LISTEN: ‘When Music Says A Thousand Words’ by Lloyd Coleman & Bristol Youth Choir
Over the next last few weeks we’ve been releasing a collection of new tracks commissioned as part of our city-wide project A New Song For Bristol, created by a diverse range of artists, inspired by or made in collaboration with individuals and groups from across Bristol.
For the last few months, these artists have been working with groups to create their tracks, and over the next few weeks Bristol Beacon will be sharing these brand-new pieces of music.
‘When Music Says A Thousand Words’ is the fifth track out of seven to be released. It was written by Lloyd during the last lockdown and was created in collaboration with members of Bristol Youth Choir, and features the voices of young people talking about their experiences during the pandemic, following a Zoom workshop as part of A New Song For Bristol.
Listen to ‘When Music Says A Thousand Words’, below, and read all about the process of making the track.
Listen to ‘When Music Says A Thousand Words’ by Lloyd Coleman & Bristol Youth Choir
The making of the track
“I find if ever I’m having a really bad day and everything’s just gone wrong, then I can get my guitar, and sing a song and I just play for hours and hours and sing for hours and hours, and you can just finish such a bad day and feel so much better at the end of it, and it just really lifts you and it makes you feel like the world is good again.”
What’s the inspiration behind the track?
When I was asked to create something for A New Song for Bristol, I knew immediately I wanted to hear from young people and children living in Bristol. The pandemic has been challenging and continues to challenge so many of us – but in the heat of public debate I feel the voices of young people are often drowned out. To redress this, When Music Says a Thousand Words is a tiny snapshot into the brilliant minds of members of Bristol Youth Choir.
How did the creative process work?
In late February 2021 I was invited along to observe a Bristol Youth Choir rehearsal – which have been happening on Zoom during the last year. I was completely inspired by the warmth and kindness the choir members exuded – not only towards each other but to their tutors and choir leaders too. Many of us have learned how tricky it can be to organise and run Zoom sessions with multiple participants – let alone run a whole choir practice – but I thought the staff showed superhuman levels of ingenuity, enthusiasm, and care.
I returned the following week and on visiting each ‘breakout room’, I heard from dozens of young singers of all ages and backgrounds who responded in turn to three central questions…
What are they most looking forward to post-lockdown?
What have they learnt about themselves during the past year?
What is it they most enjoy about making music?
I recorded their answers and then handpicked a selection of answers to weave a loose narrative.
What was it like creating a song in this collaborative way?
It was completely joyous for me. At first I thought about creating a more conventional new song or piece that the children could sing after restrictions were eased, but the answers were so good I decided it would be more powerful to hear these voices verbatim. I turned into more of an audio mini-documentary with music, and that change of direction only happened after meeting the choir via Zoom.
What do you think about the finished product?
I’m really pleased with it – I hope listeners are as inspired by the young people’s intelligence, wit and charm as I am. I only wish I had time to include more – there were so many brilliant contributions! Thinking back to February – our city and the UK as a whole was in the grips of one of the darkest months of the pandemic but listening to these young singers talk to me and each other gave me a real sense of hope when it was easy to feel despair.
“Listening to these young singers talk to me and each other gave me a real sense of hope when it was easy to feel despair.”
How has the last year or so been for you, and has this creative process helped you reflect on your experience?
Many of my friends in the industry who are freelancers have been absolutely devastated by the pandemic – I speak to performers most days who haven’t played a gig in over a year. I’m really missing the buzz of performing to a live audience – particularly with my beloved colleagues at Paraorchestra. On the other hand, it’s been a great opportunity to reflect on what’s really important to me – so family and friends as well as creating music.
Finally, what’s in the pipeline next for you – what are you working on?
I have a few exciting things coming up later in the year – I’m currently writing a short instrumental piece to celebrate 75 years of the National Youth Orchestra of Wales in 2021, and a major new piece for the Paraorchestra – which we hope to perform in Bristol late this year/early next!
About Lloyd Coleman
Composer, musician and broadcaster Lloyd Coleman is the Associate Music Director of Paraorchestra, the world’s first large-scale integrated orchestra of disabled and non-disabled musicians. His original score for Beethoven Can Hear You, a radio drama starring Peter Capaldi and Sophie Stone, was recently broadcast on BBC Radio 3. kraftwerk re:werk, a ground breaking musical experience based on Kraftwerk’s iconic album Trans Europe Express (co-composed with Charlotte Harding) has been performed at WOMAD, Motion Bristol and Simple Things Festival. Born in South Wales, Lloyd studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London and now lives in Bristol.
Bristol Youth Choir
Bristol Youth Choir is made up of three choirs with over a hundred and twenty young people from all over Bristol performing choral music of all styles. Giving up to five concerts a year, the Bristol Youth Choir have also appeared on BBC Breakfast, The One Show, BBC One’s Songs of Praise and in 2015 broadcast on Radio 3 and BBC Bristol as part of BBC Music Day 2015. Bristol Youth Choir is honoured to be one of Bristol Beacon’s Young Companies in Residence alongside the Bristol Youth Orchestra. The choirs are directed by David Ogden, Martin Le Poidevin and Elinor Cooper.
About A New Song For Bristol
Back in November we launched A New Song For Bristol, a city-wide project calling out to the Bristol public to submit their experiences of life in Bristol over the course of the last year, through words and music.
Alongside the public callout, we commissioned a collection of new songs created by a diverse range of artists, inspired by or made in collaboration with individuals and groups from across Bristol.
National Lottery Heritage Fund
PRS Talent Development Partnership
Help Musicians UK
Paul Hamlyn Foundation