Adopt a Composer blog: A marathon, not a sprint – a collaboration reshaped

In a new diary entry for Adopt a Composer 2019/20, Laura Shipsey recounts how her composition for City of Bristol Brass Band took a different turn in the wake of Covid.

Begun in a pre-pandemic world with the bright-eyed enthusiasm of a new partnership and the promise of a year of collaboration, Of Far Flung Skies is a sonic chronicle of new horizons and suddenly shifting, vividly coloured, open spaces. It was written for the City of Bristol Brass Band between November 2019 and December 2020, within which time the relationships I had with the ideas behind the work were forcibly reshaped.

The band partake in a socially-distanced rehearsal

The premiere is now set for 17 October 2021, to be conducted by Ian Holmes at St George’s, Bristol, and that in itself feels like a massive achievement. In January 2020, when I went to visit the venue to get an idea of the space and possibilities, I heard the story of the star embossed into the ceiling, and was struck by the grandeur and breadth of the building that would soon house our project. The energy from that visit – along with an earlier band workshop and my first experience of a brass band contest just days before the Covid restrictions came into force – assumed even greater importance as it became clear our collaboration would need to take a new, much longer path.

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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