The final composition

Calum Gray, Musical Director of Southampton Concert Wind Band (SCWB), talks practice and polish as their Adopt a Composer project pairing with Robert Laidlow enters its final stages. 

Last week, a mere six months after our initial meeting, Rob Laidlow presented SCWB with his completed composition. The inaugural performance is on 18 May and the finishing line is now clearly in sight! 

Throughout the process, Rob has kept in close contact with me and, a few days before the band was introduced to the finished work, he sent me an online copy of the score to read through and identify any potential problems. I have always appreciated Rob’s preparedness to take on board my very practical comments regarding such fundamental issues as the degree of difficulty in certain areas or how high (or low!) he was asking particular instrumentalists to play. To his immense credit, necessary changes have always been made without quibble.

Rob has wanted to stretch the band with his music but never beyond that point where the band members are unable to meet the technical challenges.

Until now, all the band’s encounters with Rob’s music have taken place in his company. He has introduced new ideas, explored existing ideas and experimented. The goalposts have now moved, the composition is complete and it remains for me, as MD, to add the necessary polish in rehearsal, bringing the music to performance standard. The aim is to add a satisfied smile to Rob’s face when he makes his final visit to a band rehearsal, along with mentor Fraser Trainer, on Thursday 9 May. 

Being a part of the Adopt a Composer project has been a fantastic experience on a personal level and I know that the band has been thoroughly energised by their involvement in something so creative and exciting. Bring on the concert performance!

Calum Gray


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The Adopt a Composer project matches vocal and instrumental leisure-time music groups with some of the UK’s most promising composers to collaborate on creating a new piece of music. The project leads to a première performance and possible broadcast on BBC Radio 3. If you’re a music group or composer and you’d like to take part, find out more.