Many months behind the scenes

Southampton Concert Wind Band (SCWB) were paired with Robert Laidlow on the Adopt a Composer project, and much has happened in just a few months.

The band first met Robert in October 2018. SCWB were in a pre-performance rehearsal at Turner Sims in Southampton, and Robert and his mentor, Fraser Trainer, popped down to meet us, and to catch as much of the concert as their trains home allowed. In this concert, we had a guest alto saxophonist, Gerard McChrystal, who Fraser had worked with in the past, so as well as new meetings, there was much catching up done too!
That first meeting made it clear to us that Robert was keen to hear how we perform, and the repertoire we include in concert.

It is seen to be an important part of the pairings, such that the new composition reflects both the composer, and the band that will perform the piece.

We were flattered to hear how impressed Robert was with the range of styles we included in our programme that night.
Fast forward to the end of October, and Robert and Fraser came down to Southampton for a specially arranged rehearsal evening with us, to try some of Rob’s musical sketches. Both very modern in their form, the band seemed not only keen to understand the pieces and how they should be approached, but also rose to the challenge of suggesting what other aspects of music making might be included while the substantive work is being developed.

Use of extended techniques, periods of free music, wider percussion inclusion - these were all shouted out by a quite energised band, clearly realising that here was an opportunity to take their music making to a place they have either feared to previously ask for, or dared to tread. 

No doubt the months ahead will be challenging, as ideas are passed back and forth in the creative process, but the band is deeply committed to fulfilling its joint responsibility of playing a composition as it was written to be played, while entertaining our audience in its execution.


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The Adopt a Composer project matches vocal and instrumental leisure-time music groups with some of the UK’s most promising composers to collaborate on creating a new piece of music. The project leads to a première performance and broadcast on BBC Radio 3. If you’re a music group or composer and you’d like to take part, find out more.