Opus 1: Getting to know... Joe Solomon - Britten Sinfonia - News & Blog

Opus 1: Getting to know… Joe Solomon

Meet Joe Solomon, a minestrone-lover who’d take Chopin, Bach and Kendrick Lamar to a desert island. Find out more about him here:

 

  • What inspires you to compose?

Normally, I write as a way of working through my emotions. It’s a cathartic process, a lot like making a diary entry. Often though, I feel most inspired after listening to another piece of music; what I compose doesn’t necessarily sound anything like what I’ve just been listening to, but invariably a piece that affects me emotionally, puts me in a creative mood.

 

  • How did you get into composition?

I’m dyslexic, and I began composing as a direct result of getting bored and frustrated during conventional piano lessons and practise. I have always found reading music a dull and sometimes infuriating task. As a teenager, I would make myself sit at the piano, but I would always find ways of distracting myself.  When I was about 15, this distraction came in the form of building chord progressions at the piano, rather than practising the piece I was supposed to be learning. This became a habit, and after a couple of months this habit evolved into writing short piano pieces in a Romantic style, each only a few minutes long. I couldn’t write them down; I would repeat each section until I knew it by heart. I had no idea about the musical structures at play and, no knowledge of music theory at this point, but that’s when composition began for me.

  • What is the hardest thing about being a composer?
  • When I write a piece, it often stems from something quite personal. It can be difficult to share my compositions with others; I often expect to feel a bit exposed when I do.
  • What’s your biggest compositional ambition?

I love writing music for full orchestras. I’d love to hear my stuff played at the Royal Opera House, or the Proms… Well, a girl can dream!

 

  • What 3 pieces of music would you have to have on your desert island?

This is such a cruel question! There isn’t really an answer because there aren’t any pieces I would be happy to listen to exclusively for the rest of my life. Variety is what makes music such a great field!

Chopin’s Ballade No. 4, Kendrick Lamar’s ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ (If I had to pick one track then probably ‘Alright’), and J.S. Bach’s ‘Well-Tempered Clavier’. (I know this is cheating!) I could listen to these for a very long time.

 

  • What is the best snack?

Probably the minestrone soup my grandpa makes, with grated cheddar. It’s a hearty snack or a small meal, depending on your appetite. Nothing beats it!

 

Click here to meet the rest of our 2022 Opus 1 cohort

Click here to meet our previous Opus 1 composers