Paston 600 Footprints composer Sarah Rodgers – part five

Commissioned to compose a new work as part of our upcoming ‘Paston 600 Footprints’ project with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Sarah Rodgers shares insight into the composing process in this final installment in a series of updates tracking the progress of this new composition.

All new ‘Agnes’ handed over to performers… It’s out of my hands!

The period between sending the scores and parts to the performers and attending the final rehearsals is probably the time when a composer feels most vulnerable. During that part of the process, you have by no means washed your hands of the new piece. Far from it! It is constantly running through your mind and you turn back to the score again and again with a whole host of questions – was that the right choice of instrument; have I made the expression clear; is that the best articulation and phrasing?

Attending rehearsals gives the opportunity for clarifications and small amendments such as dynamic markings but once you have passed the printed music over, it essentially becomes the performers’ piece and rightly so as it is their response to the written page that makes the music come alive.

At the same time as rehearsals have been in progress, there has been plenty of effort on marketing and promotion to make sure there is a good audience and that the local communities are aware of the opportunity of hearing a first rate, specialist orchestra performing in the Eastern region, as well as enjoying the experience of a world premiere!

In the second week of June I met up with four young people from North Walsham High School who are acting as Young Promoters during the project, supported by Orchestras Live. They had previously written a press release about the concert event and now wanted to interview me about the new piece. They had prepared excellent questions which ranged from whether it was more difficult to write for voices or for instruments, to, where did inspiration come from and what are the stages in learning to composer. You can hear the full interview on the North Norfolk District Council website here.

After that, three of us went on to take a spot in Stephen Bumfrey’s afternoon show on BBC Radio Norfolk. This was a great opportunity to get information out to the region as, I’m told, the show has a reach of about 60,000.

This whole project has pulled in so many partners and given unique opportunities to the aspiring Young Promoters, to the choirs of St Nicholas, North Walsham and of course, myself, as a composer of the commissioned work. It will also have reached new audiences through the live concert, broadcast media and online. It was a privilege and a boost to my career to be commissioned by Orchestras Live some 20 years ago and it is a delight to have been commissioned once again for such an important celebration as Paston 600 Footprints. I hope Agnes Berry Paston would be pleased!

Sarah Rodgers

(published 20 June 2018)

The world premiere of this new work will be performed by Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in North Walsham, Norfolk on Sunday 1 July 2018. More details here.

Find out more about Sarah and her work here.

Read part one of Sarah’s blog series here, part two here, part three here, and part four here.