The launch day and The Lincoln Ukekele Band

Hello everyone - I am Angela Slater one of the Adopted Composers for this years Adopt Composer Scheme 2015-2016. It was a few weeks ago now that I found out which ensemble I was going to paired with for the year. It was an exciting day and I was glad it had finally come round after months of excitingly knowing I was on the scheme but not what the year would have in store for me - I really didn’t know what to expect!

Before the event began, the composers that had arrived begun gravitate towards each other and it was a good opportunity to finally share the excitement of being involved in such a scheme and talk about the types of composition work we did and projects we had been involved with in the past. As the different ensembles arrived we began to try and read the small labels to work out what ensembles we may be paired with. I remember someone excitedly telling me ‘Theres a Ukelele Band here!’ – I didn’t know quite to make of this at that moment, but do remember thinking ‘I wonder how do you write for a group of Ukeleles?!’.

We were soon taken through to a room with a circle of chairs and expectantly awaited the announcement of each pairing. Two people were paired with their respective ensembles before my name was announced ‘Angela Slater you are paired with The Lincoln Ukelele Band!’, after some clapping it was pointed out who the people were representing the Ukelele Band – Catherine Rey and Will Dunlop – at that point through a giggle, Catherine Rey said ‘Good luck!’ which received a laugh from the room. So I hope I hadn’t looked to worried at the task ahead. I was very surprised at the selection and, of course, a little daunted, but nonetheless excited at hopefully overcoming the challenges of this ensemble to create great music together.

Once the rest of the pairings had been announced we had a chance to meet each other and to introduce ourselves and talk about how the project could go forward. My mind was buzzing with questions: how many people were in the band? What were the musical experience of the players? What type repertoire do they currently play? How many string does a Ukelele have? How is a Ukelele tuned? Does the band have singers and percussion instruments? – and many more questions which we began to get through and will still be working some out in the coming months as it all becomes more clear to me what The Lincoln Ukelele Band are all about.

Even at this early stage I could begin to feel the compositional possibilities of a group of 40–50 strong Ukeleles could offer. I could already feel my brain racing over textural and rhythmic possibilities and how to communicate them in a clear and creative way to a group of mixed abilities, an aspect I am sure I will continue to mull over throughout this project.

Someone asked me towards the end of the day did I feel I had got the short straw with everyone else being paired with relatively traditional ensembles? I thought for a moment and then said ‘No, I’ve got the really interesting one – I’ve got the wildcard!’

With that, I left London on 19th September looking forward to meeting and watching The Lincoln Ukelele Band in a normal rehearsal the next week!