Putting my Conscious Incompetence to good use!

In addition to my day job I have been a semi-professional and sometimes professional musician. (translated as: I didn’t have a day job at the time!). I conduct brass bands and am also Chair and a trumpet player with The Sussex Symphony Orchestra, a Brighton based charity.

Like many musical groups, we wanted to show our support for the people of Ukraine in our recent concert but found there wasn’t much published that was suitable to add at the last minute to an already lengthy programme. Whilst I have arranged music for dance bands and brass groups, I have never attempted an Orchestral score! For once, I was totally conscious of my incompetence in that area. But I wanted to do something and music is the only thing I could consider so I took the plunge!

I came across a beautiful Ukrainian folk song, Plyve Kacha which translates as “The duckling swims”. For generations of Ukrainians, it has been a song warning of the risks of warfare. It is a lament about a young soldier going off to fight in foreign wars and him having a dialogue with his mother about war and dying. The song re-found popularity in 2014 during the last troubles in the country when it became a song mourning the loss of those killed whilst unarmed during protests. It was then featured in a poignant performance by Inna Ishchenko on “The Voice of Ukraine”.

I was fortunate to be able to get my score reviewed by a real composer, Paul Carr, who gave me some tips. The end result is the video above.

I remain consciously incompetent as an Orchestral arranger but at least have been able to make this tribute to the people of Ukraine in a way that has meaning to them and have also made the score available at no cost to any Orchestra who also want to show solidarity in these awful times. The Sussex Symphony Orchestra also raised over £500 for the Red Cross DEC Appeal for Ukraine with an impromptu collection.

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