Tinderbox Orchestra gets creative

This term we tried out a new format of rehearsals called Creative Sessions. These were all about working with composers, from both within and outwith the band and with a range of different levels of experience.

The aim of the project was to help them to develop their ideas into fully-fledged orchestral pieces to add to our repertoire. Obviously this is no small task but it all came together for a fantastic performance at the Festival Theatre foyer at the end of November.

One of the composers was Luisa Brown, whose piece ‘Palindrome’ centred around exciting overlapping rhythms. Here she writes about the experience of orchestrating for Tinderbox, and what the project was like as a composer.

My piece was originally written for and performed by 5 pianos, which made a pretty interesting task when thinking about how to then bring it to the Tinderbox. I had never orchestrated before so it was a steep learning curve which saw me trying a variety of different approaches to bringing it to the band. After teaching some by ear, and some by sheet music I was really pleased with the final result, which came out the best it had ever sounded on the day. I still think the piece is very much in progress and in future would think about using cheat sheets instead of full scores to give more flexibility to the players, but I now feel a lot more confident in dealing with larger ensembles, different timbres and communicating my ideas. I was really overwhelmed by the support from the Tinderbox team and the enthusiasm of the players, especially when at times I thought it really might just not work, everyone still showed a lot of belief and I certainly believe it paid off. Thanks to Tinderbox for setting me this goal! Looking forward to making the piece even bigger and better in whichever shape or form it might take in the future.

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Tinderbox play ‘Slow Burn’ with Graham and Emily of the Jellyman’s Daughter

The only one of the composers who had written for Tinderbox before was Graham Coe of the Jellyman’s Daughter, who adapted their piece ‘Slow Burn’ to work with the orchestra. You can listen to the original piece here.

Clearly working closely with an alternative orchestra such as Tinderbox is never going to be straightforward – even seasoned composer Julien Lonchamp described it as ‘a pretty unique experience’. But with the skill of both composers and musicians, and the positive, supportive atmosphere Tinderbox offers, the concert was ultimately a resounding success. Below, Stuart Hosking sums up how he found the project and why opportunities like these are so important for young composers.

Tinderbox helped me get my music out of the bedroom and fully realise it with the power of an orchestra. It felt great having a team of awesome musicians supporting what I was trying to do, and that’s how it felt, like being a part of a team, which feels like something very special for such a large ensemble.

We hope to continue Creative Sessions in the future so if you have a piece you would like to orchestrate for Tinderbox please get in touch at admin@tinderboxproject.co.uk. We look forward to hearing from you!

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