Concertina group based in Maidstone, Kent, UK
Kettle Bridge Concertinas were very pleased to be able to organise an all-day workshop to be led by Claire Wren, well known to many of us who have been to the WCCP weekends at Kilve. We had an almost full complement of players for the day, enhanced by the addition of Esther Venn, with whom Claire was staying.
After a customary cup of tea (or coffee) to get the morning going, Claire gave us some warm-up exercises to get our fingers working nicely. Having to concentrate on the rhythms involved got our brains into gear and ready for action.
The five pieces we focussed on throughout the day were all written by Claire and had been sent out in advance for everyone to have a look through and have a few attempts if they had time! We played Moonlight on Cadgwith, Off to Ruishton and the three Images de la France. Having the composer of the music in front of us gave us a rare insight into the intentions of the pieces and the subtleties within them. Claire was firm but fair when taking us through sections that we didn't play up to standard and the improvement between a first and last attempt at each piece was noticeable.
After a long morning session of playing, learning and improving (without stopping for a break for drinks and biscuits!), we felt we had earned our lunch. Everyone had brought something so that overall we ended up with an impressive spread, also managing to cater for various dietary requirements. The wide selection of desserts seemed to go down particularly well. Being sat outside in glorious sunshine added to the enjoyment (and length) of the lunch break.
To get us ready for the afternoon, Claire taught us some vocal and physical exercises to help us get into a good mindset for playing. We then made our way through the remaining pieces, despite being distracted by the wedding next door and stopping to watch when the bride arrived!
We appreciated Claire and Esther giving up their time to come and see us and so we presented them with a couple of gifts to say thank you after we had finished playing. Claire was also made an honorary member of Kettle Bridge Concertinas and received a polo shirt. Then there was just time for tea, cake and some chat before making our way home. We were all exhausted, but everyone had learned an immense amount and enjoyed what was certainly a great day.