bakewellThe twice-yearly Bakewell Guitar Ensemble Weekend now seems to now be a firm fixture in the musical calendar for many of the students who attend. The third ensemble weekend took place in September 2015, once again at the Medway Centre in the heart of the picturesque town of Bakewell in the Peak District (southwest of Sheffield, southeast of Manchester), in north central England, and again was blessed with excellent weather conditions; always a boon..

The three days were spent working on Freddie Mercury’s “We are the Champions” specially arranged by guitarist/composer/CG writer Steve Marsh (who directed the festival) for the 21-member student orchestra. Also on the weekend’s program was Karl Jenkins’ “Palladio” and another large-scale arrangement of the well-known composition by the Spanish Baroque composer Gaspar Sanz, “Canarios.”

The Friday evening concert was given by the Peak Guitar Quartet (Nadia Marsh, Steve Marsh, Mick Pearce, Derek Thompson), who presented a program of works for two and four guitars. The first half was given over to guitar duets, with Richard Charlton’s “Romanza” and “Spiral Eclipse,” plus Mario Gangi’s Suite Espagnola performed by the Ashlea Duo (Nadia and Steve Marsh), and Derek Taylor and Mick Pearce playing two pieces by Andrew York (“Sanzen-In” and “California Breeze”), as well as “Farewell” by Sergio Assad. The remainder of the concert was given over to guitar quartets and included works by Telemann, Charlton, Rak, Bacharach, and Marsh.

Saturday was spent rehearsing the large ensemble works with several well-earned coffee breaks and a very entertaining and informative lecture by luthier Earl Marsh (no relation to Steve) who had brought along several of his guitars, which were ably demonstrated by course member Andy Pryor.

Sunday morning was given over to preparing for the afternoon concert, in which many of the students performed solos, duos, trios, etc. before the big finale to the weekend with the full orchestra playing the three ensemble works. A good time seemed to have been had by all.

For the two courses next year (dates to be announced shortly), as well as working on large-scale guitar orchestra pieces, Marsh notes, “We are hoping to include informal sessions on Latin American strumming techniques, folk-style fingerpicking and duo/trio masterclasses during the three days. Also we are hoping to get guitar legend Gordon Giltrap along for one of the concerts.”

For an application form or for any queries contact Steve Marsh at: stevemarsh@theguitarstudio.freeserve.co.uk