Enhancing music through visual representation, poetry and prose
My ‘meet the composer’ project - June Armstrong’s Play for the Composer! - is now entering its fourth year. Originally created in 2021, to provide a much-needed performance opportunity for young pianists during lockdown, it has now become a platform for expression, not only of the music itself, but also the meaning behind the music, taking it to a higher level through visual representation, poetry and prose. Each performer makes a video of themselves performing their chosen piece. In return, they receive a certificate with feedback from myself and are included in a Celebration Video. They may opt to accompany the video with an artwork, a poem or prose piece representing the music they have chosen.
When a young person engages in this option, I feel that it enhances the performance, and when I receive an entry with artwork or prose, I always love to look at that first, before listening to the performance of the music. There is something so magical about the connection of the music to its visual representation or expression through words.
Firstly, of course, the music needs to be ‘learnt’. Secondly the music needs to be shaped and polished for performance. And then, the third dimension - taking the time to think about what the music is really saying, or expressing - adds to the understanding and to the performance itself. Knowing that the young performer has really thought about what the music is trying to express is just wonderful.
So here are some examples from previous Play for the Composer! events. You can listen to the music whilst viewing the images.
Here is a very striking image of Atlantic Breakers from Sea World. I love the way Aran creates the rise and fall of the movement of the waves, creating the sense of the restless arpeggios in the music.
This delicate painting represents Angel Fish from Sea World and complements the very delicate playing by Lea of the piano piece.
Edward’s take on Polynesian Beach from Sea World is whimsically inventive. The colourful palm trees frame the words written on wavy lines representing the sea, the trees and the sea swaying delightfully to the rhythm of the music.
Diya’s poem to accompany Northern Crown from Stars creates the magical sense of the ‘twinkling’ which is the allusion of the piano piece, itself based on ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’.
Radhe’s bold colours create a tropical scene, with a sense of the movement of the waves rushing in and drawing back over the sand in Waves on the Sand from Puffin Island.
|Waves on the Sand|
Seoyoon has really captured the dynamism and drama of the flamenco dancer in this colourful painting of O for Olé from Alphabet.
|O for Olé|
In Aarya’s image, the whirlwind is literally emanating from the score of the music – S for Storm from Alphabet. As it spins, it generates musical symbols and creates a sense of the turbulence of the music.
|S for Storm|
I love this picture by Ava of Hippopotamus from Safari. It is playful like the music and also creates a sense of ‘heaviness’, again just like the left hand of the piano piece.
Francis learnt all the pieces from Alphabet which spelled out his name. Each letter is so imaginatively created: F for Fan, R for Rainbow, A for Angel, N for Night, C for Carousel, I for Icicles and my favourite – the lightning bolt of S for Storm.
|F for Fan|
|R for Rainbow|
|A for Angel|
|N for Night|
|C for Carousel|
|I for Icicles|
|S for Storm|
June Armstrong’s Play for the Composer! 2024 is now open for entries up until 31 January 2024. Full details at https://playforthecomposer.jimdofree.com/.