Composer’s Notes – October 2017

composers notes october
The essence of winter is in the air – the comforting smell of smoke tickles one’s nostrils when going on a country walk, as cosy fires in hearths are being lit.

The abundance of colourful pumpkins and squash are readily available as farmers proudly sell their exotic looking harvest. Warming soups and casseroles replace salads to revive and nourish us at the end of a busy day! Nature displays her glory in shades of burnished gold and ruby red. Hedgerows are alive and bursting with a bounty of berries to feed the wildlife. The metallic gleam of the sun reflecting on the sea and sand stirs the spirit, and the starlings begin to gather, which warms the heart with feelings of anticipation and hope.

It has been another busy month – my new EP is now in the stages of being mixed and will then be sent to London to be mastered. Next, I must choose a title and decide upon the artwork. It all seems to take a frustratingly long time! This month has led to another exciting filming opportunity, this time with my Duo, where we were asked to provide the music for a celebration at a manor house, which was the subject of a documentary for Channel 4! The opportunities which occur are so incredible, particularly as I live in a remote part of the country – but Cornwall is such a vibrant place, full of interesting and unusual events taking place.

As the nights draw in, there is much to look forward to – wooly socks and damson gin are the way forward to keep out the chill of the season!

Sue Aston

Sue Aston Composers Notes

Composer’s Notes – September 2017

Composers Notes Cornwall Sept 2017
Autumn is in full flow, and gorgeous golden leaves decorate footpaths, creating extra crunch and pleasure when embarking upon a country walk! Some days we experience an Indian summer, and on the south coast of Cornwall, the sea has the deep shade of azure blue, giving a Mediterranean feel to our often blustery Cornish coast.

It is a joy to visit the exotic gardens, which we are lucky to have here in Cornwall, during this season. Many are owned by the National Trust, and it is equally exciting to visit some of the country houses and their estates. Lanhydrock is one such place, and as well as an impressive stately home, there is a pretty church, and many lovely woodland walks. It is a delight to see colours still in the garden – from the deep pinks and purples of cyclamen, which gather at the base of trees, to anemones and ruby berries which are now coming to the fore.

My String Quartet was asked to provide the music for a wedding scene in a TV series recently! To say that we were excited, would be an understatement! We are currently sworn to secrecy – but all will be revealed soon as to which TV programme it is. It was such a treat for us to have our hair and make up done professionally, and to watch some famous actresses film some scenes. Absolutely thrilling!

I adore the work of the writer, Daphne du Maurier, and a recent trip to Menabilly, where she lived and where she wrote some of her novels was very inspiring. It was the inspiration for Manderley – the house in ‘Rebecca’. Menabilly is such an unspoilt location, the views across St Austell bay are stunning, and it’s so peaceful to scramble across the rocks and look out to sea. It was a special place for Phil, as it was a favourite place to visit when he went on holiday as a young boy, with his mum, dad and sister. We filmed a video when we visited, and added my ‘Remembrance’ piano piece to create the soundtrack.

I adore this season – with the misty mornings and cosy evenings – a perfect time to sit at the piano and create music. And on that note – my new EP will soon be finished – watch this space!
Sue Aston Composer Cornwall Sept 2017

Sue Aston

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