On Saturday, March 24, 2018, YNYC’s Mixed and Women’s Ensembles will perform ‘Only All of Us’ featuring world premiere works for double chorus from our Competition for Young Composers.
We are pleased to introduce our third finalist for YNYC’s 2018 Competition for Young Composers, Lydia Jane Pugh!
Lydia Jane Pugh
Composition for YNYC: Adiraϊ (‘Misplaced’)
Lydia (b.1986) studied for a BA in music at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, going on to complete an MA in composition at Leeds College of Music in 2010. Lydia’s first commission was for the the Guernsey Glee singers, which resulted in a performance of ‘The Land Where I was Born’ at the Praga Cantat in Prague 2007. In 2009 her choral work “The Year Suite” was premiered by the Liberation Singers, and she was commissioned by the Guernsey Choral Society for Christmas 2010, a performance which was recorded for broadcast on BBC Guernsey. Lydia has also been a finalist for several competitions, including the ‘National Centre for Early Music’s Young Composer Award’, ‘Australian Boys Choir Choral Composing Competition’. Lydia’s music has also taken her abroad, as she has taken part in the Composers Workshop for the Charlotte New Music Festival, the Lehigh Choral Composers Forum, and most recently the Choral Chameleon Institute in New York, USA. At such events her work has been performed and recored by professional ensembles, including The Princeton Singers, The Great Noise Ensemble and The Choral Chameleon Singers. Lydia also works as a vocal coach, and was recently award both the John Owen-Jones Award and the P.J. Proby Award from The Voice College, along with her Advanced Professional Diploma in Teaching Contemporary Singing.
Every now and then I like to head somewhere along the coastline of Guernsey (my home island), be it along the cliffs, or the headlands, or one of the beaches. Guernsey is a pretty densely populated island for it’s size, but there is still so many places to escape and just ‘be’ for a while. One favourite place of mine is a cliff top called ‘Corbiere’, which has a single bench right on the very top edge, and the surrounding view is simply other cliffs and the ocean.
Where did your family immigrate from?
What relationship do you see between music and community?
What role does music play in telling people’s stories?
Music is the ultimate story-teller, in the language that everyone understands. In my opinion the best music has the power to conjure emotions within people, and produce what I call a visceral reaction; you don’t just hear the music or see performers, you feel it inside, whatever the reaction might be. Humanity has always told our stories through song, and one song which stands out in my mind, which never fails to move me, is ‘In Flanders Fields’, the setting John McCrae’s poem by Roger Emerson. I just find his treatment of the words in this piece, set with the most simple yet hauntingly beautiful harmony, just have the ability to say everything that needs to be said about this dark time in history.
Which composers best communicate cultural or historical stories?
My initial thought is that culture is often best expressed by Orchestral composers; when I think of the composers like Edward Elgar and Anton Dvojak for example, their music always conjures up imagery of their homeland, and they found a way to sound like their culture and nationality. That said, one choral composer who I find has an amazing ability to create the imagery of his homeland is Ola Gjelio, in particular with his piece ‘Northern Lights’. When it comes to story-telling, choral music has the upper edge for me, often because I find words, when sung, can have more power to connect on an emotional level. At the end of the day, the composers who best communicate cultural and historical stories are the ones who connect and identify with the culture or story they are trying to tell. That’s not to say that if you’re not from a certain place or that story didn’t happen to you you cannot write a moving piece about them, it just means that you need to go deeper and really connect with what you are writing. I tell my singing students all the time that, “If they are connected to the song, the audience will connect to them”, and I feel this is also true of composing – if the composer is truly connected to the story and the culture they are representing with their piece, then the audience will connect to that.
The Young New Yorkers’ Chorus presents: Only All of Us
Saturday, March 24 | 7pm
St. Michael’s Church
225 W. 99th St. New York, NY
Tickets available online for $20 and at the door for $25. http://onlyallofus.bpt.me
This concert will be dedicated to the memory of our friend, fellow chorus member and Board President Daniel Thompson, who was the victim of a tragic accident on March 11.