To say that the last few days have been an emotional rollercoaster would be a huge understatement. I have been up, down, up, then down and around again, and genuinely do not know what to expect from the next few hours, let alone the coming week.
To mention the rough as well as the smooth, I went into an emotional nosedive on Friday, prompted by yet another comedian’s assertion that opera is the preserve of the elite and the privileged. I am getting slightly bored of this point of view, but it still led me to a day of intense and very quiet introspection, trying to work out what writing music actually achieves in the way of concrete benefits, apart from massaging my own ego. Despite being rather down all day I eventually reasoned that, whatever the perceived benefits or not of what I do, the taxes on what I earn go into the system and, for better or for worse, are worth the same as anybody else’s.
Ironically, I also received a beautifully timed email offer from English National Opera on Friday, so I am off to see La Boheme in a few weeks for £10. For the price of a main course I find it hard to accept that opera is exclusive. If you don’t want to go, that is another matter entirely, of course, and don’t get me started on the vicious funding cuts to ENO’s marvellous and anything-but-elitist community choir.
Also on Friday I received an email asking about my possible interest in a new commission. Although this did not lift me out of my glum state, I nevertheless did what was required, sending off scores, recordings and so on. Things moved apace, however, and by Saturday evening most of the details had been agreed and confirmed, and so I am delighted to relate that I have another commission to write over the summer. I am really pleased to have landed this piece, which, even at this stage, may be up for a recording, but will keep a lid on the details for now as much has still to be decided.
Combined with the work for string orchestra which was confirmed earlier in the week, and the Radio 4 broadcast, still catchable here until tomorrow, about eight minutes in, I emerged from my gloom (which I now believe was a rather belated and mercifully brief mid-life crisis) on Saturday and celebrated my good fortune in the evening with a nice glass of something fizzy.
On went the weekend and things continued to get better, for we performed This Joyful Eastertide at St Mary Abbots in the morning, although the announcement misled the congregation into thinking that the arrangement was the standard one by Wood, rather than by yours truly. At first I took this in good spirits, then glowered a little, and then kept calm and carried on. I needed that calmness later in the day to deal with my builder’s quote for some more work to be done in my house…
On to this morning and, while putting together a contract for this latest commission, an email dropped into my inbox to let me know that the folk song arrangement I completed recently moved its dedicatee to tears at its first performance and was “brilliant”. Even though I only finished this piece a couple of weeks ago it has already slipped into the background of my thoughts, so the message was a very pleasant surprise.
Given the emotional peaks and troughs of the past few days I can barely imagine what the coming week will bring, but it has been an instructive period. I need to immerse myself in manuscript paper, keep on writing and never, never, never give up. In the end what you lose on the swings you gain on the roundabouts and somewhere, underneath it all, things keep moving forwards.