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Posted by Sandra Wood on 16 April 2020

Isolate : A collaborative composition project

Lancaster district based musician Maja Bugge was part of the Cinclus Cinclus residency at More Music. Maja has written about work she is up to right now:

“So, I have just started this project together with my 13 cello students (aged 7-73) in Lancaster and Morecambe. They are all doing online lessons during the lock down and after talking to them the first time on Zoom, I realized how important it is for them to have an opportunity to reflect on how they are feeling in a such a strange and unusual time. Composition and improvisation are always an important part of my teaching and so I realized there was an opportunity to explore their creativity in a different way, also for those who have never done it before.

Each week I am asking them to give me one word that explains how they are feeling or what they are thinking. So, far I have had words like; “I am feeling lost (I don’t know what to do with myself), “bored”, “inspired”, “uncertain”, “sad”…

Then we together write a little motif or rhythm to express their word. Each week we might explore a different key and a different mood depending on what the students come up with. This is such a time of uncertainty but it seems crucial to take that time to reflect and create while we are in it, however chaotic it feels.

My plan is to compose the students (and my own) motifs and fragments into a piece or pieces of music for cellos to perform with my students when the lock down period is over. Hopefully we will find some other music groups to play with us and some other music makers who want to share their experience with us.

I regularly look to find performance opportunities for my students and I think the Isolate project will be a particularly important one as it feels urgent. It feels like music really can play an important role in the aftermath of Covid-19.

As a musician I feel a strong longing to play together with my fellow musicians and my students. And it is sad to not be able to do. I never knew it would feel so sad. But as a little trace of hope, we have started doing Sunday concerts in my street where people come out on the street and play for each other and are together (while following the rules of social distancing-J).

We sing songs, we listen to each other (even though it is very hard to hear each other), we chat and we are together in that moment. Never before have I heard music so clearly, listened so carefully, been so happy to see my neighbours.

To get involved contact Maja through her website :

And for something uplifting, here is a track from Maja and Sarah Nicolls called HOPE:


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