Cheltenham, I Hear And Am Elated, London, Malcolm Sargent Festival Choir, Twentieth Century Harmony, Vincent Persichetti
It has been a light morning’s work as I put my latest competition entry together and sent it off. I received another rejection over the weekend, so the omens are not good, but when the horse throws you off, you need to get back on. I also have some doubts about my language and how it fits for these competitions, whether it is too modern or, conversely, not modern enough. Perhaps the sensible course of action is simply to keep writing, and hope that my style coincides often enough with what the judges are seeking to require me to update my CV once in a while.
The last two competition rejections mean that I have a couple of pieces ripe for the revising, and intend to start on one of them either today or tomorrow. This is an unaccompanied choral work which I now intend to reduce from its current form for double choir to a version for single choir. The other rejection will, at some point, become a movement in a larger work if (no, not if, when) an appropriate commission arrives.
My travels during the weekend were made with Vincent Persichetti’s outstanding Twentieth Century Harmony in tow, a book I still am yet to understand fully, but which is a source of boundless inspiration, possibly even too much, as I tend to bounce from idea to idea. It would be good to knuckle down and treat it as a course, do all the exercises, and maybe that is something I could do over the next quiet period. I tried it once before, and, if nothing else, it throws out all sorts of ideas.
On Saturday I spent the day with the Malcolm Sargent Festival Choir, as, among other things, we rehearsed I Head, And Am Elated, which is beginning to sound good. One member of the choir was very pleased to be reacquainted with piece, and told me as much, so that was heartening.
On Sunday night I had a delightful surprise, receiving an email from a couple I have not heard from for over fifteen years, possibly more. In a former life I was a hotel pianist and this couple were regular visitors, always delightful. We kept in touch after I moved to London, but I think I just dropped out of touch, as is the way of things. Strangely I was thinking about them only the other week, wondering how and where they were, whether they might be interested in what I am doing now, and, lo and behold, their email dropped quietly into my inbox last night.
Those days in Cheltenham seem a long time ago, and when I left for London, tied handkerchief on the end of a stick over my shoulder, I really was taking some kind of gamble in the dark. I still remember being quite resolute at the end of ’96, thinking that it would be at least another two years before I was remotely close to where I wanted to be, and I like to think that the younger me would have been mildly impressed with what I am up to now, although Nick v2.5 could be very sniffy.
It’s good to be able to have people who have followed me since then, before I was who and where I am now. I was always aware that staying in Cheltenham would probably have made me a big fish in a small pond, and that was never what I wanted to be. How big I am in my current aquarium is a matter of debate, but it is much more fulfilling swimming around in these waters.