CRSO Young Composers' Workshop 2017
The CRSO's annual "Young Composers' Workshop" took place on the 30th January at the Pilkington Building, Chatham Maritime. This event is a very important part of the CRSO's mission of "nurturing excellence in the community through music". Young composers today are part of a great tradition of creativity that has relevance beyond the boundaries of music. Businesses are constantly asked to be more creative and innovative but our education system today undervalues and cuts precisely those subjects – art, music, foreign languages, drama – that focus on developing creativity and the ability to make unexpected (innovative) connections. I see the dedicated musicians of the CRSO as well-placed to nurture creativity in our community by giving young composers the chance to hear their works rehearsed and performed, and, on occasion, our audience the opportunity to experience something new alongside the core symphonic repertoire.
On Monday we had three composers present their works, which the CRSO under Peter Bassano read through, rehearsed, and then played one after the other. Peter also spent some time with our composers during a break in the rehearsal to share his thoughts and insights into each work, and how to approach writing for a symphony orchestra. I'm sure that this was much appreciated.
Jeriah Nadesan's lyrical "Glorious Streams" was the first work which we looked at. Jeriah is a postgraduate music student at the University of Kent, and is developing a career as a music technologist and composer. I had an initial shock when the score landed on the piano stand and I saw that I was to sight read in C# major (I suspect some of my colleagues in the orchestra had a similar reaction), but once we had got used to it the work started to come together nicely. Jeriah is planning to add some electronics to the piece, and we will perform the completed work in our concert in Chatham on 13th May 2017. It will be a very good occasion, so please do come to support Jeriah.
Phil Woollett's "Suite for the Fallen - 1916" was the next work which we looked at. Phil is a well-known supporter of the CRSO - his wife Helen is the wonderful leader of the orchestra's second violins - so we were all really happy to get the opportunity to play one of his works. After years of working as a police officer and enjoying performing music as a hobby, Phil started to study music and is now launched on a career as a composer and performer. Phil says that "Suite For The Fallen - 1916" is intended to be part of a larger work which has a movement reflecting each year of the 1914-18 conflict and representing the dreadful suffering and loss suffered on all sides. The piece is impressive and effectively orchestrated; there were some particularly striking moments for the wind (ostinato piccolo solo) and brass. As I listened, I was reminded of the music of Charles Ives. Well done Phil!
Finally we worked on Shannan Smith's "The River's Journey". Shannan is another familiar figure to CRSO members, and our audience, as she plays in the orchestra's first violins and was the recipient of the CRSO's 2015-6 Lindsey Purcell Bursary. "The River's Journey" is a lyrical work with arabesque-like figures distributed through the orchestra, supporting well-judged melodic fragments. The piece was good to play, and I thought it brought our Young Composers' Workshop to a very satisfactory close.
Well done to our Young Composers - I hope that you enjoyed the experience - and thank you to the CRSO's members for coming together with enthusiasm to support this highly worthwhile event.