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I have mentioned before how the composer’s progress goes in fits and starts.  I had a pretty good start to the year, all the way into April, but there has been the smallest of lulls of late, even if the performances have kept coming in.  The past few days have seen a sudden burst of activity, however, starting with two performances of Blow, Blow Thou Winter Wind by the Esterhazy Singers in Lewes and Brighton, conducted by Sandy Chenery.  I wrote this piece way back in 1992, still in the afterglow of my Norwich Festival competition win, and I think it has stood the test of time fairly well.  Hearing it again, after such a long time, was less disappointing than I had imagined it would be, and the choir and audience seemed to enjoy it.

On Tuesday a chance remark by a member of one of my choirs made me aware that Classic FM were broadcasting the second performance of Of All Persons And Estates as part of their The Full Works programme that evening.  I was in rehearsal at the time, so I was not able to hear it, but hope to be able to catch it on their listen again service.  This was the performance from Cadogan Hall last year – you might remember that I had a little bit of a meltdown after a terrible first rehearsal – and I recall it going very well, apart from one wayward phrase by one of the soloists.  The acoustic in Cadogan is also better for broadcast than that in Westminster Hall, where the first performance took place, so I hope that it will sound passable.

I also received confirmation of a new commission yesterday, a large and fairly important one.  The details of this piece still need to be hammered out, and at the moment it is little more than a statement of definite intent, but it would be for a concert in July 2014.  I will write more once the confirmation becomes more solid, but it is one of the two “big” commissions I referred to once or twice earlier this year.

At the end of the week, on Sunday, The Lord Is My Light will receive its second performance, in front of the great and the good at the Civic Service at Mary Abbots.  That will make three performances, one broadcast and a commission in the space of eight days.  More, please!

At home the wheels are beginning to turn in earnest for the Anghiari Festival, and it looks as though work on my two current pieces may have to be put slightly to one side while I deal with introductions, arrangements, surtitles and the like for Italy.  I have done much thinking about the string piece over the past few days, and am ready to recast part of the first movement on the tails of some new ideas I have had which will hopefully improve it and pull it out of its current state, a movement in search of a continuation.

I should also add that Monday evening was a source of great joy chez O’Neill, as my longest standing friend turned up on my doorstep on one of his rare visits to the UK.  Wine was consumed, fun had, board games played (typically I was the only person not to score an outright victory…), and the sun was already on its way back into the sky by the time sleep called.  I thought I would be destroyed by the time Parliament Choir rehearsal came around last night, but it is amazing how restorative a goodly dose of Poulenc’s Gloria can be.

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