Andrew Lewis is a composer and Professor of Composition in the Department of Music, Drama and Performance at Bangor University. This year, Bangor celebrates 100 years since Bangor University first appointed its first full time Director of Music.
Andrew Lewis’ composition ‘In Memory’ will receive its world première as part of BBC National Orchestra of Wales’ performance at the Prichard-Jones Hall, Bangor University on Friday 11 November, 7.30pm. Tickets from the Pontio website.
What was the process in terms of composing the piece?
The piece is about the experiences of people caring for family members with dementia. So the starting point was making sound recordings of people talking about these experiences. I took words and phrases from these recordings as the starting point for the music.
What did you want to convey?
I wanted to capture something of the ‘real life’ experiences of people caring for family members. About 1 in 8 adults in the UK are unpaid family carers for one reason or another (not just dementia), and together they contribute £132 billion to the UK economy every year. Yet we hear almost nothing about them. 8 in 10 family carers say they have felt lonely or socially isolated. So I am trying to get these kinds of issues into the public consciousness, and given them a human face (or in this case, a human voice).
What instruments will we hear during the piece?
The piece is for a symphony orchestra, with the addition of ‘electronics’ - sounds played over loudspeakers, mainly voices.
What is your hope in terms of what the audience get from listening to the piece?
I hope that people will be able to enter into the experience and life journey of those caring for family members with dementia. Many listeners will have their own experiences as well, so I also hope it will help to connect them with the very large, but largely unnoticed, community of people who have these kinds of experiences. But it’s music, so I also hope it will be an uplifting experience, as well as a challenging and though-provoking one. I would love to think that people might find themselves chatting together during the interval, about some of these issues and perhaps their own experiences.
How do you feel about the BBC premiering this work?
It’s great to be working with BBC National Orchestra of Wales again. They are always very enthusiastic about new music, and it’s amazing to see how they rise to the technical challenges a new piece might bring. I’m also very pleased that Owain Arwel Hughes will be conducting. He’s given many premieres of new music during his career, and I’m looking forward to hearing how he brings ‘In Memory’ to life.