We are four virtuoso recorder players who want nothing more than to push the boundaries of our instrument. The ideology behind Woodpeckers is the drive to kick the age-old image of the recorder as being a stepping-stone to something else, and to firmly place the recorder in people’s minds as a respected concert instrument. An integral part of our mission involves working with children, as well as showing the adults and teachers in the room the possibilities of what can be achieved through well written and brilliantly arranged works, many of which are fiercely difficult, delivered by musicians of the highest caliber. We want to inspire and most importantly, to communicate something special, through the medium of the recorder.
We were lucky enough to meet Hallgeir Frydenlund through Norway’s Rikskonsertene, and to have had the time to develop this programme together with him and choreographer Tharan Revfem. The programme incorporates a lovely mixture of Baroque masterworks- such as excerpts from Bach’s Art of Fugue and Vivaldi’s much loved C-major concerto RV443, which are intertwined with folk music from each of our countries of origin, topped off with contemporary music, parts of which were specially commissioned for the quartet, some improvisation, and some programatic music written specifically for the recorder.
It was important to us that the music and instruments would be the main means of communication, and that the spoken word would be kept to a minimum. We always play acoustically and are very moveable- all that is needed are us and our instruments. As you can see from the latest full video, we have moments of talking to the children and showing our instruments during the show- this is sometimes a request from individual arrangers, but often left out altogether so as not to break the magic of communicating solely through the music. Over the years, the show has developed and we are very flexible with what we can offer. We have tailored the performance, with great success, to all ages, from newborn babies, to toddlers and pre-schoolers, and to our main target group, 6-13 year-olds. Adults are often surprised at how much they enjoy the show, as we have made an effort not to downplay our audience’s ability to understand complex works of music, no matter what age they are.
The performance itself has a basic arc structure, beginning very calmly, introducing the players and instruments one by one, leading into Bach’s wonderful four-part fugue, Contrapunctus 9. Through meetings with cowboys in the Wild West, strange guttural sounds of Bunnskog, a walk through the woods with Vivaldi and the party-like allegro, we finally build up to a climax of bird sound improvisations leading into a section of the modern piece Sitting Ducks. The children are brought back down to a state of clam by the beautiful 16th century baletto So ben mi, c'ha bon tempo, performed on the lowest and biggest of recorders, as we drift back off to sleep.