There is a busy weekend ahead, and I’ll be playing works by Franck, Sullivan, Duruflé, Handel, Fauré, Howells, Leighton and O’Neill before even Sunday lunchtime rolls around. It will also be slightly pressured in terms of travelling, as I will be reliant on rail, tram and tube, and that did not go well last weekend. However, as I write it is just past seven o’clock in the morning and my train to Brighton is on time, so it bodes well for the next forty eight hours.
The momentum kept up through yesterday, and a couple of commissions which had been swimming around for a month or so reached the stage of confirmation, fees, deadlines and approach discussed and agreed. I trotted up to Sainsbury’s and bought myself something with which to celebrate, all the more so as it appears that I will hit my compositional targets for the entire year before even six months are up.
Better still is that the second of these two commissions is for voice and chamber ensemble. I have nothing against writing choral music, enjoying it and believing that I do it well, but I am keen not to be seen simply as a choral writer, and this is one of two commissions on the table at the moment which involve chamber ensemble rather than choir. Just as I wanted to be known as a composer-organist rather than an organist-composer, so I do not want to be pigeonholed as a choral writer alone. It is natural, given the work that I do, that my writing should gravitate to this field, but my desire to write is always pushing into new areas, so this is an encouraging sign.
In the end the admin yesterday caught up with me, and my computer started doing odd things again, so, for the first time in many days, Everyone Sang did not progress, although it still spins around my head, making its deficiencies slightly more evident each time. There will not be huge amounts of free time to spend on it before Monday, but I am hopeful of being able to grab a spare few minutes here and there.
We are entering a little purple patch of performances for my music. Tomorrow morning both the Missa Seria and the revised version of the St. Mary Abbots Jubilate will get an outing, and then it all starts to get busy at the start of July. What with the commissions coming in as well there is a fair following wind picking up, and, lest we forget, my trip to America is not a million miles away either, something I view with a mixture of giddy excitement and crushing fear.
As I walked to Wimbledon station this morning I saw still more shops which had closed down, and I pinched myself again, reminded myself that clinging onto a job in this day and age is no mean feat, and that being more or less your own boss is hard but hugely rewarding work. I mused on this with my other half over Pantheon yesterday afternoon (an epic tussle, 100-99 in the end, I lost), and I do not feel guilty for working in a more relaxed manner than some others, for I have put in the hours. Composition is a phenomenally slow burning career, and even Elgar did not break through until his mid-forties. The cult of the young keeps many competitions for those under 30, but the accumulation of knowledge and experience cannot be undervalued, and I know that I am writing my best stuff at the moment, and that, brain willing, there is better to come. Not a day goes by when I do not remind myself how fortunate I am, but that old golfer’s quotation (“it’s strange – the more I practise the luckier I get”) is never far behind.