Composers who took part in the 2016/17 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 email@example.com if you have more general enquires about the legacy project.
Christopher Schlechte-Bond - Martian Saloon
Re-scored for: more flexible concert band 3flt(3rd Picc.).2ob.2bsn 3clr.bsclr 2asx.2tsx.bsx 2hn.3tpt.2tbn.bstbn.tba.euph 2perc bsgtr
Minimum requirements: 2flt(2nd Picc.).ob.bsn 2clr asx.tsx 2hn.2tpt.2tbn.bstbn.tba perc bsgtr
This piece is made up of two sections. The first is a martian soundscape of ethereal harmonies, atmospheric playing techniques and a lot of 'playing in freetime', beginning with a cloud of dreamy whistling and rumbling bass drum. The piccolo is heard mysteriously in the distance and then the instruments begin to creep in one by one. A more upbeat rhythm is hinted at through various ominous vocal effects. After a while, the second section emerges suddenly: exciting, fast-paced and clamorous.
This is an inventive composition for wind band which is of moderate difficulty, though the composer cleverly re-uses much of the works more rhythmic ideas so that the players do not need to learn a great deal of new material. The work also uses extended techniques, but these support the narrative of the music effectively and would make sense to any audience hearing the work for the first time. The evocative and atmospheric music in the first part of the piece is contrasted very well with more energetic and rhythmically driven sections, giving much variety for both players and audiences.
Aran Browning - A Quiet Life
Re-scored for: SATB and piano
The piece delves into what it's like to be a part of a community choir, highlighting and sharing the other elements off-stage that the audience don't usually see; from membership change to organising lifts, performance nerves to finding a place to rehearse. This customisable version gives the opportunity for choirs to contextualise and personalise the work to their story and community. Two versions of the score are provided, one with suggestive lyric gaps and another with the original text for reference. Incorporating video, which reflects and captures being in your choir, is encouraged. For support in customising, such as changing lyrics which would affect rhythm, contact the composer through Making Music.
This is an attractive work which takes its inspiration from the particular history of The Strathendrick Singers, for whom it was written. It can certainly be performed by other choirs in this original version, as the words and themes would have currency for many amateur groups, such as the strong sense of community. However, Aran has given the option for new groups to insert their own particular words or phrases, in order to individualise the piece, an innovative move that has been cleverly achieved. The work is of moderate difficulty and contains a separate piano part, but this would be easily managed by most choir pianists. The musical language is broadly tonal, with some attractive chromaticism that again would be within the grasp of most amateur choirs.
Rosie Clements - In Reginald's Garden
In Reginald’s Garden is inspired by the life of horticulturalist Reginald Cory and his family who resided at Dyffryn House and Gardens in Wales from 1891. Reginald went on many plant-hunting exhibitions and funded many others and it it these trips and expeditions which gave Dyffryn Gardens it’s spectacular flora and fauna. This piece uses descriptions of flowers from the book Wild Flowers of Britain and Ireland to reflect the scientific nature of these expeditions. Lily of the Valley and Yellow Whitlow Grass are featured heavily in this piece because of their connections to Dyffryn; Dyffryn is the Welsh word for valley as well as the name of the house, and Yellow Whitlow Grass is the county flower of the Vale of Glamorgan where Dyffryn lies.
Text from Wild Flowers of Britain and Ireland by Marjorie Blamey, Richard Fitter and Alastair Fitter, by permission from Domino Books Ltd.
Rosie’s piece is highly idiosyncratic with a dramatic beginning involving spatial presentation. The text is based on the names and descriptions of flowers, and through its mantra, it evokes a close up view of a garden through the medium of singing. It evolves passages of textural music and then more choric material. If you’re interested in something a bit different which might challenge your choir in many ways, then this piece is for you.
Adriano Adewale - Suite Dialogues
This piece is based on and inspired by the wonderful power dialogues have. It enables people to communicate feelings, emotions and thoughts in different levels. It creates possibilities of understanding one another while also nurturing a space for all people to come together through peaceful and yet poignant and truthful ways.
Suite Dialogues is a spirited and warm-hearted orchestral conversation in which every section of the orchestra has a chance to shine.
After a sparse, wistful opening, the pace soon quickens to expose a lightness of touch embedded in rhythmic intricacies which pass neatly through the orchestra.
Lyrical lines give way to tiptoeing tangos, while nimble pizzicato dance rhythms scurry from sudden punctuations. Perhaps a little more demanding in terms of rhythmic vitality for the string section than any other, the challenge here is not in notational complexities, but in bringing a radiant effervescence to sound, ensemble, rhythmic precision and dialogue.
Mark Boden - Homo Sum
Re-scored for: SATB, Children's chorus and sinfonietta
Homo Sum was conceived as a celebration of multiculturalism, reflecting both the diversity of Croydon and the Croydon Bach Choir for whom the piece was commissioned, in addition to celebrating the cosmopolitan nature of London and the UK in general. Across the eight movements comprising Homo Sum, some of the references to multiculturalism are very direct (such as the use of nine different languages), though there are also more more subtle allusions to different cultures and traditions, through varied use of rhythm, texture and harmony.
Mark’s piece exists in three forms; the full ‘choir and sinfonietta’ version, the ‘choir and strings’ version, and the ‘choir and piano’ version. It is a very accessible and varied piece, allowing for maximum flexibility. There are, for example, sections for soloists from within the choir. The texts form a wonderful collection from around the world, and the music is similarly eclectic. This is a powerful piece for a choir wishing to commit to a large-scale new work.
Adopt a Composer 2015/2016 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. Its 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 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.