It is probably time I wrote something, rather than just let the pictures of my garden greet those who saunter past my blog. The problem is, I have many things I just…can’t…quite…confirm, such as The Big Piece, a significant premiere in the summer, and a significant repeat performance in the summer. All of these are unconfirmed and, as such, it would be foolish of me to go public on any of them while the cup is still on its way to the lip.
To deal with them in order, however, I played extracts of The Big Piece to one of its commissioners during the week and he seemed very pleased indeed, so that looks in order, the significant premiere is something I hope might receive confirmation by the end of the month, and the repeat performance could include a broadcast and another repeat performance, so things seem set for a fair run in the second half of the year. The life of the composer is full of chops and changes, but I hope to give ample details in due course.
During the week I gave a speech at one of the Livery Companies here in London, something which took me completely out of my comfort zone. I think it went down fairly well and that I managed to communicate something of what it is to be a composer in the twenty first century, and people were certainly polite enough to appear interested, but, post-speech, I was certainly well looked after, which rather destroyed any writing ambitions I had set aside for Thursday!
This evening the Malcolm Sargent Festival Choir ran through Melody Divined for the first time, a piece commissioned to celebrate a significant birthday of Simon Over, their (our) Music Director. It is rather a calm work by the standards of my two previous pieces for the choir, but atmospheric, I hope. The choir seemed to take to it very well, and, as always, it is gratifying to write for a group one knows very well.
On the tube back from the rehearsal I made it to the end of Diana McVeagh’s biography of Gerald Finzi, the end coming, as it did for Finzi himself, suddenly, despite being long expected. I was fascinated to read such a detailed insight into such an extraordinary character and wished again and again that I could have met him, maybe been part of that heady circle of artists and creators. I doubt very much that I would have lived up to his high expectations, but no matter. I am entirely in agreement with him about so many matters, whether musical (Berlioz, Sibelius’s 4th Symphony, for example), cultural (critics, preservation) or other ideas, and hope I am one of those people he referred to when writing that “to shake hands with a good friend over the centuries is a pleasant thing”. Finzi himself died long before I was around to shake hands with him, but I did once manage to shake hands with his eldest son, and that is as close as I will ever get.
Finzi carved out his own rural idyll in Ashmansworth, of course, built a house there and founded a dedicated orchestra of amateurs (dismissed rather sniffily by Britten, is has to be said), and, if you read this blog on something like a regular basis, you will know that I harbour similar ambitions about the idyll, at least. Idly surfing the net we have found houses with all sorts of peculiarities, from wheelbarrow rights of way across the front gardens to water supplies owned by the local Duke. They certainly do things differently back there in the West Country but, like Finzi, Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Holst, Gurney, Howells, Sanders, Sumsion and the rest, that landscape says something to me and that is where I want to return one day. My orchard will probably not contain 350 varieties of apple, but as long as I have a couple of sprigs of mint a day for my tea I think I should be content.