In this new series of 'Five Minutes With' blogs, we speak to composers whose music has been performed at UniBrass about their lives, influences and plans for the future.
Here we chat to Paul Lovatt-Cooper, the second most performed composer in UniBrass history.
How did you first get involved with playing in brass bands?
They used to let me hit the bass drum during the hymns at my local Salvation Army Church where my family attended. One of my friends at school told the music teacher. He approached me and said "If you can learn to place a rock rhythm on the drums you can join our school band". So I did - it felt really natural and easy to do. I joined the band and loved it! The school then organised some drum lessons for me and I progressed a lot quicker!
When did you know you wanted to compose and how did you get started?
I had to do it as part of my GCSE portfolio and I really enjoyed creating different sounds. I enjoyed music so much that I went on to University College Salford where I studied my A levels. It was part of the University of Salford where both David King and Peter Graham were senior lecturers. They both amazed me and I wanted to study both conducting and composition even more under them. So I stayed on and completed the BMus Hons Degree majoring in composition and conducting.
Which of your compositions are you most proud of and why?
I am proud of all of them really. I have a philosophy that every composition needs to be as good as I can possibly make it. However, some real highlights for me are:
My concert opener Where Eagles Sing. My first proper major commission, for the Black Dyke Band, premiered at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester. After this piece, lots of bands wanted me to write music for them - it was a fantastic platform and springboard for me.
My concert finale Fire in the Blood which premiered at the Royal Albert Hall in front of a sell-out crowd. After Where Eagles Sing it is probably my biggest selling piece worldwide.
My test piece Breath of Souls which was commissioned for the 100th National Championships - a very proud moment for me!
My work in TV (which is away from brass bands), particularly composing the soundtrack to the BBC series Strange Hill High as we were nominated for two BAFTAS.
If you could have dinner with any composer from history, who would you choose?
Definitely Mozart! From what I studied about him, he sounded like a real party animal and great fun to be with, as well as being an unbelievably exceptional musical mind. We'd have some wine and a great laugh!
How would you describe your musical style and inspiration?
I would say filmatic in style and quite emotional. I really enjoy composing soaring melodies and trying to stir the heart with my music. I have loads of different musical inspiration, whether it be composers or pop, jazz, dance, rock, metal bands etc. But two modern day film composers have had a real influence on my style - John Williams and Alan Silvestri. Love their stuff!
What's next on the musical horizon for you?
I have a few commissions lined up over the next 18 months and a possible new TV series. I also enjoy doing lots of conducting and adjudicating. It's great fun to be invited to different types of ensembles the world over.
One more thing...
"I think UniBrass is an absolutely phenomenal, innovative concept. I wish it was around when I was banding at university. UniBrass seems to have grown a great deal over recent years and rightly so! Keep up the fantastic work!" Paul Lovatt-Cooper
To read more from UniBrass, check out our Blog.
To find out how you can stay in touch and support us take a look at the UniBrass Family.