A New Unison Mass, Against The Pull Of Silence, Christ Church Chelsea, composition, Dominus Regit Me, Exeter College Oxford, Flyht, Gareth Wilson, Malcolm Sargent Festival Choir, Mark Uglow, Missa Seria, Parliament Choir, Puycelsi, Tota Pulchra Es
It has been a long time since I last posted, probably my longest silence ever on the blogosphere, but, ironically, this is a sign of being busy rather than of having nothing to write about. Not writing the blog on a quasi-daily basis has freed up a significant amount of time, which has been just as well, for this is the start of the academic year and I need to get class notes and presentations done for my various students.
I managed to pick up a new post over the summer break, one which looks like being for a single term only, but which is nevertheless right up my street. I am teaching 20th Century Composition Techniques (and, by extension, those of the 21st Century too), and, as always with teaching, if you need to communicate it to students, you need to be able to understand it yourself. I love talking about writing, and hope that I am passing on some of that enthusiasm to some members of the class. If by Christmas I can help them to fashion their thoughts in a better way than they did at the start of term, then I think I will have succeeded.
My two most recent compositions, Flyht and against the pull of silence have been going through ever so minor revisions in the past weeks, small things to do with layout, rehearsal marks, proof reading and so on. The former piece will go to rehearsal soon, at which point I will find out whether it works or not, and the latter exists in a MIDI recording provided for the commissioners. Although the computer orchestra is a long way behind the human equivalent, it is still helpful in enabling people to hear what their piece really sounds like. Otherwise, I have a commission in the early stages of planning (which means that I am hunting for a text) and am splashing around semi-seriously writing a piece for a competition, but also using it as an opportunity to try out my compositional chops.
The performances keep on coming in as well. The new version of Tota Pulchra Es was brought into being at St. Mary Abbots, directed by Mark Uglow, and A New Unison Mass has garnered some more performers. Last Sunday the Missa Seria was performed at Christ Church, Chelsea, under the direction of Gareth Wilson, himself a pretty decent writer. My former Sunday morning home of St. George’s, Southwark, also have performances of A New Unison Mass, Dominus Regit Me and Sweet Was The Song down for later in the year, so there is plenty of O’Neill being sung and played.
Apparently there are bits of O’Neill being mentioned on the radio as well. According to Radio 3 I emailed them this morning from Exeter College, Oxford, where I am Organ Scholar, asking them to put the college on their musical map. Clearly something has become lost in translation, for I am far, far too old to be an Organ Scholar any more, and have, I think, never emailed Radio 3. It transpires that the email was sent by somebody else and that Flyht was mentioned, but somewhere betwixt arrival of email and broadcast, the facts got a little muddled. Still, as my fellow Magdalen alumnus was wont to say “If there is one thing worse than being talked about, it is not being talked about”.
It has been and continues to be a busy season for concerts as well. I have been off to Puycelsi in France to perform Mozart, and Parliament Choir and the Malcolm Sargent Festival Choir are both limbering up for concerts in the next month or so, both of which are going to involve little bits of writing on my part. My priority over the past few weeks, though, has definitely been to get my lecture notes done and dusted, so that they are not hanging over me for the rest of the term. From this weekend, then, I plan to refocus on my writing and shall doubtless be appearing here more often.