Martin Humphries (PhD in Composition)
CoMA (Contemporary Music for All) is a UK-wide organisation promoting new music at an amateur level. This chimes perfectly with my own views, with the pre-occupation of much of my research and composing practice being that contemporary repertoire should not be the reserve of professional ensembles. I am proud to be one of the organisers for an event taking place in March this year which will see Cardiff University School of Music hosting the Welsh branch of CoMA’s Festival of Contemporary Music For All, a weekend of workshops and performances open to musicians of any ability who wish to explore and perform new music.
As a composer I work primarily in community and amateur contexts, creating new performances with musicians of drastically differing backgrounds and experience. This ranges from primary school children, to retirees, experienced hobbyist players, to absolute beginners who have never played an instrument before. CoMA uses the term ‘all-comers’ to encompass the breadth and reach of their open-to-all ethos and as such this workshop weekend will be a great opportunity for any musician to experiment with new music in an inviting and pressure-free environment.
I can vouch for this atmosphere, having had much contact with CoMA over the past few years. A number of my works have been written using CoMA’s ‘open score’ approach, whereby music is created for variable instrumentation, allowing the broadest scope of performers to approach the work. In 2016 I was lucky enough to attend the CoMA Annual Summer School, where I spent a week living and working with like-minded musicians in a hugely enriching programme of workshops, rehearsals and performances of diverse works ranging from solo piano pieces, to a fully-staged original opera performed in a graveyard.
In March 2018, Cardiff University School of Music is collaborating with Ty Cerdd, the Fidelio Trio, and Cardiff University’s Contemporary Music Group to present two days of events (Friday 2 March and Saturday 3 March) for anyone who wants to come along to explore exciting new music in a welcoming, creative atmosphere. Players and singers of any ability level are invited to join us for performance and composition workshops, talks and concerts in two intensive days of music-making.
Festival of Contemporary Music for All
Friday 2 March will put the spotlight on vocal music, with sessions on CoMA’s part-songs and other repertoire for amateur and mixed-ability choirs during the day. I will be running one of the workshops that afternoon which should see participants collaboratively devise an original piece from scratch. This looks to be a very exciting experience indeed, offering participants the chance to create new composition of their own regardless of whether they read music or have written anything before. In the evening, Cardiff University’s Contemporary Music Group will perform a concert focusing on contemporary Welsh vocal repertoire, as well as featuring pieces prepared that day by participants.
On Saturday 3 March, we welcome renowned chamber group the Fidelio Trio (Darragh Morgan, Adi Tal and Mary Dullea), who have a long-standing relationship with CoMA, to lead a day of instrumental workshops for all comers on music including pieces from CoMA’s open score collection – these are the fascinating scores I mentioned earlier which can be performed by any combination of instruments.
In the afternoon, Ty Cerdd will be presenting a panel of composers and performers including Darragh Morgan (violinist, Fidelio Trio), Lynne Plowman (composer, RWCMD), Robert Fokkens (composer/conductor, Cardiff University) and myself, which will discuss a range of issues around contemporary music and writing for non-professional musicians. The Fidelio Trio will also present a concert of contemporary chamber music that evening in the Cardiff University Concert Hall, again with contributions from the day’s participants.
If you are interested in taking part in one or both of these fantastic days then please reserve your place early to avoid disappointment. There is no cost for attending either workshop day or the CMG vocal concert on Friday 2nd, please just book your place using the links below. If you would like to attend the Fidelio Trio concert, also, then tickets will be required.