxophone explores different musical possibilities. Both these ideas return in different guises before a solo piano chorale precedes a final section. Hidden in the piece is a short melodic quote from Dolores in a Shoestand from the E.S.T. album Tuesday Wonderland (2006).
The title of the piece, Three Letter Word, came about from coincidence and names or phrases that may be abbreviated: Esbjorn Svensson's group, the commissioning body, the players that the piece was written for, and maybe most importantly given the dedicatee, the words 'rest in peace'.”
Three Letter Word was commissioned by the Park Lane Group for performance by Huw Wiggin and Timothy Abel in the PLG Young Artists New Year Series in the Purcell Room, Southbank Centre, London on 14 January 2010.
Three Letter Word by Andy Scott for saxophone and piano is available here