2. Teachers College

The last theatre piece that I worked on at Linwood was my comic opera The Fisherman and his Wife (Grimm: Von dem Fischer un syner Fru). The text was written by Graeme Tetley and it could well have been produced at Linwood had it not been for the piss pot, the word used by the wife, Ilsebill, for their hovel. This was not Graeme’s invention, it was taken from the original Grimm’s text. But it didn’t please Jim Orman, the headmaster, and so the work was put on ice. In the mean time Jim had decided (not because of the piss pot I think––he actually seemed to like me) that it would be better for my development as a teacher if I were transferred to the Teachers College. So it was that I finished the comic opera in my first few months at this new institution (where I had very little else to do!) and the production was helped by lots of old and new friends, notably Don McAra as producer, Michael Harlow in the chorus, Rod Harries in the lighting box, and my new music colleague, Frank Dennis, who helped train the choir.

I was a lecturer in the music department for training secondary school teachers—i.e. for training young people to be class music teachers, something that I had never done myself! My main trainees were those who chose music as their “second major”. At the same time I had good contact with the first majors and it was often with these people that I was able to carry out special projects: The players for The Ever-circling Light, Devotion to the Small, Piece of 4, Texts for Composition and for the Metal Orchestra (a project for the Ilam University). This last was a suggestion of the then student, Philip Norman, that I should create an orchestra out of found metal objects and together with a few students perform an improvised piece at the Ilam University on “open day”. The day itself was terrible although the 10 minute piece we played was very good, but we had to play it just once every hour on the hour and in between the hoards of visiters who streamed through were allowed to beat hell out of our wonderful instruments. Out of this metal collection (which came from the railway workshops) grew my interest in music from found objects. By this time I was involved with the creative music group for the Primary Schools’ Music Festival. The metal orchestra became a sort of Gamalan for a piece the children made to shadow puppets created and performed by Don McAra’s students. Each year after this I used a different set of found objects with the children for the festival: wood, glass, stones. . . and each year I was helped by my “old” Linwood Colleague, Lester Davison.