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The Panufnik Young Composers Scheme 2008 is a thing of the past – the workshop took place over three months ago, and I have already met the six Panufnik Young Composers of 2009 (Francisco Coll Garcia, Edmund Finnis, Fung Lam, Vlad Maistorovici, Max de Wardener and Toby Young) last weekend, shared my experience on the scheme and gave (hopefully) useful tips. An impressive brunch, and apparently for the time since PYCS started an all-male selection. Their new pieces will be something one looks forward to.
PYCS has been a wonderful experience, as well as having my first orchestral piece played by the London Symphony Orchestra, the best thing for me was to meet the five wonderful fellow composers – Andrew McCormack, Ayanna Witter-Johnson, Joshua Penduck, Matthew Sergeant and Sasha Siem; each one of them with has an individual voice, and I would be delighted to share platform with all of them sometime in the future.
Out of the six of us, Andrew received a commission to write a 10-minute piece for the LSO, which is to be premiered later on this year. And I have the honour to receive a commission to write a piece for the Chinese pianist Lang Lang and the London based Silk String Quartet. It is a piano quintet with a difference as the four members of the quartet play not violin, viola or any familiar Western instruments; instead, the quartet is made up of four Chinese string instruments – erhu (二胡), pipa (琵琶), yangqin (揚琴) and guzheng (古箏). An interesting combination, and a challenging piece to write. I hope the end result, Maomao Yü, is going to turn out alright.
First thing’s first. I think I’ve come up with a title. I think I’m going to call the piece ‘but today we collect ads’, after a quotation from the Smithson Partnership (Alison and Peter Smithson were revolutionary British Architects), writing as part of the infamous ‘Independent Group’ of artists:
“GROPIOUS WROTE A BOOK ON GRAIN SILOS,
LE CORBUSIER ON AEROPLANES,
AND CHARLOTTE PERIAND BROUGHT A NEW OBJECT TO THE OFFICE EVERY MORNING,
BUT TODAY WE COLLECT ADS.”
I like titles. And I usually come up with the fairly early. For me, a title serves as more than merely a label to distinguish between different pieces in a composer’s catalgoue. It actually becomes part of the composing process. Coming up with a title forces me to summarise the agenda or intensions of a piece in a single word or phrase. In doing so, I have to make some decisions as to what the piece is going to be be ‘about’ or what it’s going to ‘do’. Which, I suppose, in the grand scheme of things, are quite important things to decide.
I’m quite pleased with this title. Perhaps I’ll tell you more about it another time.
I’m also quite pleased with the new A2 manuscript paper which arrived this morning to help me write it. It is, quite possibly, the largest manuscript paper my desk has ever seen. At heart I suppose a small part of every composer is somewhat stationary obsessed.
More to follow.