Xmas Factor: The Album Writer Focus: Marc Folan, Adey Grummet and Ben Heneghan

And we’re here: the final Xmas Factor: The Album writer focus! So keep reading for more on Marc Folan, Adey Grummet and Ben Heneghan!

By the way, we’ve made our Kickstarter target of £2,500 to make the album a success, so look here for more information about how we’re stretching ourselves even further and please consider backing us if you haven’t already!

Marc Folan and Adey Grummet are the writers of “The Endless Song“!

Adey Grummet works hard to defy classification and has spent many years as a devisor and performer in developmental and experimental pieces in various genres from main house opera to gallery installation and immersive play. She also works as an animateur, conductor and historian and is a founder member and trustee of Book Music & Lyrics and a member of the Programme Advisory Group for Spitalfields Festival. She has written a wide range of pieces, from an opera (Circus Tricks developed and produced by Tète â Tète) to an ‘instant’ kids show( Jungle Jingles produced at Battersea Arts Centre) and her second history book was published with Scala in 2015.

A lyricist for numerous outreach projects with ENO Baylis and BBC Proms, her songs have also been successful in the Lionel Bart masterclasses and she has been a finalist, with Marc Folan, in the prestigious Stiles & Drewe competition. Adey was a lyric consultant to Liz Carr for Assisted Suicide – The Musical and she also contributed to lyrics for A Little Princess for Marc Folan. She writes regularly with composer Michael Henry, their latest work being Let’s Talk (a Tower Hamlets schools’ singing project) as well as developing a new chamber opera And There Was No More Sea. And her very latest Christmas carol, written with James Burn, will be premiered with the Pimlott Foundation’s Family Choir in December this year. Adey is delighted to have her Xmas Factor finalist song polished up for performance in the heart of London’s West End once more.

Marc Folan is a musical theatre composer/lyricist. He is currently developing a new version of A Little Princess with playwright Carl Miller. This version of A Little Princess is being produced by NYMT in the UK in 2018. Marc started out his life in the music business as a rock musician, performing and composing pop/rock songs with a number of bands. Then in his late 20s he got introduced to musicals via some friends inviting him to be in Guys and Dolls. He became fascinated by the music form and has been learning (and developing) the craft ever since.

Marc met Adey through his long standing membership of the BML Workshop, a weekly development forum for musical theatre creatives, in the advanced Composer/Lyricist group. He is also a member of the MMD Advanced Composer & Lyricist Lab. In 2014, an earlier version of A Little Princess had an Off-Broadway run at the Signature Theatre and in 2015 Marc returned from LA having graduated from the Stephen Schwartz /DreamWorks/ASCAP Workshop with another show (currently under development) called A Knight at the Museum. This was subsequently shortlisted for Mercury Musicals S & S Award in the same year. He is also very proud to have been selected as a finalist for the Stiles & Drewe Best song Prize on three occasions 2008, 2014 & 2017, all staged in London’s West End. He’s written five musicals to date with his most successful being Fame Idle, a show written specifically for schools, which so far, has had over 150 productions in the UK, US and around the world. His Vivien Ellis finalist show When it Rains was workshopped at the King’s Head before being made available for licensed productions. Marc enjoyed preparing and performing his song at the Xmas Factor in 2015 and looks forward to seeing it performed again alongside all the recent favourites.

Xmas Factor is a marvellous, surprising and open-hearted thing! To be honest, when it came to submission, I was doubtful if our little children’s song would be the sort of thing that Iris would be interested in. The Endless Song is not witty or smart, it doesn’t create any new narratives or tell of new emotional journeys. It’s sort of the opposite, finding commonly felt emotions in simple and familiar images and feelings. And yet, to be chosen as a finalist two years ago was a wonderful thrill, making me think about what it is in essence that creates a small moment of drama. The Xmas Factor songs I have heard have all been wonderfully clever in each creating a whole dramatic, standalone world in a few short minutes. With terrific performers working this new material to catch us all by the heart and the imagination, the finalists’ night is a treasure of varied seasonal ideas and impressions – an Advent Calendar of musical moments where each new little cardboard window opened holds surprise and delight. The ridiculous, the tragic, the reflective, the warm-hearted, the heroic all have place here. A bit like musicals perhaps? A bit like real life perhaps…? And so why not an idea that was born of a sentimental moment in a little local parish church’s candlelit carol service? Xmas Factor, thank you so much for being so open-minded as to include such everyday beauty in your wonderful West End celebration.

The Endless Song was an idea that came out of my local church Christmas carol service. Faced with the idea of teaching Away In A Manger to the primary school kids again, I wondered how the same touching simplicity, warmth of feeling and a special moment for the children in the service’s music might be recreated in some new material. The best way to explore any story is to imagine ourselves as characters within it. In The Endless Song, we imagine that we were actually there when momentous and thrilling events happened to normal working people and we walk in their shoes, see and hear what they did and share what they felt. It is incredibly hard to find fresh language to sing about subject matter that has been sung about for two thousand years! So I worked to allude to narrative images that are totally familiar but not actually use the well-worn words and I tried to give the lyrics a normality and reality that anyone standing in a crowded, darkened church with a candle in their hand might recognise. Marc had never written a carol before. But he has a prodigious wealth of experience in writing music for young people and his sense of the drama of a moment has given this small idea glorious, golden wings. We hope you enjoy our song!

Adey Grummet

Ben Henghan is the writer of our final focus: “The Snow Goose Song“.

Like many another composer these days, I write music for all sorts of reasons, and for anyone who will commission, perform, or broadcast it. I’ve done this in partnership with fellow-composer Ian Lawson since the beginning of the 1980s, and we have been jointly and individually responsible for hours and hours of TV signature tunes (including, most famously, the animation classic Fireman Sam), film scores, cartoon scores, songs of all descriptions, bits of musicals, classical music for anything from an eighty-piece orchestra to a flute quartet, jazz pieces both long and short, and a whole string of madrigals, barbershop arrangements, and any other choral music you can think of. I won the Carol For Christmas competition of 2015, presided over by the Kings Singers and judged by choral giants John Rutter and Stephen Cleobury. In 2017, I wrote a five-minute orchestral curtain-raiser called “Outbreak”, which was performed by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, in the Wales Millennium Centre. Also in 2017, Ian and I won the Australian Celtic Music Awards for best album producer, along with Siobhan Owen, whose winning album Entwined features the world premier recording of The Snow Goose Song.

As each winter these days shuffles by in the dreary greyness of “mild” weather, it’s easy to forget that Christmas used to be a time of contrasts: of light in the darkness, warmth in the bitter cold, and feasting after weeks of almost unbearable anticipation. Let Xmas Factor bring that joy back into your hearts with an album of songs to rekindle wonder, make you laugh, bring a lump to your throat, and wrap you in a big bear-hug of Yuletide welcome!

A long time ago, when my kids were still small, and autumn was turning into winter, I had a vision of homes all over northern Europe where children might draw the same picture, on misty windows as the dusk falls, of a bird in flight. Perhaps it was a response to a well-loved folk tale in which a brave goose sets out alone from her tribe in order to ransom the sun, trapped in the black, icy realms of the dead. The winter’s first snowfall is a reminder that she succeeded, at the cost of her life, and as her feathers fall from the sky we remember why she’s known as the Snow Goose. The Snow Goose Song was first performed at the 2013 Xmas Factor, sung beautifully and hauntingly by Aoife Nally. I was honoured to be one of the winners that year.

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