Eve Clarke (12 January 1910 – 18 November 1993)
Louisa’s Auntie Eve was known as a great character.
During the second war she accompanied some of Joyce Grenfell’s ENSA concerts on the accordion. She went on to play bassoon in several orchestras (notably the Herefordshire Symphony Orchestra) and to arrange music, often for weird combinations of instruments. Once, in between parts I and II of a church performance of The Dream of Gerontius , she was caught absent-mindedly lighting up a fag.
She continued, well into her old age to plant trees, knit jumpers and socks, cook and brew beer. Her attitude to domestic chores was relaxed and it was rumoured that her method of darning the family’s clothes involved Copydex and a hammer. Her sense of humour was raucous and often quite coarse – she cackled uproariously – she loved to shock and to exaggerate wildly.
Louisa asked Auntie Eve to write some arrangements for her flute students to play and Eve duly obliged. As you will see, her handwriting was pretty clear, so we have not yet put the original manuscripts into Sibelius.
Sefton Cottom (1928-2011)
Sefton was born in York and attended the Minster Song School, which involved providing all the daily choral music for the Minster.
He graduated in music from Durham University. For some reason, Sefton failed his medical when he was called up for military service in the second war, so he remained in York where he became a student of Sir Edward Bairstow and his assistant organist at York Minster.
He was a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists and of Trinity College of Music in London.
He moved to Pocklington School in 1956 and became Director of Music there. He composed organ and church music, but is perhaps better known for his chamber music, including Various Trouts (Verschiedene Forelle), a set of imaginative variations for three flutes on Schubert’s Trout Quintet. In addition to his works for The Garland of Flutes, he composed for the Ensemble Dreiklang in Berlin and for the Trout Trio in Malton.
Thomas Simaku (b.1958)
The Albanian-born British composer Thomas Simaku began his composition studies with Tonin Harapi at the Tirana Conservatoire. After graduating in 1982, he gained first-hand experience working with folk musicians for a period of three years in the remote town of Permet in Southern Albania near the border with Greece.
In 1991 he moved to England and gained a PhD in Composition at the University of York (1991-96) where he studied with David Blake. He also was the 1996 Leonard Bernstein Fellow in Composition at Tanglewood Music Centre in the USA with Bernard Rands, and a fellow at the Composers’ Workshop – California State University (1998) with Brian Ferneyhough.
Click on the link to buy Thomas Simaku’s compositions from his publisher, June Emerson Wind Music.
Click here to read the letter Thomas sent to Louisa and Lewis on completion of Guirlande de Flutes.
Here are the sleeve notes on Guirlande de Flutes, by Thomas Simaku, written by Louisa Creed:
Guirlande de Flutes, by Thomas Simaku, has formed an important part of the repertoire of our flute quartet, which we have even named after this piece. His successes as a composer are too numerous to list here, but in the last 20 years he has been winning international competitions all over the world besides getting his work played in many countries.
My husband, Lewis, and I met him when he first came to live in York, before he was well-known. We decided to commission a work for 3 flutes in C and alto flute to celebrate our silver wedding in 1997, and this beautiful suite of Albanian folk song arrangements is the result. Because we asked that the composition should be both tuneful and flexible in length in order to fit in with our concert programmes, Thomas obligingly adapted his style to suit our purposes (his compositions today being somewhat “over our heads”!), and the tunes themselves and the highly original way in which he has arranged them, have proved extremely popular with our audiences.
The first song in particular From across the Sea, which originated 500 years ago, when the Albanian community were forced to emigrate to Calabria and on a clear day could see their longed-for home country across the sea, never fails to move people with its nostalgic beauty. It is written as a trio, while the middle three movements are for quartet and the last one, preceded by a haunting little cadenza for solo flute, is for 6 flutes.
Ben Heneghan (b.1957)
Ben was born in London in 1957, and now lives in Pontypridd, S. Wales. He studied music at Aberystwyth university with Ian Parrott, and Cardiff with Alun Hoddinott.
He has for several years pursued a career composing for television and film, with hundreds of credits to his name, as part of a composing partnership with fellow-composer Ian Lawson. The partnership’s most notable successes have been in the field of children’s animation, including the ever-popular Fireman Sam, The Legend of Lochnagar (based on the story by HRH Prince Charles), and The Little Engine That Could.
Away from the screen, Ben has written several works for choir, as well as for orchestra, chamber ensembles, solo voice, and the intermittent eleven-piece rock band he sings in, The Boo-Hooray Theory.
His music has been performed by the BBC NOW, the Hallé, the City Of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the St. Christopher Chamber Orchestra of Lithuania, Llandaff Cathedral Choral Society, and Cantemus Chamber Choir Wales, and has featured in The Vale Of Glamorgan Festival and the Welsh Proms. In 2017, his orchestral piece Outbreak was featured in BBC NOW’s annual new music showcase, Composition Wales.
Recordings include Walking The Wild Rhondda (Chandos), Summer To Autumn (featured on Ariel, an album of pieces for flute and piano performed by Catherine Handley and Andrew Wilson-Dickson – HAL Records), The Contingent World (choral music performed by Cantemus Chamber Choir Wales – also HAL Records), and Follow The Gleam, the debut album by The Boo-Hooray Theory.
Some of our most modern arrangements (incidentally, with the most musical jokes buried in them!) are by Ben Heneghan.
The quartet was founded and led, and the repertoire was gathered, by Louisa Creed. You can find out more about her other work, including her famous rag rugs that feature on the CD covers here. Louisa's husband Lewis Creed has been a mainstay of the quartet throughout its life. He has diligently supplied cakes and tea to virtually every quartet rehearsal and has often served as the warm-up act at concerts.
This York-based flute ensemble has been very active in York and Yorkshire since before the beginning of this century.
We took our name from a composition my husband and I commissioned for our silver wedding in 1997 from Thoma Simaku, a young Albanian composer who currently teaches composition at The University of York.
I retired from flute-playing at the beginning of 2018, and, looking back over the many, many concerts our quartet have given since its establishment, I feel myself exceedingly fortunate. We have rehearsed weekly (or almost) in our flat overlooking the River Ouse - my husband providing the all-important refreshments, and enjoyed working together and exploring the repertoire for various combinations of flutes.
Apart from flutes in C we have included in our programmes music for Alto and Baroque flutes, piccolo, and various recorders and pipes.
We have played for all kinds of charities (notably Jessie’s Fund, which helps children with additional and complex needs or serious illness to communicate by using music), at festivals, weddings and parties; we have given concerts in churches, National Trust properties and Castle Howard; we have made two CD recordings, one of Christmas music and the other of music that has been written for our ensemble.
Our programmes have included a variety of styles, from 17th Century to the present day, and various composers have provided us with highly original arrangements of folk songs, carols and classical movements. One of these, Sefton Cottom, (late head of music at Pocklington School) tirelessly fed us with both arrangements and original compositions after his retirement and more recently Ben Heneghan supplied us in a similar way. His beautiful (and meaty) work “Three Scenes for Four Flutes” is a very valuable addition to the 4-flute repertoire, as are all these gems which we have so enjoyed playing to appreciative audiences.
My aunt, Eve Clarke, never became a professional musician, but she had a gift for making delightful medleys of folk songs and carols, and it was unusual for us not to include one or other of her quartets or trios in our programmes.
Creating a webpage (with thanks to Bob, Lindsey’s husband and Chris Sketchley) from which these unpublished works can be downloaded free of charge for a wider group of musicians and pupils to enjoy, seems a fitting legacy from all the years of our playing together. Although I have used the past tense because of my own, reluctant retirement, “A Garland of Flutes” will live on, and its fruits will be shared.