Sunday, 26 June 2016

Lehigh Choral Composers Forum: Day 7

The home stretch of a truly remarkable week of music making - last day of the Lehigh Choral Composers Forum. With no seminar or lessons to attend today, we began the day with a de-briefing lunch at Zoellner. Safe to say, the general consensus of the week has been one of many emotions: from break-throughs to break-downs, everyone has had a little bit of an emotional roller coaster this week whilst trying to realise their new piece for choir. But also, it's been a week of connections. Dr Sven-David Sandstrom spoke to us with the view that, we are now all friends and colleagues, a view I most certainly hold myself. There are many composers involved in this forum whom I would love for choirs back home in Guernsey to perform, and there are many composers whom are now very dear to me and who I truly feel are now friends for life. Dr Steven Sametz reiterated that, in a week where there can be no failure (and indeed, there was none) we have all learned things about ourselves through watching other people's compositional journey's as well as going through our own. I certainly feel like I've certainly come to know 18 other pieces as well as my own - my head this morning is some sort of very strange mishmash of all these pieces! From my own experience, alongside the amazing music, this week has heavily featured the following topics: The use of key signature's when composing, the EU referendum (let's not go there shall we?.....) and gender equality within the composing world. Clearly a topic that is immediately apparent because I was the lone female at this forum, I have to say I was a little apprehensive at the start of the week as to how it would be. However, I quickly realised that I was amongst peers and equals, and felt completed accepted as 'one of the boys' within this group. I never once felt singled out because of my gender, and I really do want to thank everyone for that. There are far too many ideas and opinions on how we create and maintain gender equality within music (and the arts in general), enough for an entirely separate blogpost (*hint hint). But safe to say, gender equality is alive and well at this forum.... if even it doesn't look like it from the outside!

Off to Bethlehem, it's the three wise.... men?
After lunch, with a little bit of time to kill, Bryan Lin, Corey Hable and myself went for a little wander around main street Bethlehem. A really beautiful city, with a lot of history, and sadly not enough time to take it all in. To be honest, I haven't really seen much of this place outside of the Lehigh University Campus (and the various 'watering holes' nearby). If I were to do this forum again (and I would really love to) it would definitely be on the agenda to try and see more of the city.

The final rehearsals of this week, in the Baker Theatre at the Zoellner Arts Centre, a last chance for the Princeton Singers to put the finishing touches on our pieces. I have so say, we (the composers) thought our job was tough, writing a new piece in such a short space of time. These singers (and Dr Sametz who conducts them) have had to learn all 19 new pieces... in essentially 5 days.... whilst the pieces are still evolving. A really remarkable feat, to say the least! And all credit to them, they pulled it off. Indeed the concert in the evening was a great success, and it was truly wonderful to hear all the music at the finishing point. If I were to highlight my favourite pieces of the week (excluding my own, because, you know, I'm a bit biased), I would have to single out Casey Rule's 'The Singers', which features some fantastic harmony (aka, chord porn) and a brilliant piano part, and Michael Fairbairns 'I will come to you.' I've mention Michael's piece several times now, but I literally cannot stop going on about it, it is truly magnificent (and yes, I wept like a child in the concert, it broke me). Both of these pieces I would love to perform back home in Guernsey in St James concert hall (and I hope to, one day soon!) Post concert, of course, we made our way out for a drink or three to celebrate. A lovely mirror of lunchtime's de-briefing, it was a great way to cement in the new friendships, and have a last hurrah with this week's witty banter.

A job well done indeed - 19 new works in the bag!
The music involved this week has been sensational, and I highly recommend you check out these talent people - so here's links to all their websites (*note - this will fill in as I get all the details from everyone!)

David L. Almond: TBC
Andrew Bonacci :
Shiuan Chang:
Peter Dayton:
Wayne H. Dietterick:
Jared Field:
Jacob Gelber:
Michael Fairbairn: (PS: This a video link to the rehearsal of his piece 'I will come to you')
Corey Hable: TBC
Byran Lin:
Dan Lis:
Daniel McDavitt:
Travis Maslen: TBC
David Neches: TBC
Corey Rubin:
Casey Rule:
Steven Sametz:
Sven-David Sandstrom:
Barry Sharp:
Scott Anthony Shell: 

And for good measure, my own website details:

Lydia Jane Pugh: 

Thanks Dr Sametz for inviting me to be part of this forum!
It has been a life-changing week. An absolutely brilliant and positive experience all round, I am returning home to the UK, in uncertain times with absolutely certainty about my own skills. This was a decision, to apply for and take part in this forum, that I am 100% happy I made. Cheers Lehigh Choral Composers Forum, it has been wonderful - here's to my next composing adventure!

Thanks Lehigh Choral Composers Forum - it has been #epic

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