Archives For Gareth Williams

Writing About The Arts

December 7, 2014 — 47 Comments

Creative Writing


In my third year at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland I chose to take a module called ‘Writing about the Arts’.

I really enjoy writing for my blog and using it as a portal for reflection. One of the reasons I chose the module, was because I read last year, whilst studying German Lied, that Robert Schumann was a critic as well as a composer. Which made me wonder whether I could work on my writing skills and rather than it just be a hobby I could challenge myself to improve and so that maybe it could become one of the strings in my employment bow 🙂

Last Monday, 1st of December, we had a guest speaker lead our session called Gareth Williams. Gareth is a composer who studied his Masters of Composition at the RCS (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland), formally the RSAMD (Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama). He has composed pieces for groups such as the Hebrides Ensemble, Scottish Opera, the Paragon Ensemble, Symposia, the Black hair Ensemble, and the London Sinfonietta.


Gareth Williams


The focus of the lecture was on ‘Writing a Libretto’. A libretto is a story written for a musical work such as an Opera, operetta, oratorio, cantata or musical. In our seminar we focused on Libretto for Opera so he showed us a clip from his site-specific promenade opera: “Sloan’s Project”.


Outside Sloans Bar – Opened 1797

The musical drama takes place at Sloan’s Bar in Glasgow and the audience move around Glasgow’s oldest pub to watch a chain of true stories involving love, vengeance, grief and forgiveness. I have actually been to Sloans Pub for an incredible Ceilidh, (traditional Scottish dancing), it was held in their beautiful ballroom last year and I must go again! 🙂


The Ballroom In Sloans Bar

Gareth finds it very bizarre when people just sing without need in an opera so for this composition he tries to create a realistic reason for the characters to sing.

In the following clip the characters begin to sing stimulated by hearing playing on the jukebox the favourite song of a recently deceased friend which had been played at his funeral.

In another scene, the wake takes part in an upstairs room. The characters have to carry their dead friend up without the coffin as it was too heavy. This was taken from a true story!

David Brock wrote the libretto for the ‘Sloans Project’. Brock and Williams decided to include the Glaswegian accent to emphasise the culture and the sound of Glasgow in the piece.


David Brock


Gareth then created a short task for us to do. We had to write a small story using 140 characters only, the same length as a tweet. For inspiration he showed us a poem by Ernest Hemingway an American author and journalist –

“For Sale
Baby Shoes
Never Worn”

The focus of the story is that Person A wants something from Person B. Here are a couple of examples, why not give it a go, it would be great to see what you come up with!

Here is my attempt;

A: I’m really sorry to have to ask this Mrs Grey.
But I am going to need you to identify the body now .
B: …
B: Yes, that’s Darrel Grey.

This from my Dad

A Did you see what happened?
B No, he is pointing to the floor, I can’t watch.
A Goaaaaaal