Britten, Cold calling, Elgar, Occam Singers, Parliament Choir, Parry, Richard Hickox, Stanford, Te Deum, Through the Fair, Vaughan Williams
Another day of good humour and good work yesterday, a late morning shaking off the tiredness of the weekend. I thus traded quantity of daylight hours for quality and forged ahead with a good day’s work, catching up on emails, dealing with enquiries about work and sorting out a bit of a palaver with my dentist. There is never a dull moment.
Musically my attention was directed towards the afternoon and evening, as I used the tube ride to and from the Parliament Choir rehearsal to continue to put together rough sketches for a proposed commission. This looks like being an instrumental work with narrated links, so it is already proving interesting, at least for me. Although still nebulous, the ideas for this work are beginning to coalesce, to the extent that I have at least a rough idea of how the piece might look and how it might go about progressing from beginning to end. The rest is lost in the haze for now.
It also looks as though a final segment of Through The Fair will get an outing in Westminster Hall as part of Jubilee/Olympic/Commonwealth celebrations in July. Given the huge range of music out there it is rather humbling to have had my arrangement chosen, exciting too. As the complete work is being performed by the Occam Singers later that week it will be a good few days for that particular piece.
Maybe part of the reason for my current sunny disposition is that I have a real feeling that, for all the bumps in the road, things are really beginning to come together. I am sure as well that a few days off in a row, a mini-holiday in all but name, are also helping me to smile my way around for once. I know that the emails will come in and that the phone will ring from yet more people offering me rewards I have to pay for, but I hope to be scribbling away when that happens and be able to say “I am very sorry, but you have disturbed me at work”, perhaps followed up with “If your loan/broadband/double glazing company (delete as applicable) would like a jingle I would be able to rustle up a competitive quote”.
Thus I have today grasped the nettle and organised my computer files and scores, rather well I think, and written a trumpet part for Stanford’s Te Deum in Bb, also on the programme for the Occam Singers’ summer concert. I stumbled across a recording of the orchestral version of this by accident, conducted by the late and much lamented Richard Hickox, and, my word, it is an entirely different piece. I have written before about my esteem for Stanford (see my entry entitled “Why Stanford is not standard fodder”), and it has gone up another step hearing this writing. The standard organ arrangement trotted out week after week up and down the country is decent enough, but it is the musical equivalent of reading a book in translation, once described as akin to seeing a tapestry from the reverse side. Many people cite Elgar and Vaughan Williams as the architects of the rebirth of English music, but the true spring is a generation or so earlier, in the hands of Stanford and Parry.
The next few days will be a real opportunity for me to get ahead with my own writing, and, as I sat at my computer late yesterday evening, I realised that I had no fewer than six commissions on my plate, probably more than I have ever had before. I’ll need to get writing and keep writing, because the drip, drip, drip of commission requests is becoming a light shower. As I write on this humid and cloudy afternoon, I am willing the storm to arrive, and may it be musical as well as meteorological.