Things perked up a little after the chaos of Friday. I skedaddled out of the house in the late afternoon to spend some time in Wimbledon and had a rather good meal up in the village, tucked away in the back of one of their eateries. The bus route takes me pretty much from door to door, and it was healthy to get out of the house after such a stressful day.
Over the weekend I was in the car for large periods of time, in Tunbridge Wells on Saturday for a wonderful lunch with some wonderful people, and then to Oxford yesterday evening to hear the choir at Exeter College and then to have dinner there. As you may have inferred, a fair amount of eating has been done, so it is back to austerity O’Neill this week in an attempt to try to get back down to my fighting weight.
Despite all the disruption of Saturday, I continued to work on the string piece, and, rather than plough on with adding detail, decided to begin transcribing the short score sketches, expanding them into the layout for string orchestra. I am using the full>chamber>quartet divisions, as found in other string works, and, even played back on Sibelius, I found what there is of the first movement subtly exciting. When it suddenly broke off, like Elgar 3 or Schubert 10, I really wanted to know where it would go next.
My idea about this piece was that it should represent the effort it takes to makes things happen, to keep them in other than their natural state. For an instrument, left on its own, that state is silence, and making music takes effort, without which the silence takes over once again. The music of this first movement thus traces a gradual upwards arc, realised via a slowly shifting harmonic framework, before it will eventually fall back down again when finished. It is going to take until the end of the third and final movement (already sketched) for the music to leave its impression “in the air”, but what there is of the first movement already does more or less what I hoped it would.
In between all the driving and playing yesterday I also managed to do some more preliminary sketching on the Exeter piece, and was fortunate enough to find myself sitting next to a scholar of Old English yesterday morning, something which could come in very handy when putting the central section of the work together. The Exeter choir sounded impressive last night, and their particular tone has given me a much clearer idea of where the piece needs to lie. It also gave me some clear thoughts about the overall trajectory of the work.
I realise that I have been very fortunate over the past seven days, Glyndebourne, Tunbridge Wells, Oxford, not to mention the ongoing goodness of my association with the Parliament Choir and, of course, being a musician and composer. A brief outage of electricity, the loss of a couple of bars work, is not that much in the grand scheme of things, however much time it might take for that to sink in.