It was a huge privilege to join my 5 other composer colleagues over the internet to share our works in progress in a workshop lead by the fantastic composer David Fennessy and the equally brilliant guitarist Tom McKinney. Over the course of 4 hours, we delved deep into the 6 brand new pieces — each incredibly crafted and contrasted from one another — and shared our thoughts with the group. Ranging from simple notational queries to reflective aesthetic decisions, it was an intensely insightful and inspirational chance to talk openly and honestly about our creativity in a way that I haven’t had the chance to do in a long time.

Cover of 'Sweet Anthem'

A quick snap of the '7 Sisters' of Cothelstone Hill on a break writing 'Sweet Anthem' in January

I am so grateful to Psappha and Tim Williams for their mighty ongoing support - it is a rare opportunity that has been afforded to us 6 composers to discuss our work in a safe and positive forum. It was an absolute treat to hear Tom McKinney bring my ‘Sweet Anthem’ to life — composing in lockdown is a very isolated experience, so hearing a world-class musician tackling half a dozen exceptionally difficult pieces with such skill and artistic poise is no mean feat! David Fennessy’s positivity and guitar-expertise made him an ideal leader for the afternoon — his commitment and curiosity to our creative processes was so inspiring to be a part of, and I can’t wait to put all that I’ve learned into practice for my next (and final!) draft of ‘Sweet Anthem’.
Perhaps the most pertinent thought from the afternoon emerged from a discussion between David and my fellow composer Robert Reid Allan: the notion of over-composing and the sentiment of “just because you can doesn’t mean you should.” This is something I’m thinking about a lot as a creative — especially as a recent graduate in the ‘real world’ for the first time. Who do I write my music for: the audience? The performer? Myself? Do I write my music for anyone? Should my music impress? Or provoke a response?

Tweet via @PsapphaEnsemble

There are lots more questions that I don’t have the answers too — what’s important at the moment is to celebrate digital pioneers, like Tim Williams and Psappha, who are facilitating these hugely valuable experiences of creativity and self-reflection in a time of artistic crisis. Thanks again to Tom & David (and huge congratulations to my fellow 5 colleagues) for a fabulous afternoon of music making and discussion. I can’t wait for April!