City of Ely Waits – Playing Day:   8 November 2008

Ely Waits Playing Day - Prickwillow Four Ely Waits, including their Waitmaster Tony Pearson, four Colchester Waits including their Musical Director Lizzie Gutteridge, and myself, met in the snug and attractive “Arts & Crafts” period church of St Peters in the picturesque fenland village of Prickwillow near Ely to play through some of the repertoire of both bands.

Between us we had a good range of instrumentation, with an assortment of soprano, alto and tenor shawms by Hanchet, Moulder and Cronin blending together surprisingly well, generally with good intonation, although the Cronin soprano definately won for tone and volume!

In the brass department, Ely fielded two very competent sackbutists, and I alternated between my sackbut and my lysard. Paul from Colchester kept us all together with a steady beat on Ely’s drum.

It was particularly interesting to compare some pieces that Ely and Colchester had in common, in different arrangements, and the Ely sackbutists were particularly taken with the Susato Danserye pieces which Lizzie has transposed up a fifth for shawm band in the way she learnt of at the Cambridge Early Music Summer School. They found playing higher up on their instruments so much easier than jumping about from 7th to 2nd position on a bass line in, say, C major.

Part of the reason for the occasion was to make good use of the remainder of the Ely Waits’ Lottery Funding, and we are all very grateful to Tony and his band for the invitation and the warm welcome they gave us. Altogether, a good time was had by all, and everyone went home well aerobically exercised, musically satisfied and, perhaps, a little wiser for the shared experience.

Chris Gutteridge, Chief Waite, King’s Lynn Waites

City of Ely Waits National Lottery Awards for All