When embarking on this project, I wanted to create a relevant, relatable and accessible work which explores a community of different people who come together to sing. The piece delves into what it’s like to be a part of a community choir, highlighting and sharing the other elements off-stage that the audience don’t usually see; from membership change to organising lifts, performance nerves to finding a place to rehearse. The entering/ending videos, produced by Alan Cameron, encapsulates this, expanding the bounds of the work to go outside the concert while also allowing for reflection.
The text comes from and is inspired by a series of poems by Joyce Begg, one of the founding members of the Strathendrick Singers. Written for the choir at different stages throughout its history, these are conversational and personal, which is reflected in their setting, with interplay between parts, melancholic harmonies and shifting rhythms.
I endeavoured to create a challenging yet approachable work incorporating ideas including falsetto, slides/glissandos, a more independent piano part and frequently changing time signatures. Getting to know the choir really informed this and allowed the work to become more collaborative – a piece created with the Singers, about the Singers and for the Singers. A quiet life follows their story from its ‘casual beginnings’ to its thriving present and future – another ‘ten more years at least!’
This work was developed for Strathendrick Singers as part of the Adopt a Composer scheme, funded by Creative Scotland and the Philip and Dorothy Green Music Trust, and run by Making Music, in partnership with Sound and Music and BBC Radio 3.