Monday, 11 June 2012 11:43
The ESO's Composer-in-Residence, Robert Rival, has been meeting with the 2012 winners of Young Composers Project (YCP), Daniel Belland (St. Joseph High School) and Samantha Semler (Strathcona High School), since early February. Daniel and Samantha will each write an original work for symphony orchestra to be premiered at the ESO's popular Symphony Under the Sky
festival (Aug. 31 to Sep. 3 at Hawrelak Park). On May 15 they performed their works-in-progress in reductions for piano four hands before an invited audience. This workshop gave them an opportunity to receive criticism from a mixed audience in a workshop setting. Below, in their own words, are the students' impressions of the workshop.
Since we last wrote, things have come a long way! In the past two months or so, we’ve both written a score of our pieces in reduced form (for piano, four hands), which we then practised and presented to an invited audience in a workshop setting. At the workshop, we talked a bit about our pieces and then performed them for John Estacio (first composer-in-residence at the ESO), Lucas Waldin (resident conductor), Bob Bernhardt (conductor, Symphony Under The Sky), Robin Doyon (Principal trumpet) as well as ESO staff, donors and family. After we performed our pieces, we opened up the floor to questions and comments from our audience. It was a great learning experience and because of the stage that we’re at with our pieces, it was the perfect time to get feedback about what worked and what didn’t work. Having such experienced musicians in the crowd was incredibly valuable, and they pointed out things that we didn’t consider. For example, while playing our pieces, Samantha and I would add little “musical” things, like adding tiny ritardandos or accelerandos that weren’t actually written in the score but were unconscious musical expressions. But unless that’s explicitly marked in the score, conductors or other musicians will likely not do that, (or will add them in different spots). Of course, it’s expected that each person will interpret a piece differently, but it’s very important that a composer marks in as much information as possible so that the piece is interpreted how they want it to be, or else it’s all free game!
The next step for us is to orchestrate our pieces. It’s going to be exciting to take them from one piano to a full orchestra!
Until next time,
Leading up to May 15th we were required to compose our five-minute piece for four-hand piano and think about how we would orchestrate each part. I had written a much shorter four hand piano piece once before, but this one forced me to think in a whole different way; I had to pay closer attention to all of the small details. I enjoyed playing along with Daniel Belland on his piece especially because our pieces contrast one another. Through the comments from those in attendance, I realized that more focus needs to be placed on clear tempo markings. I also received feedback about one specific section of my piece that has repeated clusters of notes. On the piano they sound fine but when translated to the orchestra they will sound heavy and muddy, therefore I need to make changes to ensure transparency throughout the piece. I look forward to the next steps as I take in all of the comments I received and continue to learn about orchestration from Robert Rival through studying Pictures at An Exhibition
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