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The conductor of the my university's wind orchestra, who I've known (and played under) for many years, has been hinting for quite a while that he would be very interested in having me write something for the ensemble. I finally wrote something over the last summer holidays, and they premiered it in a concert a few weeks ago. It's my first piece ever written for wind band, and certainly my largest-scale work ever performed so far, but having played in wind bands and brass bands for the last 15 years I felt confident that I knew what traps to avoid. I didn't, of course - I met up with the conductor a couple weeks before the first rehearsal and he had a longish list of stuff I had to fix, including things you just don't do like writing the seconds above the firsts for any instrument, which as a percussionist was not something that had ever occured to me.
The recording is actually taken from the rehearsal before the concert, as the concert performance itself came very close to falling apart - my piece wasn't the only one affected, people just weren't concentrating that night. It's not a perfect recording of course, but it was a relatively difficult piece, as well as being slightly differently written to most of what we were used to. For a no-auditions ensemble made up of a mix of music and non-music students, I felt we did alright. (I say 'we' because I was playing in it as well due to lack of percussionists.)

The piece was not necessarily meant as any literal or metaphoric representation of birds themselves, but more as a way for me to explore flashes of the potential colours of the ensemble, as one might experience flashes of colour in an aviary. Colour is something that can be influenced both by instrument choice and by harmony choice, and I really enjoy just slightly changing one of those and seeing what the effects are. I also really wanted to rebel slightly against a trend I sometimes see in wind band writing, that of including an instrument (particularly percussion) just for the sake of it. Any time I included a percussion instrument, it was not just for rhythm or to bolster up the overall sound, but for its particular colour or effect.

https://soundcloud.com/fotytoo/aviary-live



In other news, I have been accepted into the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, in Glasgow, to start a masters of music in composition this September, which I am super excited about! I have started a GoFundMe to try and help very slightly with the enormous cost of being an international student - https://tinyurl.com/mkejaqg. If anyone is in a particularly generous mood, I would appreciate any small donation :)

 

 

 

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Congratulations on your acceptance into that Conservatoire!

For being your first wind band piece, this is quite amazing. I enjoy how the music makes you feel something, and the use of percussion is quite skillful as well. Good luck on all your future endeavors!

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