Interview the Creatives: Mayflower Theatre Summer Youth Project - Musical Direction
Ahead our upcoming Summer Youth Theatre’s production of Peter Pan – An Awfully Big Musical Adventure we've been speaking to the Creative Team behind the project. First up is William Pickering - Musical Direction & Arrangements.
Tell us a bit about your background
I trained at the University of Manchester on their Music degree course. This was a great course as it introduced students to a variety of music in great depth. I most enjoyed the compositional side of the course and have used this most extensively since graduating. Since graduating I have been a musical director in many youth productions, working with a variety of young people in different ways. This experience was invaluable in teaching me about the incredible standards that young people are able to achieve. I learnt a great deal from currently working musical directors (and continue to do so!), from warm-ups to organising the musicians. Looking at scores and making them work with different ensembles to the one they were written for is a fantastic way to expand your own knowledge of music and their particular writing styles. Outside of being a musical director for youth theatre I have composed music for various projects. These have been as varied as films, incidental music for plays and large projects. An example of the latter being a project that brought together four groups of young people from Hampshire-based armed forces. Each group represented a different Greek element and had to have an individual song. The catch being that these songs also had to work together when sung at the same time! The writing of the material was intricate, but extremely rewarding with each performance. I continue to work as a musical director of youth productions, occasionally musically directing productions for professionals and composing.
Where do you get your ideas from? Do you have any tips on creativity?
I love collaborative work. Working with other like-minded creative people is a great way to achieve a result better than any one individual could. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a musically-inclined creative person to spark an idea; it could be something they say, or an interpretation of a character that sets everything down a new path. The ability to solve all the musical problems that arise in a project relies heavily on knowledge and experience. These both inform the best solution both practically and artistically. Unfortunately for my sleeping patterns, my most creative solutions/ideas often come to me as I’m about to fall asleep! I therefore have to quickly get out of bed and scribble some notes down on a piece on manuscript before it’s forgotten! The best tip for creativity, though, is to listen to as much music in as many genres as possible. Even if you don’t like a style or genre there is always at least one aspect of the musical construction that can be taken away positively.
What do you like best about working on the Summer Youth Project?
The Summer Youth Project is fantastic for its sheer scale in every aspect. My favourite part, though, has to be the sitzprobe, which is the moment the cast and the band/orchestra first sing through the songs together. It’s the first time everyone gets a hint at how incredible the show is going to be!
Mayflower Theatre Summer Youth Project performs on the 16th and 17th of August.