St Mungo's pupils create new composition for HippFest

It's not easy composing a new piece of music on your own, never mind trying to collaborate with six others.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 16th March 2018, 4:01 pm
Updated Friday, 16th March 2018, 5:08 pm
Magnificent seven...composers from St Mungos High School in Falkirk with mentor, Colin Broom. (Pic: Michael Gillen)
Magnificent seven...composers from St Mungos High School in Falkirk with mentor, Colin Broom. (Pic: Michael Gillen)

But that’s exactly what seven talented students at St Mungo’s High School have done for this year’s HippFest New Found Sound event.

Being staged in Bo’ness Hippodrome on Sunday, March 25, the young conductors will premiere their new score – with a little help from the Falkirk Schools’ Senior Orchestra.

The students have received expert guidance from composer Colin Broom, who works at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

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Pulling some turn sheet music into an orchestral performance, members of the senior schools' orchestra. (Pic: Michael Gillen)

And together they have created the score for Holidays, Hurrah by prolific Scottish amateur filmmaker Frank Marshall.

At 16 minutes long, the film gave the students enough scope to each have their own input.

And during a rehearsal at Camelon Education Centre, they were more than happy to explain their role.

For Charlie Gribben (17), a 6th year pupil from Bonnybridge, it will be his first time at HippFest.

Pulling some turn sheet music into an orchestral performance, members of the senior schools' orchestra. (Pic: Michael Gillen)

While he plays the piano, he is the only one out of the seven who is not also a member of the orchestra.

Charlie said: “We’ve been given a fantastic opportunity to come up with an original piece of music.

“We all had different ideas for our own sections but piecing it together wasn’t as hard as you might think.”

Sisters Sarah and Lindsay Young, who are also from Bonnybridge, were able to sound each other out.

Sarah (17), who is in sixth year, said: “This is my final year in the orchestra. I’ve played the flute at HippFest a few times but it will be different standing up as a composer this year!

“Music is more of a hobby than a career for me but this is a great experience to put on your CV.

“It was nice working with Lindsay too as we were able to give each other ideas.”

Fifth year pupil Lindsay (16) said: “The programme we used to compose is the same one we use in school.

“I’ve learned so much, including a lot of different shortcuts, which will really help with my Higher and Advanced Higher.

“It will be a bit weird standing up front conducting – I’m usually in the orchestra playing the clarinet.

“But I’m looking forward to hearing our music come alive at the event.”

Third year students Molly Rodden and Hamish Clark, who are both 14, are the youngest in the group.

Molly, from Larbert, said: “This is my first year in the orchestra, in the junior wind band, so I don’t have that much experience.

“The show is going to be quite nerve-wracking but it was a really good opportunity to learn about composition and I’ve had a great time.”

Hamish, from Maddiston, had the support of his sister Cameron Clark (16), who is in fifth year and is also part of the composers group.

He said: “When I first started, I was apprehensive as I had a jumble of ideas but Colin and Cameron were both a big help.

“It’s been a lot of hard work but creating a new score is a great achievement.”

As for Cameron, she said: “I’ve performed at HippFest, playing the violin in the orchestra, but it’s nice to do something different.

“And Hamish and I were able to bounce ideas off each other, which was great.”

Making up the seven is Beth Grant (16), a fifth year pupil from Falkirk.

She has the added pressure of her next door neighbour being none other than HippFest director Alison Strauss. But that didn’t put the youngster off!

She said: “I’ve played the trombone for four years and performed at HippFest twice before so I know how much fun it is taking part.

“I really like composing and it gave me the experience I need for composing in Advanced Higher next year.”

The youngsters’ music will not just have a life at HippFest either; after Easter, it will be recorded by Forth Valley College students.

Gayle Martin, education support officer with Falkirk Council, explained: “We’ve worked with HippFest since it launched eight years ago, with a different school each year taking the lead.

“Scottish Screen Archive has been keen for some time to record our pupils’ compositions so that people in future can view the film with the soundtrack.

“So sound engineering students will be recording it for their portfolios.

“As for our pupils, whether they go on to study music or not, it’s a fantastic project for their CVs.”

Conductor Colin Broom was certainly impressed.

He added: “It was my job to give advice and to make sure the music worked for an orchestra, as well as to mentor them in conducting.

“They needed little input from me on composition and have been so diligent.”

The students will perform as part of New Found Sound at the Hippodrome on March 25 at 11am, with tickets priced £6.25 (£5.25 conc).

They will also perform in Falkirk Town Hall the following day, with tickets £5 (£3.50 conc) or £15 for a family ticket.