Evolution of a Composition

Chris Maslin of Horsham Symphony Orchestra on working with composer Adriano Adewale

At the start of our rehearsal, our adopted composer, Adriano Adewale, pointed out that we were midway through the Adopt a Composer process - between Adriano first meeting the orchestra at the workshop back in December to the premiere scheduled for the first of July.

There has been no big reveal of a fully completed composition landing on the conductor’s stand, but instead we have witnessed the gradual evolution of the piece over the last few months. The small fragments of melody and rhythmic elements from earlier sessions have been developed, but there is still much to be done. Our conductor, Steve Dummer, compared the work to a piece of pottery waiting for the kiln:

'It has the shape, but hasn’t been in the fire yet'.

At times, I feel a little sorry for Adriano, as we bombard him with a thousand and one questions about how he wants certain passages to be played: what dynamics to use, what phrasing would he like, should they be played as pizzicato or arco, what kind of note length, what bowing, would this be better an octave higher. But Adriano takes it all in his stride, and seems genuinely excited by our suggestions. At one point he stops the rehearsal, amazed at how the piece has developed in such a short space of time and warmly thanks us for our feedback.

It does give the whole process a very democratic feel, and the piece really is a true collaboration between the composer and orchestra. The Horsham Symphony Orchestra has been lucky enough to have been able to commission works in the past, but nothing has come close to how inclusive the Adopt a Composer project is.

At the end of the rehearsal, Adriano professed he was happy with the main themes of the piece, but felt the transition between them was a little abrupt. We look forward to see what direction the composition takes next!