Yesterday felt like emerging into the compositional sunshine once more after a few days of being kept away from one of my favourite occupations. In the morning various alumni of SBS ran through Through The Fair – this really was little more than a run through – but it worked out of the box and I am pretty happy with the way the orchestration hangs together. The lesson to be learned, I think, is that I can henceforth be more adventurous, but it’s wise to err on the side of caution when up against very tight rehearsal schedules. I had forgotten to add rehearsal letters to the parts, which was a lapse on my part, but that’s small beer compared with being able to write notes everybody can play, I think. We just need to teach the players to count bars.
In the afternoon I hid in a church in London and set to work once more on the new harp piece. This is significantly behind schedule, although I hope to make up some ground within the next couple of days. This is developing into a dancy and slightly quirky piece, with elements of the jazzy about it in the rhythm at least. I am taking some of the ideas and approaches from the orchestral piece and trying them out in another medium, so it is an experiment in melody, harmony and form, but I feel I am gradually approaching an instrumental style which I can genuinely call my own. I am still not convinced that I am truly in control of the interaction between melody and harmony in these pieces, but at least I know that I am becoming more secure with it. I am honing my efforts on the relationship between the two, more specifically when they complement each other and when they diverge, and trying to use these two separate ideas to articulate tension and release, closed and open in a predominantly atonal environment. It is yet another idea I have ‘borrowed’ from Lutoslawski, though I am trying to take on those elements which are useful to me and my own voice so that I do not end up as a slavish imitator.
Finally, in the evening, the Parliament Choir rehearsed Through The Fair, which has now been put to bed in preparation for its first performance. There are one or two moments which may not yet be 100% confident, but we will have enough time to sort them out today, and the orchestration is fairly supportive of the choir. The good sign is that people, listeners and singers alike, seem to enjoy it, but it’s hard to go wrong when arranging folk songs, as long as you pick the right ones.
Although I am fortunate enough to have some performances lined up in the coming months, especially in the run up to Christmas, I am not entirely sure when my next première is due. It may well be With Thy Might in March, which seems quite some time away, but it’s better to have one on the calendar than not. In fact, casting an eye over my website shows that 7 premières a year is pretty good strike rate, and I already have two lined up for 2012, more if I can get the commissions flowing in, for such is the target. In that respect, as in so many others, 2011 has been a good year.
So today will be a pleasant occasion, no doubt, but it is already time to concentrate on the next piece, which is the as yet unnamed opus for harp. I am sure that a title will come to me at some point, but, for now, the piece remains reassuringly abstract, pure music. I have nearly 2′ worth of material, which will actually develop outwards to fill most of the piece, approximately 5 of the 7 total minutes, so, with a good pre-concert head of steam today, I could make up lost ground and get ever so slightly ahead on this. With a little bit of inspiration I might even come up with a title as well.