Yesterday was a busy day at In Harmony Telford & Stoke. We had our Christmas Concerts – 4 concerts in one day! It was fantastic! All the children performed really well – and both they and the parents seemed to thoroughly enjoy it.
They premiered my new piece Fantastic and Splendid as well as doing some arrangements I had done. Hopefully I will be able to share some recordings on here as well.
And I was also present with this lovely A3 size card from my year 2 string orchestra! Sweet!
Been pretty busy this term so not had much time to update this blog! Anyway, I’ve been working with In Harmony Telford and Stoke, directing the Telford orchestras which is a fantastic challenge but thoroughly enjoyable. I lead 4 ensembles: 90 Year 2 strings; 60 Year 30 Strings; two orchestras with around 100 mixed instruments from years 4 – 6 in each. My orchestra day is really tiring but really rewarding. The children are doing so well.
I’ve composed some of the music, and others bits I’ve written backing tracks for – snippets of which are on the video below.
Here’s a little video about the project (you can even see me in a cowboy hat…) Enjoy!
You can find out more info about the project at their website.
As I posted about a few months ago, earlier this year I was involved in BCMG’s Resolution project, exploring scientific research through music and I composed a piece for secondary school students to perform. As part of my research, I drew a little storyboard which was made into a little film (thanks to Jonathan Lee). I’ve finally managed to put the audio recording of the performance by the students together with the animation. And here it is (make sure you turn your sound up – the beginning is very quiet):
‘Molecular mimicry’ is a term that describes the process of the body’s immune system mis-recognising its own antigens (particular proteins which live on the surface of cells) for those of a foreign pathogen and attacking itself. This piece explores the hypothesized process of the body developing Sjögrens syndrome.
Firstly the musical form of an oral bacterium called Porphyromonas gingivalis (P. Gingivalis) is heard:
This bacteria, or pathogen, is very similar in appearance to some of the body’s own cells. In the music this is represented rhythmically similar harmonies. The melody and harmonies are locked into by another rhythm:
This depicts the way the body uses a ‘lock and key’ type mechanism when discovering and reacting to particular antigens. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIN5sSUlZWk
This in turn triggers an immune response – an alarm – and the body begins to attack itself. In Sjögrens Syndrome this takes a number of forms, one of which is that the tear ducts and mouth dry up, shown in the music by the change from loud resonant sounds into high pitched dry, scratchy sounds.
So I have now got hold of two recordings from the CBSO Our City Our Past project, which I posted about before.
The first is a performance of the piece A River Through History, composed and performed by young people from Shenley Academy at the CBSO Centre in May 2013.
The second recording is of an arrangement I made of the piece for full orchestra, performed wonderfully by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall in June 2013, conducted by Michael Seal.
Yesterday I attended both of the CBSO’s schools concerts involving the final performance for the Birmingham History Project I have been involved with. The full orchestra performed in Symphony Hall with audiences of 2000 children in each concert.
The reason for my excitement was that I had arranged a piece written by secondary school pupils from Shenley Academy for the full orchestra to perform. Earlier in May the young people performed the piece themselves at the CBSO Centre, then I went away and arranged it for the orchestra. My main concern whilst arranging the music was that I needed to balance needing to make the piece sound ‘orchestral’ and giving it a ‘professional’ edge, without losing the sense of the original material composed by the young people.
The ideas from the students were really good and fortunately I was able to work really well with the material they had composed without adding to it very much at all. I felt like I was able to be true to their original intentions. Fortunately I was able to go into the school and do a session with them to explain to them exactly what I had done with their piece, so that they could understand why they might not hear ‘their bit’ played by the same instrument or in the same way. I think this was a really valuable session.
From talking to them after the concert, they seemed really pleased that they could hear ‘their music’ in the piece even though I hadn’t just taken their piece note by note and orchestrated it.
It has taken a lot of work, but I’m really pleased with the way it turned out. I’m hoping to get a recording online soon.
Here’s a recording of the most recent performance of my work. This is For Amber which won a prize in the Association of English Singers and Speakers Composition Competition 2012.