Brand New Day x Lucy Hale

Digital Ambassador Holly Chapman takes us behind-the-scenes at RNCM’s Brand New Day.

It’s the time of the semester that puts student composers in the spotlight: Brand New Day! The Brand New Orchestra, made up of performance students across all years and courses, is an ensemble proposed by the School of Composition as a means of collaboration across the College to publicly perform student works.

Lucy Hale Last week’s series of events were a special tribute to RNCM graduate and composer Lucy Hale, who passed away last year at the age of 26. RNCM PRiSM described Lucy as ‘an extraordinarily talented composer committed to building repertoire and support for disabled musicians’, and her music and sense of positivity will remain in the RNCM and beyond. Head of Composition, Adam Gorb, said a few words about Lucy’s time here; ‘Lucy Hale was a truly special person – her unique personality and compositional voice lit up the department and the RNCM. She never let her disability hinder her, indeed in one of her most memorable pieces, she added a percussion part for her spare wheelchair! A true original, and a shining light, she will be much missed.’

RNCM composers at Lucy Hale tribute concert

Seven composers, alongside Lucy, had their works premiered on Thursday 27 January in the RNCM Concert Hall. Rehearsals spanned across three days, giving composers and musicians time to collaborate and honour each other’s hard work. I spoke to some of the composers about how they’re feeling about the concert and the day in general. The support in the School of Composition has allowed Alice Brookes to sharpen her confidence when composing for large ensembles. She said ‘I’m looking forward to hearing my new piece ‘dissolve’ performed in the Brand New Orchestra Concert! Everyone has worked so hard to get our pieces ready and I’m super grateful to everyone who has helped to make this exciting event happen.’ For others, it was their first orchestral piece and first public premiere at the College since studying here. Adam Webster said ‘I’m delighted to be having my very first orchestral piece ‘Vision’ performed by the Brand New Orchestra. This event is made even more special by the fact that it’s the first time my music will be performed at college for a public audience since I started studying at the RNCM. I’m extremely proud to be counted amongst fellow composers who have also contributed pieces to this concert, as well as the late Lucy Hale, and I’m sure it’ll be a wonderful event for everyone involved

Throughout Thursday, the atmosphere in the department and around the RNCM was electric! Lucy’s works were performed in the Lunchtime Concert, Spotlight Series and the Brand New Orchestra Concert in the evening. All musicians produced exceptional performances, giving Lucy and other RNCM students the recognition they truly deserve. Staff and friends of Lucy created a very emotional film in her honour, talking about her music, personality, and the impact that she had on the RNCM. This film was shown at the end of the spotlight concert. I spoke to composers, musicians and friends of Lucy’s after the completion of the Brand New Orchestra performance. Anna Appleby, one of Lucy’s best friends, said that ‘It was very moving to be with Lucy’s friends, family, and colleagues and to hear her extraordinary music played with such dedication. For a composer, I think this is a beautiful and fitting way to honour her. I feel so proud that the RNCM community came together to make this day happen and to create a lasting legacy for Lucy’s work.’ Dominic Wills was delighted after hearing the premiere of his work I was the Shadow. He shared his experience of the concert: ‘Brand New Orchestra was an amazing experience. It is incredible to hear the work over the past few months brought to life so professionally and helpful to my development as a composer too.

RNCM Brand New Orchestra

As a current disabled MMus student, I’d heard lots of information about Lucy throughout my application process, interview, and indeed when I started studying here. Although I’d never personally met Lucy, I can feel the strength of honour and admiration that Lucy gave the department and RNCM in her work, personality, and disability-positive thinking. She stands out as an exceptional person and a prime example to not only disabled individuals but also to abled people, that you can shine no matter the obstacles you face in daily life.

For further information on the continuation of the legacy of Lucy’s work, please click here.

Holly Chapman
MMus Composition

2 February 2022