After what has seemed like an inordinately long time, I think it is at last fair to say that We Three Kings is nearing completion. I have now reached the stage where I am fairly happy with the organisation of the work and the way the voices overlap, and I am spending most of my time fleshing out the accompaniment, trying to make sure that I can incorporate motifs from the melody wherever possible, a trick I have borrowed from Bach, even though my efforts look like potato prints next to his masterpieces. I have a clear day ahead of me today, and would really like to get version one through to completion by the time I down tools this afternoon.

I also heard back from the owner of a copyright text I had been hoping to use, in the negative. This is a huge disappointment, the more so as it took over ten weeks to hear back that permission to use these texts is never given anyway. We could have been saved a fair chunk of time, and are now up against things to try to find a new text and get it written by the first performance date we are aiming for. Still, a challenge is a challenge, so a-text-hunting we will go.

There is also another competition on the horizon I need to prepare for. This one involves submitting works rather than writing new ones afresh, but, having missed the last competition I was going to enter, I want to have this one ready to be sent off by Monday morning,

Add to all the above the ongoing work on my website and I have a fair chunk to attempt to get done today, along with another errand or two. I have that real ‘back to school’ feeling ahead of the recommencement of hostilities next week, and am reminded of Mark Twain’s sage words that “There is no unhappiness like the misery of sighting land (and work) again after a cheerful, careless voyage”. I know that all will be well once I am back on the treadmill again, but it is the thought of the work that counts.

On a brighter note, I have two performances lined up for tomorrow, the only ones in the immediate future. They are the Blackheath Mass at St. Mary Abbots in the morning and Sweet Was The Song at All Saints, Margaret Street in the evening. Having airings of my music so early in the year is good for morale and does tend to help things along when the frustration of struggling with an inner line in We Three Kings can become a hindrance.

In a strange way I do not really recall doing much this holiday, but perhaps that is not a bad thing. There is a frame in Calvin & Hobbes where one says to the other “There’s never enough time for all the nothing you want to do”, and I have always been drawn to that sentiment. Of course, my ‘nothing’ is filled with all the little things I want to do, the DVDs I have yet to watch, the books I have yet to read and, naturally, the pieces I have yet to write.

I can take one film I want to see off my list, however, for I went to see The Artist which I found to be a delight from start to finish, and very clever in many places too. This is pure and unadulterated enjoyment, beautifully crafted and wonderfully acted, and a real paean to the silent era. The score is magnificent too, with sly nods to film music of the 20s, but also The Firebird and The Rite and dabs of Debussy, the music which had been making waves only a few years before the period in which the film is set. It is all the more powerful in those moments when the music fades away and one genuinely watches the film in silence – the only time I can recall such silence before in a cinema was when I went to watch The Lives Of Others, a true masterpiece in which the music also plays a pivotal role.

The Lives Of Others

It would be foolish of me to pretend that The Artist aspires to be much more than entertainment, and it does not even attempt to touch on the complexity and drama of The Lives Of Others, but, if you want to be entertained and thrilled, then you should go and see it, but, if you have not seen The Lives Of Others, then that, emphatically, should be at the top of your list.