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Asaka vs Sylva.. (competitive sports edition)

Good evening from the Asakas!

As if sharing a room with two WIND players isn’t stressful enough, we decided to challenge the Winds last night to an intense match of pool; some luck, many tears and a lot of cat fighting later, the unexpected result was out…

Asakas were having a good start at the beginning of the game— Thanks to Jonathan’s unique sensibility and instinct of hitting the ball at the right point. Which made the thing even better was his (brief) luck, it brought the scene that we were only able to see in some legendary pool game videos: he planned to hit the white ball to the wall and expected it coming back to hit one of the yellow balls (we’re team yellow), but after the yellow ball going into the hole successfully, the white ball kept reflecting and hit another yellow ball, then it rushed into another hole as well so smoothly! I was amazed heavily that even forgot to keep an eye on my dear colleague Iona’s Scottish folk music show case. Unfortunately the situation took a turn for the worse after me and Inis Oírr’s participation — seemed we were better at driving our quartet (Haha it is said the inner voices are the bosses of quartet). Jonathan tried his best to turn the tide, however we had to admit as a team, Sylva Winds were more damn stronger (in pool game!).
Well, It was still such enjoyable time! Thank you, Sylva Winds!


Meanwhile, here’s Iona having the time of her life learning how to play the violin (she’s only just done her Grade 1 so well done Iona), and if anyone looks a bit red in the photos, please blame the shockingly affordable and flavourful alcohol that we Londoners can’t get enough of.



– Inis Oírr and Eriol, Asaka Quartet


Sylva Winds Blog #3

The last few days have sped by!
We performed the 1st and 2nd Movements of Butler’s Down Hollow Winds (DHW) to the other ensembles in an informal concert and were treated to some classical string repertoire which we were totally inspired by in return.

We have had fantastic coachings from Tim Brown (and a surprise coaching from Jonathan Tunnell) and we are really looking forward to performing all our repertoire in the 3 concerts during the week.

(Photos taken by the talented Inis Oírr Asano)

We’ve had some turbulent rehearsals due to the atmospheric pressure and occasion rain affecting our tuning (especially the reed players), but we are always up for a challenge!
A very unofficial Grade 1-athon is well underway with intensive private lessons from every member crammed into the schedule each day. The new and improved Sylva Winds lineup is as follows:
Flute – Rowan
Oboe – Zoë
Clarinet – Guylaine
Horn – Drake
Bassoon – Yi-Hsuan
You can find a riveting performance of bars 1-4 of the 1st Mvt of Butler’s Down Hollow Winds on our instagram – @sylvawinds – and we look forward to having the chance to present this alternative ensemble to the staff and our colleagues here on Coll at the end of the week…
Three of us so far have purchased Tunnell Trust merchandise (photographed here) and plan on wearing it for the rest of the week, so you will spot it more often from now on!
Thanks also to Yi-Hsuan, who over the last few days has been another guiding influence  teaching Mandarin inflections and pronunciation alongside Alexander Technique to her willing students (us).
In other news Jonathan Fong from (Asaka Quartet) had a masterclass with Drake in stone skimming yesterday evening, which they both enjoyed very much – another crucial skill to pick up while on the island.

Tomorrow will be the last day of rehearsals before the concerts begin, and we can’t wait!

Ferrante Quartet

It’s been a busy time for the Ferrante Quartet as we were all performing solo recitals the week before we came to Coll. Rosie and Ellie actually had recitals the night before we set out! Due to the many rail strikes in London, our travel plans had to change and Susie and Maris found themselves on a 12 hour coach.

There were quite a few times we weren’t sure that the whole group would make it to the island! But we managed to meet in Oban where we spent a few short hours in a hostel before heading off in the early morning light to catch the ferry.

It was a long journey from London, but it was all worth it when we stepped foot onto the Isle of Coll and took in the scenic vista and the clean air. It’s been such a gift to get out of the bustle of the city and into the tranquility of this setting where we have the space to dedicate ourselves completely to our artistry. Surrounded by the countryside and fresh air, we are loving our first few days on the Isle of Coll. We’re staying all together in a lovely bunkhouse and rehearsing and having coaching in the An Cridhe community centre which has the hall where we’re going to be performing in later in the week. Every window has the most stunning views and the light and weather changes every minute!

Having formed recently, getting time to dedicate to playing together and growing as a quartet, away from our other student- and working- commitments, has been invaluable. With inspiring tutors to guide us through Quartet repertoire, the progress we have felt within our group, both individually and collectively has been amazing!

The music tutors have helped us to listen and work together, thinking about our collective musical ideas and intentions with phrasing. This, along with a love and enthusiasm for the repertoire has inspired us to continue working in this way as much as possible when we return back to London.

We have already learned so much about each other both personally and musically, and we can’t wait to show off our progress in the upcoming concerts.

#Coll-age #iloveColl #Coll-d #Coll-aboration #musi-Coll

Sylva Winds Blog #2

Our first full day at Music Coll was accompanied by what we are told is normal island weather – glorious sunshine followed by torrential rain, followed by glorious sunshine. Somehow the landscape of Coll makes even a downpour look atmospheric and refreshing…

We got down to work and had our first coaching with Tim Brown in the gorgeous main hall where we played the Comedy for Five Winds by Paul Patterson. Tim’s coaching was insightful and we are very much looking forward to our regular sessions with him for the rest of the week! We also experimented with using the large amount of space at our disposal and sent one player to each corner of the room while we rehearsed the Coleman Afro-Cuban Concerto. It was surprisingly difficult to stay in the groove in the faster movements, however the Vocalise was very well suited to the space.

We were easily persuaded to buy the Tunnell Trust embroidered t-shirts and hoodies (after getting caught in the rain!)  so you might spot the logo in any future photos.

The evening was concluded with our first visit to the very pleasant Coll Hotel Restaurant and Bar, which is located dangerously close to our accommodation. There we discovered a pool table and darts board – two essential skills that we are all looking forward to developing further. Rowan has already improved a great deal and managed to get all three darts on the board in a row!

Monday will involve an informal performance of Movements 1 & 2 of Martin Butler’s Down-Hollow Winds to the other musicians here with us and we are really looking forward to hearing all the ensembles play.

Asaka Quartet on Coll!

Asakas enjoying the ‘mild breeze’

We’re the Asaka Quartet, from London, and we’re so excited to be here on the Isle of Coll!

It took us a whole day to get to Oban which the ferry to Coll departed from, on the next day after the  RAM Mahler 3 project led by our first violinist Iona! We spent a night there, woke up at 4.30 am in the next morning, with exhausting brains, painful butts and passion, we caught the ferry successfully. So here we are, sitting in the cottage on this lovely island, discussing our rehearsal, chatting about music making, oh, of course, cannot do anything without mario cart.

We absolutely love Scotland, not only because of the fresh tap water, also the mild breeze (as you can see in the picture we quite enjoyed that) We also enjoy life on the island very much. According to our new friend Jonathan Tunnell, islands like this are like a parallel worlds to the mainland. It has its ‘Coll time’. To be honest, I’m not able to remember what day is it today if I didn’t get the schedule. Hence I can’t imagine a better place to do a quartet course than Coll. All the trifles in hustle-bustle London are away from us. They don’t disappear, but at least we get a perfect place to get rid of them and just concentrate on our beloved repertoires.

It’s always been our quartet dream to have a whole week to ourselves where we can dedicate all energy to our playing. I’ve read about musicians who breathe and eat music, and I always wondered if I was supposed to be like that automatically to become a musician, but maybe all we needed was to breathe some air that wasn’t the toxic fumes of London’s most heavily polluted Marylebone Road. I love that here, we can talk about the imaginary ‘wedding scene’ in the slow movement of one of our pieces whilst eating amazing fish sandwiches and soup until we’re full and not until we have to go to our next classes. I love that everyone is so kind and warm and as happy as we are. For now, I have no desire to go back to London, but maybe after 10 days of no bubble tea and noodles, I might go crazy…


– Eriol and Inis Oírr, Asaka Quartet