I was back at St. George’s Cathedral this morning, my regular place of employ for over a decade, although it was strange to be sitting in the congregation rather than at the organ console. The occasion was the funeral of a former colleague, somebody whose popularity saw the building filled to the very back. Sadly, for me at least, the music was not provided by the resident musicians, even though Westminster Cathedral Choir, under Martin Baker, made a glorious sound. At St. George’s I was part of building up the music provision from near zero, and I was looking forward to hearing how things are there at the moment, but it was not to be.
After the funeral I headed across town to Mary Abbots (one of my current places of employ) to teach a composition student, one who has come up with a genuinely original and exciting idea for a short piece of music, one which I wish I had thought of myself. I see my role as composition teacher to be one of encouragement and refinement rather than rewriting, but I am also keenly aware that a decent chunk of the learning is being done by me.
Home mid-afternoon, I sat in the garden, came back in and cleared up a little more of the builders’ debris and then – well, why not? – went and sat in the garden again, taking in the last of the day’s sun and feeling very happy that the raised decking at the back will give us an extra 20 minutes or so of solar attention at the end of each day.
Tomorrow, weather permitting, I fully intend to take my laptop outside and write some lecture notes, add detail to my latest piece and keep a spare ear on the Formula One goings on in Australia. Much as my distaste for its political shenanigans over the past couple of years has become acute, I still get drawn in at the start of each year and curse myself for not being more strong. Who, after all, can respect a sport which intends to award double points for the last round, presumably sacrificing integrity yet again on the altar of increasing viewing figures. A recent poll put 96% of F1 followers against the idea, but that is apparently no problem for the self-serving gazillionaires who run and participate in the sport. Ah well.
Like him or loathe him, Tony Benn, on the other hand, was, from what I can gather, a man of conviction and principle, whether you agree with his principles or not. I met him once before a Parliament Choir rehearsal when I was warming up my fingers on the organ. As it happened it was just the two of us and he asked if I might play something for him. I trotted off the opening of Buxtehude’s Prelude, Fugue & Chaconne, conveniently under the fingers, and he was delighted, charm itself. Then, of course, he was off to whatever he had to be doing, but the memory of that brief meeting always makes me smile.