The Perse School

Award-winning Perse musician creates new work for Symphonic Showcase concert

1 Mar 2018

Award-winning composer and Upper Sixth student Will Harmer will debut his new piano concerto at the forthcoming Perse Symphonic Showcase concert.

Last year Will won the upper junior category (ages 17 and 18) of the BBC Proms Inspire Young Composers competition with his piece The Whole Heaven on Fire, as well as the Royal Opera House Fanfare competition.

Following on from those triumphs, Will has created another composition which he will perform with the Perse Orchestra at Saffron Hall on 16 March.

He began writing his new concerto last term after improvising different melodies at the piano as well as taking cues from the likes of Rachmaninov and Ravel in putting together his latest work.

Will said: “I had quite a few contrasting ideas and fragments of musical material and I make a structure out of that which really helped me to create the piece.

“Rachmaninov has been a particular influence. His Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini starts off with a very simple idea and then he develops it, so by the final variation you’ve got highly complex, virtuosic piano parts and the orchestra interacting with that.

“I also found Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G Major very inspiring. What makes it different from other pieces for piano and orchestra is that it really explores the different colours of the orchestra as well as the piano. He makes really interesting use of the solo instruments in the orchestra. There’s a big part for solo trumpet and cor anglais and that was inspiring for me because my piece isn’t just all about the piano, but the interaction between the piano and orchestra on a level playing field.

“Instruments such as trumpet, trombone and clarinet I’ve used quite a lot, almost like chamber music interacting with the piano, while still maintaining that sense of the piano against the orchestra as is typical of a concerto.”

Will is looking forward to giving his concerto its first public airing and is pleased with how preparations are going for the show.

He said: “It’s really exciting. Saffron Hall is a great place to play with a fantastic acoustic. I think it’s going to be a wonderful event. The best feeling as a composer is when you can be part of playing your own piece. I’ve made the piano part extremely difficult so it’s been tough learning the part.

“I think what’s also important is writing a piece that the players enjoy playing. If they can enjoy the performance, it’s a better result for everyone.”

Listen to some of Will’s compositions here.

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