bandstand sessions in August

August 14, 2021

after a belated slow session last Sunday, the remaining three Sundays will be open anything goes sessions at the bandstand in Florence Park, starting 3:30, typically finishing just after 6pm (but park remains open until 8:30 this month, so nothing to stop you playing longer).

So the dates for the next open bandstand sessions are:



Since the beginning of June, we have played music at the bandstand every single Sunday and have seen amazing audience interactions, ranging from inquisitive toddlers to dancing couples, so let’s just continue that way while summer lasts. 

this was the June slow session.

Cantigas de Santa Maria online

July 12, 2021

It only took them 750 years or so, but the Cantigas de Santa Maria are now online. They’re hugely important both as a document of the Galician language and as an example of mediaeval music, not to mention the gorgeous illustrations, some of which I have used as illustrations in this blog.

They were commissioned by Alfonso X the Wise, whose 800th birthday is coming up in November, so as a little birthday present, the Spanish Heritage people have put two of the four original manuscripts online in their entirety. One more than 500, the other more than 700 pages. That will take me a while to admire all the beauty of it.

You can access either or both from this index page which also has an introductory paragraph for each.

screenshot of the codex with the famous images of musicians. The cantiga beginning underneath the image is Rosa das rosas, No. 10.

There is also an excellent database of the texts and notation, where you can translate the dots into modern notation:

Cantigas de Santa Maria for singers

(Also works very nicely for recorder players, and surely for other instruments too !)

And this YouTube channel has many (maybe all?) of them as recordings with original illustrations and a karaoke-style text line, so you can sing along.

bandstand sessions in July

July 6, 2021

We have played music at the bandstand every single Sunday in June, so let’s just carry on like that. With the July edition of the Slow Session out of the way, we now have four Sundays ahead for the more informal “anything goes” Flo sessions, namely the three remaining Sundays in July as well as August 1st. This is because the August edition of the Slow Session will be on the second Sunday, Aug. 8th.

So do come along on any or all of the dates July 11, 18, 25, August 1, at 3:30 pm

Depending on who shows up we may play French, Scandinavian, Galician, Scottish, Welsh, and/or Slow Session tunes (which are English/Irish/Scottish mostly). Just turn up and I’m sure we’ll find something to play.

I hear there is going to be a ukulele group meeting at Florence Park, but in a different corner of the park, at 2pm. Should they decide to move to the bandstand we may have to wait till they’re done or use another spot. Let’s just see how it goes.

Picture from the slow session in June – when we have the smaller Flo sessions I am usually too busy keeping the music flowing to consider taking snaps.

bandstand sessions in June

June 10, 2021

the weather forecast is looking glorious for this Sunday June 13, so

let’s have a Florence Park bandstand session from 3:30 onwards again, on the theme of anything goes, just come and share your tunes. On the Bank Holiday Monday we played Scandi, French, Galician and Slow Session tunes – the latter two can be read from sheet music I have in my bag.

Should the bandstand be occupied (it can’t be booked) there is also a small tiled area near the brook at the car park end of the park (near the Florence Park Rd exit), which also has good acoustics and a couple of benches (although no shelter).

Weather permitting I am also aiming to have sessions on the remaining two Sundays in June, 20th and 27th. There may or may not be sessions happening at South Park at the same time, which may be more convenient for people coming in on the buses, but I’ll definitely stick with my project of reclaiming the bandstand for music making (which also involves a chamber music evening with members of Cowley orchestra).

the Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) filter outside the gate of Florence Park that is closest to the bandstand. (The planter has already been set on fire by moterrorists and after that been flooded with signs from LTN fans. Exciting times.

Bank Holiday session @ Florence Park

May 29, 2021

I emailed around in the middle of the week re. a possible session on Bank Holiday Monday 31.5., and several people have replied positively, so this is now officially on, and let’s call it 3pm to 6pm.

Should the bandstand be occupied (it can’t be booked) there is also a small tiled area near the brook at the car park end of the park (near the Florence Park Rd exit), which also has good acoustics and a couple of benches (although no shelter).

I understand there may also be a sesssion at the same time on the lawn at South Park, but I much prefer the acoustic at both the Florence Park sites. If, however, we fail to reach critical mass, we could always move across to crash the party at the other site.

The session will be anything goes, just turn up and play whatever you like …

this was the slow session at the Folk Weekend.

Euro session Sunday 9.5.

May 1, 2021

I haven’t had any luck getting a Florence Park bandstand session together so far, but several people have suggested they will be available on Sunday 9.5., so let’s try that. And as it’s Europe Day, let’s call it a Euro session. (On any other Sunday I would call it an anything goes session, as long as people turn up and play some tunes.) Let’s call it 3:30 to 6pm.

If more than six people show up, I will endeavour to define boundaries so that groups of no more than six can be defined, who shouldn’t intermingle. The sound carries very well in and around the bandstand, so keeping the distance while playing together works very nicely there.

Anybody driving to Florence Park please note that the car park is only accessible coming up Rymers Lane from the South (ie ring road or between towns road). There is a new modal filter on Rymers Lane just outside the park which means that coming from the city centre end of the road you cannot access the car park. Connections to Cowley Road and Iffley Road are also affected.

While the playground is at the other end of the park to the bandstand, there is ample space for kids to run around safely, so bring your family along if you like. Toilets are near the playground.

Ideally, I’m hoping to establish a session there on every Sunday that isn’t taken up by the Oxford Slow Session, but let’s see how the weather and the turnout play along. See you there …

outdoor play time

April 18, 2021

The Oxford Slow Session has held some lovely outdoor sessions at the Florence Park bandstand in the autumn and now again since the beginning of April. The rule of six, I learned when we had a few sessions at the band stand last autumn,  doesn’t rule out several groups of six being in the same neighbourhood, so with a physical structure like the band stand, we can have six people inside and six on the lawn on one side, for example, as long as these groups don’t intermingle. 

I really enjoyed playing in the bandstand (the acoustics is lovely), so as and when the weather improves in the next weeks, I might suggest the odd informal sessioning there, mailing around a couple of days in advance. I really think we should reclaim the structure for music making – no matter what kind. (If nobody else turns up I’ll be happy to play unaccompanied Bach, which is what I’ve been doing at home for the last 14 months.)

There are also open air folk sessions happening in South Park, organised via a facebook group, if that appeals.

I’ve emailed the Galician session mailing list and heard back from a few people to whom I have replied with date suggestions for the coming week. If you’re interested in Florence Park bandstand sessions and haven’t had that reply, please email me. ( michaelgrr a t yahoo d o t co d o t uk )

April slow session

Folk Weekend Oxford 2021

February 20, 2021

As we’re still stuck on Plague Island, I’m afraid the Folk Weekend will have to happen virtually again this year, watch their website for exciting things coming up. I even had an email from the dance coordinator about some sort of remote Morris happening.

I also see online events, competitions etc announced from Galicia sometimes, such as this one, worth looking out for.

Personally, I’ll stick with musicking offline and playing solo works while people are off limits. Learning the Bach suites seemed a completely mad idea a year ago, but by now, slightly less so. Follow my updates: Plague Year Bach Project

Oh, and at the woodwind front, I’m following in the footsteps of the Cantigas de Santa Maria illustration used in the header of this blog:

song workshop

November 17, 2020

Oxford León Association

The very amazing Ethno England people, together with Oxford’s twin town partnerships, are organising a series of online workshops where we can learn traditional music from our twin towns:

It will be Nicaragua’s term on December 5th, I believe that participants get to learn a song from Nicaragua, whereas the French workshop on the same day will feature a folk tune. To register and get the access info, fill in this form.

View original post

tambourine course

November 1, 2020

Xabier Diaz has just launched an online tambourine course on youtube, starting from scratch, find the first video here: