Adopt a Music Creator blog: A memorable finale

Liv Feilden, member of The Phoenix Voices, recounts how her music group's premiere of Lucy Callen's compositions went, as part of Adopt a Music Composer 2020/21.

On this beautiful sunny afternoon on 28 May, Holy Trinity Church Hall was a hive of activity as Phoenix Voices prepared for our first big concert since all those lockdowns. Considering how tough the last two and a bit years have been for so many, it seemed very apt that Kris Emmett (our MD) had drawn up a running order that not only showcased Lucy Callen’s beautiful music, but also included a lot of uplifting songs – Stand By Me and I Will Follow Him amongst others.

'The phoenixes have once again risen from the ashes.'

It is fair to say that most of the choir were pretty nervous in the build-up to this. But, as Linda said to me during the supper break, this is the first time these songs have been performed in front of an audience, so if we go slightly wrong, it doesn’t matter. And, as Kris said, it is a good thing that these songs have ‘stretched us, and taken us out of our comfort zone.’ Lucy has this wonderful gift of taking music as far as it can go whilst still being real and believable: for example, imitating walkers, wolves and birds in Woods.

As 7:30 approached, several of us were hurrying to complete the display Fiona had designed, showing the thoughts and ideas of various choir members during the creation of these pieces, as well as Karen’s stunning paintings of the ‘spaces’ we were singing about.

The concert began, and it was wonderful to hear Lucy’s introductory speeches about the backstory of these songs: mastering choir rehearsals on Zoom; what it was about these spaces that made them so important to the choir; and the ideas members generated during lockdown. (It was a good move not to include the ritual suicides in the lyrics of Lover’s Lane!) 

the musical director and composer directing the choir

Musical Director Kris Emmett and Composer-in-Residence Lucy Callen directing the choir

Huge congratulations to Lucy’s partner Sam for writing the lyrics of these songs. As someone who has loved writing myself since I was a kid, I found it inspiring how outlandish some words were: for example, ‘gloansome’, ‘skrimp and skitter through the glub’ and ‘crickles scrunting’ to name a few.

The concert finished with the choir’s anthem Raise Me Up, and a well-deserved ice cream for the choir members. Hats off to everyone for this memorable evening and the culmination of a brilliant collaboration with Making Music. My granny, who attended the concert, described it as ‘very special’ and ‘a spectacular venture.’ And believe me when I say, that is high praise indeed from my grandmother.

On behalf of all the choir, thank you so much to Kris for all your guidance and encouragement during this whole process. In your words, the phoenixes have once again risen from the ashes.

Find out more about The Phoenix Voices on their website and follow them on Facebook / Twitter.

Find out more about Lucy Callen on the website and follow her on Facebook / Twitter.

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.