Simon-Mary Vincent thoughts on her Artist Responds Project
The Composer Simon-Mary Vincent talks about her 2021 Artist Respond Award, which has supported her to continue to develop new work in the wake of Covid-19.
Back in May 2021 when I received the Artists Respond Award, I was in the process of finding a new place of residence. Although that had its own exciting challenges, I wasn’t in a position to focus on my work to any substantial degree.
As has been the case with many musicians, the pandemic had a significant impact not only on my concert activities, but also my daily routine of 'goal-oriented' practice and composition. Just how significant that impact has been, I have only very recently started to understand as I’m currently preparing for my first solo concerts for over two and a half years. And what a joy that is!
The Artists Respond Award gave me external recognition for my work at a crucial time.
Musical Creations Enabled by the Award
In my application to St Hugh’s Foundation, I stated that I wished to reassess and continue work on two major pieces: Syster Måne (for percussion and 4-channel audio playback), and For Those Who Are Yet To Fall (for piano and 5-channel audio playback).
This I have been able to acheive through an invitation to perform as part of a music improvisation trio featuring Dave Pullin (double bass) and Chris Dowding (trumpet and live electronics), both Norwich-based musicians. The materials I use as the basis for my improvisations are taken from the materials I have been working on for these large-scale works. This I have always found to be a useful practice, as it enables me to get to know the materials, how they work in musical time and space, and how they can be manipulated and combined in compositional ways. Our debut concert entitled Music For The Vernal Equinox took place in Norwich in March 2022, and a recording of the concert will be released later this year.
I will be recording with the percussionist for Syster Måne in January 2023, some very positive news which will crucially give me a focused opportunity, in the meantime, to complete For Those Who Are Yet To Fall and to bring to a close a significant compositional phase.
In attempting to realise my plan to “compose my way out” of the effects of the pandemic, I came to realise that embarking straight away on finishing large-scale works was not the best approach, and so I started rather by setting myself the task of composing small, self-contained fragments of music.
The result of this has been the conception and creation of a series of Spring Sketches (February 2022), the conception of a new, small-scale work entitled Prayers For My Lord (February–December 2022), a small solo piano work entitled Three Greenhills Pieces (August 2022), and the revision of solo piano work from 2019 entitled Resurrection (May 2022).
Last, but not least, my love of dance music goes back to my childhood. With percussion being my first instrument, my passion for more obviously rhythmic musics is something that has never waned. Part of that fascination and passion led me to a long-time dj residency in London, where I would bring together house, breaks, hip-hop, UK garage, drum n bass and dubstep, and so for me at least, it’s not surprising that this final example just popped out. It’s a very summery UK garage track, entiteld Sinan’s Delight (July 2022), which I subsequently released on my label digitally.