I have to say, having been without feedback of pretty much any sort on my music for about a decade, it’s just fantastic to finally be getting some constructive criticism – it makes such a HUGE difference. Tonight I steeled myself to go forth and actively seek criticism. As you may recall, I joined the London Composers Forum about a month ago and had a marvellous, inspirational time at the first meeting I attended. Tonight they held a ‘WiP/WiT’ (work in progress/work in transition) session. The idea is that you toddle along, bringing with you something you’re working on that you’d like some comments on, or you just come along, listen and join in the conversation. So I recorded a version of the quintet out of Finale (which, most unco-operatively has decided to ignore all dynamics in the score and just play everything forte, with occasional random blasts of fortissimo for no reason) and printed out a small clutch of scores to accompany it and toddled off to the meeting.

Well, it was just grand. There weren’t too many of us – just 7 – but in the course of the evening we heard and discussed a piece for bass clarinet and piano, an orchestral work, a solo cello piece and of course my quintet. The good news is that everyone was really very enthusiastic about it. Nobody thought it needed major changes (I cannot say how much of a PHEW moment that was) but some excellent ideas were contributed for small tweaks and the part I’m really having some trouble with, which is integrating the fast dancelike figures with the slow descending motif from the opening while not bringing the whole thing screeching to a halt or just continuing on blandly and being dull. Some great suggestions and I’ve already started putting some of them in place (started this on the train – I was so fired up to get back to it!).

The Forum are really a brilliant group – so friendly yet giving serious critique, all of it constructive – everyone got some great advice about their piece, whether technical about instruments or in terms of general composition techniques that might help. Words cannot express how delighted I am to have found them. If you’re a composer in London or nearby (one of our composers last night came from Brighton), you really should get in touch with them and come along to something! Their website is:

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