Handing on the baton…
Our thriving branch owes much of its diversity and confidence to the conducting skills of Pam Smith who joined in May 1998 and was Musical Director for a number of years.
Members have been encouraged by Pam to tackle instruments in different ranges. In particular the bass section has been motivated to grow in number in direct response to her proactive encouragement. She has suggested the loan of her own recorders for people to try out: one member was motivated to order a bass instrument of her own on the same day that she played Pam’s for the first time.
With Pam’s exacting standards and high expectations we have explored an inspirational range of music from the unbarred early music era to contemporary compositions. In this context Pam has taught us many essential techniques for achieving the required sound including alternative fingerings for fine tuning and the beauty of a quaver rest in unison.
Pam has an exceptional capacity for knowing people by name and for understanding how to help them to believe in themselves as musicians. (Conversely she has an eagle eye for times when concentration is lost or blunders are made. Most of us have been on the receiving end of one of Pam’s ‘signature’ looks or comments which have served not only to motivate us to improve but have endeared Pam to our branch).
Our Christmas gathering marked Pam’s last time as conducting MD. The many tributes, both spoken and written, were a true reflection of the fondness and high esteem in which she is held. Pam spoke warmly of her time spent with C and G Branch: her special brand of humour as she recounted anecdotes raised many chuckles.
Pam’s final challenge for the branch entailed sight-reading “Green Grow’th the Holly” written by Henry VIII in unfamiliar clefs. As a finale to the afternoon the branch gave Pam a surprise rendition of “Thank You for the Music”. This had been practised individually in secret: what the performance lacked in polish was compensated for by the sincerity of our efforts.
Below are some photos from the day, provided by branch member Cottia Howard (click on a photo to enlarge it):
To say that we will miss Pam is a real under-statement. We wish her well and trust that we will enjoy her return as a guest conductor before too long.