Chloe Knibbs: The first meeting

Composer Chloe Knibbs meets West Midlands chamber choir, Ex Urbe, as they begin a collaborative composition for our Adopt a Composer project.

After seeing Ex Urbe’s beautiful rendition of Vivaldi’s Gloria and Haydn’s 'Nelson Mass' in early October, I was very excited to properly meet everybody. This excitement only grew after reading Ex Urbe’s lovely article about our collaboration together being the start of a “perfect match”. Hearing about their passion for music making and their enthusiasm for the process of creating a collaborative piece of music together assured me that we definitely were well-matched!

Nevertheless, when it came to meeting everyone at their rehearsal in Barnt Green – a much quieter and peaceful destination than the start of Birmingham’s Christmas Markets (!) – there was a quiet anxiety bubbling inside.

What would they think of the pieces of music I had decided to share with them? Did they also feel the same anticipation I did about this new collaboration?

However, this anxiety soon dissipated as I heard the rehearsal in process which was a mixture of deep concentration, beautiful singing and various jokes bouncing around the choir. By the time it came to the coffee break, I was enjoying chatting with everybody and hearing about recent adventures – from travels to exciting destinations, to hearing newer members talk about their journey into music making or reaching big birthdays!

When it came to introducing my work to the choir, I really enjoyed hearing their thoughts on my music. I shared how I often get inspiration for new work from stories, places I hear about or places I visit – such as my Cornish-inspired orchestral piece 'When the rocks meet the sea'. 

I also really enjoyed the chance to think about how I approach writing new pieces of work, and how that process would be different on this work. 

We then started to discuss the project in more detail and MD Ben Hamilton’s idea of exploring female composers within our collaborative piece. This led to many thoughts and ideas, such as why female composers’ work is lesser known, female composers that people had come across, and how we could explore the use of pseudonyms within a new work. I am also still yet to answer the question as to who my favourite female composer is … Perhaps creating a playlist of choral music by female composers from past and present will help (listen to the Spotify playlist).

In the meantime, I am looking forward to seeing everyone from the lovely Ex Urbe at their 'Carols by Candlelight' concert this weekend at Hampton-in-Arden Parish Church - where I look forward to getting into the festive spirit with mince pies, mulled wine and Ex Urbe’s beautiful winter music programme!


Follow composer Chloe Knibbs on Twitter.

Follow Ex Urbe on Twitter and Facebook.

Keep up to date with Making Music via Twitter and Facebook, and join fellow members in the online community