At the end of April, SoundStorm organised a series of workshops for students from Avonbourne and Harewood College to prepare for a performance at the Mayor of Bournemouth’s Inaugural Founders Day Lunch. Musicians from Music in Action, the education arm of the Bath Philharmonia, spent two days with the students, offering inspiration and practical support to compose a piece of music about Bournemouth from scratch.
The writing process began with the research into the beginnings of Bournemouth, its expansion and some acclaimed people from the town. The pupils then turned to their chosen instruments, or positioned themselves within the choir, to begin experimenting with sound.
Each student had the opportunity to compose a recurring pattern for each section of the music, against a pre-set chord sequence. Nothing was written down, as the leaders preferred the students to create ideas and work collectively simply by listening to one another’s playing. This method of trial and error seemed to suit the young musicians, as they could share their creative ideas and learn about what worked, or not, through practice alone.
Once successful patterns started to emerge, music leader Jason began to arrange the piece of music whilst in play. He simply relied on his trained ear to decide which part to bring in at what time, against a looped cycle of chords.
The outcome was impressive. The group had built a captivating musical timeline depicting the founding of Bournemouth. An intensity of sound resonated through the Royal Exeter hotel lounge, to the amazement of guests including the Lord-Lieutenant of Dorset, Bournemouth Borough Chief Executive and Bournemouth’s Poet Laureate. Such strength could be created only through a blend of confident and gifted young players. Charming, yet solid harmonies could be heard from the choir, against some creative instrumental parts. Experimental techniques such as drumming on irregular objects and the use of digital devices gave the piece a contemporary edge. Minimalist hums developed into powerful multi layered parts, and seemed fitting for the patriotic celebratory theme of the afternoon.