Those of you who follow me on Twitter may have noticed that I have been using the tag #comasummerschool recently. That’s because I am currently in Bangor, Wales, spending a week with other musicians at the CoMA (Contemporary Music for All) Summer School.
I’m spending most of each day working with composer Larry Goves on compositional techniques, analysis of key 20th century works (today: Andriessen) and a group composition project (watch this space). “Come Unto Me” was presented and discussed during today’s masterclass.
The rest of my time is divided between playing and listening. Everyone attending the summer school is invited to participate in a performance of Stephen Montague’s “Dark Sun”, which is unconventionally notated but was written for amateur musicians. Today was the second rehearsal and I think we’re beginning to crack the code. By Friday’s performance, we’ll have nailed it and I think it will sound immense. I’m also spending an hour a day with Joby Burgess, banging out interesting rhythms on the nearest percussive instrument (yesterday: rota-toms; today: my legs).
So far there have been some fantastic concerts and it is a joy to have live contemporary sounds so accessible. There is not nearly enough of a “scene” in the westcountry for this genre of music. Tonight, Joby’s Powerplant percussion show packed a punch, including a beautiful piece for cello and marimba, and yesterday, two piano concerts with Adam Swayne and Mary Dullea demonstrated the breadth of possibility with the instrument.