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Passport? Check. Ticket and visa clearance? Check. Business cards? Checkity check. Manuscript paper, pencils and harmony textbook? Check, check and check. Plan for dealing with jet lag? Zzzz…wha?!

Here we go, folks. As I sit in Pret in Gatwick Airport in am beginning to feel excited. I’m looking forward to my first visit to the US, to visiting Nashville, and to getting the chance to talk about my compositions with new found friends and colleagues, and lots of them too.

This is also my chance to say thank you for all the kind messages of support which have come my way via this blog. I am not short of self-belief most of the time, and I think that a thick skin is quite a handy attribute as a composer, but there are the occasional dark moments, and it has still come as a pleasant surprise to mention this award and trip to people and have them say “And about time too!”.

Over the past twenty four hours I have come back time and time again to one of my favourite quotations, by Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of the philosophers depicted in Charles Ives’ visionary ‘Concord’ Sonata. He wrote that “Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect”. I think it is clear from my various scribblings in this blog that I do not view relying on luck as a decent strategy for pretty much anything at all, and that its vagaries can be ridden out by effort and application. Certainly, a big break helps, but it only gets you so far, and is really just an opportunity, nothing more. It is what one does with the opportunity that counts.

I really am nervous and excited pretty much in equal measure, also very keen to come home with some solid progress made. It’s time to do the cross checks, shut the cabin doors and leave Composer Part One behind, I hope, and move on to more international concerns. Let’s see what opportunities there are to be found in the Land of Opportunity.