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It has been a busy few days, fascinating too.  I was ahead of things, then behind, but now appeared to have caught up.  I have been almost constantly in rehearsal since I last posted, partly working with Southbank Sinfonia in preparation for the Anghiari Festival, and partly on a semi-staged production of Handel’s Messiah, for the Bristol Old Vic.  This latter has been a thrilling experience, the combination of an enthralling director and some great young musicians making it a very exciting project indeed.

As always I have travelled with my manuscript in tow, and have been busy sketching out ideas for the second movement of my string piece, attempting to step back a little from the crippling self-analysis I mentioned a few posts ago and instead just let my pencil wander over the page.  While the new material is nowhere near finished or polished, it is still clear that there are more than enough ideas there for me to work with, and that the bare bones of the movement, although needing more flesh, are in place.  With most of the basic material now on paper for the whole piece, I can see how it will all fit together and have a much clearer idea of how the logic of the material should progress through to the end.

There have also been some changes to the text of the Exeter piece, which will improve it substantially, and, although I have not had the time yet to take them fully on board, it does seem that the form of the piece will be much stronger and that a sense of direction through the central (Old English) section will now be much easier to find.

I have also been pondering technical issues of late, wondering whether a focus on this thinking is just inhibiting my freedom a little, and that I should maybe rely on these things once I have thrown the basic ideas down onto paper, resort to my tools once the original material has been shaped by hand.  Going with the flow certainly does not seem to have hindered my writing this week, so perhaps I need to divide a little more consciously between ideas and their refining.  It is probably not a coincidence that I have written so much this week, despite being busy.

Anghiari draws near, of course, and I need to finish writing the introductions as soon as I can for, as always, there will be many, many things to do once we are out there.  The regulars are already looking forward to it, as are the orchestra, and, while it will be a tough slog for those of us keeping the wheels turning behind the scenes, it will be worth the effort.

As many others did, I listened to the various sporting triumphs over the weekend, and was sitting next to some radio personnel in a restaurant yesterday evening, picking up gossip about the day’s activities in SW19.  I have mentioned before that the state of mind needed to be a successful sportsperson cannot be a million miles away from that needed to be a successful and resilient artist.  Even so, while gluten-free diets and teetotalism might help focus the compositional mind (might…) I think I’ll stop short of some of the more extreme tweaks I heard about last night.

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