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I am up bright and early (for me), putting together an application for a competition whose closing date has shifted mysteriously over the past couple of days. It has shifted in the right direction, however, giving me a little more leeway in which to get things done, but, having missed two deadlines in the past week, I am striving to be just a little more efficient. I entered a competition last year whose regulations shifted mysteriously after the closing date – no, really! – rendering all but one of the entries invalid, but that is another story for another time. Thank you Google cache for allowing me to prove to myself that I had not gone mad.

I tidied the score of Of All Persons And Estates yesterday, remembering along the way that I had made some small changes during the rehearsal process back in 2010. I am fairly sure now that the full and vocal scores match up, but the proof of the pudding will be in the rehearsing, which might begin as early as next week. Last time around my impression was that it took the choir a while to warm to the piece, and it only really made its impact once the orchestra arrived on the scene. I have no problem with this at all, and seem to remember saying to people at the time that it would sound very different once we had the proper colours to support us on our way.

It is interesting to go back to a piece after having left it for a while. It gives me an opportunity to assess my writing objectively and with the benefit of hindsight, and I think that I am most unforgiving when I return to a piece which, at the time, I thought was pretty decent. I tend not to change things, however, believing instead that a work represents a snapshot of where I was at any particular time, both personally and as a writer. Estates comes from a period of personal difficulty, but it was a productive time in terms of writing, and I have good memories of the piece. Looking at it on the page yesterday and listening to the playback on the computer, I think that I am still happy with it. No doubt I will have many opportunities to be more picky once we get into rehearsal.

Of All Persons And Estates

I also did a small shift of work on my latest commission, still untitled. I am pleased with the ideas I have had thus far, and the work will be atmospheric rather than energetic, but I do not want to waft around aimlessly and certainly to not want to wallow. Instead I want the piece to have unity and a sense of inevitability, while making it something a decent choir can throw together on a single rehearsal. I was speaking to a couple of singers at the weekend who were emphasising just how important this last quality is, but the trick is to make sure that the music does not suffer as a result, that it still sounds as if it needed a long time to perfect.

Today and tomorrow are going to be fairly quiet as far as ‘proper’ work goes, which will give me the opportunity, if I am being very optimistic, to finish version one of We Three Kings (at last) and get well into my new piece, maybe even as far as a first version of this as well. I think that I should keep that as a reasonable aim.

I am in the unusual situation of not knowing exactly when my next performance will be, but I suspect that it will be the new piece in March, my first première of the year. Of course, some work or other may well turn up on a church’s music list before then, which, in a way, is a reminder that it is about time that I started sending some more pieces out to people.

Lastly, I received one of those “Congratulations – You Are A Winner!” emails yesterday. It was not in my ‘Composition’ folder, so I knew immediately that I had not lucked in to a musical win, but, for once, it was not spam either. Instead one of my favourite pastimes apart from composition – boardgaming – will soon be one box richer. Game of Genegrafter, anyone?

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