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A Book of Song

'A Book of Song' is a collaboration between composers Tom Armstrong, Nathan Williamson, soprano Clara Barbier Serrano, counter-tenor Magid El-Bushra, and baritone Robert Gildon. Still in development, the venture seeks to create an innovative form of vocal recital.

Through group exploration and collaboration the artists seek to create a continuous vocal recital programme combining art- and folksong, improvisation and extemporisation, instrumental interludes, and the spoken word. Songs may be re-arranged and re-worked to highlight musical and poetic connections and over-arching themes. The resulting performance will aim towards a seamless sequence of music, positioning itself somewhere between the traditional classical format, a contemporary singer-songwriter presentation, and a piece of music theatre. 

The process of building this programme seeks to move away from the roles of ‘performer’, ‘composer’, and ‘programmer’ towards a hybrid model of composition, curation and performance. Beginning with each participant’s musical personality and interests, the project will explore further programme content as a group, letting a theme/s emerge by mutual consent. 

Singers expand their roles as interpreters into arrangers, improvisers, and composers, forming a team in which every member feels able to develop the programme according to their own strengths and enthusiasms. New music by any member of the group, whether specially composed or adapted from previous work, would be a particularly welcome addition to the programme. 

The first stage of development of this project has been two workshops in Autumn 2023, through which the group have established 'proof of concept' of their ideas, with accompanying media of mjusical examples. These are now being shared with potential future partners with a view to developing funding and residency opportunities in 2024.