What has happened in the past
Lauderdale House, in Waterlow park, Highgate, North London, was once home to Nell Gwyn, mistress to Charles II. It is now a thriving arts venue, and home to Lauderdale Guitar Society, which recently ran a course for the London Composers Forum on composing for guitar. This exciting course was attended by a mixture of professional and talented amateur composers, amongst them Caitlin Rowley and Luca Tieppo. Indeed, one Luca’s compositions for guitar and piano had already been performed at a Lauderdale concert.
The course was run by three of Lauderdale’s experienced guitarists: Martin Byatt, a professional guitarist and composer who has had his compositions performed on the BBC and who is constantly playing around the country. Alex Lewis, a young session guitarist who has worked on the BBC and Australian television. They were led by Dennis Cooke, who studied briefly with Timothy Walker, among others, is an arranger (mostly for guitar duo) and who has been at the forefront of Lauderdale Guitar Society since its inception in 1983.
The course comprised three sessions, during which the history of the guitar was explained, and techniques of the guitar were outlined. A good composer does not necessarily have to play the instrument expertly, but must understand what the instrument is capable of. Hence the course outlined all the notes, tones, timbres and effects which can be achieved on a guitar. Advanced techniques such as tremolo and artificial harmonics were left until the third session! The composers were set the homework of providing short compositions, based upon the techniques they had learned. They proved adept at doing so, and have now composed many pieces for guitar. A future concert of their guitar compositions is a distinct possibility!
The London Composers forum has composed for a variety of events : future concerts can be found at their website
Alex Lewis, September 2012