Summer is rolling to a close, Camelot is but a distant memory, and the score for the latest Red Star animation is in the can, so time for a wee catch up on things that happened earlier this year…
We discussed some of my recent work, simple ways using music and tonality to convey ‘otherness’; how to systematically plot, plan or generally approach a large project; touched on familiarity and referentialism; hearing the sound design of the world; introversion and life design; Slung Low scores, manipulating the audiences’ experience and emotional journey during these shows; working with writers and lyricists in songwriting; the ‘four chords’; being busy (enough) and keeping weekends sacrosanct; using musical terms (or not) with directors in briefing sessions; working with Patrick Stewart for Helium…
It was a good chat.
Image Copyright © H. Fenoughty 2015
Sheffield Crucible Theatre, 9-18 July 2015.
I’ve been working on the score to Camelot: The Shining City solidly for the last month and a half, and it’s all just about plotted and rehearsal-ready. Dress Rehearsals are in a fortnight so we’re in a good place to get into the finer edits.
This has been rather a lovely show to work on so far, not least because it’s on at the Crucible Theatre in my home city of Sheffield. My commute is a 40 minute walk or 15 minute bus ride – usually for a Slung Low show we’re off around the country (or the globe), which means, logistically, I have to be a bit more organised! Not having to worry about these things alone takes some of the pressure off, and leaves a bit more headroom for more appropriate stresses (like getting a 3-hour promenade show scored in time for the first plot session last week, which I just about managed!).
Photo by James Philips (aka the playwright of this beast of a show)
With a cast of 150, the narrative follows the events in Bear’s life, a girl who, for all intents and purposes, is the reincarnation of Arthur, the Once And Future King of mythical fame. We see her humble beginnings, her education in history and warfare and her eventual ascension to leader of this country, such as it is in near-future, post-apocalyptic-civil-war times… and all that follows.
It’s all rather political, serious and thematically challenging at times – very different from my last show with Slung Low, the exciting, fun (though no less thoughtful in its message) Emergency Story Penguin*! The variety of shows I get to work on with Slung Low and in my other television and film work always keeps me on my toes – and, hopefully, the music fresh. The work’s never dull, always challenging and sometimes I pinch myself with disbelief at the projects that cross my path, especially with Slung Low.
More than this, the reward is seeing the faces of the audience during the show (if you’re going to see it, try to ignore the short brunette attempting to surreptitiously watch you instead of the on-stage action! Heheheh…) when you’ve pitched the audio soundtrack just right with the action, the dialogue, the design, the special effects. These reactions are priceless, the validation keeping a composer’s fragile ego going through the hard times of rejected pitch after pitch (woe is me etc.).
The Albion Choir (VERY appropriately named, no?) were magnificent in singing some of the song arrangements for the show. They’re a fairly new choir based (handily) in Sheffield, a small but mighty bunch of ridiculously talented, close-harmony voices. Here’s a sneak peek at their skills in action:
* Just in case you missed it on tour earlier this year, Emergency Story Penguin returns to… Sheffield Crucible Theatre, this Christmas! Along with 59 Minutes to Save Christmas! It’s all going down in my home town!