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My series of classes at Birkbeck drew to a close last night, discussing Britten’s War Requiem, while, during the afternoon, confirmation arrived that I can get to work on my next batch of arranging.

The War Requiem is "a masterpiece of the deepest emotional and moral depth", according to Ian Bostridge. He's right.

While this pushes my viola piece back yet again, it is still good to have the paid work coming in, and things financial are certainly looking rosier than they did even a month ago. I enjoy lecturing, possibly because I find the sound of my own voice so interesting, but it takes an awful amount of preparation before I truly feel that I am on top of something, confident enough to field any questions that may arise. Even though I have only been filling in for this term, it has still provided enough extra pressure to make a difference, and, given that there is an option open for me to return to some lecturing later on in the year, I need to be careful to think carefully and look before I leap into something I might find too taxing.

I managed to catch up on several emails yesterday, though not all of them, but the most important ones (those involving invoices, of course) were sorted out. There were also other bits of work to deal with and the provision of the latest full score for Of All Persons And Estates. The next few days are going to be busy again, especially over the weekend, but there should be enough space for me to get started on the new arrangements and, with a bit of luck, maybe do some work on the viola piece alongside it. In fact, this morning I had a request for another batch of arranging fall into my inbox, so I am going to have to be hugely productive if I am to do this and finish the viola piece – ooh – this year, say.

The viola, target of jokes. Played well, though, it's an all-growed-up violin.

This evening I shall be playing for a rehearsal of the St. John Passion – joy! – and using the rest of the day to prepare for the concerts ahead and place some notes onto paper, even doing a little organ practice for a change. I have stepped gently and quietly away from organ playing as a focus, although it is still an important part of my musical life, but, whereas I once acquired and learned repertoire at a fearsome rate, that drive has shifted since I stopped at St. George’s. Instead I now practise as and when the need arises, rather than to keep in musical trim. If I need to I am sure that I can put in the hours but, honestly, there are not enough hours in the day and something needs to go. There are other musical areas on which I would prefer to concentrate, most obviously composition, of course, and other non-musical areas I am keen to develop as and when I can find the time to fit them in, but playing concert repertoire is less important to me now, especially as I no longer teach the instrument.

In this respect I have always cut my coat according to my cloth, delving more into choral music and training of late, but being more of a historian and accompanist when I was at Trinity. Through it all, though, the composition has flowed like a river, or – to be more precise – like Mahler’s 2nd Symphony in Berio’s Sinfonia, sometimes obvious, often beneath the surface, but always there.

Berio's Sinfonia - "Thank you, Mr. Boulez"...

When I was at Oxford the trend was to specialise, and I remember being asked time and time again what I intended my specialist area to be. Well, I am proud to say that I do not have one, that all music is fair game to me, and, you know what, I think that makes me a better musician, for the correspondences are everywhere. Sometimes it leads to fun things, such as playing the Apollo and Smith Square within a few days, but other times it leads to happy enlightenments, such as the links between the openings of the Lobgesang and Stanford’s Te Deum in Bb and the sigificance therein. I do not understand the value of exclusive specialisation and I think I never will, and if that means I have too many interests to fit into the time available, then so be it. I’d rather not be bored.

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