After successfully 'adopting a composer' last year, we'd already had one previous workshop with Alex Paxton, our ‘adoptee’, but weren’t sure what to expect of our next session. A while back, we had all written down impressions of our village, near Cambridge, and Alex started the evening by introducing us to a little chorale he’d come up with using words taken from our writings called, 'On A REALLY REALLY Clear Day.'
Next we used another of our own phrases, 'walking down the little lane with my friend Elizabeth', and our brilliant accompanist Maurice added a strong rhythm on the piano. We went on to generate more words, whatever came into our heads, and in pairs we developed a longer phrase that might fit into the overall structure.
This led to a few of us being brave enough to sing our newly created lines, before we put the whole thing together and sang it several times over, led by our Music Director, Paul Jackson, and accompanied by Alex improvising on his trombone. We gave ourselves a spontaneous round of applause and hardly noticed that the final version was captured on film.
Well, this was an experience that I'd never had before! There were two main things that struck me about it; the first was that it is never too late to try new things. We will continue to love the traditional classics of mainly sacred music we have performed together for over forty years, but last week we sang something very different and completely new. We laughed a bit and didn’t worry so much about singing the wrong note. The second was that we felt we had actually taken a leading role alongside Alex in creating something – we had done this together, and somewhat to our surprise, we were delighted with the result.
We will continue to love the traditional classics of mainly sacred music we have performed together for over forty years, but last week we sang something very different and completely new.
It certainly got us talking in the days after. Some were disconcerted, but others were excited by the freshness of the experience and quietly proud of what we had achieved. As chair of the choir, I’m really pleased that we have taken this step into the unknown. I believe that being creative in whatever way and achieving things as a group is 'good for the soul', and I’m full of curiosity about where this journey is taking us.
Thank you Paul, Jenni, Maurice, all the choir, and above all Alex for being up for this new adventure!
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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.