|The Ensemble are very excited to annouce that the Premier of Brushstrokes will be on Sunday November 13th hosted by the Milton Keynes Gallery! The fabulous SkyRoom with its colour-pallette decor will be the perfect venue for the premier of Brushstrokes. A big thankyou to the team at the Gallery MK for their help bringing this together.|
|Last week we held a Saturday work shop so that Edgar could introduce us to parts of each of the five movements of the Brushstrokes suite. This is the moment we'd had all been waiting for!|
In our February work shop we had experimented with sounds, inspired by the five paint shades: Citron, Green Smoke, Red Earth, Elephant's Breath and Borrowed Light. It was hard to imagine how Edgar could take our sounds, thoughts and opinions and combine them with his own expertise and creativity. Edgar had composed 4-5 minutes of each movement, with parts for C flute, Piccolo, Alto, Bass and Contrabass. With most of the Ensemble attending (we forgave those who had already gone on their summer holiday), we had each part covered and could get a true sense of what the final piece will sound like.
We played through each movement, first all the way through, then stopping and starting to get a better handle on rhythms and dynamics, and to get Edgar's direction and feedback as we went. Each movement is totally different - the sweet melody of Borrowed Light contrasting with the eerie, building tones of Red Earth, for example. Very quickly we started to recognise bursts of notes that were familiar - Edgar really had taken a lot of what we'd contributed in the original workship and included it. This was amazing to hear - not many of us would ever be in a position to compose something ourselves, so to hear the sounds we had created was incredible, and exciting!
Something else that was apparent very quickly is that Edgar is focussing on each type of flute equally. Generally, flute ensemble pieces are mainly C flute-focussed, with accompaniment from the low flutes and with Piccolo as an embellishment. Not only movement to movement but even within them the emphasis changes. It had always been likely that the low flutes would shine in Elephant's Breath - and indeed they do - but it's far more than that, such as pairing the Piccolo and Alto in Green Smoke.
After a break for cake - you will have gathered by now that we do like cake - we regrouped to go through the movements again. We did this first with Edgar conducting and then with our Musical Director, Liz - after all, Liz will be guiding us through as we rehearse each week. Finally, we ran through the sections of all five movements without breaking between. This was a good chance to hear how the movements sound, contrasts and all, as our audience will eventually hear them - or maybe not...Edgar's using that opportunity as food for thought in terms of what order the movements will eventually run in.
Before we left for the day, we talked through what we had liked, and particularly what we would like to hear coming through as Edgar builds on the foundation sections. There were general ideas, and some very specific ones - you'll have to wait until next time to find out what Edgar decides to do with that feedback - as will we!
Thanks once again to Edgar for making the trip, along with his wife Emily, who joined us for the day, which was fab! And, as always, to Jenni, our Making Music Mentor for her support and guidance.
|Tonight we had our first meeting with Edgar and Jenni since our workshop a couple of months ago. Edgar brought us up to speed with what's he done with the thoughts, sounds and ideas that we developed that day. Edgar has been listening to the recordings we made that day of all our workshopped thoughts and is becoming more familiar with our flute sounds - from Piccolo to Contra Bass. |
We talked through his concept of five movements based on different paint shades and Edgar talked about which flutes might naturally work with each one - for example a low flute focus for 'Elephant's Breath'.
As Edgar spoke about using the lower octave of the piccolo, we challenged him with including the G flute we won at a flute competition a few years ago. The G Flute has a range in between the Piccolo and the C Flute and can sound quite etherial. It doesn't get used as much as we'd like as it's not often written for, so this seems the perfect opportunity to change that! Despite the curveballs we threw at him, Edgar let us know he's on track to develop our piece for September, so we're all clear what we'll be rehearing come the autumn term. We also now know that Edgar is aiming at around 20 minutes for the final piece and that, so far, there is only one very fast movement (intriguing).
When we're ready to perform the final piece, we'll need a venue. We think a gallery would make sense in terms of the theme, and the ideal surroundings for creating some art! We chatted through who has contacts in the art world and why we shouldn't just aim for the Tate Modern...we're now on a mission to see who has which contacts in the art world. We may start local and move to the Tate later...Hopefully we'll have a venue when we bring you our next update. We also need a date to perform, so lots of talk around the virtues of aiming for October half-term or not but the feeling was, let's get our perfect venue first.
We'll next get to meet with Edgar on June 20st, when he'll make the trip to one of our regular rehearsals to catch up and maybe give us a sneaky peek at what he's working on. We've also booked 23rd July for a proper workshop to play what Edgar has composed so far, and continue development.
It was a great catch up and fantastic to have some dates and decisions in place. Roll on June 20st - right, we're off gallery hunting...
|Workshop - Saturday 19th Feb|
Today, members of BWAFE met Edgar, our 'Adopt a Music Creator' composer face-to-face for the first time. Storm Eunice had tried her best but fallen fences and trees along the way didn't manage to disrupt our plans.
The aim of the morning was for us to get to know each other better and start to workshop some sounds, based on Edgar's creative theme for the suite he will compose for us (more on that later).
After a chat and a cuppa, plus comparisons on who had witnessed most storm carnage on the journey in, Edgar and Jenni, our Making Music mentor, took us through some intro exercises. While these seemed aimed at warming us up (quite literally as the heating wasn't on at that point), Jenni explained afterwards that they give a real insight into how we work together as a group - how we listen to each other and interact. We ran through a rhythmic clapping exercise, and provided a lively soundtrack to a walk through the Antarctic, complete with creaking doors, wind, Huskies and penguins (what sound DOES a penguin make??).
Once the laughter had died down, it was time to get the flutes out and rehearse a piece we've been working on for just a few weeks: Smetana's Dance of the Comedians from the The Bartered Bride. Liz led this as a 'normal' rehearsal, giving Edgar the chance to listen in, moving around the room to hear the different flutes and different players. It's a fast piece with lots of shifting dynamics and contrasting sections, so a good example of the different sounds we can make together. Kudos to Annette who sight-read the piccolo part, which isn't easy!
We stopped for cake - and more tea - we have some brilliant bakers in the group so there were some tough decisions to make, but we coped!
Then it was over to Edgar, who revealed the theme for our future suite. While deciding how to decorate his house, he had picked up on the weird and wonderful names given to shades of paint, and selected five for us, along with a colour swatch. These are: Elephant's Breath; Citron; Green Smoke; Borrowed Light, and Earth Red. Edgar explained how both the names and the shades themselves make you feel a certain way, that can be translated into music. Edgar has made it clear from the beginning that this composition is very much a collaboration and that our ideas, thoughts and opinions would be taken through into the final suite - so now he put us to work.
We split into groups, took a shade each and worked together on the sort of sounds and notes that we felt represented it - just a short burst - and played it back to the wider group, with Edgar recording them all to listen back to later. Many of us haven't done anything like that before but some of the sounds we came up were pretty impressive! It also freed us up to be a bit adventurous - as our musical director Liz pointed out, if we'd been presented with these as sheet music, we would have thought them too difficult, and definitely not our usual style.
It was a rewarding, fun morning and we really achieved something together. We'll be spending our next few rehearsals working on our entry for the Bedfordshire Festival of Music and Drama, but will putting in a date to catch up with Edgar and Jenni soon, and are excited to see what Edgar will have for us by then.
|Tonight was our first opportunity to meet with our ‘Adopt a Music Creator’ composer, Edgar Divver, and mentor Jenni Pinnock, so an exciting night for us all! Jenni came to meet us in person and masterfully managed to coordinate getting all of us on a Zoom call with Edgar. It would have been lovely to meet Edgar in person but we all agreed that a 3-hour each way journey wouldn’t be fair on a Monday evening…It was a little like Blind Date for most of us, although Jenni and Edgar had already met Musical Director Liz and Secretary Nicky, when the pairings were announced by Making Music. It was probably more nerve-wracking for Edgar than us, meeting 19 Flautists all at once! We looked friendly and waved a lot so hopefully he felt welcome.|
We started the evening rehearsing the Ballet Suite by Shostakovich, a piece we’ll be playing at Bedfordshire Festival of Music and Drama in March, with Edgar and Jenni listening to how we all sound together, and how we interact with Liz as she coaches us through the piece. It was then our turn to listen to parts of five pieces Edgar has composed, giving us a real insight into his style – and reminding us how exciting this project is: we’re going to have music composed especially for us! Before the rehearsal Edgar had given us some questions: what we like about playing together; why we like playing the flute, and what music we enjoy playing (Blind Date again). We went through the responses together – it was a great idea – it felt as though Edgar ‘gets us’ already.
Next up for us: on February 19 we’ll finally have the chance to all meet face-to-face when we come together for a workshop, trying out some music and chatting through ideas, putting us well and truly on the path towards our musical creation.
|Bedfordshire Woodwind Academy Flute Ensemble (BWAFE) is one of just six music groups chosen to be part of Making Music’s ‘Adopt a Music Creator’ 2022 programme. The programme celebrates the range and breadth of music being made by music makers and creators in all its forms. BWAFE has been paired with emerging music creator Edgar Divver, working together for up to a year to create an original piece, leading to a premiere, recording and possible radio broadcast. |
The selected music creators have the opportunity to get to know performing groups and write a piece especially for them, while groups have the chance to contribute to the creation of a new work by some of the UK’s most promising music creators. Each pairing is assigned an experienced mentor to support and guide the music creator and group, and help the creative process run smoothly.
Liz Childs, BWAFE’s Musical Director said: “We are so thrilled to have been chosen to be part of the ‘Adopt a Music Creator’ programme. We’ve met Edgar already, and he’ll be coming to our regular rehearsal soon to properly set our partnership in motion – we’re looking forward to showing him what we can do, and hopefully inspiring his plans for us! As well as experiencing something totally unique, we recognise this as an opportunity to showcase the joy of playing in an ensemble and, more specifically, of playing the flute - encouraging more people to give it a go!”
About Edgar Divver: Edgar is an award-winning composer and educator who has had works performed by Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, BBC Singers, Psappha and The Ossian Ensemble, amongst others. He studied at the University of Birmingham and Royal Northern College of Music. He balances his freelance composing and instrumental teaching career with working for the Hallé in Manchester as part of their Youth Ensembles team.
About Making Music: Making Music supports and champions leisure-time music across the UK, providing practical services, artistic opportunities and a collective voice for over 3,800 member groups.
Adopt a Music Creator is run by Making Music in partnership with Sound and Music, and is funded by the PRS Foundation and the Philip & Dorothy Green Music Trust.