Enterprising and energetic, the up-and-coming young quartet In toto has recently arrived back in the UK after a hectic week's work in Oman. The group's bari player, Rebecca Bunney, paused only to catch her breath before preparing us this report:
"We have just returned from Oman after completing an exciting week of work with the British Council, delivering educational workshops for children combining music and English language. The workshops were developed by In toto and English Language Consultant, Lesley Bunney.
"Despite arriving six hours late and without luggage we managed to give nineteen performances in five days, including educational workshops in private Omani and expatriate schools, plus an evening concert by the sea shore. We even launched 500 children on a sponsored walk with our own version of Match of the Day!
"There was plenty of audience participation and zaniness in the workshops for younger learners, including a song about monsters (adapted and arranged by In toto from Hernando's Hideaway), a story about a camel called Clarissa and a version of Ten Green Bottles which involved the children singing and shouting to make the bottles fall from a wall. The children also participated with their In toto shakers (home-made lentil-filled Smarties tubes, and the like), which we helped them assemble before some of the workshops.
"The older learners' workshops were more performance-based. With the aid of a saxophone constructed on-stage from plumbing materials, we began by telling the story of 'How the saxophone came to be', before delivering a varied programme which featured a number of pieces from Saxtet Publications, including Voi Che Sapete, Gavotte, An American in Paris and the ever-popular Bolero.
"However it was the Publications' arrangement of Largo al Factotum della citta that was definitely favourite of the week! Before performing it we first explained about opera and especially Figaro and his role, as illustrated by the cheeky alto part in this arrangement. Our alto player Ken played it to perfection by taking the cadenza to a higher level (or rather just kept playing higher, and higher, and higher!)
"Shetland Sequence (another Publications' title) guaranteed a rousing finish for every workshop, with audience participation on a wobble-board, lots of home-made clavés and shakers."