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It has been a busy few days here chez O’Neill, the first of my builder’s latest sojourn.  To be fair to him, things have been progressing quite calmly, no Fawlty Towers-esque discoveries as yet, and I am optimistic that this veneer of laid back efficiency will continue until the end of the current project.

Of course, a veneer of laid back efficiency is often the result of ruthless planning, and, just as that has been the case in the house, so it has been the case in my rehearsals of late.  We ran through various bits and pieces for next week’s concerts in the past few hours, and, apart from one clarinet note, it seemed as if everything I had arranged was in place.  I was a little disappointed to have had a note failure rate in the region of 0.01%, but there we go.  I must be getting careless in my old age, but that is what rehearsals are for.

We also ran through The Wound Dresser by John Adams, a wonderful and evocative piece, one in which I, as keyboard player, need to grapple with the intricacies of MIDI and sound modules.  It still amazes me that the more modern the technology the more likely something fundamentally basic is going to wrong with it, screensavers with passwords, wrong-sized jacks, people placing chairs on leads, that sort of thing.

While we were rehearsing today I took the opportunity to look at the programme for the London Festival of Contemporary Church Music, taking place next week.  I had submitted several pieces to their call for scores, but had no luck this year, so I was a little surprised to find He Makes His Messengers Winds down for a performance next Thursday.  I was lacking an ‘l’ from my surname, but it was close enough to convince me that it was my piece that was listed.  Somewhere along the line there has clearly been a bit of confusion, but no matter, for this piece now seems set to receive its second performance, and will be the second work of mine to be performed at the Festival since 2011.  Good news, indeed.

Various colleagues of mine are also having works performed at the Festival, including Gregory Rose, who was being interviewed on Radio 3 this afternoon.  Greg is a fantastic musician and a great person, wonderful company, and I am quite happy to admit that I worshipped him long before I met him, thanks to his recording of Stockhausen’s Stimmung, which I adored and continue to adore.  I was lucky enough to work with Greg when I was at Trinity, and still do things for him from time to time, and I was delighted to hear him on the radio this afternoon, his curiosity for all things unabated, and that mischievous sense of humour clearly intact.

It seems, therefore, that I have emerged from the storm of arranging relatively intact and with a little time to spare.  I tidied up the Suite For Two Clarinets yesterday in preparation for a performance in Anghiari (I hope) and will do the same to my Quartet In Three Movements (for saxophone quartet) in the next couple of days, prior to sending it off to a quartet for consideration.  Then I shall do some work on the string piece and the Exeter College commission, for I have, I am told, about two weeks before the summer programme for Anghiari is confirmed, and I shall need to get to work writing introductions for that afore too long.

It is certainly a busier time than it was before April, but hearing my arrangements come to life today was heartening, especially the bits where I had been just a little bit more adventurous in my writing.  Working with Southbank Sinfonia was also a pleasure, as always.  The orchestra changes every year, but that enthusiasm for making music never goes away and, when I was let loose in front of them this afternoon they were even kind enough to pretend that I knew what I was doing.

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