On Thursday 21 February 2019, University of Lincoln’s composition students had the opportunity to workshop their string quartet compositions with the widely acclaimed Ligeti Quartet. Second year music student Reece Mowlem writes about his experience.
As a second-year student taking the composition module, last Thursday I was lucky enough to have one of my pieces workshopped by the Ligeti Quartet, one of the UK’s leading string ensembles. Beforehand I felt rather nervous, but the players were all incredibly friendly and quickly put my mind at ease. For each student, they first played the piece through fully before offering some constructive feedback on how the work could be improved, as well as highlighting the aspects they particularly enjoyed. The quartet also allowed us to ask them questions, giving us a chance to receive musical advice, often accompanied by demonstration, from some of the top industry professionals in their field. At the end of the allotted fifteen minutes per student, the group then played the piece in full again, but applying the techniques and changes that had been recommended during the discussion.
I personally found the workshop incredibly helpful. In just a short period of time I learnt copious amounts on how to write idiomatically for string instruments, as well as discovering some new extended techniques that I could use to improve my work. The players were able to demonstrate these techniques for me and show how they could be incorporated into my composition. They also gave me a list of composers and pieces similar to mine for me to go away and listen to, which would help me further understand the genre I was writing in. The highlight of the workshop however, was hearing my work being played by a group of such exceptional musicians. They were able to bring it to life in a way my Sibelius playback never could (hardly a surprise!). After the workshop, the viola player, Richard Jones, came over to me and just talked to me about music and composing which I really didn’t expect, it was a very kind gesture.
In the evening we were treated to a wonderful concert by the Ligeti Qaurtet in LPAC, rounding off a truly special day for all of us.