SPYE Challenge 2!

For our Pictures at an Exhibition themed challenges there are three options. Send your submissions to stpaulsye@gmail.com by Saturday 28th November. Please let us know if you are happy for us to share your submission on our website and/or our social media.

Option 1:

Mussorgsky wrote Pictures at an Exhibition for piano, and many others have orchestrated it for a variety of ensembles since. The most famous is Ravel’s orchestration, which is our focus for November. Pick a movement from the piano score and orchestrate it (or a section of it) for a group of instruments of your choice. The piano music can be found here: https://ks4.imslp.info/files/imglnks/usimg/e/e5/IMSLP85544-SIBLEY1802.13415.b56e-39087012668630.pdf

Option 2:

Pictures at an Exhibition was inspired by an exhibition of Viktor Hartmann’s works. Some of the pictures on display at this exhibition were paintings, and others were sketches and architectural designs. Pick an image that inspires you and write a short piece of music depicting this image for an instrument/group of instruments of your choice.

Option 3:

Although this piece of music was initially inspired by works of art, this has also worked in reverse, with the artist Wassily Kandinsky being inspired by the music to create new art work. You can find out more about this here: https://www.wassilykandinsky.net/pictures.php. Pick one movement (or more if you wish!) to listen to from the list below and produce an artwork inspired by the music.

List of movements:

  • Promenade I
  • Gnomus. The music depicts a gnome running on crooked legs (Hartmann’s picture was a design for a gnome-shaped nutcracker).
  • Promenade II
  • Il vecchio castello (‘The Old Castle’). A troubadour sings before a medieval castle. 
  • Promenade III
  • Tuileries. This depicts the Paris gardens, bustling with nursemaids and squabbling children.
  • Bydło. A Polish ox-cart rolls along on enormous wheels.
  • Promenade IV
  • Ballet des poussins dans leur coques (‘Ballet of Chicks in their Shells’). Hartmann’s picture shows sketches of some costume designs for a ballet.
  • Samuel Goldenberg und Schmuÿle. This is a double portrait based on two pictures of Polish Jews by Hartmann.
  • Limoges – Le Marché (‘Limoges – The marketplace’). The French market-women in this piece are said to be gossiping about a lost cow, a drunken neighbour and some false teeth.
  • Catacombœ: Sepulcrum Romanum. Hartmann depicts himself probing the mysteries of the Roman tombs by the light of a lantern.
  • La Cabande sur des pattes de poule (‘The Hut on Fowl’s Legs). Hartmann designed a clock in the form of the hut in which dwelt the mythical witch of Russian folklore, Baba-Yaga.
  • La grande porte de Kiev (‘The Great Gate of Kiev’). This design was commissioned in 1866 but was never built.

SPYE Challenge!

Thank you to the musicians who joined us for our first online session last month. It was lovely to see you all again after all of these months!

You might remember that at the end of the rehearsal, Peter set some of the Symphony Orchestra players a challenge to play the piece all by themselves using double stops. We’re going to make the challenges a feature of every session, but there will be a few choices so that you can pick the one that you think suits you best!


Challenge No. 1

Option 1:

Learn the double stopped version of the Nintendo Wii theme and submit a recording/video of yourself playing it to stpaulsye@gmail.com before the next rehearsal (Saturday 7th November). The sheet music for this was emailed out last month.

Option 2:

Learn the double stopped version of the Nintendo Wii theme and complete the arrangement. Submit a recording/video of yourself playing it to stpaulsye@gmail.com before the next rehearsal (Saturday 7th November). 

Option 3:

Design a Wii Mii-style avatar of yourself (like the conductor one Peter had on the screen in the last session). This could incorporate your instrument or could be representing your interests and personality in a different way. Drawings would be lovely, or if you have the means and would prefer to do this using software, that is also fine. Please send us your avatars by Monday 9th November if you would like us to incorporate them in our video recordings and share your work on our website/social media accounts.

Our conductors will reveal the next set of challenges at our session on 7th November. We will also publish them on the website once they have been revealed so that you can still get involved if you aren’t at the next session.

Returning to SPYE

We’re really hoping that we will be able to get SPYE playing together again on 26th September. We are unable to rehearse at our usual venue this term, but are in the process of confirming another venue, following risk assessment.

  • 26th September
  • 3rd and 17th October
  • 7th and 28th November
  • 12th December

Final confirmation and further details will follow shortly. However we anticipate rehearsals will run from 2.30-5.30pm on the following dates:

Obviously, the way we run rehearsals will be a little different, in order to keep everyone safe. Musicians will be well spaced during the rehearsals, in accordance with current guidance, and in addition everyone will: 

  • need to bring their own music stand 
  • have their own copy of their music
  • wear masks (except wind players while playing, of course!)
  • be asked to use hand sanitiser
  • be required to sign a declaration that they have not had any COVID symptoms in the previous 7 days and leave contact details for track and trace

A membership and health form has been emailed to existing members.  Please get in touch if you have any concerns or queries and look out for further emails with details of final arrangements.

Virtual SPYE 2!

We are pleased to announce that we are going to make another Virtual SPYE video. This time we are going to do 3 movements from Bartók’s Romanian Folk Dances.

We encourage you to listen to a recording of all six dances – wonderful music! The three movements we will be playing start at 3:20 in this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z50Ooqv1GFg

Please check your emails for a link to our shared folder of parts and instructions for making your recording.

Please try to let us have your recording by Friday 19th June.

Virtual SPYE

Some of our young musicians have been very organised and recorded themselves to make a virtual SPYE performance! Thank you to Matthew for his work and dedication in editing the video. They have done all of this without the help of adults. We’re delighted to see how much continuing to play during lockdown means to our members.


Virtual SPYE?

Our musicians have worked very hard this term and we know they will be disappointed that we have had to cancel our May concert. By way of making up for this (and providing extra activities to everyone occupied!), we wondered if our musicians would be interested in making a video, as many other orchestras have done, that we could put on our website and Facebook page?

Here is a fantastic example of a video collaboration from the New York Youth Symphony:


This would involve us sending out a (short!) piece of music for the musicians to practice and then record themselves playing. We can then ‘stitch’ together all the individual recordings to create virtual SPYE! A video recording would be great but if anyone would prefer to send a sound only recording that would be fine too. Please let the committee know if you/your child would like to be involved in this exciting project by emailing stpaulsye@gmail.com.

SPYE Update 29/03/20

We hope you’re all managing to stay well and keep occupied if your normal activities are currently curtailed.

Remaining rehearsals and concert

It seems unlikely that we will be able to go ahead with the 3 remaining rehearsals and concert planned for this term, given the current situation, so these are now cancelled.

We will continue to review the situation and if it seems likely that some sort of event – perhaps an open rehearsal – will be possible towards the end of the summer term (late June/early July) we will look into organising one.


In view of the fact that 4 rehearsals have had to be cancelled this year we will offer a £20 reduction on fees next year as compensation (making the fee for next year £135).


Please stay home as much as possible and stay healthy.

SPYE Committee

Final Details for Residential 2020

We are all looking forward to our residential at Kingswood next week! Below is a copy of the information that has been emailed to parents/carers.


Can we ask that everyone arrives at St. Andrews Church by 5.15pm on March 6th 2020 ready for a prompt 5.30pm departure. This is to ensure we arrive at Kingswood ready for the evening meal.
For those parents taking their children directly to Kingswood please could you let us know (so we aren’t waiting at the church for you) by Saturday 29th February 2020  and could you aim to arrive at Kingswood for about 6.30 – 7.00pm.
We will be leaving Kingswood on Sunday at about 2.00pm, aiming to be back at St. Andrews Church by 3.00- 3.30pm.
For those parents collecting their children from Kingswood, please could you arrive at 1.45pm.



Please note, no nuts are allowed! All meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) are provided by Kingswood. There is a separate dining room where we will all eat together (Kingswood is a nut-free zone). Please can you let us know of any dietary needs / allergies by Saturday 29th February 2020. We have details on the Membership forms, but wish to have these confirmed so that we can let Kingswood know before we arrive. 

Packing list:

No huge suitcases, or bags, please. The coach space is limited with all the instruments too.    
  • One bath towel
  • Toiletries bag containing: toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, hairbrush etc. **roll-on deodorants only**
  • Night clothes (and cuddly toy)
  • Slippers or soft indoor shoes
  • Socks and underwear
  • T-shirts (at least one with long sleeves for the outside activities on Saturday afternoon), sweatshirt (one thick, one light)
  • Trousers and / or jeans and / or tracksuit bottoms
  • Old clothes for the Saturday afternoon outdoor activities
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Sturdy shoes or wellingtons
  • Trainers
  • Large plastic bag for dirty clothes
  • Gloves, hat, scarf
  • Water bottle
  • Small card games to share
  • Book to read
  • Some money (no more than £10) for the shop. The shop sells snacks and drinks, as well as postcards, souvenirs, games and mementos.
  • In case of lost property please put your child’s name on all items of clothing!

In addition to the items above:

  • Everyone must bring their instrument, a labelled music stand, spare strings / reeds, a pencil and a rubber. Cellists MUST bring a spike protector.
  •  A mobile phone/device with head phones is allowed, but please do not bring radios etc. which will disturb others.
  •  No chewing gum, food, sweets, or canned drinks will be allowed during rehearsals (bring labelled water bottles).

The committee wishes to stress that members will not be allowed to smoke or drink alcohol at any time during the weekend.

The weekend is usually great fun and consists of music rehearsals on Friday evening, Saturday morning and evening and Sunday morning. On Saturday afternoon there will be outdoor activities run by the Kingswood staff. There will be free time too in between rehearsals where the children can either chill in their rooms or use the outside space. The outside spaces have to be quiet by 9pm and everyone has to be in their own rooms by 10pm (Kingswood rules).

The committee or Kingswood cannot accept liability for the loss, theft or damage of any personal property your child may bring.

If you have any questions about the residential, please do get in touch (stpaulsye@gmail.com) and we will do our best to answer them.