Serious work on Abergavenny Music, the now established title for the CoDI Buddies concertante work for Abergavenny Symphony orchestra, began on 7th April as the Westminster chimes calls the city of London back to slumber and everything passes…
This took place on a Sunday afternoon…
Abergavenny Symphony Orchestra had just given their Spring concert, conducted by Michael Bell in a memorable performance of Vaughan Williams’ London Symphony.
This concert, which also included Barber’s Violin Concerto and the Karelia Overture by Sibelius, really energised a slightly jaded amateur trombonist who had sat through too many rehearsals listening to string and wind players working on their tricky passages.
The advantage of playing the trombone and often not having much to do is that you get to really listen to how pieces are put together and to listen to some lovely playing from your colleagues at close quarters. As well as listening, the rehearsals leading to the Spring concert had also allowed me to play ‘fantasy concertos’ with the members of the orchestra and musical ideas began to coalesce. It was apparent early on that I would want to include an important part for the orchestra leader, Helena Todd who has a wonderful sound as well as an engaging musical personality. I had also decided to include a wind instrument as a counter to the violin and soon resolved on adding a flute. Eventually, as work developed,the addition of a horn added a lower voice from a third section of the orchestra.
As a composer, I can’t quite decide whether I’m a bit of a dinosaur who persists with pencil (or more usually, ink) and paper or to compose onto computer using notation software. Often I flit between both. Initial ideas are almost always scribbled on some scrap of paper or the back of an envelope before being more extensively worked out further on manuscript or software. This chaotic modus does have the benefit of physical mobility: the scraps being rearranged and reordered as whim and fancy take. The physicality of this creation also has a visual appeal, especially if coloured inks are involved.
Usually this experimental play takes some time with procrastination being a powerful filter. I usually won’t commit to a solution until I’m entirely happy - more procrastination or perhaps being overly self-critical? Without particular deadlines this is easily accommodated. However, and especially given the nature of this project, self-critical censoring has been put aside in the spirit of collaboration and discovery. This has been a particularly difficult step to take as I’m usually very guarded about sharing any musical material until its is complete. This being said, although I have shown a few scraps of ideas to designated and potential soloists, there does need to be some sense of structure to allow the orchestra’s time to be used efficiently.
A late Easter has meant that the rehearsals available before the summer concert are fewer so there will be some time pressures. I am also waiting for confirmation from Dennis Simons (ASO Music Director) to let me know exactly when the orchestral sessions will be available to me. To this end, it is a relief that the nature of the project is to try things out and develop them before eventually (hopefully?) getting the chance to complete a work for a future concert performance.
© Silurian Music 2019