Adopt a Composer: a fresh perspective

Eileen Sephton, Music Director of the Sussex Folk Orchestra, tells us about the groups first workshop with their adopted composer, Jonathan Brigg.

When we first met composer Jonathan Brigg, he described his style as 'where classical meets jazz', so it was with great anticipation we held our first workshop with him in November, ably assisted by his Adopt a Composer mentor Fraser Trainer – another composer with an impressive CV.

Sussex Folk Orchestra

We have several arrangers of folk music in the orchestra, but Jonathan's approach was immediately radical, getting the entire orchestra singing a song before adding some instrumental accompaniment. It was based on the poem, Old Euclid, which Jonathan had set to music. He got different sections of the orchestra trying out musical ideas, some of them quite percussive. The next piece of music we tried was a Chinese folk song that Jonathan had orchestrated for us – the resulting sound was amazing!

Jonathan Brigg
Composer Jonathan Brigg

When our final piece is hatched we will give the premiere performance at a concert in October 2020. That concert will be supporting the charity Olly's Future, which is aimed at suicide awareness and prevention. During the workshop we had a visit from Ann and Chris, who started the charity after losing their 23-year-old son to suicide a couple of years ago, to tell us what they are doing. At our next workshop, Jonathan will be bringing something he has composed specifically for us, which he describes as 'incorporating our trademark sound'. We are looking forward to it!

Sussex Folk Orchestra

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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 premiere performance and broadcast on BBC Radio 3. If you’re a music group or composer and you’d like to take part, find out more.