Composer, Kerry Andrew, is a lass with many different musical hats. At the weekend, Tiggerlion introduced us to her by posting a review of Keld, her fine new album as You are Wolf. This is Kerry as an avant-folk singer, with a repertoire comprising old songs and her own compositions. Tuneful, mysterious, evocative. Very moreish it is too.
I was fascinated to learn more about her.
Singer, radio DJ, journalist. novelist, composer: I was particularly interested to hear some of the stuff she had written for choirs. She works a lot with schoolkids, with some thrilling results.Those works must be great fun to sing. Just listen to her “Who we are” performed at the Royal Albert Hall. Invigorating!
A slight detour, but I can’t help but be reminded of David Bedford back in the early 70s. Primarily an avant-garde composer, he got called in to arrange some strings for Kevin Ayers and ended up playing in the band, The Whole World, alongside Lol Coxhill and Mike Oldfield. He went on to work more with both of them. Oldfield must have been a useful contact and Lol was a wonderful bloke. Bedford also did a lot of music for kids and was rather fond of the kazoo.
Lots of different hats, lots of different pots: the modern composer has to be very entrepreneurial. Not many of them have been able to support themselves full time from writing music and perhaps many are all too happy to do some performing on the side.
Such is life for many classical musicians, Our neighbour is a professional cellist and she gets all kinds of gigs. La La Land live. A classical concert. A wedding. Strings for a pop band like First Aid Kit on the Skavlan chat show. Etc.
So, this is a thread about life as a modern composer, not to mention the unexpected bits of moonlighting they have to do to help pay the bills. I would be very keen to hear about your favourites. Preferably those who are still composing rather than decomposing. (Ouch! Sorry!!)
Here’s a surprise. Who do you think is the most performed living composer globally? Two clues. He is on ECM and hails from Estonia.
Yes, Arvo Pärt. Well I never! That news did cheer me up. That the writer of such magnificently esoteric, powerful music should reach a broad audience is very heartening. And hats off to Manfred Eicher and ECM who have supported him all the way. In 1984, they went so far as to create a new sub-label for Pärt’s work: ECM New Edition. That really was a partnership made in heaven.
Maybe there are others? Perhaps you are extremely keen about a composer that most of us have not yet heard of? Please interpret the term composer as broadly as you wish as regards genre: jazz, folk, latin, ambient, musical theatre, minimalist..
I am going to stick my neck out here and try to define a composer in contrast to someone in a band who writes material. A composer like Kerry Andrew, Mozart, Gershwin, Ellington or Bacharach is writing music that they hope others will perform. The band-member will be more than happy if their songs are a hit for their combo.
Ove to you! Thrill us with your favourites!
“The present day composer refuses to die!!” Edgar Varese and Frank Zappa would be very welcome guests on this thread.