The aim of the Hands Up for Trad Community Music awards is to showcase and celebrate the outstanding practice and great things going on in Scotland’s community music sector to the wider public and media.
Congratulations to Stephen Deazley who have been nominated in the Community Music Composer of the Year category. We asked them the following questions.
Tell us more about yourself.
Well, I’m suppose I’m a bit of a roving, polymorphous composer, educationalist and music director who’s a bit in with love with collaboration of all forms; with musicians of all kinds; and with theatre, opera, dance, circus, and street performance – basically with anyone who cares about live music. I also have a bit of an obsession for projects that unite performers with all kinds of experience and skills, and a not so secret love for works of scale and spectacle. You say 50, I say 500, c’mon why not?
Voice work and community singing has played a pretty important role in my life over the last decade, with an artistic director role for Commonwealth Games Big Big Sing project, and with our charity Love Music and it’s now 450 strong choir programme in Edinburgh for children and adults.
How long have you or your group organisation been involved in this work and tell us a wee bit about how it all started?
23 years sounds like a lot when you write it down in words. Thanks for that. It all started for me as a free improvising bassoonist (niche market) peforming with community dance and theatre companies in Belfast and Germany in the 1990’s, and from there moving into opera and orchestral work as a creative faciliator. I guess I first felt pretty rooted in Scotland about 20 years ago when working on Skye on a huge Highland Festival Community Opera in Gaelic with the inspiring Aonghas MacNeacail and Alistair Nicolson.
A big shift for me was co-founding the music education charity Love Music which represents all my most cherished thoughts on the importance of musical eclecticsm, curiousity, inclusion and participation. I’m a lucky fellow to have amazing folk around me who share these values.
What have you or your group/organisation got planned for the next 12 months?
Aha… I hoped you would ask. In Scotland, “Beautiful Bones” is a music street spectacle currently in development for community trombone orchestra, and multiple brass bands. A small version is being brought to this years’ Merchant City Festival with a bigger, bonier version in the planning for 2019 (the sound of 80 trombones got into my head and it’s hard to get out). Inspired by Mardi Gras, it’s planned as a raucous entertainment and also a kind of street theatre meditation on our inablity to deal well with death in western society. Also, an ongoing commitment to new and arranged music for our Love Music Community Choirs at the Usher Hall, including a few special collabrations that I can’t tell you about yet. Sorry!
Out of Scotland, I’m writing a work for triple children’s orchestra from Liverpool, Leeds and Newcastle for the Great Exhibition of the North and I’m also mentoring other composers who are writing for children’s opera projects across England.
What has been the highlight of your or your group/organisation’s experience to date?
Hmm too many…Commonwealth Games in Glasgow was pretty special, during which I curated and presented a community singing event for 40,000 singers (with a bunch of other amazing people I should add). In sheer terms of outrageous musical folly, and things that you could never imagine might be part of your CV, a life sized singing chicken on a zip wire boucing over a national orchestra in a public square in Brasil whilst being serenaded by three operatic marahiachi singers is hard to beat.
How does it feel to be nominated for this award?
It’s lovely when people value what and how you work. So very chuffed indeed.
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