Music creator Robin Fiedler talks about preparing for her workshop with Regent Brass as part of their Adopt a Music Creator 2023 collaboration.
This was my first workshop with Regent Brass, and having previously attended their rehearsal, I was initially a little stumped when preparing this session. They are all dauntingly good musicians and readers, a good few of them composers themselves – having them clap rhythms and run in circles whilst doing so wasn’t going to cut it.
As a composer, what I wanted most out of the workshop was colour. Brass band is a medium that I felt was still quite underused in contemporary classical music. The first search of brass band music on YouTube mostly delivered arrangements of well-known jazz standards or pop songs, and in terms of colouring a contemporary piece, these were not providing me with very much information on what is possible. So I decided to base the workshop around improvisation using mostly extramusical prompts to steer experienced players away from improvising in a certain idiom.
'It’s safe to say that I heard some pretty amazing and unexpected things that evening.'
Some of the activities were delivered in smaller groups using pictures of characterful-looking animals as bases for the band members to improvise little sets. Another one was attempting to achieve textures with the full band by giving verbal prompts like 'a mirror' or 'the surface of the sun'.
It’s safe to say that I heard some pretty amazing and unexpected things that evening. Becoming more familiar with the individual players whilst being able to truly experiment with a group of musicians who is so versatile and so responsive as Regent Brass was a really fantastic experience and is one of the great strengths of this emerging music creator programme. I feel really blessed to be working with a group that jumps into challenges and seems to be up for literally anything.
My next workshop will be with Camden Brass band in early May, and I’m looking forward to the results of it as well as how these two experimental sessions can come together in a new piece for both bands.
The Adopt a Music Creator project matches vocal and instrumental leisure-time music groups with some of the UK’s most promising music creators to collaborate on creating a new piece of music. The project leads to a premiere performance and a professional recording. If you’re a music group or music creator and you’d like to take part, find out more.