Kym Dillon: the story of a new work – #1

I’m absolutely thrilled and honoured to have been awarded this Continuo commission; when it was first announced there was such a reaction of giddy excitement from myself and the ensemble! I feel sincerely grateful to the Continuo Community for awarding this to us, and it genuinely feels as if something rather special is about to happen as a result.

Although I’ve met the Croissants & Whiskey ensemble members individually in other contexts, I have actually yet to meet them together in the same room, and as such I’m very much looking forward to shortly attending the ensemble’s first ever gig to hear them live for the first time.

Croissants & Whiskey, with croissants and whiskey - photo Darren James

Even though it is still very early in the creative process, I have already begun thinking hard (and perhaps a little obsessively) about the piece. I don’t mean specific notes, structures, styles or otherwise, but more about the foundational question of ‘why?’ — Croissants & Whiskey is such a unique ensemble, with its blend of harpsichord, baroque viola, recorders and G Violone, instruments which evoke an older tradition of music… but is that really their main function today? Can they be brought together in a way that speaks directly, and relevantly, to a contemporary audience? It’s a question I know the ensemble are exploring for themselves generally; it is also one that I feel drawn to answer in my own way for this piece.

I’m also very keen to avoid the idea of mere gimmickry, of simply writing for these instruments because it’s quirky and ‘different’. For instance, I wouldn’t want this to be a piece that could have just as easily been written for a piano and string trio, but merely becomes more interesting because of the uncommon instruments that happen to be playing it. For me, the presence of these intriguing instruments, their unique characteristics, and indeed something of the context they evoke, is an idea that must find its meaning holistically and convincingly within the world and story of the piece itself.

To give an analogy, if I was a film director it’s as if I have been initially presented with four very distinct and enigmatic characters, ones that you wouldn’t expect would be found in the same film. The initial task falls to me to think of a story that convincingly brings these characters together and grounds their presence and interaction. Once this in place, things can begin to grow creatively from there.

Now I believe I have come up with just such an idea, one that links in with larger themes I have been thinking about, and one that I’m very eager and energised to start exploring… but I will share that with you once I’ve first shared it with the group! I’m aiming to give them a ‘pitch’ very soon, after which I’m looking forward to them introducing me to their individual instruments, all of which are new territory for me.

I look forward to keeping you updated as things progress, not only to add to the excitement that comes from this commission but also to give some insight into the creative process itself.

Kym