Composer's Advent challenge to spread Christmas cheer

William Drew-Batty has been performing a daily though or poem throughout Advent.

William Drew-Batty has been performing a daily though or poem throughout Advent. - Credit: William Drew-Batty

A professional composer who entertained neighbours during the first lockdown has returned with a festive twist.

William Drew-Batty took to his balcony for daily symphonies as Bungay adjusted to life in lockdown.

The 60-year-old, who likened his earlier performances to "posh busking", has now taken to Facebook to perform a thought or poem set to music each day during Advent.

William Drew-Batty performed daily symphonies from his Bungay balcony in the first lockdown

William Drew-Batty from Bungay, played a blend of classical tunes, his own compositions, and even 80s music for his neighbours for twenty minutes every day during the first lockdown. - Credit: William Drew-Batty

He said: "Back in the first lockdown I was living in central Bungay and thought it would be a good idea to open my window and play some music for my neighbours and anyone walking past.

"I ended up doing 71 performances in lockdown, and it only stopped when things looked like they were getting a bit better.

"Now I wanted to do something along that theme to encourage people and make things a little brighter for the community, so I asked for requests of poems or people's own scribblings about Christmas and I'm putting them on Facebook with music in the background."

Initially inspired by endearing scenes around the globe, including Venice and Paris, Mr Drew-Batty's performances proved popular earlier this year, and he has been inundated with requests this Christmas.

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He said: "It has definitely been a good reaction.

"For most people, writing their own words can be a bit nerve-wracking so some have suggested poems, but there have been some children writing their own pieces too.

"Someone has also been in touch with a poem they found in their mother's old notebook.

"Some are funny, others are more serious.

"People who have moved away from Bungay to other parts of the country but who have fond memories here are getting involved and sending suggestions too.

"Things like this are really important at the moment.

"It is a difficult time and having Christmas as that constant which people can get involved with and something that brings people together is really important.

A trained piano, singing and musical theory teacher, Mr Drew-Batty believes more people are picking up instruments following the pandemic.

He said: "There is more interest in music now than before the pandemic with people getting their old keyboards out or children being encouraged to learn and instrument while learning from home.

"People have tried to spend lockdown in a positive way."