PRS for Music Foundation: What impact do you think your involvement in this unique, UK wide initiative will have on your work?
Graham Fitkin: By combining the London Chamber Orchestra and my own ensemble I feel the impact on my own work could be substantial. My own group is assuming a greater role in my compositional work now and the time is right to place it within this larger framework where I can utilise the advantage of working directly with my own musicians (like a concertino group) within a larger, more sustained and string based context. The impetus of text on the whole is also going to be a big development in the way I compose not just for this piece but in the longer term.
PRSF: Tell us the story of how and why you joined forces with the performers you are working with on this project.
GF: I always like working directly with musicians. This is why I set up my own ensemble. My tenure as Composer in Residence with London Chamber Orchestra was a separate venture, and I have started to develop a relationship with the musicians there too. The idea of bringing these two things together was too good not to do it.
PRSF: How are you going to approach creating your new work?
GF: I will work closely with Glyn Maxwell on the initial stages of text generation. Then some of these will be used in educational workshops in London and Cornwall to generate further material, rhythmic cells etc. Glyn and I will work both separately and together on this material. Glyn will come up with the definitive text and I will use this alongside the material gleaned from the workshops to create the score. Then I will work closely with the performers themselves to finalise and tailor the music to the performers. There will be much to-ing and fro-ing.
PRSF: Who do you hope to reach through the creation and performance of this work and what do you hope they’ll take away with them?
GF: I hope this work will be seen, heard or experienced by a cross-sectional audience. We will reach not only music audiences, but train commuters, passing traffic, people who aren’t specifically interested in new music.
PRSF: Where do you draw inspiration and influence? Which creator – musical or otherwise – do you most admire?
GF: Hitchcock, Bach, Sol Le Witt, my Dad, Skempton, Wenger, Feldman, Rothko, The Koen Brothers
PRSF: Which Olympic and/or Paralympic Games will you be seeing in 2012? What was your best/favourite sport when you were growing up?
GF: I haven’t decided yet which one, but I’d like to get to some things. I’m a fan of the triathlon, long distance track events, canoeing and other things. When I was a kid I wanted to be a tennis player and used to spend hours serving tennis balls down the court before school.
The London Chamber Orchestra and their artistic advisor Mark Prescott wanted to explore a way of incorporating a piece of music into the fabric of the games themselves. Mark had read about the Olympic Javelin train and felt that commissioning a piece celebrating that journey, referencing such pieces as ‘Night Mail’ and ‘O trenzinho do caipira’ would be an interesting way of celebrating a key and overlooked aspect of an Olympic Games. Luckily Graham Fitkin and poet Glyn Maxwell agreed! Composed for ensemble and string orchestra, Graham will use material created during a series of planned children’s workshops in London and Cornwall to compile a rhythmic backdrop then taking the notion of a journey and the pacing of this particular train trip, two six minute sections using Glyn’s text will be composed each leading to their own end point but with a hint of palindrome about them.