Aishwarya Gupta is a 10-year-old budding poet from London. She won the Kensington and Chelsea Art Week competition this year for her poem ‘Breathe’, currently on display at the Leighton Museum, and her story ‘Sammy, The Cat’ won the Screen Your Story award 2023.
The multi-talented schoolgirl, who also loves music and Indian classical dance, is a Grade 7 pianist and Grade 5 vocalist and clarinettist. As a dancer, she has performed at the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, Westminster Abbey, Bloomsbury Festival and the International Kuchipudi Festival. Her collection of poems ‘The World Through My Eyes’ has also been published recently.
Here, the young artist reflects upon the joys of having one of her poems set to the beats of music with the Young Poets Network…
I woke up with a buzz in my heart. Today was the day: the winning poems of the Friday Afternoons Song Lyric Challenge would be composed and sung at a world premiere in Snape Maltings, Suffolk. My poem I Am Small was selected to be composed by the most incredible musician, YolanDa Brown, and I was really proud of my achievement, which was topped off with being the youngest winner of the challenge.
My mum and dad were equally excited and had planned a whole weekend in Suffolk. We drove through the busy streets of London into the countryside with miles of luscious foliage, and modest cottages on the meandering pathways. Through the car window, I witnessed cows devouring their food. Everything seemed perfect.
We eventually reached Snape Maltings, with its light pink sign beholding the words ‘Summer at Snape’. My jaw dropped at the sight of the colossal building, surrounded by golden fields and a river. Harmonious music filled the air and embraced my ears as we strolled towards the Britten Pears building.
Then, I met Sophia from Britten Pears, who invited me to the Music Makers workshop. I quietly entered the large room, with the zips of my clarinet container jingling like bells, and gazed at a group of other children singing, along with a welcoming pair of workshop leaders named Charlie and Steph. I took my seat, and within seconds, I was singing and dancing to their rhythms and wonderful tunes: a melodic, tango piece and a humorous African folk song followed by a charming song about autumn. With a few simple ingredients, we could create a potion of aromatic melodies and words. I was inspired – they had opened my mind in extraordinary ways.
I then attended an interactive workshop with The Swingles, a brilliant band which had won five Grammy awards! The sing-a-long began with an introduction to the seven singers: Malika, Joanna, Imogen, Oliver, Jamie, Jon and Tom. We learnt the art of layering our voices by merging soprano voices, alto and tenor octaves. To take this up a notch, Jamie taught us beatboxing, a strangely sensational experience.
MORE LIKE THIS…
Finally, it was the moment: the performance! I had known it would be a spectacular stage, but when I walked in, I was captivated. The stage was huge and lit in purple, surrounded by hundreds of seats. The lights were sparkling like miniature disco balls.
Suddenly, the dazzle dimmed. And dimmed. All of the spectators hushed. I squinted and could faintly see the National and London Youth Choirs assembling, ready for the performance. They were to sing the new compositions written by the awardees of the YPN Friday song afternoon competition. Each song performed was phenomenal: alongside my poem, they sang Anjali Surti’s poem ‘boys.’ The arrangements were fantastic and my heart was dancing with joy and pride. Afterwards, The Swingles sang a few of their favourite original singles and we danced and laughed along. I smiled and grooved to every beat.
Thank you to Young Poets Network and Britten Pears Arts for this opportunity. I absolutely adored the stunning, spectacular Snape Maltings Concert Hall – a hidden gem in England! I will remember these moments all my life.
MORE LIKE THIS…