Composer’s Notes – August 2017

Cornwall Composer sue Aston August diary

The heady days of summer continue, but the extremes of the Cornish weather are something I find dramatic and thrilling!

The weather can be more variable near the coast, some days I have awoken to what appears to be a dark, November day. Thick fog had wrapped itself around the landscape – cars crawled along with their headlights on, and winter boots made a premature return! The following day, the sun had burned off the mist, and the sun was beating down on the crowds of grateful holiday makers! Never a dull moment, and I find these changes so inspiring!

It has been a month of many varied music performances, ranging from performing with Dan on his wonderful songs on stage at the Goldsithney Charter Fair. The heavens opened mid performance, but we battled on, as the faithful audience took shelter under their raincoats!

The next performance was a ‘Last Night of the Proms’ themed concert, with Classical strings, where we performed to over 80 people in the grounds of an artisan bakery as they enjoyed a candlelit three course dinner. The singing and waving of union flags at the end was very rousing!

As we are luck enough to live in a holiday destination, it’s important to make the most of this and schedule in some time off to enjoy a walk by the sea. The colourful boats and general bustle of working harbours is a wonderful thing to witness, and taking time out to observe the goings on at Newlyn harbour (where I composed ‘Sketches of Newlyn’) and Mevagissey, is both enjoyable and restful.

Shades of autumn are coming in to play, and I love the gorgeous sunsets which appear gradually earlier each night – a promise of the next season to come. Blackberries adorn the hedgerows, and the striking pinks and purples of heather amass the wild moorland. One of life’s greatest joys, for me, is the transition from one season to the next. In nature, there is always so much to look forward to!

Composer’s Notes – July 2017

Sue Aston Composer Diary July 2017

The height of the summer – and one of the busiest times for me as a musician. Thankfully, bookings go from strength to strength for my Classical Strings Quartet, but I am mindful of keeping on track with my composing.

For some time now, I have been thinking of a new piece of music for my Patron, Edna. I had a number of different ideas, and finally I composed a Celtic piece for her on solo violin. I am looking forward to recording this music properly and expanding it.

Having lots of gigs this month has been wonderful for my love of food, with highlights including crab sandwiches and champagne courtesy of Hotel Tresanton in St Mawes when we played there for a wedding with my Trio! We sat overlooking the sea on the terrace, eating our food quickly before the wedding party arrived! Later that day, we performed at the Atlantic Hotel in Newquay for a champagne evening! There was much music and food that day!

The British summer season kicked in proper when I performed with my Duo at a wedding at Pengenna Manor near Wadebridge in North Cornwall. The Bride was eager to have her ceremony outside overlooking the gorgeous Cornish countryside, but the rain persisted heavily. A game of musical chairs ensued, as we moved locations many times, ending up with us taking shelter under a marquee, while the happy couple finally made their vows under the gazebo. We were delighted when the caterers very kindly rewarded us with a large pot of steaming tea, sandwiches and cakes to warm us through and feed us up!

As a composer, most of my inspiration comes from being immersed in the landscape and enjoying the atmosphere of the seasons. The sunsets at the moment have an autumnal feel to them. I also find industrial landscapes thrilling, which probably harks back to my roots, when I grew up in the city of Birmingham. I used to love factories and chimneys as much as I adored being in the garden listening to birdsong. The old ruins of the mine workings at Geevor are quite striking and the brutalist urban cityscape which I looked upon in Bristol when on a train journey filled me with awe.

No matter where I am, I get pleasure and inspiration from my surroundings – especially if tea and cake are nearby to fuel my creativity!

Sue Aston Composers diary July 2017

Sue Aston

Composer’s Notes – June 2017

Cornwall composer

June is the time when summer properly starts here in Cornwall, with many holiday makers making their way down to the coast in order to recharge their burnt out batteries. As a family who originated from Birmingham, we were like that too – desperately saving up our funds to afford a few days away when we could manage it, until we finally made the brave decision to uproot ourselves and make Cornwall our home.

Once we had settled ourselves in our new life in Penzance, life took on a very different feel. Although we are thankfully very busy with work, there is more opportunity to take time to immerse oneself in the peace and stillness of the natural land and seascape.

A new place to visit and gain inspiration this month was the Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens which is quite near to where we live. This is an amazing place which is a fusion of lush, exotic gardens harmonising with large pieces of art work. As well as impressive sculptures dotted about, an unusual feature was a skylight which gave a dazzling view of the ever changing sky. Did I also mention that the tea room here was outstanding?!

Another passion of mine (apart from tearooms and music!) is the ‘patchwork quilt’ colours of fields. I adore the vivid and contrasting shades of violent yellow set against earthy, reddish brown, alongside a vivid green. The variety of different sizes of geometric shapes are also fascinating – like torn up strips of colour glued together by strands of hedgerows.

As we move from this month and into the next, it is an opportunity to take time out, with manuscript paper and pencil, and create some musical motifs inspired by birdsong, the hush of the fragrant breeze, and the hum of the bees…

Sue Aston

Composer’s Notes – May 2017

Cornwall Composer May 2017

The merry month of May, and a time of year when life seems to accelerate! This is always the time of year when it can feel as though I am spinning many musical plates!

Much of the planning which took place in the previous year seems to all at once bear fruit. Musical performances and recording sessions are in full flow, and it requires a clear head to ensure that everything ticks along smoothly and that preparations are adequately put in place.

Moreover, I find myself greatly inspired by the gentle warmth in the air, and the way the sunlight streams through the window when I play the piano first thing in the morning. Like nurturing a new plant, musical ideas take seed in my mind and I find the urge to get stuck into creating new compositions. All my activities need to have enough time apportioned to them and it is necessary not to let distractions in!

A new composition that I started for my patron, Edna, really starts to come alive – maybe I should add this new piece of music to my EP too?! This is also a perfect time of year for filming – I have ideas for new music shows and videos too! Sometimes, I can feel my mind pulsing and racing in equal measures. Mindfulness is a tool which helps me to take a step back from this hive of creative chaos – calm, cool headed planning and copious notes are the way forward!

Swimming is a great way to focus the mind, and divert the raised energy in the body in a positive way, as is a walk around my local National Trust garden, ‘Trengwainton’.

There is so much beauty in Cornwall, that my mind runs riot. An abundance of inspiration – not only in the landscape, but also in the tea rooms!

Composers notes May 2017

Sue Aston

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January Song Music Video

My final video from my ‘Winter Keys’ EP!

I wanted this music to really celebrate the precious time we spend with family and friends. Quite often, we are so caught up in our busy lives, that we forget how special these times are – until the years fly by and you stop and remember them much later on.

My two sons – Dan and Lee – both play beautiful solos on this track, and I wanted them to feature on this video, with their mischievous smiles.

I hope you enjoy it, and thank you all for supporting me and enabling me to create music and videos for you

Sue X

Please support me by becoming a Patron https://www.patreon.com/sueaston