Written by Louis, a member of ENO Engage Youth Company and of The Sorrell Foundation’s Art and Design Saturday Club at London Metropolitan University.
Read Louis’ thoughts following day 2 of the ENO Youth Company’s first module in 2018-19. Working with director Caroline Williams and composer Pete Letanka, the group work in response to visual stimuli to explore how music can be used to create atmosphere and communicate to an audience. They also used the music and themes in Porgy and Bess as a springboard to create their own group composition.
I really enjoyed the second day of the workshop which focussed on different communities meeting at a common place, based on some of the themes behind Porgy and Bess. We were all given the opportunity to see the opera as well as being able to watch parts of a stage rehearsal and meet some of the cast members. I really enjoyed being able to work with different people with similar interests who were all engaged in learning about the world of opera. By the end of the session, it felt like I had known the rest of the group for much longer.
During the day we participated in a wide range of different activities. In the morning, we worked in small groups to write lines inspired by the design work we’d made the day before. The whole group then came together to put all the lines to music with Pete Letanka, a composer and jazz pianist, who was able to create a musical backing for us to sing over. Working with professionals has also been a highlight over the past two days as I would never get these sorts of opportunities anywhere else.
After lunch we focussed more on the opera Porgy and Bess and discussed where people from different communities might meet. A school was selected. We split again into small groups and discussed the different student cliques that might be found in schools. As we all come from different types of schools and areas of London, and we are from different year groups, I found this particularly interesting. We have all had different experiences and so could provide our own unique ideas. Each group chose a specific type of character for which we wrote two lines for. We listened to an instrumental backing and composed a tune for the lines that fitted with the backing; I really liked doing this as it was not something I would normally be able to do in school. The group as a whole then experimented with layering the individual tunes to create a final piece which included the different attitudes of the characters we’d chosen.
I really enjoyed the day as I found it interesting composing music which I wouldn’t normally do and hearing how others approached the task. I’m really interested in drama and I got a new perspective on how to build up characters. I’d never thought about introducing music into my work and this is something I want to learn more about in future sessions as well as learning more about how operas are written and composed. This was an amazing experience and I can’t wait to see how I develop creatively over the year; I am already really excited for the next session.