Countdown to Plug 2018: Elise Haller-Shannon

Plug is back for 2018 and this year it’s bigger and better than ever, with 14 concerts taking place over the 8 day festival and more than 50 composers premiering new works here at RCS. We caught up with some of the composers taking part in this year’s Plug Festival to find out more about what it is that makes Plug and new music so very special. #Plug2018

Elise Haller-Shannon

You can listen to Elise’s work in Plug 1 with the RSNO Ensemble and in Plug 3 Hammer and Nails.

How/why did you start composing?

Writing and playing music gives me an opportunity to express and communicate in a way that reflects upon and interrogates my interests. During my undergraduate degree, I began listening to and writing contemporary music. I then trained as a music teacher and lived in Hong Kong for 3 years; it was being there that made me realise I wanted to pursue my own creative interests upon my return.

What is your favourite/least favourite instrument to write for and why?

I think that all instruments offer up interesting possibilities to be explored. Before studying at the RCS I would have shied away from composing for an instrument I wasn’t familiar with, but here I have opportunities to work with players and try out new things. I’ve discovered that not knowing an instrument can offer up more compositional potential; it’s a blank canvas that you can work with. Working with a new instrument is exciting and can provide unexpected and creative possibilities.

How has studying at the RCS helped/changed the way you write?

The RCS is an amazingly fertile place for new music with PLUG being the apex of this. Knowing that your work will be performed has a massive impact on both conceptual and technical approaches to writing, encouraging an exploration of collaborative and experimental possibilities. Through working with and alongside a variety of composers and performers at different points in their careers, I’ve gained a newfound confidence in my writing. My experience here is that, above all else, individuality is valued, pushed, pulled and challenged.

What are you most looking forward to about Plug 2018?

Hearing all of the new music. I’m particularly looking forward to “Hammers and Nails”. This concert involves works by composition Masters and BMus 1 students who have been writing for two guitars and two pianos respectively. I think it’s great that so many students are involved in one concert from different years in the conservatoire. I’m looking forward to hearing how different students have composed for and collaborated with the same instrumental line up.

Describe Plug in 3 words

Live world premieres.

Discover new music at this year’s Plug – buy 3 or more tickets and save 25%.
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