While planning The Bridge Singers’ 2018 Burns Night Celebration, the music for which had to be mastered in a month following the Christmas concerts and break, I decided to include plenty of solos and small group items in the concert. One of our members, Gary Steward is a wonderful songwriter and performer in his own right and performs regularly, accompanying himself on guitar. I resolved to compose a song for him.
I’ve enjoyed Gary’s performances in the past, have a arranged a couple of his songs for choir and spent a good deal of time listening to his CD, A Swan In The Evening, so that I might compose something suited to both his style and mine. You can hear some of his work here
The song I came up with is this setting of Robert Burns’ poem Loud Blaw The Frosty Breezes. Knowing that Gary likes to learn things by listening as well as looking at the score, I prepared this video for him.
I handed over the score and this video and left him to it. I didn’t hear it again until the week of the performance when I found that Gary had put his own distinctive stamp on the song. I love what he did with it, but I must admit it’s quite an unusual and exciting experience to have such changes (in mood, tempo, even melody) made from the “published” version. I know Gary has spoken of similar sensations when I’ve arranged his songs (Northumberland and Till Autumn Comes) for the choir and he hears the “new” versions for the first time.
There are gentle plans afoot for us to collaborate again on a Remembrance Day set of songs in the autumn. Should be fun, and I suspect we might come up with some more excellent music!