Forum Posts

Gareth Churchill
Jun 18, 2020
In BLOGS
The current situation (without wanting to dwell) has, doubtless, presented significant challenges to the work of everyone, artists included. Through an extended period of almost complete isolation myself I saw gigs and projects cancelled and/or postponed and was left with a considerable feeling of uncertainty. I became a student of nature’s goings on through the window and the world’s, through the screen. My Codi Buddies collaboration with South Wales Gay Men’s Chorus was one of the things on hold, or so I thought! A few weeks into lockdown I was pleasantly surprised to discover the choir were continuing weekly meetings online, with a more social/cabaret focus, the technicalities of lag issues presenting serious impracticalities for large group rehearsal. This seemed (to me) to present an acceptable R n D opportunity. I checked into one of their online evenings and, (when asked about the piece), a plan developed. The choir’s MD put together a draft recording of my work so far, layering himself performing all the parts. This was distributed to the membership and a Zoom (a term I had previously only associated with frozen confectionary) followed where we work-shopped and developed the piece’s text and textural content. Having just completed a third set of developmental revisions to the piece I find myself excited to see where it goes and what, ultimately, comes out of our work.
Buddies progress content media
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Gareth Churchill
Feb 24, 2020
In BLOGS
I was very excited to be selected for the 2020 Codi Buddies scheme in a pairing with South Wales Gay Men’s Chorus (SWGMC). It’s a happy reunion: I was a founder member of the chorus and, over the years have put in shifts as their lead bass and assistant musical director. When, in 2013 they commissioned (and, subsequently gave numerous performances of) my Two Morys Rhymes I decided to move to just being an audience member and friend. The chance to write a second original work for them is an exciting one: I pitched a sort of docu-musical work incorporating spoken and vocalised material alongside more traditional choral textures. After SWGMC requested the piece had a gay / pride link of some sort I hit upon the idea of using text from the membership’s experiences on Grindr (and similar) cha applications. To make the create process collaborative the choir’s MD and I created an online survey to compile material with questions ranging from ‘what’s your most received message to start a conversation’ to ‘what’s the funniest message you’ve ever received’. With almost half the choir having now completed the survey I find myself with close to 200 lines of potential libretto. Thinking about spoken word points to the possible influence of anything from classical singspiel to Glass’ Knee Plays and Berio’s A – Ronne; suggesting the piece will, likely, have some sort of theatrical facet. As I start to actually get down to writing the piece, while I am not certain what 'it' will be I am thinking it could be very fresh and clean. ‘You remind me of Huw Edwards’ … ‘don’t forget the cream’.
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Gareth Churchill
Feb 19, 2020
In BLOGS
Having let the dust settle after the latest text workshop (a first go at my material with the ensemble) I find my thoughts have crystallised sufficiently to complete my piece (‘Beg’) and to write a programme note for it. The workshop day itself, directed by mentor Joseph Davies with the support of writer Kaite O’Reilly and guest baritone Jeremy Huw Williams, went through each work in turn, exploring the various points-of-interest the scores presented. As the day progressed with fascination, I looked forward to hearing my own work discussed with some trepidation: having prepared a sort of singspiel set to instrumental textures I was unsure how this would be received in a contemporary context. But I was thrilled when both singers had a go at the ‘directed’ speech, each bringing a unique character to it and I left with all the ideas I needed to complete the work which I now look forward to hearing complete with great anticipation.
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Gareth Churchill
Nov 20, 2019
In BLOGS
Having gathered my thoughts following the first Codi Text Workshop over the weekend I find I have quite a lot to think about and am full of excitement at the prospect of this project’s development. The workshop day itself was chaired and skilfully curated by the project’s mentors who shared their experiences of combining text and music and offered insights into examples of text setting which we (the participating composers) took with us to exemplify our interests and points of view. The project’s ensemble performed a range of excerpts demonstrating their instrumental / vocal potential and I found my mind’s ear composing embryonic textures which I might use alongside the Kaite O’Reilly text I have chosen to work with. I was especially excited to discover Kaite’s warm and open approach to collaboration and to learn that her text might develop to suit my work as it develops concurrently. Now, as I make my first sketches on paper for the project; I find I am fizzing with anticipation about what ‘Beg’ will be.
CoDI Text One thoughts content media
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Gareth Churchill
Mar 05, 2019
In BLOGS
My latest mentoring session with Tansy Davies during her visit to Cardiff for Composition Wales has proved extremely enlightening, and taught me a great deal, about myself! We talked about the importance of knowing what my work is, being my own brand and understanding my ‘product’. Through examining existing, recent and current pieces we came to some surprising conclusions: It turns out I’m something of a traditionalist (at least at heart). My work is acoustic, diatonic and has a tendency towards conventional instrumental combinations. I have an ear for popular culture, reflected in some of my textural and formal languages and I find myself, stylistically, at a sort of cross-roads of minimalism and modernism. Developmental cyclic forms demonstrate this, often paired with an economy of musical means and an ear open to more exotic performing techniques. Some of this, I think, stems from my previous work as an oboist as much as my current work as a composer and perhaps, on some level, a performer's mentality is still more of a part of me than I know or realise. Learning what my music is feels, in a way, like a weight has been lifted and my homework from Davies (to write an essay about my music), although something I felt uncomfortable starting, seemed, in the end, to come quite naturally.
Pinning it Down: Some thoughts from my Latest Codi Mentoring Session   content media
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Gareth Churchill
Feb 06, 2019
In BLOGS
My recent mentoring session with Tansy Davies during her visit to Cardiff for Composition Wales has given me a great deal to think about. We had met once previously, when BBC NOW workshopped and performed my Concerto for Orchestra, Concentrations, during their Composition Wales project last year. As we looked at what I have written since and talked we touched upon an apparent disconnect (of sorts) between my music and my character. Talking about mining the personal, being your brand and making my work a truer reflection of me has given me a great deal to think about in terms of trying to fuse my academic background, my (somewhat) lad-about-town character and the popular culture I like. Thinking on this I anticipate a change in direction, facilitated (in part) by my most recent piece, a trio for sax, bass and piano. Written for first performance in the gin lounge at St David’s Hall, this less formal location and more modern instrumental line-up seems to chime with Davies’ advice; especially as the piece’s textures were inspired by those heard in the work of acid jazz group Red Snapper. I now find myself re-considering the work's title, to introduce my personality into it. Having written quite a lot of small scale (and especially solo) works Davies thinks I might need to turn my sights to a larger project, something to get my teeth into and I anticipate a great deal more thinking and re-evaluating of my working methods going forward.
Being the Real Me, some thoughts from my first meeting with Tansy Davies content media
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