Composers who took part in the 2015/16 project have re-scored their pieces to make them more accessible to groups of other kinds. These new versions are now available for Making Music member groups to download for free and perform.
Below you can listen to recordings of each of the original pieces (made for the BBC Radio 3 broadcasts), and read accompanying notes from the composers and project mentors (Fraser Trainer, David Horne and Colin Riley) to help you identify which piece might work best for your group. We look forward to many more performances of these wonderful new compositions.
Contact the composers if you have further questions about their pieces or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have more general enquires about the legacy project.
Chris Hutchings - Janya
Re-scored for: full orchestra (3333; 4331; timp&perc, strings)
Based on a sculpture by Annette Yarrow outside Chester Cathedral. A trio of trumpet, horn and trombone play together at several points (trio trumpet and trio horn should be high players) and should be seated together if possible, although they do not need to be separated from the rest of the brass. This trio trumpet part may be played by a soprano saxophone instead, if one is available.
Janya is an attractive orchestral work that takes as its inspiration the eponymous bronze elephant sculpture gifted to the city of Chester by the local zoo. While the inspiration was local to the orchestra that first performed the piece the work’s clear narrative will appeal to all audiences and performers. The music is cleverly written at an intermediate level of difficulty, containing freely written sections for some instruments and powerful passages in rhythmic unison, such as the opening and close of the work.
Ed Scolding - Land Cycle
Re-scored for: SATB and piano acc.
There are three movements, each focussing on a different moment of the year in a different outdoor landscape. Thaw by Edward Thomas sets a scene damped by a layer of melting snow; Shaun Gardiner’s Invocation sees new life bursting with violent insistence in spring; 8th century poet Li Po writes In the Mountains on a Summer Day of a hazy wood so hot that all movement slows to near stillness.
Land Cycle is a very evocative and compelling piece for voices, recently re-scored with piano. It’s three movements each have a very distinctive feel and character. Winter Ending has an optimistic openness, a robust rhythmic template and offers an optional piano part to support the striding vocal lines. Spring Bursting is the most demanding movement with its taught, angular lines and independent layers. Great for developing the confidence in pitching of the group! Summer Heat demands precise ensemble and stamina whilst still wanting to sound relaxed and calm in the stifling temperatures.
Angela Slater - Fantasy of the Dawn
Re-scored for: String orchestra (2vn, va, vc, db)
In its original form, the piece begins with a section that explores the unusual sounds that the Ukulele can make, conjuring up imagery of nortunal activity. In this new version the same types of sounds are explored but using the strengths and unique timbres of bowed string instruments. This builds to a dramatic point of climax, marking the beginning of an energetic rhythmic section that represents the emergence of the day and the energy that it brings.
Fantasy of the Dawn is an imaginative work for string orchestra that combines fascinating extended techniques with more straightforward rhythmic passages filled with driving energy. At an intermediate level of difficulty this would be an excellent introduction to unusual sounds and textures for string players of all ages. The rhythmic sections are similarly fun to play and will definitely improve counting ability!
Neil Tòmas Smith - The Hoard and Perle (excerpt)
Re-scored for: SATB + solo SATB (The Hoard) or SATB (Perle)
The Hoard: In this piece I wanted to explore the idea of hoards in general, while also relating some aspects specifically to Thame. Above all I was interested in the strange juxtapositions of time – of history encountered through objects – that hoards embody so well. Past and present mix in this piece, creating a musical space in which the new can sound old, and the old new.
Perle: Originally the conclusion to The Hoard, Perle is a partial setting of a Middle English text by an unknown author (usually known as the ‘Perle Poet’). The poem is a lament for the loss of a woman dear to the narrator – a pearl who has slipped into earth.
The Hoard: This is a rich and thoughtful piece with variety in its three movements. Whilst is a serious undertaking, it is one that brings huge rewards for the choir as it is so well-written. For singers interested in stretching themselves and engaging with some new techniques and ways of performing, this would be an excellent piece to sing. There is also the opportunity to personalise the music by including local historical information. A part for children’s choir adds a further dimension, although again the music is flexible in that it can also be performed by an adult choir alone.
Perle: For a choir wishing to extend the range of their work, but to get back much as they put in, this is the perfect piece. It is very well written for a choir and has a clear structure. It is reasonably short and provides the interest of singing in Middle English.
Lee Westwood - Barricades
Re-scored for: Orchestra (3333; 43211; 2perc, strings)
Barricades takes its name from the old Jewish folk song Barikadn, which was written by the Vilna poet-partisan Shmerke Kaczerginsky. Whilst the lyrics describe another time and place in Jewish history, they resonate very closely with the events that took place during the Battle Of Cable Street. The music is built from two contrasting textures which meet face to face in stark fronts of sound, cutting each other off abruptly. As these collisions continue, and the barricades between them gradually weaken, the structural autonomy of the two textures is compromised, and they begin to overlap and merge in a simple dialogue of dynamics and colour.
Barricades is an earthy musical drama that sets two independent musical ideas against each other. It’s a great piece for developing the confidence and independence of players within an ensemble. The difficulty level is moderate and aims at developing the quality of intention, sonic presence and innate flexibility of each player. The notation is slightly different from the norm, but is consistent, effective and straightforward to interpret.
Alison Willis - Journeys
Re-scored for: Orchestra (flexible)
Journeys is a response to the ongoing Refugee Crisis. This version builds on the original string orchestration and is intended to be flexible, working with any orchestral ensemble that has a solid string section as its foundation. The piece is written in three movements, or 'Acts', which can be performed individually or as a whole. The first Act is about leaving, the second about travel and the third arriving. Each movement features solo lines that represent the millions of individuals that combine to become a 'bunch of migrants'.
This is an exciting and varied piece for youth orchestra/amateur orchestra and provides dramatic and instantly-enjoyable interest for all players. Some aspects are straightforward and others will take more time to put together, but the music always gives the players plenty to engage with. Each movement could I think also be performed separately.
The Adopt a Composer project is run by Making Music in partnership with Sound and Music, in association with BBC Radio 3, and funded by the PRS For Music Foundation, Philip and Dorothy Green Trust and Creative Scotland.