I had an enjoyable time in Oxford yesterday, playing my lunchtime organ recital in Exeter College. My Bach was not quite as sharp in the Fugue as it was on the other two occasions I have played it recently, which was a little bit of disappointment, but the Clérambault, Bridge and Duruflé all ticked along nicely, even if the last one should, according to one member of the audience, “have come with ear protectors”. It was good to catch up with one of my former pupils, though, and see how well he has settled in, but also interesting to see how the town has changed since my time, small but significant things such as one of my regular curry houses having been transformed into some trendy eaterie. It’s a lovely city, though, which I still think belongs to me in some way, but the reality is that, like so many, I was simply passing through.
To get to Oxford in time to put in a decent stint of practice I had to endure the hell that is the rush hour on the Tube, and I simply cannot imagine how the system is going to cope during the Olympics. I know that Olympic bashing is probably a recognised sport in itself, but anybody who has tried to get onto the Victoria line at Victoria at 08:45ish will know that there are problems afoot. Telling Londoners to stay out of London seems a rather primitive way of dealing with the problem.
I made it back into town just in time to do some personal tuition, and then to take the Parliament Choir rehearsal, which was pretty energetic all round, especially given my tiredness during the day. We did not touch any of the O’Neill pieces, mainly because I think that they are in pretty decent shape next to the Mendelssohn, but the Lobgesang keeps revealing more of itself as the weeks go by.
By the time I got home I was weary and very achy in the shoulders, but still just about conscious enough to deal with a glass of something red. All that travelling did not make for a huge amount of composition – any illusions about working on the coach to Oxford were swiftly cast aside once we hit the first pothole and my pencil skidded away – so I concentrated on planning rather than action, but I hope to get back onto things today.
The main task at present is to get orchestrating some Parry for a concert in March, a task which could take very little time or swiftly spiral out of control. Given that work on my viola piece is coming along nicely I very much hope that the Parry will be done sooner rather than later, but that, of course, is largely up to me. As we head towards Easter that seasonal cycle of the freelancer is beginning to pick up again, the flip side of the coin being that I am getting a little less time in which to focus on myself, something which can make me a little edgy. This genuinely is the nature of the beast, though, and I must admit that I do need to be a little bit more forceful on myself when it comes to writing, perhaps dispatching my emails with a little more efficiency.
Today holds a meeting about one of my pieces, and a rehearsal, and the timings in between are a little flexible, so I shall have to play things by ear. It may well be the case that, as in former teaching days, I will need to find a corner of some foreign Pret to act as my composing room for a couple of hours this afternoon, just to relieve a little of the pressure.