2017 was a busy but exciting year and I have now successfully been working at the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra for six months. These months have gone by so quickly but a lot has been achieved in this time.
During my time with the BSO, I have attended some fascinating conferences. On 29 September I attended the ‘Breaking the Glass Ceiling’ symposium with Lisa Tregale, Head of BSO Participate. This event was about challenging the low expectations around disability and music, something which I continue to do through Change Makers. It was great to be surrounded by fellow artists as well as industry experts to discuss the barriers that are currently in the way of young disabled musicians and how we can break them down. On the 21 November, I was fortunate enough to represent the BSO at the House of Commons where the Bristol Music Trust hosted a reception to celebrate inclusion in the music centre. Events such as these are so important, the more we can do to raise awareness about the challenges facing disabled musicians the more that can be done to break down these barriers.
Young Composer –in-Association
The Change Makers’ project is really picking up speed now. Since my last post, we have recruited Lucy Hale as the Young Composer-in-Association for Change Makers. A part of Lucy’s role as the Change Makers’ Young Composer-in-Association will see her working closely with Alexander Campkin, the Change Makers’ Composer-in-Residence. Lucy is undertaking this role alongside her studies at the Royal Northern College of Music, where she is working towards a Masters degree in Composition. During her time on the Change Makers project, Lucy will have the opportunity to explore compositional approaches with Alexander and the ensemble. I am delighted to be working with Lucy on this project; I think that Lucy, Alexander and I will make an excellent team.
Workshops and Observations
As well as their main season concerts with the full orchestra, the BSO put on lots of other events outside the concert hall through BSO Participate and many of the events are run by BSO Associates, a team of multi-talented musicians in the community.
A part of the Artistic Programme I am creating includes the delivery of SEN/ D performances and four workshops to SEN/D (Special Educational Needs/ Disabilities) schools. In researching this strand of my work, I’ve just co-delivered a workshop with Sam Mason at Montecute School which was fab; highlighting areas for improvement and suggested resources for development. Working with a whole range of learning abilities, this was my first important step to thinking about the type of package I need to develop for our ensemble performances and workshops in schools, including the resources which need to be developed.
Other areas of research I am currently working is to familiarise myself with rehearsal practice. In doing so I observed BSO Resonate Strings taking one of their rehearsals. BSO Resonate Strings is one of the BSO’s ensembles who deliver classical music performances where it’s not possible to accommodate a full time orchestra. As you can imagine, the rehearsal was more intimate compared to that of an orchestral rehearsal and I learnt loads about shoes, a subject which dominated the break times!
Change Makers’ Ensemble
In my last post I said about how I was looking forward to the Change Makers’ ensemble auditions. The audition process for the ensemble was the first of which I have been on the other side of the table and was a great learning experience. We auditioned 20 musicians from around the world meeting a wide range of talent. It was interesting to see where each of the panelists were coming from when judging. We were looking at musical skill and talent, possible combinations of instruments, mix of personalities, amongst many other aspects. To compare the audition process to that of the main orchestra’s, I sat in and observed the BSO auditions for Co-principal Cello. It was pretty much the same type of audition apart from there was an interview element to the ensemble audition due to the nature of the vacancies we were looking to fill.
At time of writing, we have just finished the ensemble induction which was the first time we all came together. We had a fabulous time working with Alexander Campkin – our Composer in residence for the ensemble – trying out ideas for the commission he’s writing. It was an overall success whilst highlighting a number of points for improvements for next time round in terms of structuring sessions and planning content. The soundscape we started to explore made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and I am looking forward to our next workshop in a few weeks.
Working with a fantastic team of people where the highest standards are demanded from all of us has been refreshing. The unpredictable nature of the project means that I’m forever on my toes, constantly reviewing my approaches and reactions to situations on a strategic level as well as emotionally.
James Rose, BSO Change Maker / Conductor