Who or what inspired you to take up composing, and make it your career?
Music has been something that I’ve always done and has been a part of my life as long as I can remember. When I turned13 I suddenly turned round and said that I wanted to learn the saxophone, despite never showing an interest in woodwind instruments before, and after a lot of badgering my parents eventually relented. I guess it never crossed their minds then that I would stick to it nor pursue a career in music. I was never a foot on the monitor, look at me person so I guess they were as surprised as I was that when I was bitten by the music bug I couldn’t give it up.
Composing was another surprise for me too. I’d always felt lost composing at school and university and I was never inspired to write anything other than the tasks we were set, and I dropped composing modules in favour of performance as soon as I could. But after university I found I needed to write new pieces for my students to challenge a specific area of their playing and it was this that got me writing again. All of sudden I was inspired and couldn’t stop.
Who or what were the most important influences on your composing?
My playing and composing has been influenced a lot by the different genres I love to play and listen too. I have a deep love of jazz, ska and classical music – especially ska and reggae! And its these styles that I like to mix together to make my own sound.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
The greatest challenge so far was standing up and conducting the premier of my first orchestral piece I wrote in 2011. It was absolutely terrifying but I loved every minute of it!
Which performances/compositions/recordings are you most proud of?
My favourite piece that I’ve written do date is ‘Do Dodos Dance’ – I wrote it for the twtrsymphony who will be getting a woodwind trio to record this soon. It is quite a funny piece and it always makes me laugh listening back to it!
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in?
I’ve played at all sorts of venues and one of my favourites in the Square in Harlow – nice stage, brilliant sound guy and with air conditioning 🙂
Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to?
My favourite classical piece was one a friend reminded me of a couple of days ago – the wonderful ‘Song for Tony’ for sax quartet, was one piece I’ve loved performing before. My favourite piece to listen to (and play, but I don’t think I’ve every been with a group who’ve played it as good as the originals) is ‘Echo 4+2’ by Bad Manners.
Who are your favourite musicians?
One of my favourites is Ludiovico Einaudi – love his piano pieces. My other favourites are a lot of my contemporaries who I tweet with, and a big love for Mozart and things my hands will reach to play on the piano.
What is your most memorable concert experience?
Most memorable concert would be performing at the Secret Garden Festival this year with the ska band I work with. It was rather muddy and hot! But an amazing atmosphere and great crowd!
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
Aspiring musicians need to be thick-skinned and not take any one else’s beliefs, comments or criticisms to heart. You need to be passionate about what you do and be happy with what you do. If you love it, someone else will. And remember to treat people how you’d like to be treated. Above all keep writing/performing/listening/reading and developing.
What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I’m gearing up to go to Italy in November and tour around for the Donne in Musica female concerts they’ve arranged. I will be performing my new solo sax piece ‘My Life in Music’. Compositionally I’m working on some new educational string pieces as well as working on a new wind band for a local wind band to play next year.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
My idea of perfect happiness would be to be able carry on writing music for groups of all shapes and sizes and to hear my music performed. That an a big cup of tea.
Rachael Forsyth is a freelance composer, music teacher and all round woodwind player based in North London. She has gigged extensively with bands around the UK and her main musical loves are for classical music and ska. As a composer she writes lots of pieces she knows students will love to play as well as working on large scale orchestral and piano based pieces. Rachael has been invited to Italy in the Autumn to perform a solo saxophone piece on a tour around Rome. Highlights for her for the last year have been conducting the premier of her first orchestral piece in November 2011 and being given the opportunity to write a woodwind trio piece that is due to be recorded and released later this year. Her current projects include writing material for music exam boards, writing solo saxophone pieces as well as writing a Wind Band piece to be performed next year.