Amen, Bristol Old Vic, Exeter College Oxford, Handel, Messiah, Why Do The Nations So Furiously Rage Together
Our performance of Messiah at the Bristol Old Vic on Saturday evening was a real success. People (one person, if I am to be precise) were head banging along to Why Do The Nations So Furiously Rage Together?, there were spontaneous cries of “Bravo!” throughout, and the final chords of the Amen had barely finished before the applause thundered out and the standing ovation spread almost across the theatre.
I would like to say that it is a performance I will always remember, but I was so engrossed in the occasion, so involved with trying to make sure that I was a step ahead that I can barely remember any of it at all. It flashed by, we returned to our dressing rooms to find that roses had been left for each player, a lovely touch, and then we repaired to the bar for food and drink…and I slept through my alarm.
It was thrilling to be a part of this performance, also deeply, profoundly tiring and I spent most of yesterday catching up on lost snoozes, my late start not quite making up for the sheer volume of work and concentration packed into the previous two days. I am now back on the straight and narrow, at least for the time being, and putting things back into some kind of order after the travelling of the past couple of months.
An email landed in my inbox over the weekend making preliminary enquiries about a new commission, so preliminary that I cannot give any details about the piece as none has been discussed, but I am glad that there will something to keep the pencils scratching after I am finished with my two current projects. I am always keen to have “just one more” commission on the go, however, so after the brief flurry of satisfaction, I am now back to my anxious self and hoping for another email from some other curious commissioner.
I have been pleased with the writing I have done over the past few days, and the string piece is much better than it was this time last week, when the first movement tailed off into a hesitant silence. Now there is a real sense of development and narrative through this opening section, all of which gives me a much better idea of where it wants to go and how I will get there. The remaining two movements are on the top of my writing list for this week, after which the Exeter piece will gain the upper hand once more.
Once other reason I enjoyed being in Bristol over the weekend is that it is not a million miles from what used to be my neck of the woods, and is a place I know well from many, many evenings spent playing in various bands. We Londoncentrics often believe that, as far as music and culture goes, once beyond the M25 the rest is silence, but, of course, that is anything but the case, and the whole experience has given renewed focus to my intention to get out there (wherever “there” may end up being) before the decade is out, while still keeping my links to The Smoke. I read an interview with a musician recently in which he talked about somebody who retired at the peak of their powers and went off to become a pilot, now only occasionally dabbling in music. While this change would not be right to me, I like the interviewee’s description of this gentleman as “absolutely happy with his life the way it is”, and I aspire to reach that point as well. Make no mistake, my life is very, very good as it stands, significantly different from the work-infested life of only a few years ago, and much better for it, but there are one or two further changes which would really add the final layer, and one of those would be to live somewhere greener. That plan is coming to fruition one small step at a time, like all grand projects.