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It’s Christmas Eve Eve, and, but for a couple of details here and there, everything is in place at O’Neill Towers for the festive season.  That is just as well, for the weather is beyond foul outside and my neighbour’s tree seems to be having thoughts about crashing across my garden.  I have checked the weather forecast and it looks as though it will calm down this evening, but it will be a mildly stressful afternoon especially as, for once, the rain seems to be lashing down from that side of my garden fence.

I was in town yesterday, playing carol services, surprise surprise, at Earl’s Court in the morning and Kensington in the evening.  Between those two I sauntered up Kensington High Street and had a pretty relaxed time of it, just doing the final bits of my Christmas shopping.  On the way home I stopped off for some food at one of my local haunts, and then there was a little pre-festive fizz once home.

I delivered the bound copies of against the pull of silence on Saturday morning, keeping one for myself.  I have never been particularly driven to bind and collect my works, although I have occasionally put them together, but given how simple it is in the modern age to upload files and then collect the finished product the next day I may well have to reconsider that, especially for my larger pieces.

One of my top tasks for 2014 is going to be trying to get this piece to come to life, so if anybody out there is connected with an enterprising string orchestra of a decent standard who would be prepared to give it a look, then I would be happy to send out extracts of the score for consideration.  The work runs to just under ten minutes, if that makes things any easier.

I am still catching up with a couple of things, and am hoping to get them out of the way before tomorrow evening, so that I and those around me can enjoy the Christmas quiet without any work related stresses.  I am looking forward to a decent period of repose, but am acutely aware that many other people only have a day or two off, which seems distinctly unfair.  Another thing I need to do in 2014 is remind myself more often that I am in a fortunate position, especially given the way things are with the world.

I wrote down a list of possible commissions yesterday morning, all of which have the possibility of becoming concrete next year.  The focus is mainly on choral works, but with some intriguing combinations and layouts in there as well.  I also have a list of competitions and calls for scores which have taken my fancy, and spent a goodly portion of yesterday taking apart a book on improvisation, the better to apply those concepts to my own writing.  I feel as though I am building up a head of steam which had just dissipated ever so slightly after the summer.

So what of 2013?  Well, my attempt to listen to my entire CD collection foundered spectacularly early, especially as it is difficult to hear the doorbell with the headphones on.  I have set myself slightly more realistic targets for next year as far as listening is concerned, a balance, I hope, of enjoyment and constructive analysis.  One of the joys of my time at university was listening to music with the score open in front of me, and I do far, far too little of that these days, so that definitely needs to be put right.

In terms of pieces written, though, this year has been good, and that gradual shift in focus to incorporate more of the instrumental and orchestral appears to have worked out nicely.  The pieces which spring to mind most readily from this year are Why Should We Not Sing?, against the pull of silence and Flyht, though there have been other, smaller pieces as well as plenty of arranging and reorchestrating.  The way things stand at the moment there are two pieces which are set to be finished early in 2014, and then we shall see how things go from there.

In case this is my last post of the year, I would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who has read my doodlings during 2013, with special mention for encouragement, comments, performances, commissions and promotion.  To mention anybody by name would mean leaving others out, but I will be raising a glass to all of you over the next week and a bit…and if you happen to be in Kensington on the morning of the 29th, come along to Mary Abbots to hear Sweet Was The Song.

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