Adopt a Composer: keeping track of the details

Audrey Todd, mandolinist of Da Capo Alba, discusses the group's final rehearsals with Nicholas Olsen before the premiere of his piece at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.

With less than five weeks to go before the premiere performance of Three Carriages by our 'adopted' composer Nicholas Olsen, the Da Capo Alba orchestra is determined to put a final polish onto our interpretation of what we feel is a fantastic work.
That we have all really embraced this project was shown by an almost complete turn out for a six-hour rehearsal on a sunny Saturday in August! OK, cakes were involved and that made a difference, but even still, our enthusiasm for Nick’s composition is palpable.
At this point, the focus is on interpreting the music to precisely convey Nick’s story as he has imagined it. This is the time to polish the dynamics, phrasing, chord voicings, and the nuances of how we approach the tremolo playing. If we were not so enamoured with the piece then irritation might creep in as a result of the repetition and the 'tweaking' of short passages – but there was no sign of that. The mood throughout all the sections was buoyant and this persisted throughout the day.

Nick joined us for an hour or two to give us some feedback and to describe, again, the images he had in mind for each movement, commenting on the sound colours he was hearing, both to confirm when we had 'got it' and to identify any modifications he felt would bring us closer to his intentions.

This is the time to polish the dynamics, phrasing, chord voicings, and the nuances of how we approach the tremolo playing.

Nick comes from Wales and this perhaps explains why his exhortation to us to 'find our inner bogies' was met with snorts of laughter by the Scottish musicians...Nick, a little railway truck was NOT what we were thinking!

Never one to shirk his wider responsibilities, Nick joined us for our 'coffee and cake' break – we have some very talented bakers in our group!

We are very much looking forward to premiering Three Carriages on 3 October, where it will headline our concert 'Mandolin Mania'. We have the added pleasure of welcoming the mandolin and guitar orchestra of North Germany (Norddeutsches Zupforchester) to share the stage with us and spend a few days exploring our beautiful country.

Da Capo Alba present 'Mandolin Mania', featuring the premiere of Three Carriages by Nicholas Olsen, at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on 3 October. Book tickets

Follow Da Capo Alba (adult orchestra of the Lanarkshire Guitar and Mandolin Association) on Facebook

Follow Nicholas Olsen on FacebookTwitter and Soundcloud

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. If you’re a music group or composer and you’d like to take part, find out more.