Bela Bartok, Farenheit 451, Folio Society, Hans Leo Hassler, Hector Berlioz, Heinrich Schutz, Johann Sebastian Bach, London, Luciano Berio, Ludwig van Beethoven, Occam Singers, Ray Bradbury, St Mary Abbots
One of the benefits of being much more productive of late is that I am finding more time to do the little things in life I enjoy outside music, and I am reading much more than I used to, especially when travelling around London on the bus or tube. I am not a fan of listening to music in these situations, for the volume needs to be set quite high, so instead it is an opportunity to catch up with the written word.
There is a delicious irony at the moment whenever I take my book out of my bag, for I am reading Ray Bradbury’s Farenheit 451 in the tactile and delicious Folio Society edition. I remember being played an audio version of this at school (more irony), but I have never read it before, and I must admit that I am enjoying this anti-book book immensely. For some reason Bradbury’s description of a society where intellectual stimulation is seen as perverse and people walk around with news and music fed directly into their ears by little speakers seems rather pertinent, and I allow myself the occasional sideways glance when I read it, just to see who on the tube carriage is listening to an iPod, playing a football game on their phone or actually reading a book.
The weekend was a mix of work and play for me. I took Saturday as a day off, playing some card games in the afternoon, watching a film in the evening while cracking open the apple martinis just a little too hard. This last aspect made for a slightly tough start to Sunday, but we were treated to an effervescent diet of Hassler and Schutz (one of my favourites) at Mary Abbots, Schutz’s music being particularly wonderful, as always. Then it was home again in the afternoon for some more film.
And so the new week begins. There are a few Monday morning tasks to get done, but my most pressing personal concern is probably going to be deciding what to write next. I think that there are a couple of competitions I shall enter, so it looks like being a week of revision rather than writing while I wait for the next commission to arrive.
It the listening stakes I have left Bach behind, and this week will begin firmly in the twentieth century (Bartok, Berio) before swinging back a good few years (Berlioz, a composer whose music I admire less and less, and Beethoven, quite the opposite). I need to get a wiggle on with this if I am to have any hope of getting through my entire collection by the end of the year.
Let us see what the next few days have to offer. There is a decent balance of work for other people and work for myself, also, out there on Saturday’s horizon, my final concert with the Occam Singers. I have been with them for fifteen years and resigned after Christmas in order to spend more time on my writing. While I am happy that my writing is going well, I am sad to be leaving a group with whom I have had so many wonderful musical experiences, and who have commissioned and performed many of my own pieces. Once home on Saturday evening there might have to be a consolatory apple martini. Or two.