It was an interesting weekend of work. No performances of mine, but nevertheless several things of note. I finished the arrangement of Silent Night, such as it is, and will be sending it off this morning, and think I will now do some more editing and tidying on other works and upload some more scores to my webpage. The carol season began in earnest with some Advent Carols yesterday evening, so I am going to be hard pressed over the next month to get to work on anything major, so it makes sense to focus on promotion for a while, and keep the writing ticking over, else I am leaving myself open to frustration.
On Saturday evening I played a DurufléRequiem in Kent, which was a most enjoyable experience. The other work in the programme was Decalogue by a Scottish composer by the name of Gareth Wilson. I enjoyed this piece very much – it was gritty, often uncompromising, but well written and I would like to hear it again. It was not easy for the choir, who gave a pretty decent account of it, but it was so refreshing to hear something challenging and rewarding for a change, rather than the usual fairy dust. There was an atonal fugue, too, setting the words “where I am going you cannot follow” – very clever and hugely effective. Audience reaction ranged from the incomprehending to the inquisitive to one lady who suddenly “got it” two thirds of the way through. It’s a major piece, at about 45′ long, but bits of it might work well in a church service here or there. I chatted to Gareth afterwards, and he does not do as much writing as he might, citing the same kind of difficulties we all face (lack of money and performances), but at least Decalogue has had a second airing.
To St. Mary Abbots again on Sunday evening for their Advent Carol Service. No O’Neill on the menu this time (that will come later in the season) but plenty of good fodder, from Poston to Tallis to Vittoria to a chunk of the Brahms Requiem. My fingers hadn’t quite been firing on all cylinders during the rehearsal, but I suddenly entered ‘the zone’ during the performance and played – I think – pretty well. One of the singers put his hand on my shoulder at the end and said “You, sir, are a genius”. We does what we can!
Time for editing and planning today. It will be a fairly busy week, by recent standards, and a session with a calculator yesterday made it clear that, financially, December will be a good month, even though January still looks a little precarious at the moment. I’ll be listing performances of my carols soon on my website and this blog – having made it into double figures, this is momentum I want to maintain into the new year.
Talking of 2012, the BBC announced its plans for next year’s Formula One coverage a couple of days back. If you know me, you will know that it is my sport of choice, and I am one of those people who will get out of bed at absurd o’clock to watch while my laptop is set up to bring me the timing screens.
Not any more. A few years back F1 was omitted from the Government list of ‘protected’ free-to-air sports, so ‘Auntie’ renegotiated her exclusive contract earlier this year, blocking Channel 4 out of the process and entering into a hellish deal with (I can hardly bring myself to say it) Sky. Now that the details have been announced, all can see just how awful that deal is. The Beeb will be showing 10 races (of 19ish) live next year, the dregs of the barrel apart from a couple of goodies, but the first of those will not be until three races in. We were promised full reruns of those races they do not have live, but that, as with so many of their promises, has disappeared into the ether, so we are being treated to what are called ‘extended highlights’ in the evening, as if we can avoid the result in today’s age for a whole day. Worse still, Martin Brundle, the über-articulate, fearless and multiple award-winning commentator has been poached by Sky. He ‘needs the adrenaline rush of live sport’ to do his commentating, apparently, and I can’t say I blame him.
The BBC has made these changes, throwing away a contract to broadcast it held until the end of 2013, in the name of cuts, but has spent untold millions of pounds uprooting staff and families and shifting them to Salford, and will still be sending a full team to every race. Quite why a BAFTA award-winning show, routinely bringing in 6 to 8 million viewers, which has redefined coverage of the sport it follows should face the axe is beyond me. That it has been done in such an underhand fashion is sheer cowardice. Ben Gallop, the BBC’s spokesman, said in an article (tucked away in a link at the end of a race report) yesterday, that there was no need to go over the reasons as they had already been ‘debated’, but not once has a BBC exec or representative replied to concerns of the viewers. That does not count for debate in my view.
Still, Bernie and the teams will get more of that filthy lucre they crave, as will the Murdoch empire. I will not touch Sky with a bargepole, and will be trying to find other ways of watching the sport I have followed since 1982. Do us all a favour and put mangy dogs like EastEnders out of their misery, not flagship broadcasting.