Adopt a Music Creator blog: Bury St Edmunds Concert Band

Bury St Edmunds Concert Band’s Gary Hawkes pens his thoughts on the group’s fledgling collaboration with Litha Efthymiou for Adopt a Music Creator 2020/21.

Adopt a Music Creator announced 

Since we’ve been in and out of lockdown, the band is getting together over Zoom and hasn’t rehearsed face-to-face since March 2020, when we had our last concert at the Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds. Our MD Rob is, as always, stirring pots of ideas and planning for when we can return. On 3 October, Rob announced that we were participating in Adopt a Music Creator, the project that paired us with a composer to write a piece for the band. As always with these ideas, the most exciting part is that we’re doing something new, which I think I’ll only properly understand when it comes to fruition. I wrote songs using a sequencer when I was a teenager, but I cannot comprehend how composers/arrangers do anything on this kind of scale given we have a band of 50 musicians! We have been paired with the composer Litha Efthymiou.

Litha and Jenni meet the band 

During October 2020, Covid restrictions loosened and the band found a venue for socially-distanced rehearsals. I made the decision not to attend due to my wife being vulnerable, but Rob gallantly ensured that anyone who couldn’t attend in person could take part on Zoom. Is it good rehearsing via Zoom? Well no, it’s awful! The band can’t hear you and sound horrible on reduced sound quality. However, it’s so important to me and others that we still feel we are present, making music and staying in touch. The sound issues we just work around.

On 26 October, Litha and our mentor Jenni Pinnock attended one of our in-person rehearsals. Rob showed Litha around Bury St Edmunds while she looked to find out more about the band and town. She then listened to the band rehearse a couple of pieces and talked about her plans for our group. She showed us a couple her own compositions, which again didn’t come across very well on Zoom (!), so I visited her SoundCloud page to go through them myself. Some very unique and atmospheric work, leaving me thinking ‘Wow, that’s different’. I was intrigued to hear more...

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