Recently, I returned from a holiday in Wales, mostly spent taking photos of Red Kites and braving the great outdoors wearing inadequate clothes (well, I thought August was supposed to be hot!!). I was very pleased that I managed to finish the LSO piece before I left, as I’ve discovered on previous occasions that composition and holidays with my husband don’t mix particularly well! I’m now embarking on the next piece – which I’m writing as part of the VOX course at the Royal Opera House – but the LSO piece is still very much in the back of my mind.
One really useful aspect of the scheme is that we are able to send draft instrumental parts to individual players of the LSO, in order to get advice on writing for those instruments we feel less confident with. In my case this is definitely the harp – as an ex viola player I can just about cope with four strings, but any more than that flummoxes me somewhat! I have also taken the opportunity to send my percussion part over and I hope this will produce some useful feedback. Then, after submitting my draft score, I can wait for some final feedback from James MacMillan before looking forward to the workshop in January.
Writing for the LSO has been a great challenge, slightly nerve-racking, but overall a tremendously exciting experience. Getting to know the orchestra has been wonderful too. I first remember hearing the LSO when I was about 12 years old – I was rather obsessed by Yuri Bashmet from around this time and I remember dragging my long suffering father along to several Bashmet/LSO concerts. My ambition at that time was not to be a soloist like Bashmet, but to play in an orchestra – and hearing the LSO left an indelible impression. A couple of years later, I was lucky enough to undertake my school work experience with the LSO. I spent a week helping (or possibly hindering!) the admin department, backstage – and sitting in on Vengerov and Rostropovich recording the Shostakovich 1st violin concerto which was an unforgettable experience.
By several twists of fate I haven’t ended up playing for the LSO, but have ended up writing for them instead! As this will be my final blog post here I’d like to thank everyone involved with the scheme and encourage all composers out there to apply as it really is a great experience. I hope to see you all at the workshop in January.