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I have had a hugely productive day working on the new anthem, a day to throw a little optimism my way after the shenanigans of yesterday. Once more I was at my desk bright and early (tick) and wrote productively for a decent stint of time (tick). I finished the piece in organ score to my current satisfaction (tick) and managed to get nearly all the way through the first orchestrated draft as well. A big tick for this last one. What this means is that I could well have all the notes and most of the phrasing and detail work in place by the end of tomorrow. This is good news for a couple of reasons. Firstly it means that the work will be bang on schedule, giving it plenty of room to ‘breathe’ before it needs to be sent off as a submission. Secondly, it means that, even with orchestrated pieces (those which involve the most graft), the rate of work which I have set myself is realistic.

As I write, mid-afternoon, my builder is merrily taking things upstairs and it sounds like he is breaking them one by one. I say ‘things’ because I have long since lost interested in whatever is happening. I can tell you about demisemiquavers, but a mist coat means nothing to me. I hope I can keep financing him. While I’m talking of finance, I could really do with a few more bits and pieces of work, as my calendar looks fairly blank at the moment. The flip side of the coin is that I have buckets of time in which to get my writing done, but I do really hope that this bid for freedom doesn’t turn out merely to be a sabbatical year, even though that is far better than nothing.

Now that all the entrants have been informed, I think it’s fair to say that the following news is in the public domain – my Festive Voluntary has scooped the American Guild of Organists-Marilyn Mason Award for 2012. This is the competition I alluded to in earlier entries back in August, and it is very good news indeed, and has the potential to get better. There is a fair bundle of goodies to come with this award, including money, performance, publication and a trip to the USA, and it provides a wonderful opportunity to obtain a foothold in a huge market. I spent the last few days of August working on a piece specifically for that market, but it will have to sit on the back burner for the time being while I get some other things done.

I also went to the cinema today to watch Sarah’s Key, starring Kristin Scott Thomas, who I think is one of the finest actresses we have. I would have said ‘of her generation’, but that’s damning with faint praise and she’s worth more than that. We don’t often see her on our screens because she seems to be working in French cinema at the moment, but it’s both our loss and gain. We have fewer of her films to watch, but at least she has never sold out. I have seen some other bits of the French/English work she has done, and it’s all great stuff, often tackling tough issues. Sarah’s Key, given that it deals with events in the second World War, is a disquieting watch, but well worth a view. The cinema I visited was the height of refined elegance, however – a glass of prosecco with the lunchtime showing, no children and not a single mobile phone interruption. At last a cinema worth the visit, and with cheap tickets too!

I wouldn’t turn down the right opportunity to compose for film at some stage. Some people have said that my music is quite ‘filmy’, and it’s not an area I consider beneath me. I think a composer writes music, as simple as that. I’ve written rock songs, power ballads, music for games and student films as well as what we might term ‘serious’ music – the analogy I always use is that a carpenter will build you desks, wardrobes, chairs and so on. They are all made of wood, and music is all made of sound. Yes, even 4’33”. What’s so bad with being willing to tackle anything? As long as one doesn’t sell quality down the river it has to be correct to be pushing boundaries. Just ask Kristin Scott Thomas.

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