okay some ground rules. I don’t write and I barely read, so this will inevitably read badly. I’m also just dumping a large amount of information thoughts and opinions as reasonably unfiltered as possible. I also doubt anyone reads these (unless I’ve advertised one somewhere else…) so I’m not too bothered about presentation etc.
(photo by Sam Cornish)
(this photo is so funny to me I’m laughing at the fact that we are getting our photo taken and everyone looks so serious)
Back in October while waiting outside a house for someone to come to the door (who never did) I received an Email from the Ludlow English song festival confirming they had accepted my onto their young composers workshop and platform. I was surprised, mostly because I didn’t remember submitting anything, and also because I had received around nine rejection emails from other things I had applied for within about three weeks.
so that was good.
I got excited. I was gratified. Someone somewhere thought my work was good. Happy with the feeling of being validated I then read that I had to write a song. Set text to music for voice and piano.
Now when I applied, I knew this. But then after several existential questions I had decided that composition was something I wanted to step away from. It was unhealthy for me to be constantly writing applications and being rejected, or writing pieces that I didn’t want to write for a call for scores that probably didn’t want to hear my music anyway, because I wasn’t fussed on what I had written anyway.
I’m rambling here.
Long story short, I was having issues with what I wanted to do being asked to write a piece for piano and voice was nice, but it was not what I wanted to do. As a result I wrote a piece that I didn’t really want to write. So fundamentally, me being at this festival, was flawed.
However, I had a bloody blast. Ludlow was quaint and pretty, had some great walks, silly shops, nice buildings and a strange little library. The other composers and performers were cool, they knew what they were about and were nice people. My hosts were bloody great. I was never as grateful for their hospitality in all my life. Such lovely and humble people, who were just happy to talk to me about anything. There were a load of concerts. Some of which I enjoyed. I had several lovely conversations with members of the audience and talking with Eleanor Alberga was a treat.
I had such a brilliant, lovely time at the ludlow english song festival and now I know not to apply for anything like it again. Writing a score to be then performed by people you’ve only just met has a strange dynamic to it. If someone was to perform my music, I want to write for them. I want us to work on something as an end goal. Not me write everything and tell the performer to do it and then for the performers and myself to compromise for something neither of us want.The whole performer vs composer vibe is strange. It doesn’t feel collaborative. We should work on ways of breaking this down…
I was happy-ish with the piece. But I’m not excited or in love with it. And I should be excited by the things I make. And I should want to share them with other people. But this piece was not something I had my heart in.
I was very happy to collaborate with my friend and poet James Lindsay on the words, and with Aaron Breeze and Eliza Boom on the piece. I’ve never presented a score for someone to perform who I didn’t already know, and they made the experience as comfortable as they could and did a swell job.
But like I say, I’ll not do this again. I applied thinking ‘this will be great for my portfolio and CV. this will lead to more opportunities.’. I think I (or maybe everyone) should think of this thought as cancerous. I will apply for an opportunity if it excites me about the thing I’ll be making or doing. Not the status of the opportunity.
I’m involved in this world of music because I love it. Not because I want to be successful. The Music is far more important than me, my career or anybody else’s.
If you want to write a new piece for piano and voice, I highly recommend you apply for the platform next year.
If you want to write anything else…
Maybe you should? Who knows.
Again this is just my experience I’m sure Sam, Amy or Luciano have very different opinions to what this festival meant to them.