Adopt a Music Creator blog: A month of ups and downs, but mostly ups

Aberdeenshire Saxophone Orchestra's Foss Foster ponders the pros and cons of life on Zoom, and how the platform has framed her group's Adopt a Music Creator project - leading to further collaborations alongside their work with Ugie Voices and Ben Lunn.

Zoom boom

In mid-April, a few brave members of Aberdeenshire Saxophone Orchestra took up the Zoom invitation to rehearse a rather tricky piece with fellow Making Music members Phoenix Saxophone Orchestra. We’ve become proficient at Zooming in during lockdown and it’s wonderful to be able to put this to such good use. How else would an orchestra in the northeast of Scotland share a rehearsal with an orchestra in Leicestershire? We really enjoyed the experience, as evidenced by the happy smiling faces in the picture. Let’s hope this leads to many more joint ventures.

Zoom gloom

Times would be difficult enough for an orchestra during Covid, but perhaps even more so when you’re engaging in an amazing group project with a composer and partner music group, only to have no chance of meeting up.

ASO’s project partner Ugie Voices’ geographical area is particularly poorly served by broadband, so only a small number of the singers have been able to attend Zoom rehearsals. Looking ahead to a time when Covid regulations permit indoor choral rehearsals, Ugie’s usual hall is too small for social distancing, so they are having to check out alternative venues. 

ASO were looking for a new rehearsal venue prior to the pandemic, and have only recently found a place that is affordable, hospitable and big enough, so we will be trying it out as soon as we can.

Those who can Zoom have all worked hard at practising with the scores and digital audio which our MM composer, Ben Lunn, has been providing. He has been superb at sending us audio of our individual parts with integral click track and the ‘tutti’ version, which includes the choir as well. Likewise, our MD Richard Ingham has been brilliant at running rehearsals using the Sibelius files provided by Ben.

"We want to make this performance fabulous for Ben, and a wonderfully special finale for Richard, who has been such an inspirational MD for ASO over many years."

The most gloom-inducing part is that ASO’s wonderful MD, Richard Ingham – having retired from all his teaching posts to commit to composing and performing full-time – will be relocating to London during 2021. He has discussed this with us, and his plan is to leave ASO before Easter. So this adds extra time pressure to get our MM première rehearsed and performed by then. We want to make this performance fabulous for Ben, and a wonderfully special finale for Richard, who has been such an inspirational MD for ASO over many years.

The good news for the continuity of the orchestra is that we have found not one, but two, exceptionally well qualified MDs – both saxophonists, university teachers and composers/arrangers who are keen to take ASO on as a job share! Sadly, Ugie Voices are currently without an accompanist, and their Chair and former MM Rep, Neil, has stepped down due to ill health. So, it’s a big thanks to Neil with best wishes for a steady recovery, and a warm welcome to the enthusiastic Sheila, who steps into the position of MM Rep.

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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