You’ve got to start somewhere

The main project over the past year and more has been the symphony, of course, but as things are threatening to return to normal there are whispers of other pieces on the horizon as well. 2020 was undoubtedly the quietest year ever for me as a professional composer, but there is still time for 2021 to pick up.

One of the pieces that has been under discussion for some time is a new cantata for Parliament Choir, something around the theme of the pandemic, and I have to admit that I have been stuck on the starting blocks with this for quite some time. I am acutely aware that nothing dates as badly as fashion, so I knew that I wanted to find a text to set that would be relevant as well as being universal, that would allow the piece to have sprung from its original theme but still allow it to be performed when all of this has become a memory.

After a great deal of research I came up with a few texts which were more or less suitable, but, crucially, that did not make them settable, and I was so deep in the symphony that I put it all aside to come back to another time when I had a little more energy. That time turned out to be this morning, so I have spent most of the day so far digging through texts by a variety of authors in the hopes of finding useful extracts.

It has been a fruitful effort, for I think that I now have a rough text in place for the whole piece, something that achieves what I want it to do and which has enough music in it already not to prove too difficult to set. There are a couple of concerns I have at the moment about the structure of the whole work, but these are very preliminary doodlings, so there is plenty of time to sort that out.

At least, though, I can now go writing and sketching, and throw some ideas down onto paper, for I need to get going with this fairly quickly if I am to have a piano score up and running within the next month or so. Still, I like a challenge, and after the relative lethargy of the part eighteen months maybe that is exactly what I need.