Sunday: Writing With Your Ears

My first ever writing workshop went extremely well.  The idea was to cross artistic boundaries and get people to sit in with an orchestra (the Blackheath Community Orchestra in this instance), and write whatever the music moved them to write.  There was a whole load of explanation about hearing and sound and NLP which I might ditch the next time I run it; because it was so exciting writing to live music, that I’m not sure I need to embellish it.

Enthusiastic and engaged participants, fabulous music from the orchestra ( Leigh told me he’d planned the most dramatic piece from the Tchaikovsky for when we were sitting in with them; thanks Leigh) and a fun time had by all.  (Thanks also to the Orchestra for letting us intrude, and particularly those who came and talked to the writers about playing music  in the tea break.)

I think I probably talked too much, and I can see ways to improve it now I have independant evidence for how effective writing to live music is (there was a tiny question in my mind: is it just me that pulls voices and characters and scenarios out of bits of music?  I always want to write when I’m at concerts, but it seems a bit rude).

There was concrete written outcome for participants including a fully-formed miniature Victorian melodrama from someone who claimed to have written only shopping lists before. I want to read those shopping lists, they are probably in haiku.

Some feedback from participants:

I like the link between writing and other creative arts (Participant)

Fantastic experience of being with the orchestra… Ideas for mixing up senses (John)

Very very informative – the time passed so quickly. I never realised before how music could have such an impact on writing. Thoroughly enjoyed it and would like to do more. (Helen)

I enjoyed the music, feeling at ease with what was happening and what was expected.  I’m glad I came, gentle but stimulating afternoon (Norma)

A new angle, an interesting experience (Jennifer)

So I think I’ll be running this again.

I am also running an all weekend feast for the senses writing workshop A Garden Full of Metaphor at Sussex Prairies,  Henfield in July.

© Cherry Potts 2012

The Blackheath Onegin book launched

Most of my free waking hours since finishing the opera (apart from work, singing, partying, holidays…) have been spent fighting with the software to get the book to look beautiful.  Anyone planning to do a photobook on Blurb be warned you need a lot of free RAM.  It does very strange things, like randomly copying chunks of text and shoving them in somewhere else each time you try to format something.  To be fair they do warn about pasting large amounts of text, but it kept crashing, and even when I put it on my new laptop, with nothing else loaded apart from the virus guard, and it didn’t save except when you shut it, so if it crashed you lost the lot- so I got in the habit of saving at the end of each page and after every loading of a photo.  Its taken three times as long as it should have… But it is finally done, and I’ve ordered a proof copy.  waiting eagerly!

UPDATE: Comment from Readers:

You chart the gradual emergence of the opera in such a lively and insightful way – it’s a kind of scraggy, no- hoper kitten that turns into a fat cat with presence. It’s a real window into how nourishing participation in the arts can be.

Lovely reminder of the intensity of that time in the summer. Great text and pictures, apart from me on page 10 looking like an elephant about to charge !! I sat up late last night chortling away  and am now regretting it as eyes on stalks.  Thank you Cherry. A terrific job.


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back stage at a com…
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Eugene Onegin – Gallery – Katie Slater (Olga)


This gallery contains 27 photos.

What the reviewers said: a rich-toned Olga Classical Music Source show bags of promise What’s on Stage To view a large version of any image click on the thumbnail, all images are copyright, and will eventually be available on a … Continue reading

Eugene Onegin – gallery – Nicholas Sharratt (Lensky)


This gallery contains 17 photos.

What the reviewers say: loads of appeal as Lensky What’s On Stage got my sympathy Classical Music Source To view a large version of any image click on the thumbnail all images are copyright, and will eventually be available on … Continue reading

Eugene Onegin – Gallery – Kate Valentine (Tatyana)


This gallery contains 13 photos.

What the reviewers say: Kate Valentine’s Tanya, radiant with optimistic innocence in the ‘letter scene’ The Stage I particularly liked Kate Valentine’s change from diffident ingénue (left alone at her own birthday party after Lensky and Onegin’s row and duel … Continue reading

Eugene Onegin – Gallery – Damian Thantrey (Onegin)


This gallery contains 17 photos.

What the reviewers said : Perhaps Damian Thantrey’s chisel-featured Onegin was not self-centred enough (after all, after the performance he opened the door for me as I left), but I liked the way he threw over most of the chairs … Continue reading

Eugene Onegin – Gallery – Soloists

What the reviewers say: The Stage, What’s on Stage and Classical Music Source:

Splendidly resonant Act III aria from bass Andrew Greenan.

Gremin’s knock-out aria ‘The Gift of Love is Rightly Treasured’, sung with heartfelt ardour by Andrew Greenan

Andrew Greenan is luxury casting as Gremin and Harriet Williams’ youthful Larina and Linda Hibberd’s sympathetic Filipyevna lend equally strong support.  Students Katie Slater (Olga), Panos Ntourntoufis (Triquet), Simon Dyer (Zaretsky), Simon Marsh (Steward) and David William-Matthews (Captain) show bags of promise.

Harriet Williams looked far too young to be Larina, mother of Tatyana and Olga, but she provided a nice double act with Linda Hibberd’s Filipyevna. Katie Slater, as a rich-toned Olga, led a number of Trinity Laban vocal students, which also included a finely-studied Triquet from Panos Ntourntoufis.

To view a large version of any image click on the thumbnail all images are copyright, and will eventually be available on a CD if you are interested, make contact:


Eugene Onegin – the Chorus – Act III and miscellaneous


This gallery contains 66 photos.

More comments from the Audience: We came specially from Amsterdam (where we often go to the opera), to watch that electric first performance – it was well worth the trip. The professionals were excellent, both in their singing and their … Continue reading

Eugene Onegin – Gallery – Act I


This gallery contains 65 photos.

Some more comments, from participants and from audience! I love opera and this was my first time taking part in a community opera chorus. I loved it…with a passion. Behind this project, there are a multitude of stories about people’s … Continue reading