A musical journey

Musical director of the Edinburgh Concert Band, Sarah Cunningham, and member of the band, Christine Bethune, are excited about their creative journey on the Adopt a Composer project

Sarah Cunningham, musical director of the Edinburgh Concert Band, is delighted to be creatively challenged

I was both excited and nervous for Gaynor's next visit to our March rehearsal, knowing that the piece would have progressed further with new material. At the previous rehearsal we had the bare bones of what looked to be an interesting and potentially challenging piece.The melodies seemed firmly bedded in and the style very new in comparison to the music we are used to playing. Any discussion around Gaynor's creative ideas were vast, exciting, hugely imaginative and seemed endless. All this was starting to feel quite overwhelming for someone who is far more comfortable following the creative instructions on the page and adhering to traditional musical styles and directions from the composer.

Pre-rehearsal, a good couple of hours studying the score and sound file I came up with some questions and ways of rehearsing each section of the piece. I wanted to deliver the rehearsal in such a way that encouraged the band without apprehension of the new styles and help their understanding of the piece.

Gaynor's input at this rehearsal was invaluable and between us it was a success, with the band looking for more and asking what was coming next. Result!

As we work more in each other’s company the pairing with Gaynor continues to be a massively positive project where we both draw on each other’s experiences, learning and benefitting from our different approaches. After each rehearsal I look forward more and more to the piece unfolding. Gaynor is taking us all on a musical journey into a world of new styles of music and expression out of our comfort zone. I am enjoying every minute and I feel like the band are too.

First draft date 22 April, we can’t wait!

Christine Bethune, oboe player, on being part of the creating process

The rehearsal was fantastic, with Gaynor there to give us the first really full impression of the shape and style of the work in progress. It was really good to have a whole rehearsal to devote to this. Gaynor provided a worksheet with the main themes so even if we don't actually play them in our section we know what's going on and can fit in and support them. (A technique I recognise from my choir — we all sing much better if we know what the other parts are doing!) The themes were fun to play, and also accessible — this will mean a lot to our eventual audience. And it was great seeing how they fitted into the score. Think I'm going to love this piece. Bikes play a major role, as does Edinburgh — not giving away too many secrets!

But what really came home to me was the fantastic working relationship between Sarah and Gaynor. They were buzzing. They had such confidence in each other. Speaks volumes for the quality of communication behind the scenes as well as for the huge professionalism that is going into this project. And they brought to the rehearsal a genuinely and totally relaxed mood so that the band at large felt included in the discussion, could ask questions and add comments to the score without any feeling of intimidation or awkwardness.  

It's a privilege to be part of this creation!