It was a grey Sunday morning in Anghiari, the clouds hanging low over the hills on the far side of the valley. I, half English, partook of my breakfast outside while the wiser natives huddled inside Bar Baldaccio nursing their coffees and croissants. Perhaps the clouds were the harbingers of troubles to come.
Since Friday we had been working on the music for the Maratona Corale, something which has become an annual tradition in Anghiari, a close relative of the come-and-sing performances back home. There is a much less strong tradition of choral singing in Italy, however, so it takes a little more effort to get up to speed, seven hours of rehearsal on Saturday and three on Friday, to be precise. Still, the singers were brave enough to have embraced singing in English with enthusiasm, even after a further three hours on Sunday afternoon.
It was the orchestral rehearsal which caused problems, however, running over by a whole two hours, and it was clear that all was not well. Without going into too much detail it was obvious that, while some had prepared thoroughly, others had not taken the same amount of care, and it all got a little husky for a while. The result was that, after five hours of rehearsal, I had a 45 minute break before the concert, and I must admit that my sense of humour failed me somewhat, although everybody was very kind.
The performance went well, however, and I know that the locals really love the opportunity that this concert gives them. We’ll have another shot at the piece in the summer, hopefully with slightly less drama involved.
There has been a saga of missed deliveries at home which has culminated in our receiving somebody else’s bathroom, but our bits finally arrived this morning, only five days after their “guaranteed” delivery date, which we had paid for handsomely.
I went to hear the performance of He Makes His Messengers Winds on Thursday, which was very well done, and I managed to have a chat with a couple of other composers afterwards, including Gareth Wilson, whose work I have encountered before and admire very much. Coming hot on the heels of concerts at the Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Linbury Studio it has made for a busy week, and this atmosphere will continue for a while yet, but, in amongst it all, I am still managing to get notes on paper every now and again, and find myself thinking about harmonies, melodies and rhythms in those rare spare moments when I am able to find a quiet place to hide.