International Women’s Day Concert 2016: My Compositional Journey

After I had submitted one of my composition formatives on a morning during last term, I bumped into Sarah Hopkinson who is the person organising Music Durham’s first-ever International Women’s Day Concert. She asked whether I would be interested in having one of my pieces performed for the Concert and I agreed without any hesitation. I immediately knew that it would be a not-to-miss opportunity for me to have a glimpse of what it would be like having one of your pieces performed in the public, and sharing your own musical aesthetics to more people rather than lecturers and peers who are doing the composition module.

I chose to have Magic Mushroom, a piano trio, performed for the Concert that was written three years ago when I was in my last year of sixth form. I was actually torn between Magic Mushroom and Squish, Squash, Scrunch, a string quartet that I wrote as part of my second year composition portfolio. I decided to pick Magic Mushroom in the end as I think it is more light-hearted and fun, and will thus suit the Concert better.

Back in 2013 when I began writing the piece, I was obsessed with Béla Bartók’s works. It therefore wouldn’t surprise me if one finds this piano trio resembling Bartók’s sound world. The piece is actually one of my earlier works where I could categorise it as ‘contemporary classical music’ because it was only my second year when I was introduced to this area of music.

In terms of the contextual background for the piece, I composed it with Nintendo’s New Super Mario Bros. game in my mind. I was trying to create my interpretation of the exciting, colourful and bouncy video game. This was also why I decided to name the trio as Magic Mushroom for which it stems from the Super Mushroom that appears as one of the items in the game (not named after the recreational drugs!).

It has been a real pleasure working with Katie Bamford, Sarah Fretwell and Rebecca Howell, the three wonderful performers who have spent their limited free time practicing my piece. It is always very interesting to see how performers would react to your works, giving more constructive criticism and making you step out of your metaphysical composition bubble. I am really looking forward to listening to my piece being performed as part of the Concert on the day because after all, it is not an everyday-opportunity for students to have their own compositions performed in the public, especially from female composers!

Written by Cindy Chang, a student from Hatfield College.

The International Women’s Day Concert will take place on the 8th March at the Music Department, Palace Green, Durham, DH1 3RL

For more information please see




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