Here at the Purcell School, things have been incredibly busy for our young composers! They’ve all begun work on their final pieces (which are already sounding INCREDIBLE), and they’ve been working with the tutors in their groups to develop and realise their ideas.

To end the third day, the evening workshop session was lead by Manchester based composer and vocalist, Laura Bowler. Laura got everyone on their feet, and taught the students how to use physicality as a method of music creation and composition. Bowler shared a great deal of information with the young composers that – based on their engagement with the workshop – was so clearly beneficial to them. So with that said, it’s best you hear the rest from one of the students in attendance, Joel:

Laura Bowler provided a wonderful insight into the world of physicality in music. She revealed the other half of musical performance; a more expressive and emotional side that the 90 minute workshop displayed. I found the event very intriguing, as it demonstrated how Bowler and other composers encourage their performers to utilise their bodies to portray actions in the music. One such example shown to us involved a saxophonist from a quartet, who repeatedly rotated his body whilst playing a single note! He then steadily increased the speed of his movement as the played speed of the repeated increased.

One approach Bowler taught us was to make use of a physical warm up before rehearsals and performances, as she explained this removes any fear the performers may have about exposing interesting techniques that use physicality. She conducted this warm up with us, and involved every participant in the room producing wild gestures that would otherwise be deemed inappropriate in an everyday context! Personally, I found this section of the session really enjoyable, as I felt it was successful in making the audience/performers feel less vulnerable to the world of musical theatre.

For me, the workshop delivered by Laura Bowler has sparked an interest in the physical approach to music, and I would encourage any performers to research this division of music.

I would definitely recommend watching the video below, which is a performance of one of Bowler’s pieces titled, ‘Theatre of Cruelty’. You can really see the animation of the performers and how much this enhances the musicality of the piece. I’m really hoping the students keep this in mind for their final performances!