Thursday 17 November 2016

A Newent Symphony

It's taken over seven months to complete this composition and I felt the need to express one or two thoughts after such a long time living with it. It's the most ambitious piece that I've come up with so far and the writing process has been interesting, to say the least. The idea was to take some pictorial themes in and around Newent and to represent them in music.  There are five: the lake; its spring daffodils; the market square and main streets; the Onion Fayre; and May Hill with its top-knot of trees.

Music is an abstract art so the listener is more important than the composer in deciding how to respond to or interpret the music. However, because of my relative inexperience in composition the writing has been an instinctive rather than academic process and the end result seems, to me, clearly descriptive. Satisfyingly though, the music stands on its own, without any titles or descriptions to go with it.

The brief to myself was to make the music enjoyable to play and listen to and was written particularly with the Newent Orchestra in mind. Happily, having (hopefully) met these criteria this has not meant any dumbing-down.  Compared with a Shostakovitch or a Prokofiev opus, my stuff is easy going, but easy does not mean the music is lacking in depth or interest and listeners will detect a fusion of influences from Baroque to folk, including calypso!  It's my hope that the symphony will have appeal well beyond the boundaries of Newent.

A concert has been scheduled to launch the Newent Symphony at the end of March. In keeping with the descriptive, even visual nature of the music, an art exhibition celebrating Newent in art, poetry and photography will be run in conjunction with the concert. This is quite an ambitious project, involving a much expanded orchestra membership, its brass contingent and percussion, involving also a complete community cross-section of young and old alike to both create the event and come and listen. Although this sounds somewhat ambitious, a ringing endorsement has been achieved already with the awarding of a substantial grant for staging the concert. That was great news to me and I openly thank clarinetist, Claire Townshend, for her support and for obtaining this bonanza for our orchestra.

You can preview the music at