Apparently it is all going to end not with a bang but with a whimper. What Eliot failed to mention, though, was how it was all going to begin, and my working year certainly started off not with a whimper but with a bang, up at six of the clock in order to travel across the capital to deliver a lecture about the organ music of Bach, something impossible to squeeze into the allotted two hours.
By happy chance one of my New Year’s resolutions (the others swiftly fading from view) was to listen to my entire Classical CD collection, for too much of it (Roslavets, Brouwer, Kvandal) has lain unheard for far too long. It is early in the year, however, so the task is only just beginning, but, as luck would have it, it seems that I will be knee-deep in Bach for the next fortnight or so. For starters I have three recordings of the complete organ music, plus a few Goldbergs, but, having already consigned some of the lesser ‘A’ composers to the charity shop pile, it is a delight to be able to spend quality time with the master.
As for this particular apprentice, who looks enviously at works such as the Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, well, we are gearing up for the first performance of Why Should We Not Sing? at the National Liberal Club next week, in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the birth of David Lloyd George. The piece is for narrator and seven instruments, including harp, and now that the players are in the starting blocks I am beginning to become excited about it. I have written works with a narrator before – Mermaid springs to mind – , but nothing quite like this, the texts taken from Lloyd George’s speeches and also from speeches by Churchill. I chose these two men because, across the political divide, they helped each other in the World Wars. Churchill was an important backer of George in WWI, while DLG was instrumental in getting Chamberlain to step down in WWII, leaving the way open for Winston. Putting music together can be a thrillingly educational experience.
Although WSWNS is the focus of my attention at the moment, I am writing a new Christmas carol quietly in the background. January, believe it or not, is the best time of year for writing repertoire for Christmas, partly because the season is fresh in the mind, and partly because things are simply too busy come November and December. Then I shall need to turn my mind to another instrumental work which will need to be done by the middle of next month. I am looking forward to writing it very much indeed, even though it is currently textless.
I have also cleared the professional decks just a touch as we head into 2013, the better to focus on my writing. This has been a difficult decision, not taken lightly, and in some ways it is a step in the dark, a move made in the expectation of a busy year to come, rather than the security of that knowledge. However, I am aware that in many things one gets out what one puts in, sometimes even with interest, so it would seem obvious that the more time I can spend on writing, promotion and other areas of my work, the better. I am going to have to disappoint Eliot and hope that 2013 begins, continues and ends with a bang. Frankly, the less whimpering the better.