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Apart from a little detail work around the edges and at the seams I am done with the first version of We Three Kings and will now leave it alone until the end of the year, when I will set to work on the orchestration. I already have a good idea of what it will look like once finished, but I would rather not waste time later on in the year when we find we are lacking a trombone, for example.

This will set me free to begin, or, to be more precise, continue work on the other two pieces awaiting my attention. Both already have some sketches jotted down, but neither is very much advanced. I’ll concentrate at first on the piece with the earlier first performance date, a shortish work for choir and organ which I will hopefully have done for a première in mid-March. For copyright reasons, this piece is now on its second text, which has made some of my earlier ideas redundant, but I made a start on it yesterday evening and am hopeful that it will come together in relatively short order.

I also need to do some more rearranging for the Parliament Choir, as we will be giving the second and hopefully the third performances of Of All Persons And Estates later in the year. I have already taken out the basset horns and replaced them with other instruments, and now need to see if the work can cope with three soloists instead of four. I have not looked at the score for some time, but my recollection is that this will not require major surgery on the piece, so it will remain substantially the same work. I will still view the original as the ‘proper’ version, so maybe this one will be 1b, or v1.1 as they now like to put it.

After a brief lull I am now travelling with manuscript once more and am enjoying writing something entirely new, getting away from the orchestrating and arranging of which I have done so much recently. As always, there are possibilities of commissions out there which may or may not come to fruition, but we shall just have to see. If they were all to come in, then this would be a busy and fruitful year already.

I quite enjoyed being back at work yesterday, doing some private tuition and meeting an academic to talk about a course we are both taking. I find those empty half hours in the middle of my travels to be the most productive in terms of writing when I am out and about, the email and the phone not to hand. I work more at home, to be honest, but am often less concentrated due to other worries and tasks. I need to retreat to my attic more often.

The JEBO email was alive once again yesterday, putting together a series of gig dates for this year in various places, including London in May. I am looking forward to working on the new material and getting to opportunity to blow the cobwebs off my gigging fingers. It is a strange inversion in my life, that my band activities have become an addendum to the main thrust of my career, which is in writing. Years back it was the band that came first and the writing was the sideline, more by accident than by design, but I have found that eventually in Classical music one earns more or less what one likes to think one deserves. Lucky indeed are the folks in bands who operate at anything other than a loss.

The Bedford, Balham - JEBO here in May

It is wrong of me, though, to talk about Classical music as if it is different from other kinds of music, for, to me, there are only two musical categories – good and bad. There are piles of terrible writing in whichever musical field one might choose to investigate, and that naÏve pigeonholing (“I don’t like Classical”) is a hindrance rather than a badge of honour, something of which I have been guilty many times.

The snapshot of my day ahead is therefore as follows – a large chunk of writing, a moderate chunk of admin (as always), some choir-training and some diary-filling. By 9 this evening I shall be doing what I never used to be able to do, but which I now enjoy more and more – relaxing and hoping that I have taken another small step along my musical journey.

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