As the SaM Summer School for young composers and creative musicians enters its ninth year, here are my thoughts on some of the students who have passed through its doors over the past decade.
Sound and Music’s Summer School for young composers and creative musicians is a unique, intensive residential week for young people aged 14-18 years. The 75 young music creators are supported by a staff of 40 professional composers, musicians and pastoral staff in the specialist facilities of the Purcell School. Everyone creates a new piece of music during the week as well as taking part in workshops, hearing performances and making new friends.
One of the really special things about the week is the supportive atmosphere. The young music creators have come from across the country to immerse themselves in music-making, and the tutors are there to help that happen. Everyone is keen to share their ideas, enthusiasms and expertise!
One of the most enjoyable things about running the Summer School is seeing how the students develop over the years. Attending the Summer School is hard work and fun for everyone and a life-changing experience for some. It can be the point at which they realise that they really are composers and that this is what they want to do!
A couple of years ago, I had the good fortune on to go to a concert in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, which included the world premiere of a new piece by Purcell School pupil, Sophie Sparkes. Sophie first came to the Summer School in 2011, the recipient of a bursary. It was as a result of that week that she was offered a place at the Purcell School, was later nominated to compose a piece for the Summer School Showcase at the Southbank and is now studying composition at Oxford University.
Last year, I attended a performance of a new piece by James Moriarty, another Summer School alumnus, who has graduated from the Royal Academy of Music and is making his way as an up and coming composer and music educator. For this performance, James had worked with school children from Tower Hamlets to create songs which he formed into a half-hour piece for the children accompanied by a string quartet, inspiring the next generation of young musicians in the process!
And only a couple of weeks ago, I heard that Lucy Hale, a Summer School student who has gone on to study composition at the Royal Northern College of Music, has been awarded a place on Drake Music’s Connect and Collaborate programme with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
Coming to the Summer School has given people like Sophie, James and Lucy the confidence, motivation and inspiration develop their creativity and music-making. I’m always excited to receive applications to the Summer School and, when the week arrives, to finally meet the young composers. There is no way of knowing who is going to have that amazing experience and lightbulb moment, or what these young people will go on to achieve – who will it be this year?