Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Cornwall: The composition

This trip to Cornwall was our last before the concert which will be at the end of February. Since it was our last real working session, we had to make sure that our pieces were completely written so that next time all we have to do is refresh and rehearse, but not compose anymore.

I was a little nervous about this because I felt like I hadn't done enough work or put enough thought into it on my own time, and also because I haven't written that much music (nor been the leader for many composition projects)- so: nervous.

A few days before the trip I decided that I really ought to listen to the recordings I made before Christmas break to see where we were and what needed doing- lo and behold, it turned out that we had already structured and rehearsed most of the piece and really only needed to write the ending and perhaps one more section. Turns out I was way more on the ball than I thought...

So we rehearsed and reviewed and tried to remember how we had played the piece the last time. We were handicapped in this process as our principal violinist was gone and I only had one pair of headphones for the recording. John came in just before suppertime and said that it sounded a bit disjointed and maybe we wanted to cut out a section or perhaps make it a set of miniatures? So that made me nervous again, but I shouldn't have worried! Because the kids are fabulous and the piece was sound and coherent and really all we needed to do was make the ending I had already planned, rehearse a bunch, and play a few games wherein we wiggled a lot in order to wake up.

I was so proud of them because they really pulled it together and because the principal violinist was gone a lot of them had to take on more leader-y roles than they had in the past and they all TOTALLY stepped up to the plate.

I was particularly impressed with my youngest violinist who was struggling with our melody that opens and closes the piece. Everyone else has it down, and while I knew she still wasn't solid- I wasn't sure how to help her out without making the rest of the group stop and re-learn the melody as well. She, however, was brave and stubborn enough to make it clear that she needed individual help- so the two of us went to the hallway to work on learning it by ear and I left the rest of the group to figure out which kind of entrances for the final cannon they preferred (one whole iteration before the next entrance, or just one bar?). In 3 minutes she had it down pat and the rest of the group had not only decided which entrances they liked better (whole iteration) they had also added a chord to end the piece. How clever are my kids?!

Suffice to say the final piece was awesome, the students all liked it, and it is going to sound totally cool in the atrium of the gallery in St. Ives. I have an mp3 of it on my computer if anyone would like to listen to it- email me and I'll forward it to you.

Also- somewhat unrelated- we each have a composer who is working on pieces that will be played at the end of the year by the CYO that are supposed to be inspired by the pieces that we write with the students. Mine is named Eseld, and she is wonderful. The first time we went to Cornwall she was very pregnant, the second time she was gone, and this time she brought her two month old baby boy with her. He is totally adorable and I held him a bunch because baby time is almost always good.

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