Collaboration – but with whom?

Adopt a Composer 2015, Neil Tòmas Smith

I was surprised and delighted to be selected to take part in Making Music’s Adopt a Composer scheme. It’s a great opportunity to work with musicians who have rarely had the opportunity to be involved in the creative process at such close quarters.

In many ways, however, this scheme is an offer shrouded in mystery for the composer. The launch day will not only reveal the identities of the composers to each other and to the world at large, but also with which ensemble or group they will be working.

Collaboration is at the heart of this scheme and the composer has to be ready to fully commit to writing a specific piece for their collaborators. This relationship will define the work almost completely so it is both exciting and rather terrifying that it will remain a mystery until September 19th.

Looking into the crystal ball, I cannot tell you whether this piece will be vocal or instrumental, dramatic or concert, small or large scale. Preparation to collaborate is very unlike preparation for any other kind of work: it is a kind of dismantling of any preformed ideas you might have had, a readiness to be influenced by the direction the chosen ensemble is looking to go.

This is of course part of the charm of such a scheme as it throws people into unusual situations and sees how they adapt, creating art that is fundamentally attached to the time, place and people that make it. It is this fluid creative process that makes Adopt a Composer so exciting.